Lupus is an autoimmune disorder characterized by your cells and organs being targeted by your immune system. You may experience pain and other symptoms in your joints, skin, and varying organs. Women are more likely to develop Lupus than men which means it’s possible to have Lupus during pregnancy. In addition, the disease is more prevalent in African American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American groups.
There are four common forms of Lupus:
- The systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can affect many organs and tissues throughout your body.
- Discoid lupus affects the skin.
- Subacute cutaneous Lupus is triggered by sunlight.
- The last type is brought on by medication.
How to Treat Lupus during Pregnancy
Unfortunately, no natural treatments for Lupus during pregnancy have been found. In terms of getting pregnant, you should wait until the disease is in remission and you feel healthy before trying to conceive.
How to Treat Lupus during Pregnancy:
Lupus pregnancies fall into the high-risk category. Therefore, it is important to consult a team of doctors before you conceive, while you are attempting to conceive, and throughout your pregnancy.
Approximately 3-6 months before you conceive, your rheumatologist will most likely suggest you discontinue the use of medications that could interfere with fetal development. If you are taking Plaquenil or Prednisone, they may recommend you continue taking those medications throughout your pregnancy to prevent a flare-up.
These medications are considered to be of small risk to your baby, and the benefits to you most often outweigh the risk to your fetus.
Women with Lupus may experience the following complications during their pregnancy:
- HELLP Syndrome
- Antiphospholipid antibodies – can cause blood clots, which inhibits the placenta from working properly.
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction
- Compromised kidney function
- Lupus flare-ups
- Early delivery
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
- Neonatal lupus – an uncommon disorder where the baby experiences reversible symptoms such as a skin rash, liver issues, or low blood counts. The most dangerous complication that may be experienced is a congenital heart block, which typically requires the baby eventually have a pacemaker inserted.
Because there is a possibility for serious pregnancy complications, it is imperative that you consult your rheumatologist and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist throughout your pregnancy.
Your doctors should monitor and treat you for hypertensive pregnancy symptoms, thrombophilia, disease activity, and any other complications that may arise. Also, make sure to follow all of your doctors’ recommendations about appointment frequency, medication, diet, exercise, rest, etc.
Although this list of potential complications and treatments during pregnancy may seem intimidating, improvements in technology and a greater understanding of Lupus have increased your chances for having a healthy pregnancy.
Want to Know More?
- Understand a High-Risk Pregnancy
- Omega-3 Fish Oil and Pregnancy
- Treating Meningitis Naturally During Pregnancy
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Dhar, J. P., & Sokol, R. J. (December 2006). Lupus and Pregnancy: Complex Yet Manageable. Clinical Medicine & Research, 4(4), 310-321.
2. Lupus Foundation of America. (July 11, 2013). Can I still plan a pregnancy?
3. MedlinePlus (US National Library of Medicine: NIH). (August 20, 2014). Lupus.