Fortunately, pregnancy does not
appear to speed up the course or worsen the effects of MS. Several studies suggest that
MS is less likely to flare up late in pregnancy. But there is a slightly higher risk
right after pregnancy.
The disabling effects of the
disease may make it physically hard to carry a pregnancy. Muscle weakness and
coordination problems may increase the likelihood for falls. Fatigue may worsen.
Wheelchair dependence may increase the risk for urinary tract infections. There is no
evidence that MS causes infertility. Studies have shown that pregnancy, delivery, and
rate of birth defects are not majorly different in women with MS compared with those
Many of the medicines used to treat
MS may have adverse effects on a fetus. It is important to talk with your healthcare
provider if you are thinking about pregnancy or if you become pregnant. Your healthcare
provider will discuss the risks and benefits of the various medicines with you,
including any possible effects on your baby and your MS.
During pregnancy, you will need
close monitoring to keep track of the disease and the health of the fetus. You may need
more frequent prenatal visits. There is no established treatment that alters the course
of MS. But you may be given medicines such as steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Consult your healthcare provider for more information.
Supportive treatment and
rehabilitation for MS are especially important during pregnancy. Rehab varies depending
on your symptoms. But it may help with the following:
- Doing normal activities of daily
- Maintaining independence
- Getting family involved
- Using assistive devices (for example,
canes, braces, and walkers)
- Setting an appropriate exercise
program to promote muscle strength, endurance, and control
- Re-establishing motor skills
- Improving communication skills if you
have trouble speaking because of weakness or lack of coordination of face and tongue
- Managing bowel or bladder
- Providing cognitive retraining
- Adapting the home environment for
safety and usability
During labor, you may not have pelvic sensation, and you may not feel
pain with contractions. This may also make it hard to tell when labor starts. Delivery
of the baby may be harder if you have MS. While labor itself is not affected, MS can
affect the muscles and nerves needed for pushing. For this reason, you may need a
cesarean section or delivery with the help of forceps or vacuum.