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Talking Babies With RA

I’m not talking about babies talking about RA, or talking babies that have RA.

I am talking about having babies when you have RA.

For me, with a foot in both the lupus community and the RA community, I have seen more examples of women with lupus having babies than women with RA having babies.  Why that is, I really have no idea.

But what I do know is that I have both lupus and RA, and I really want to have a baby.

So I made it a priority to talk about it at my recent rheumatologist appointment.  My old rheumatologist would not talk to me about this topic.  He felt that we shouldn’t discuss it until it wasn’t hypothetical anymore.  But I’ve been dating the same guy for almost two years now, so it’s not really hypothetical.

And my new doctor is a woman, so maybe she can relate better, and understand that it doesn’t matter how sick you are, but there are some things we are not willing to lose – there is often so much we are forced to give up with illness – and for me, children is one of those things that I’m not willing to give up at this point.

When I was diagnosed, at the age of 22, I was knee-deep in graduate school, and having children wasn’t really on my radar at that point.  I was mainly concerned about getting better.  So I took several medications unquestioningly, which could have an impact on my fertility.

It’s interesting.  When women of a similar age are diagnosed with cancer, they are often urged to freeze their eggs before they start treatment, if they have any desire to have children in the future, given that many cancer treatments cause fertility issues.

The same thing is not done for young women with RA, as far as I am aware of, and I think as a community it is time for us to really start talking about this issue out in the open.

Although no one has told me directly that I might have fertility issues, it is definitely a concern of mine.  I am realistic and know that, fertility issues aside, a pregnancy for someone with RA is going to be more complicated than for my healthy counterparts.

It will not be a spontaneous event, but rather very planned and highly regulated and monitored.  Not that, that is a bad thing in that the goal is to have the healthiest baby possible.

It’s important to talk to your doctor early on about pregnancy, as this might impact the treatment that you receive.  It is also important to have a frank conversation with your doctor about whether they think it is safe enough – and that you are healthy enough – to conceive and give birth to a healthy baby.

There are several important things to keep in mind when considering pregnancy with RA:

  • Some medications used to treat RA are not safe for use during pregnancy.  And many of these medications require a “washout” period, which depending on the medication, can take months or even years to be rid of.
  • As long as you are on meds or in the washout period, multiple forms of contraception are necessary in order to prevent accidental pregnancy and birth defects.
  • Getting pregnant when RA disease activity is low tends to be better than getting pregnant when disease activity is high, even though women with RA can get better during pregnancy, worse during pregnancy, or disease activity can stay the same the same during pregnancy, regardless of how the disease is managed at the time that pregnancy occurs.
  • While a woman with RA can have a successful pregnancy, the pregnancy is considered high-risk and requires coordination with your medical team, which will include an obstetrician.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • compita01
    3 years ago

    Hi. Im 28 yrars old i have RA i was diagnosed in 2013 after giving birth to my 2nd child. I had my 1st child in 2011 a few weeks after i started having fingers and wrist pain to the point of not been able to open or shake my own babies bottlers, i told my dr about my symptons and he told it was normar after labor and that its was going to go away. So it went away after a few months. So i decided to have another baby he was born in 2013 and i started geting my pain again so i thought its normal as my previous dr had told me hut it went worser and worser it went ip to my elbow then up to my shoulder to the point that i couldnt move my whole arm at nights. So i told my new dr about this and he did some blood work to check if it had signs if aryhritis but i already had the desease (RA). So he sent me to a rheumatologist and he put me into methrotexate and a few months later i came out pregnant again (this was not planned) so he advised me to just get an abortion because this medecine was going to vlcause birth deffects to my baby because we have to stop the medecine months before planning to get pregnant. I did had my child scared the whole pregnancy but not a lot because i didnt drink the treatment for a long time so i though i wad not a lot intoxicated with this. My baby came out healthy (thanks to god). But again a few weeks later my pain came back but this time was worser, like always get started on my fingers then my wrist and my elbow hit my shoulders but then extended to my hips, knees and feet that every time I would get up at nights I couldn’t put his feet on the floor making a horrible pain what hit my hips. So I started my treatment again but methotrexate started elevating my liver to a really high level so I was changed to prednisone but it was the same problem my liver its always elevated. I just decided to stop drinking the medicine then my liver went number. This January 2016 I got pregnant again (not planned as well) so this is my fourth baby I’m happy because no I had my girl my previous ones were three boys. My baby was born September 19th so she’s 6 weeks old now. Last week I started with my pain as always starting for my fingers to is to my elbow to my Soldier my knees so I started drinking my prednisone I just drink them for like 4 days and I started having the stomach pain so I went to my doctor I got blood work and now my liver is elevated again so I just took my treatment. I’ve been told that organic medicine it’s really good so I’m trying to look for one that will fit with me. In my case RA attacks me after Labor but every labor it gets worse and worser. I guess it all depends I can not be using the medicine because my liver problem but if your liver reacts okay to the medecine then you should be fine having a baby. Just remember to stop your treatment six months before getting pregnant, just to be on the safe side of any birth defects. Hope everything goes well with you, and you have a healthy baby soon. Good luck.

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    3 years ago

    compita01,

    Thanks so much for sharing your RA journey during pregnancy. You certainly have gone through a lot and I am sure you are such an amazing mother too.
    Sorry to hear that you weren’t diagnosed till after your second baby, getting a diagnosis can be frustrating and you are not alone. While others share some similar experiences I thought this article would resonate with you: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/mamas-facing-forward-a-community-to-help-mamas-facing-chronic-illnesses-move-forward/

    We are grateful for you sharing your story and glad to have you here.
    Best,
    Lauren (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator
    5 years ago

    Leslie – Thank you so much for being brave enough to talk about this important issue. It is one that I feel does not receive nearly as much attention as it should – especially considering so many people with RA are women young enough to have children should they want to! Right now I am actually lucky enough to be pregnant with my second baby, so I have a bunch of blog posts planned to discuss the issues surrounding RA and pregnancy and share my experiences. So for people who are interested in this issue – stay tuned!!

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