Who makes up your healthcare team when you’re pregnant and have MS? Linda M., Julianna R., and Dr. Kaplan discuss the support you may need throughout your pregnancy and MS journey.
Family Planning & Pregnancy
BEING PREGNANT WITH MS
Dr. Wanda Castro: Hi everybody. Welcome to She Talks MS. My name is Wanda Castro. I work for Biogen, and I’m going to be your host today. Today, we’re discussing family planning and pregnancy. Julianna, what was your experience when you were pregnant?
Julianna R.: It was great. As great as being pregnant can be sometimes. You know, it was my first time being pregnant. And so, I was a little nervous about not only my upcoming and current pregnancy symptoms. But I was also maybe vigilant to MS symptoms that may have come and gone. Fortunately, I felt that I had a lot of support through my OB and my pregnancy care team to help me through pregnancy-related symptoms and concerns that I had. And then I had my neurologist and his team help me with MS. I felt that whatever symptoms I had, I could address either way.
Dr. Tamara Kaplan (Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital): It can be so confusing, especially in early pregnancy, of is this MS, or is this pregnancy? Because some of the symptoms can be so similar. The need to urinate more often, the extreme fatigue that a lot of people feel.
Linda M.: You know, Dr. Kaplan, I think that’s a great point. During my pregnancy, I was extremely tired, and friends and family members would ask is that your MS? And I’m like, I think that’s just being pregnant and chasing after a toddler, being a mom.
Julianna R.: Some of my check-ins that I had with my neurologist, we would kind of go through a list of different symptoms. I felt that it was good to have people to ask because I almost needed that reassurance that, you know, no your MS isn’t all of a sudden progressing tremendously right now—you’re pregnant.
Dr. Kaplan: And it’s great to have two providers that you can really talk to about these things.
Julianna R.: Yeah, and I would add that I think making sure your pregnancy care team is aware and informed about your MS diagnosis is important. But they should also be aware of treatments and the landscape of MS. I was being classified as high-risk because I had MS, but my neurologist did not agree.
Wanda: Dr. Kaplan, is that normal?
Dr. Kaplan: Every pregnancy is very different. And so much of that depends on the nature of that particular woman’s MS. Someone who has a very benign course and is doing well before pregnancy, there is a very good possibility that they will have a healthy pregnancy.
Linda M.: Can I just add that I definitely felt more cared for. So, I had been pregnant before my MS diagnosis. And then once I got pregnant with the twins, you know like Julie mentioned—having two sets of healthcare providers that were supporting me—I felt extra special, I don’t know how to describe it. But I felt so cared for, and they were constantly in contact. It was great.
Dr. Kaplan: You should feel extra special when you’re pregnant.
Julianna R.: One thing that was really helpful for me was that my husband accompanied me to all of my appointments, whether they were MS related or pregnancy related. I was very happy to know that he was interested, and engaged and committed to going through pregnancy, which was tough on him too, and also my MS journey. And so, I feel like it really helped strengthen our commitment to each other by having him there.
Linda M.: I feel like MS sometimes is a family disease and we’re fighting it together.
Wanda: So, Linda and Julianna, how often did you check in with your healthcare providers?
Julianna R.: For my pregnancy, I think it’s every month in the beginning, and then every two weeks, and then every week. I was seeing my healthcare team for pregnancy quite often. You know, with my neurologist the first appointment was to see how things were going—just do a normal check-in and discuss postpartum planning. The second appointment was to see how things were going again, kind of confirm the plan.
Linda M.: Similarly to Julie, I was on the regular schedule both with my OB as well as my neurologist. Just checking in with my neurologist every six months.
Dr. Kaplan: I find myself collaborating a lot with OB-GYNs and other providers of prenatal care. But it really depends again on the pregnancy and on the woman. I did want to mention something about relapses during pregnancy, though. I do think it’s very important to talk to your doctor if you’re having a new neurologic symptom during your pregnancy. If we know about it, we can do something about it. So, it’s always a good idea to let your healthcare provider know.
Wanda: Dr. Kaplan, thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts and key takeaways. Julianna and Linda, thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. We know that this will be helpful for some of our viewers. We greatly appreciate it.
Everyone’s experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) is different. Your healthcare provider should always be your primary source of information. The people in this video are paid spokespeople for Biogen.