Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy: "You have to take good care of yourself and listen to your doctors"
Published Sep 22, 2021 • By Andrea Barcia
Vanya_85, a member of the Carenity community, has had multiple sclerosis for 14 years. After a very difficult period, she has recovered and is now expecting her first baby!
She answers all our questions about pregnancy when you have MS!
Read her story below!
Hello Vanya_85, thank you for agreeing to share your story with us on Carenity.
First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, I'm Vanya, I have MS and I'm pregnant! Like many people, I like to walk, listen to music, travel, have fun and laugh a lot!
How many years have you lived with multiple sclerosis? Were you expecting the diagnosis? How did you process it?
I was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago! I didn't expect it, I didn't know anything about the disease, I didn't know anything at all!
At the beginning it was very hard, I thought that my life was meaningless, that people would not accept me and much more.... But with the support of my family, I came to terms with the MS and here I am now.
What is it like living with MS? Have many things that have changed since you were diagnosed?
At the beginning, it was very hard. They changed my medications several times - I went through all the interferons and they didn't work for me. It was like that for several years until Tysabri® came out, this medication changed my life!
When I was diagnosed, I was a girl, and now at 36 years old my life is much better and I'm truly happy!
You're about to be a mum, how did you make this decision? Was it difficult? What advice did you doctor give you?
Yes, I am expecting a baby! It was difficult because I had so many doubts, questions and fears. My doctor helped me a lot, she explained everything to me. She told me that during pregnancy the fetus protects the mother, and you don't usually see flare-ups. So, I was encouraged.
How do you a plan a pregnancy when you have multiple sclerosis? Was there anything you had to know or do beforehand?
To get pregnant I only had to stop my MS treatment 6 months before I started trying for a baby. You have to make sure that the medicine is clear from your system, so a blood test is done and that's it.
In the end, after many twists and turns, I decided to go for it and I'm very happy.
Do you feel that your doctors have supported you at every step in your MS and pregnancy journey?
I was and am very calm because the doctors were by my side, if I had any doubts, I would call them and if necessary, they would make appointments for me. I'm especially grateful to them.
You must be excited to finally meet your long-awaited child, of course, but how have you managed pregnancy?
Yes, I can't wait to see his little face.
My pregnancy has been fine, with only a small bump in the second trimester. I had a mild flare-up with my whole right side totally numb, and they had to put me on corticosteroids for 5 days. I was a bit ill. In the end it went away, and I haven't had any more discomfort.
The pregnancy in general is fine, I'm glad I made the decision to go for it!
Do you have any MS symptoms or just general pregnancy symptoms?
With regard to multiple sclerosis, I feel great! No symptoms or discomfort.
Pregnancy symptoms, yes, I've already gained so much weight!
Since you're not experiencing any MS symptoms currently, is there anything else you need to look out for or do before, during or after the birth?
I just have to take good care of myself and listen to my doctors.
Have you decided if you are going to breastfeed your baby or not? Why or why not?
No, I am not going to breastfeed, it is better for me to go back on my treatment when the baby is born, and to avoid any flares (after the birth it is very possible). It's normal after more than a year without treatment that the MS becomes active. That does worry me a bit.
But as I said, I trust my doctors.
Looking back, you experienced some of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions during your pregnancy. How did you manage the pregnancy, the MS and all the fears and doubts we were all going through at that time?
The lockdown didn't affect me at all, and I worked all through my first trimester!
I always did my best to think positively that everything would be fine, and it was (besides the slight flare-up I had, but otherwise, a good pregnancy).
And now, how do you see the future?
Hmm... I hope to be well and to be able to take care of my baby! I hope that my MS doesn't become too active and that it lets me enjoy myself.
Finally, what advice would you give to other Carenity members living with multiple sclerosis?
I would tell them to take good care of themselves and to think positively and everything will sort itself out.
The best thing is to come to terms with your MS and live with it. It is hard, but not impossible.
For those who want to become mothers, don't be afraid! It's a very beautiful phase in one's life and it is possible for people with MS!
Many congratulations and thanks again to Vanya_85 for sharing her story with us on Carenity!
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