How will lupus affect my birth options?

How will lupus affect my birth options?

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I have lupus. Can I have a vaginal delivery?

It's very likely that you'll be able to have a vaginal delivery if you have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Although cesareans are more common among women with lupus, most deliver vaginally.

While it's possible to have a normal vaginal delivery, having lupus means your pregnancy needs to be carefully managed to reduce the risk of complications – for you and your baby. Your healthcare provider may recommend you give birth at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

And if you take a glucocorticoid (a type of corticosteroid) like prednisone to control your lupus during your pregnancy, then you may need a higher dose during delivery ("stress dose") to help your body cope with the physical demands of giving birth.

What complications of lupus could affect my labor and delivery?

For women with lupus, preterm birth is the most common complication. This sometimes happens if preeclampsia, worsening high blood pressure, intrauterine growth restriction, or preterm rupture of membranes and preterm labor develops. Whether your baby is born early depends on your overall health and how well your lupus is managed. (If you're at risk of giving birth early, your provider can give you a steroid shot to help your baby's lungs mature before birth.)

Some women also have other conditions that impact their general health, which can affect the likelihood of preterm birth. For example, about half of women with active lupus and kidney disease have a premature delivery, and about 70 percent of women with lupus and thyroid disease give birth early.

Having lupus and being pregnant also puts you at a higher risk of preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition. Delivery is the only cure, which sometimes means a baby must be born early.

About 1 in 5 women with lupus develop preeclampsia, and it's more common in women who have lupus and kidney disease (lupus nephritis). Preeclampsia symptoms can mimic a lupus flare, making it difficult to diagnose and treat. If this happens, you may need to deliver your baby.

Will I be well enough to care for my newborn after delivery?

Yes, you'll probably be well enough to take good care of your baby. But give yourself plenty of recovery time: Having a baby is very tiring and more so if you have lupus.

  • Make a plan. Arrange to have extra support from friends and family after your baby is born.
  • Be proactive. Watch for any symptoms that might suggest a flare, and communicate them to your provider right away. Some women find that their lupus flares within the first few months after delivery. You'll have regular checkups with your provider after your baby's birth.
  • Learn more about your health. Talk to your provider about your health to find out if your treatment will change or stay the same after delivery. If you were at risk of developing a blood clot during pregnancy, for example, you'll need to continue with blood-thinning treatment for at least six weeks after you give birth.

Visit the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's website for more information and to find an MFM specialist near you.

Watch the video: Lupus and Pregnancy (September 2022).

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