Lupus During Pregnancy

by Anai Rhoads

Years ago, medical texts claimed that women with lupus could not have children, and if they became pregnant, they should have abortions. Nowadays we know different. There is more and more evidence that it is possible to have lupus and continue on with a successful pregnancy. Keep in mind that is still considered a high risk pregnancy.

In order for things to go smoothly, you will need to keep a few things in mind. Below is a list of what you will need to do:

  • Choose a doctor that is familiar with Lupus in pregnancy
  • Remember that you will need to make arrangements with a hospital for delivery, not a doula/midwife.
  • Visit the hospital ahead of time to make sure they have a complete access to a unit for premature infants, in case you deliver early.

Is there a chance that my pregnancy will worsen my lupus?

Recent studies indicate that flare ups are not as common as first suspected. If there is an incident, know that it is easily treatable. Notify your doctor right away, so that she or he can take care of it quickly. Frequent doctor visits are important in any high risk pregnancy. Most conditions which may occur can be prevented, and if found early enough, can be treated more easily and more effectively.

If I do have a flare up, when will it most likely happen?

If there is a flare up, it will most likely occur during early pregnancy (1st and early part of second trimester) or you may notice it happening sometimes in the months following your baby's delivery. Women who conceive after 6 months of remission, are less likely to experience a lupus flare up than those who get pregnant while their lupus is active.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms include weakness, fatigue, rashes on the skin, arthritis, you may show some protein in your urine, and your platelet count may drop.

There are a few symptoms that occur normally during pregnancy that you may mistake as a flare. Please discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

Will I be visiting my doctor often?

Since your pregnancy is classified as a "high risk" pregnancy, you will be asked to come back to see your doctor often for certain tests. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure in case there are any complications with hypertension or preeclampsia. Also, she may need to monitor your urine for any protein.

You and your baby will be at risk if you do not see your doctor as requested. Prompt treatment can save your lives.

Can I still take my medication?

Most medications commonly taken by Lupus patients are safe to use during pregnancy. Always discuss your options with your doctor as far as treatments, and medications. The medications known as safe during pregnancy (they do not pass into the placenta to harm the baby) are:

  • Medrol (methylprednisolone)
  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Aspirin (such as Bayer)

Medications for Lupus that may pass through placenta and harm your baby are:

  • Cytoxan (Cyclophosphamide)
  • Imuran (azathioprine)
  • Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine)

Harmful but sometimes necessary in cases of underdeveloped lungs in utero:

  • Celestone (betamethasone)
  • Hexadrol (dexamethasone)

Anai Rhoads is a medical and political researcher/writer with a particular interest in the sanctions on Iraq and the wider effect of racism's influence in the Middle East. A vegan since 2000, she is a dedicated supporter of activities which promote animal and human rights. Originally from Greece, she now resides in Virginia, USA with her husband and their two dogs, Bijou and Eva.

All content copyrighted © Anai Rhoads. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.