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Pregnancy Problems

Lupus During Pregnancy

Everything you wanted to know about lupus during pregnancy, including how to keep you and baby healthy for all nine months.

What is lupus during pregnancy?

Lupus is an inflammatory disease — it’s an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system sometimes attacks your body’s healthy tissues.

What are the signs of lupus during pregnancy?

Lupus can show up in a variety of ways, depending on what parts of your body are affected. You may have fatigue, headaches, pain or swelling in your joints or face, a rash, sensitivity to light, hair lossfever and maybe even other symptoms.

Are there any tests for lupus during pregnancy?

Yep. Since lupus is easy to confuse with some other conditions, your doc will make the diagnosis based on tests; blood testing, urine testing and/or a biopsy may be used to see if you have lupus.

How common is lupus during pregnancy?

We’re not sure, but we do know that 9 out of 10 adults with lupus are women ages 15 to 45 — that’s right in childbearing territory.

How did I get lupus?

Causes of lupus are still being researched, but it may have something to do with genetics and hormones.

How will my lupus affect my baby?
While moms with lupus deliver healthy babies all the time, it’s important to know that patients with lupus or other autoimmune disorders are also at a higher risk of miscarrying. That's why proper treatment is so important for moms-to-be.

Luckily, studies have shown that pregnancy doesn't affect the long-term course of lupus, although flare-ups are more common after you deliver. It's also extremely unlikely that baby will be born with the disease, no matter how severe your own case. That said, it's best for you and baby if you can conceive when your disease is in a quiet period (if it's at all possible to plan this). Make sure to let your OB know you have lupus so she can get in touch with your regular doctor, if need be. It's good if both doctors are on the same page to ensure both you and baby stay as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy.

What’s the best way to treat lupus during pregnancy?

Once you're pregnant, it's especially important for your doctors to keep close tabs on you. Lupus puts you at an increased risk for preeclampsia, a serious disorder that can damage the kidneys, liver, brain, heart and eyes. So you and your doctor should be on the lookout for telltale symptoms including headaches, rapid weight gain and swelling in your hands and/or face. If you're diagnosed with preeclampsia, you may need to stay in the hospital for monitoring, and baby may even have to be delivered early. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your doc.

What can I do to prevent lupus?

You can’t.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have lupus?

“I was diagnosed with lupus in 2002 and am pregnant now for the first time at age 34. So far, all has been good, and recent blood work showed no lupus activity. My rheumy told me to pay attention to blood work. The only thing I’ve noticed so far is that the fatigue has gotten worse as I move into the second trimester.”

“I just got diagnosed in January. When I asked my rheumy about getting pregnant (I’m not yet), he said that I could get a maternal-fetal specialist to work together with my ob-gyn.”

“I’m 27 years old with lupus that’s been in remission for several years. I’m 10 weeks pregnant. My current OB doesn’t see the need to consider me high-risk, but everything I’ve read suggests that all lupus patients who are pregnant should be considered high-risk.”

Are there any other resources for lupus during pregnancy?

Lupus Foundation of America

Plus, more from The Bump:

Three Rules of Thumb Every High-Risk Patient Should Know


Miscarriage Risks

By Colleen Canney