Linda M. and Julianna R. talk about caring for a newborn while living with MS. And Dr. Kaplan provides some insight for mothers who may be considering breastfeeding.
Family Planning & Pregnancy
WHAT TO EXPECT POSTPARTUM
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. Linda, how did you notice your MS was impacted after giving birth?
Linda M.: I didn’t notice any major differences, other than being tired. But I had a toddler at home, and then I had twins. And I couldn’t tell if the exhaustion was from the MS, or I think it was just being a mom of 3.
Julianna R.: This is something I was pretty concerned with. Your body is changing dramatically right after you have the baby. So, maybe at times, I felt hyper vigilant, like what am I feeling, is this MS related, is this not, is this just recovering from childbirth? One thing that helped me feel comfortable about kind of, my post-baby MS was that I had a plan in place with my neurologist to kind of monitor monthly. I did MRIs monthly to see if there were any subclinical changes.
Dr. Tamara Kaplan (Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital): That’s an important test to do—to see if there has been any change in MRI from before pregnancy to after. That might help decide what the next best steps are going forward. Women should be mindful of any new neurologic symptoms. That’s really important to talk to your doctor about. I always like to see my patients immediately postpartum, as soon as they’re feeling able to get out of the house and, you know, put some clothes on and come to the doctor’s office.
Wanda: Julianna, were you interested in breastfeeding? And if so, what were those conversations like?
Julianna R.: I was very interested in breastfeeding and breastfeeding for the longest duration I could while feeling comfortable and able. My neurologist was very supportive, with the caveat that we want to monitor and make sure you’re not having any new symptoms or exacerbations, and that we also, you know, want to weigh the pros and cons. I went back to work full-time after three months. I was pumping at work two or three times a day, taking it home, and so I also had to weigh the stress of doing that on sleepless nights and, you know, getting back to work and MS. And so just trying to factor all of those things in together helped me come up with a plan.
Dr. Kaplan: Breastfeeding is great if you’re able to, but it’s not for everyone and it’s a very personal decision that every woman needs to make and discuss with her healthcare provider.
Wanda: After you had your babies, how did you work with your husband parenting together?
Julianna R.: As women, we almost know what to expect because you’ve just gone through this long pregnancy, you’ve just given birth to your child, you’re recovering, and, you know, you just kind of jump in and you start doing things. But I think it was a shock for him in the beginning. I was worried that, you know, the more rundown I got, the worse I would feel and the less I’d be able to kind of recover. And so he jumped in and was very hands-on.
Linda M.: One of the pieces of advice I got when I was pregnant with my oldest was to take as much help as you can get from others, you know, from your village. And I didn’t really listen to that. I was like, I’m a new mom—I can do this all on my own. With my second pregnancy, you know, I tried to take as much help as I could and really said yes to anyone that would offer. So really just, you know, not only relying on my husband, but also on our village.
Wanda: And that change from your first child to the twins and getting help, how’d that make you feel?
Linda M.: It was great, and I wish I had done it the first time.
Wanda: What will be one piece of advice that you will give to someone that is in a similar situation as you?
Julianna R.: Don’t let this complicate or in any way stress you out in terms of how you’d be able to be a mom, and to be a good mother. And that your doctors and your healthcare providers will take care of you, and you just need to kind of focus on you.
Dr. Kaplan: I think the big takeaway is that every woman’s journey is her own. Every woman has her own story, her own experience with MS, and her own experience with pregnancy.
Wanda: We thank you, all of you, for sharing your stories with us, and Dr. Kaplan for your expertise. We hope that anyone watching the video is able to get a little piece of advice or feel more confident on what to talk to their doctors about pregnancy. So, thank you so much. Really 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.