LIVING WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: QUESTIONS ABOUT PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH

Deciding whether or not to have children is a momentous decision for everyone. It is natural to have concerns about the health of a potential child, and most people think about this before or during pregnancy. Women of childbearing age who have RA will have specific questions about how their illness might affect their body and their unborn child.
Can I Become Pregnant?
Fertility is generally not affected by RA. During severe flare-ups, however, fertility may be temporarily lower in some individuals. But you should not count on this as a method of birth control since it is not a fail-proof method.
How Will Pregnancy Affect My RA?
More than 75 percent of women see improvement in their RA during pregnancy. After delivery most of them find that their arthritis returns to its pre-pregnancy level.
How Will My RA Affect My Unborn Child?
The health of the fetus and newborn infant does not appear to be affected adversely by RA, although this question has not been studied adequately for us to state unequivocally that this is so.
We do know that certain arthritis medications can compromise your baby’s health. If you are considering getting pregnant or if you are sexually active and are not using birth control, you must discuss your medications with your physician. To be cleared completely out of your body, several arthritis medications need to be discontinued months or weeks before conception takes place.
Will My Child Have RA?
We do not know exactly what triggers the development of RA. It is true that a person who has a close family member with RA or another autoimmune condition has a higher likelihood of developing RA than the general population. We do not feel that the small increased risk of passing on RA should influence a person’s decision about childbearing. The vast majority of children born to a parent with RA do not develop the condition.
Can I Care for My Baby?
This is perhaps the most difficult question. Caring for a baby requires a great deal of energy and stamina on the part of the caregiver. Performing frequent diaper changes and carrying around an extra 10 to 20 pounds can put a serious strain on tender joints. Feedings at two o’clock in the morning fatigue even healthy parents. And, as we have discussed, joint stress, fatigue, and exhaustion can make arthritis and its symptoms worse.
You and your partner need to discuss these issues honestly with each other. You both need to be committed to creating and carrying out a plan that will allow the person with RA to get adequate rest. Putting aside extra funds for child care assistance is an excellent idea. Using disposable diapers will help so that you don’t have to fuss with diaper pins and wringing out soiled diapers. You may want to invest in a carrier for holding the infant and get advice from an occupational therapist about how you can carry the baby while putting the least amount of stress on your joints. Plan ahead, and make certain that your plans include the toddler years.
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LIVING WITH RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: QUESTIONS ABOUT PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTHDeciding whether or not to have children is a momentous decision for everyone. It is natural to have concerns about the health of a potential child, and most people think about this before or during pregnancy. Women of childbearing age who have RA will have specific questions about how their illness might affect their body and their unborn child.
Can I Become Pregnant?Fertility is generally not affected by RA. During severe flare-ups, however, fertility may be temporarily lower in some individuals. But you should not count on this as a method of birth control since it is not a fail-proof method.
How Will Pregnancy Affect My RA?More than 75 percent of women see improvement in their RA during pregnancy. After delivery most of them find that their arthritis returns to its pre-pregnancy level.

How Will My RA Affect My Unborn Child? The health of the fetus and newborn infant does not appear to be affected adversely by RA, although this question has not been studied adequately for us to state unequivocally that this is so.We do know that certain arthritis medications can compromise your baby’s health. If you are considering getting pregnant or if you are sexually active and are not using birth control, you must discuss your medications with your physician. To be cleared completely out of your body, several arthritis medications need to be discontinued months or weeks before conception takes place.
Will My Child Have RA?We do not know exactly what triggers the development of RA. It is true that a person who has a close family member with RA or another autoimmune condition has a higher likelihood of developing RA than the general population. We do not feel that the small increased risk of passing on RA should influence a person’s decision about childbearing. The vast majority of children born to a parent with RA do not develop the condition.
Can I Care for My Baby?This is perhaps the most difficult question. Caring for a baby requires a great deal of energy and stamina on the part of the caregiver. Performing frequent diaper changes and carrying around an extra 10 to 20 pounds can put a serious strain on tender joints. Feedings at two o’clock in the morning fatigue even healthy parents. And, as we have discussed, joint stress, fatigue, and exhaustion can make arthritis and its symptoms worse.You and your partner need to discuss these issues honestly with each other. You both need to be committed to creating and carrying out a plan that will allow the person with RA to get adequate rest. Putting aside extra funds for child care assistance is an excellent idea. Using disposable diapers will help so that you don’t have to fuss with diaper pins and wringing out soiled diapers. You may want to invest in a carrier for holding the infant and get advice from an occupational therapist about how you can carry the baby while putting the least amount of stress on your joints. Plan ahead, and make certain that your plans include the toddler years.*125/209/5*

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