A/Prof Leong Keng Hong
- To increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy with minimal to no complications, you should wait until your lupus is under control, or has been in remission for 6 months, before trying to get pregnant. When planning your pregnancy, it’s best to do so under the care and supervision of a team of specialists who can determine when the safest time for you to get pregnant is. Your team should include a rheumatologist who specializes in rheumatic and autoimmune diseases and an obstetrician who is experienced in high-risk pregnancies.
- No two women are the same, and as such, their risk and intensity of lupus complications in pregnancy will vary. Again, your team of medical professionals will play a crucial role in identifying these risks and managing them to ensure a safe pregnancy. They will screen you regularly for antibodies that might increase the risk of miscarriage or complications in the baby’s health. They will also check your current lupus treatment medications and alter them accordingly to be more pregnancy-friendly, while at the same time manage lupus symptoms and flare-ups.
- This applies before and during pregnancy. Studies show that approximately 10% of lupus pregnancies end in premature labor, while up to 30% of these women will experience preeclampsia. Regular visits with your healthcare providers are not only essential to keep your lupus condition under control, it also ensures that your pregnancy is progressing well and your baby is developing healthily. These visits can also help you identify and treat lupus flare symptoms, including joint swelling, fluid accumulation and rashes, which are easily mistaken for signs of pregnancy.
- Women who are diagnosed with lupus have a higher risk of pregnancy complications. According to statistics, one in three women with lupus will deliver before 37 weeks gestation. Though the risks are higher, you can still ensure the safety of your baby by delivering in a hospital that specializes in infant and neonatal intensive care.
- Apart from religiously following your doctor’s prescribed treatment for lupus, you can minimize complications by staying in peak condition. This involves resting as much as possible to avoid lupus fatigue, eating a well-balanced diet, adopting a healthier and more active lifestyle, and generally modifying routines to prevent pain and exhaustion.
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