Lupus appears in women of childbearing age.
If you are pregnant woman with lupus, it affects your kidneys and there is an increased risk to the unborn baby.
Fertility or the ability to conceive can be reduced during the periods of the disease. This can be due to hormonal changes caused by lupus or from side effects of medications that are used to treat the disease.
How lupus affects unborn baby?
You can develop symptoms similar to pre-eclampsia like swelling, protein in the urine, and raised blood pressure and the baby’s growth becomes slow.
Lupus in pregnant women causes premature birth, transient rash on baby’s head, and damage to the electrical conduction system in the heart of the baby, causing abnormal heart rhythms. Babies born to women with lupus have neonatal lupus. This type of lupus consists of temporary rash and abnormal blood count.
The baby develops swelling known as hydrops. This is the sign that the baby is having congestive heart failure problem and the baby must be watched closely in the hospital.
How lupus affects pregnant women?
Certain abnormal antibodies present in the blood of women with lupus can contribute to the miscarriage. The antiphospholipid antibodies in women with lupus cause blood clots and interfere with the proper functioning of the placenta. This happens mostly in third semester.
The impaired placenta will not be able to supply sufficient nourishment to the baby and the growth of the baby is slowed. Therefore, these pregnancies do not last for nine months.
Women with lupus are at risk of high blood pressure, headaches, swelling and seizures. Another risk in pregnant women is lupus flare. Flares often occur during first or second trimester or during first few months following delivery. Most flares are mild and can be easily treated with small doses of corticosteroids.
Care during pregnancy:
You should not have lupus symptoms and no medications should be used for at least six months before conception. Proper care is important before becoming pregnant to avoid risks. It is also important to monitor the growth of the baby closely to make sure everything is well.
You should consult an experienced obstetrician in managing your pregnancy if you have lupus. You should plan the delivery in hospital that can manage the high risk pregnancy and has the facilities for your newborn with special needs.
Prenatal care should be taken that includes ultrasound during first twelve weeks. Ultrasound helps to determine the growth of the baby. You should visit the doctor frequently and more lab tests will be done.
A nonstress test is conducted where a fetal monitor watches the heart rate and movements of the baby. A blood test is done after the birth of the baby to determine if the baby has neonatal lupus. The serious problem in neonatal lupus is when the baby develops congenital heart block.
Therefore, frequent medical check ups are essential for healthy mother and child to avoid lupus complications.