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Today, most women with lupus can safely become pregnant. With proper medical care, you can lower the risks of pregnancy and deliver a normal, healthy baby. However, you must carefully plan your pregnancy. Your disease should be under control or in remission for 12 months before you get pregnant. Find an obstetrician (OB) who is experienced in managing high-risk pregnancies and who can work closely with your primary HCP. Plan your delivery at a hospital that can manage high-risk patients and provide the specialized care you and your baby may need. Talk to your doctor about which medicines are safe to take while pregnant.
Women with lupus may face certain problems during the pregnancy. While flares are not caused by pregnancy, flares that do develop often occur during the first or second trimester or during the first few months following delivery. Most flares are mild and easily treated with small doses of corticosteroids. Another complication is pre-eclampsia. If you develop this serious condition, you will have a sudden increase in blood pressure, protein in the urine, or both. This is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment, and you might have to deliver your infant early.
Babies born to women with lupus have no greater chance of birth defects or mental retardation than do babies born to women without lupus. As your pregnancy progresses, your OB will regularly check the baby's heartbeat and growth with sonograms (an machine that creates pictures of your baby's organs). Although giving birth to your baby early (prematurity) presents a danger to the baby, most problems can be successfully treated in a hospital that specializes in caring for premature newborns. About 3% of babies born to mothers with lupus will have neonatal lupus.
Breastfeeding your baby is safe for mothers with lupus. If you are on medications and breastfeeding, talk with your provider about how the medicine might affect your baby.
It may be hard to tell the difference. You may have symptoms from being pregnant that you mistake for lupus symptoms. Here are just some problems that may cause confusion:
Skin. While pregnant, you may have red palms and a rash. Lupus can also cause a rash.
Joints. Lupus can cause arthritis, and pregnancy can cause aching in your joints.
Lungs. It may be hard for you to breathe if you have lupus. Pregnancy can also cause a shortness of breath and hyperventilation.
Talk to your health care provider about how to tell the difference between the physical changes you will have during your pregnancy and symptoms of lupus.