If you want to start a family, having multiple sclerosis (MS) doesn’t have to stop you. It doesn’t keep you from getting pregnant or hurt your unborn baby. Odds are your pregnancy and delivery will be just like women without MS.
Still, moms-to-be with MS face unique challenges. Plan ahead and learn what to do before, during, and after pregnancy to make your next 9 months a little easier.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) are diseases of the nervous system. They’re not the same, but they do have a lot of similarities.
Both MS and GBS are autoimmune diseases. This means they cause your body's immune system to attack its own tissues. They both start when the immune system attacks and damages something called myelin. That’s a layer of insulation that surrounds nerves. It also helps nerves transmit their messages.
Each condition affects a different part of...
Talk to your doctor. Let her know you want to have a baby. If your MS is under control, you’ll probably get a green light.
Some MS drugs, like glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), teriflunomide (Aubagio), and interferons, aren’t safe during pregnancy. You’ll need to stop taking them at least 1 month before you start trying.
Time it right. Just like any woman, you might not get pregnant right away. To limit the time you’re off your medicine, try to learn your “fertility window.” That’s the time of the month when you’re most likely to conceive. You can buy an ovulation kit at the drugstore to help you figure it out. Your doctor can recommend other ways to help your timing, too.
Build a support team. MS can wear you out, and pregnancy can, too. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends to fix meals or help around the house so you can save your energy. Make sure your team is ready to pitch in after the baby comes, too.
While You’re Pregnant
Expect some relief. You may get a break from your MS symptoms. That’s because pregnancy naturally protects many women from new flares, especially after the first 3 months. So enjoy it! Focus on getting the right foods, exercise, and plenty of rest.
Watch out for urinary tract infections (UTIs). They are more common for pregnant women with MS. Drink lots of water, and tell your doctor if you feel burning when you go to the bathroom or if your urine is cloudy or smelly. You may get monthly urine tests to check for UTIs.