If you are pregnant and have MS, your baby will grow normally and usually your pregnancy will progress without any complications associated with MS. In fact, you will probably feel healthier during your pregnancy than any other time. Keep yourself healthy with proper nutrition, rest and exercise.
You will feel your body change during your pregnancy. In addition, you may notice that your symptoms are less severe, especially during the second and third trimesters. For example, you might have less tremors and muscle tightness during pregnancy. This is because the hormones in a woman's body during pregnancy appear to have a beneficial effect on the immune system. MS is called an autoimmune disease because the immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues and organs. So when the immune system is suppressed, some of your symptoms are lessened.
What to expect, and what you can do
So what special concerns might you have? Usually, pregnant women with MS require no special care from a gynecologist. Labor and delivery are usually the same in women with MS as in women without. But there are special concerns associated with MS.
If you had trouble walking before becoming pregnant, you might be less steady on your feet as your baby grows because of the extra weight you're carrying. Consider installing grab-bars in your bathroom and place sturdy chairs in your bedroom and kitchen. Walk with extra caution because your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy.
Most pregnant women experience bladder and bowel dysfunctions when they are pregnant. If you have bowel or bladder problems associated with MS, your symptoms may be aggravated during pregnancy. You may be more susceptible to constipation and urinary tract infections. Your doctor may recommend a stool softener and dietary changes to treat constipation, and regular urine sample tests to detect bladder infections. Your doctor may also make changes to your MS medications.
People with MS experience frequent fatigue. Because your body expends extra energy during pregnancy, you will probably feel increasingly fatigued as the baby grows. Try to change your schedule so that you do difficult tasks at work or at home when your energy levels are highest. For example, if you're a morning person, do your laundry or grocery shopping before lunch. If possible, plan to have extra help at home, and be reasonable about what you can accomplish after the baby is born.
Talk to your neurologist, physician, and obstetrician if you are taking steroid medications (e.g., prednisone) for your MS symptoms.
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