Plan My Pregnancy

Plan My Pregnancy

Talk with your doctor before you get pregnant to make sure you're prepared for the exciting changes ahead. Having a baby is a big decision. And when you have RA, you may have extra questions and concerns about pregnancy and childbirth.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, feeling sick, symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, fever, lumps under skin, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: Treatment

Duration

14

Healthy Pregnancy

You'll want to work with your doctor to have your RA under control before you get pregnant, if possible. The good news is most women with RA can get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies. In fact, many women find their RA goes into remission or at least improves during pregnancy. But it's best to talk with your doctor to make sure you're ready to conceive.

Prompt: Get ready.

CTA: Get your body ready before you conceive.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, feeling sick, symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, fever, lumps under skin, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Exercise, muscle strengthening, yoga, dietary changes, breathing exercises, counseling/therapy, relaxation therapy, stress reduction, meditation, rest, over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications

Categories: Treatment

Stopping Meds

Before you get pregnant, talk with your doctor about which RA meds are safe to use during pregnancy. Researchers know that some aren't safe, while others seem to pose no risk of birth defects. But there's limited data on many biologics. That's why it's crucial to work with your rheumatologist and your ob-gyn to find the right treatment to keep your RA under control without raising the risk of birth defects.

Prompt: Check meds.

CTA: Learn which meds are safe for pregnancy.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, feeling sick, symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, fever, lumps under skin, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, ad(alimumab (Humira),  azathioprine (Imuran), etanercept (Enbrel), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), infliximab (Remicade), leflunomide (Arava), methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), prednisone (Deltasone), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)

 Categories: Treatment

Have a Flare Plan

Many women find that their RA symptoms get a lot better -- or even go into remission -- while they are pregnant. But it's still possible to have a flare. Talk with your doctor ahead of time about what to do if you have a flare while pregnant. Ask about which meds you can safely take while pregnant, and discuss other treatments that might help. You may also want to have a flare plan in place, as some women have flares soon after delivery.

Prompt: Manage flares.

CTA: Have a flare plan while pregnant.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, feeling sick, symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, fever, lumps under skin, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, methotrexate, prednisone, leflunomide, Plaquenil, sulfasalazine, Imuran, Enbrel, Remicade, Humira

Categories: Treatment

Help With Baby

Caring for a newborn is challenging. And when you have RA, you may be coping with a flare and a baby at the same time. Plan ahead for extra help. For example, you may need someone to help you lift or carry the baby or someone to watch the baby so you can rest. Tasks like screwing on bottle tops may also present a challenge. Make a list of things you may need and ask family and friends for help.

Prompt: Line up help.

CTA: Ask family and friends for help.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, feeling sick, symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, fever, lumps under skin, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, breathing exercises, counseling/therapy, massage, meditation, physical therapy, stress reduction, rest

Categories: Treatment

Get a Cleaning

Make sure to see your dentist for regular dental checkups to help keep gum disease at bay. Studies show that people with RA are two times more likely to have gum disease. But this isn't just bad news for your teeth. Some research also suggests that women with gum disease may be more likely to give birth prematurely.

Prompt: See your dentist.

CTA: Gum disease may affect pregnancy.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: inflamed gums

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: Treatment

Breastfeeding

Talk with your doctor about your options and what's best for you and your baby. Experts agree that breastfeeding is best. But breastfeeding with RA may bring challenges for some women. Some RA meds are not safe to use while breastfeeding, and if RA affects your hands, elbows, or wrists, you may need to learn new ways to position the baby for feeding.

Prompt: What about breastfeeding?

CTA: Weigh benefits vs. risks.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: muscle strengthening, stretching, physical therapy, counseling/therapy, heat therapy, rest, over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, ad(alimumab (Humira),  azathioprine (Imuran), etanercept (Enbrel), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), infliximab (Remicade), leflunomide (Arava), methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), prednisone (Deltasone), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)

Categories: Treatment

Exercise Plan

Talk with your doctor about what types of exercise are best for you. Most women can safely exercise throughout pregnancy, and staying in shape may help you keep your RA under control and help you have an easier delivery. Choose low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, or riding a stationary bike. Low-impact aerobics is another good choice.

Prompt: Get moving.

CTA: Exercise during pregnancy.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Exercise, muscle strengthening, stretching, yoga, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, rest, over-the-counter drugs, electrical stimulation

Categories: Treatment

Postpartum

Talk with your doctor ahead of time about how you can prepare for a flare, including what meds you can safely take if you're breastfeeding. Some women with RA have a flare within the first few weeks or months after childbirth. That's a taxing time for any new mom, when it can be hard to get enough sleep and take care of yourself. Make sure you're ready for any increase in your RA symptoms.  

Prompt: Flare after delivery?

CTA: Prepare for postpartum flare.

Conditions: Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms: Symptoms worse in A.M., weakness, reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiffness after rest, anxiety, depression, deformed joint, stiff joint, swollen joint, warm joint, joint pain, muscle pain, pain, lower back pain, upper back pain, symmetrical pain, numbness, tingling

Triggers:

Treatments: Over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs

Categories: Treatment

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on February 17, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

University of Washington Medicine: "Frequently Asked Questions about Living with Arthritis," "Pregnancy and Arthritis."

Arthritis Foundation: "Arthritis Medications in Pregnancy: What’s Safe, What’s Not?"

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)."

Childbirth Connection: "Planning Pregnancy."

La Leche International: "Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Breastfeeding."

FDA: "What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish.”

Douwes, J. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, May 2006.

Shreyasee Amin, MD, rheumatologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Elaine Husni, MD, MPH, vice chair of rheumatology; director, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center, Cleveland Clinic.

Emilio B. Gonzalez, MD, chief of rheumatology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

Amy Louise Nelson, Rochester, Minn.

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