Pregnancy and Multiple Sclerosis
It can be difficult to deal with multiple sclerosis (MS) and pregnancy at the same time. However, studies have found no direct link between having MS and experiencing any adverse effects during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. This is not to say that pregnancy poses no challenges for a woman with MS. For example, certain MS drugs should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can cause birth defects.
While there is no good evidence that daily stress or trauma affects the course of multiple sclerosis (MS), there is data on the influence of pregnancy. Since multiple sclerosis generally strikes during childbearing years, a common concern among women with the disease is whether or not to have a baby.
Studies on the subject have shown that MS has no adverse effects on the course of pregnancy, labor, or delivery. In fact, a woman's symptoms often stabilize or lessen during pregnancy.
This temporary improvement is thought to be related to changes in a woman's immune system that allow her body to carry a baby. Since every fetus has genetic material from the father as well as the mother, the mother's body should identify the growing fetus as foreign tissue and try to reject it in much the same way the body seeks to reject a transplanted organ. To prevent this from happening, a natural process takes place to suppress the mother's immune system in the uterus during pregnancy.
Women with MS who are considering pregnancy need to be aware that certain drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis should be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. These drugs can cause birth defects and can be passed to the fetus through blood and to an infant through breast milk.
Some of the medications to avoid include: