Arthritis and Pregnancy

People with arthritis who wish to have children should consider the consequences that the disease and medications have on fertility, the ability to carry a pregnancy to term, the risk of fetal abnormalities, the risk of hereditary transmission and the ability to look after, breast-feed and bring up a child.

In most cases, pregnancy does not have any permanent negative effects on the course of arthritis. The last few months can be painful because of the stress on the back and supporting joints due to the extra weight, but this is temporary and is often relieved by maintaining good posture and getting the appropriate rest. It should be noted that some women with rheumatoid arthritis feel better during pregnancy and can stop taking their medications.

A relapse can, however, occur after delivery, but very rarely do joints that have been damaged by arthritis require a cesarean section.

In general, arthritis does not have any untoward effects on the child, except in one particular form called ?lupus?, which can cause complications both in the mother and child. In cases of lupus, which require special attention, pregnancy should be considered only with the rheumatologist?s and obstetrician?s consent.

For more information on arthritis, please contact The Arthritis Society at 1.800.321.1433, e-mail info@bc.arthritis.ca, or go to www.arthritis.ca/bc.