Pregnancy can stress a healthy woman’s body. You would think that pregnancy would be dangerous for a woman who has multiple sclerosis (MS). Amazingly the truth is that pregnancy doesn’t affect the long-term course of multiple sclerosis. Furthermore multiple sclerosis has no adverse effects on the course of pregnancy, on the labor stages, or on the delivery of the baby.
The symptoms of MS actually tend to stabilize or even go into remission during pregnancy. Pregnancy seems to lessen the number of attacks of MS. The reason for this seems to be in that the hormones of pregnancy have an effect on the immune system as a natural defense that enables a woman to carry a baby.
The growing fetus has genetic material from the father as well as the mother so naturally the mother’s body should reject the fetus, but instead the pregnancy hormones suppress the immune system so rejection does not take place. This suppression of the immune system during pregnancy helps to suppress the symptoms of MS as well.
Women with MS go through pregnancy much the same as other women do with the exception that they need to be aware of the fact that there are several normally prescribed medications that they would normally take for their MS, that are harmful or have not been determined to be harmless for a fetus and therefore should not be taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
If the woman has a lack of sensation or paralysis, she may need to be monitored closely during the last few weeks of pregnancy just in case she is unable to determine on her own when she is in labor.
Women who have MS should avoid pregnancy and breastfeeding while they are undergoing an immunotherapy program.
All women during pregnancy plan how they will survive the first few months with the new baby. The physical side of caring for a new baby poses special problems for the new mom who has MS.
Her disease means that she normally faces difficulty performing certain physical tasks due to weakened, or stiff muscles or paralysis. Her mobility may be impaired and she may need to determine how to do the physical tasks necessary for the day-to-day care of an infant including dressing the baby, carrying the baby, feeding and changing the baby.
A temporary solution would be to do what most new moms do, which is to rely on family, neighbors and friends who usually volunteer to bring over meals, or care for the baby in the first days or weeks of the baby being home. She will need to devise a plan of action that is more permanent so that she can care for her baby. She may look into hiring someone to come in to help her, like a mothers helper.