Multiple Sclerosis Pregnancy

by Sharon Hopkins

There appears to be no direct link between multiple sclerosis and pregnancy. In women affected by multiple sclerosis, pregnancy does not have an effect on the long term course of the condition. Multiple sclerosis does not adversely affect the progress of pregnancy, the process of labor or childbirth. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis, in fact, seem to become stabilized during the course of the pregnancy. This is believed to occur due to the effect of the pregnancy hormones on the immune system of the body. These changes in the immune system allow the woman's body to be able to carry the baby to term. A fetus is composed of genetic material from the mother and father, and hence the mother's body may detect the developing fetus as a foreign substance and the immune system may try to reject it. To prevent this occurrence, there is a natural suppression of the immune system of the mother.

However, some research indicates that the symptoms of multiple sclerosis may worsen during the pregnancy. The resulting muscle weakness may also increase the risk of falls. Women with this condition may also not experience any sensation in the pelvic region and hence would not be able to know when labor begins. The causes of multiple sclerosis include genetic factors, viruses, environmental factors and autoimmune disorders. There appears to be variations in the duration of multiple sclerosis and symptoms may be erratic. Symptoms include muscle weakness, coordination problems, loss of sensation, tremors and dizziness. The labor for women affected by multiple sclerosis is handled in the same manner as that for other women. Those with lack of sensation may need to be closely monitored. Certain drugs used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis must also be avoided during pregnancy as they can result in birth defects.

A multiple sclerosis cure does not yet exist, but it is possible to effectively manage and cope with the symptoms. The disease must be closely monitored in pregnant women. This may require the woman to undergo prenatal visits more frequently. Many women find that that relapses of the condition occur commonly within the first 6 months after the delivery. The physical limitations caused by the illness may make child care difficult and child care assistance in the form either family and friends or babysitters may become necessary. In case of women on immunotherapy, pregnancy and breastfeeding are not advised as some of the drugs that are administered may be harmful for the baby.

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