Chronic Health Conditions and Pregnancy

For women with a chronic health condition, the prospect of pregnancy may bring with it many questions and concerns.  Can I continue to get treatment? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will my baby be all right? The good news is a chronic health condition can often be successfully managed during pregnancy without harming the baby.

So, what is a chronic health condition? It’s an illness or disorder that lasts a year or more and potentially impacts one’s daily activities or life. Examples are autoimmune diseases (such as Lupus or multiple sclerosis), chronic pain, or other conditions such asthma, high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, or diabetes. Mental health conditions requiring treatment also fit into this category.

If you do take medication, you’re not alone. According to the March of Dimes, about 90 percent of women take a medication during pregnancy, including about 70% who take a prescription medication. It should not be done lightly, though. Certain medications have been linked to complications including premature birth, birth defects, neonatal abstinence syndrome, even miscarriages and infant death.

There are positive steps you can take to ensure both your and your baby’s health. The March of Dimes shares these tips:

Start early. Ideally, you will talk to your providers before you conceive. Think of assembling your own healthcare team that includes your obstetrician, specialist, and anyone else who is involved in your treatment. Share contact information, so they can coordinate with each other on your best course of care before, during, and after pregnancy.

Make a plan starting with a preconception checkup to make sure your body is healthy and ready for pregnancy. Work with your providers on best timing for your pregnancy and the right treatment protocols to stabilize your condition before pregnancy and manage it during and after.

Share everything you take with your providers, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, including herbal products. Not all are safe to take during pregnancy and may negatively interact with your prescription medications.

Remember, a healthier you means a healthier baby. Don’t stop medication or make important healthcare decisions without consulting your providers. If you do have a chronic condition and believe you may be pregnant, don’t delay in reaching out to your healthcare team.

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