I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pregnancy & MS

Well, life has been pretty overwhelming lately.  I am now into my 6th month of my pregnancy and although I am very excited to welcome my baby boy into the world, I am definitely not ready/prepared.  Good thing we have 3 more months!  My husband and I are trying to get our basement finished before our little one arrives because right now we don't have an empty room for the nursery.  Due to my "condition," I have not been much help in the basement project.  I feel a little helpless, but I am trying to help in any way that I can.  Unfortunately, this pregnancy (or this pregnancy plus my MS) have me pretty tired!  I seem to make it through the work day ok, but when I get home, all I want to do is sit and/or sleep.  I know that my body is working really hard and it is normal to be tired, but we have SO much to do and SO much going on right now that being tired is not really an option right now during daylight hours.  I have been going to sleep around 9pm each night which helps, but the problem is I feel ready for bed around 7pm (some days even earlier).  Anyway, I just wish I had a little more energy to get everything done that needs to be done.

Speaking of pregnancy, this article was in my last emailer from MSF:
Pregnancy May Cut Risk of Developing MS
New research suggests that pregnancy may decrease women's risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
In an Australian study of 282 people with MS symptoms, having one pregnancy was associated with nearly halving the risk of developing MS symptoms compared to those who were never pregnant. Risk decreased even more with additional pregnancies, according to the study.
Study author Anne-Louise Ponsonby, head of the environmental and genetic epidemiology and research group at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and her research team reported they found an association between pregnancy and a lower risk of MS symptoms, not a direct cause-and-effect link.
Previous research has found that pregnancy in women who already have MS is linked with lower rates of relapse. The researchers say this association may help explain why the incidence of MS in women has inched up over the past few decades, as more women delay pregnancy or have fewer babies or none at all.
“In our study, the risk went down with each pregnancy and the benefit was permanent,” said Ponsonby.
Researchers reviewed information about 282 Australian men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 who had a first diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination, which means they had their first symptoms similar to MS but had not yet been diagnosed with the disease. They were compared to 542 men and women with no MS symptoms. For women, the number of pregnancies lasting at least 20 weeks and the number of live births were recorded. For men, the number of children born was recorded.
The study found that women who were pregnant two or more times had a quarter of the risk of developing MS symptoms and women who had five or more pregnancies had one-twentieth the risk of developing symptoms than women who were never pregnant. There was no association between the amount of children and risk of MS symptoms in men.
“The rate of MS cases has been increasing in women over the last few decades, and our research suggests that this may be due to mothers having children later in life and having fewer children than they have in past years,” said Ponsonby.
The researchers couldn't say exactly why pregnancy may lower MS risk, but they speculated it could be the increase in estrogen during pregnancy or the effect pregnancy has on inflammatory genes involved in MS.
The information may lead to future studies looking into hormonal treatment or other treatments that may alter the disease course.
The study was published online in the journal Neurology.
This article really made me wish that I had gotten pregnant earlier on in my life.  I am 28 now, will be 29 when this baby is born (god willing he doesn't come THAT early), and it would appear that had I gotten pregnant in my early 20s or even earlier, maybe I would have significantly decreased my risk of developing MS.  I guess there is no point in dwelling on what might have happened had I gotten pregnant earlier, but it does make me wonder if I ever would have been diagnosed had I had a baby earlier.  I wouldn't have been ready to be a mom in my early 20s, so really it is best that I didn't have a baby then, but sure would be nice to not have MS.  Makes me think of a Shel Siverstien poem called Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda:

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done...
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

 We all have woulda-coulda-shouldas, but we have to learn to live with the way things are (the "dids").  Don't get me wrong - I am very happy with the way my life has turned out.  I love my husband, my family, my job, my unborn baby boy, etc.  But who doesn't wonder and who doesn't wish certain aspects of their life was different?


  1. I was diagnosed Tuesday with rrms, I'm 31....and that same night found out I am pregnant! Hello, a lot of info to take in at once! I was just wondering what the outcome was for you and your little family? How did your pregnancy/labor go? Any bad relapse after? I just stumbled across your blog, and I know it's been a while since you posted this, and I could use all the info we can get right now! Also, what meds were/are you on? Thanks in advance!

    1. Sorry to hear of your diagnosis. But congratulations on your pregnancy! About a week before my son was born, I wrote an update on how my pregnancy was progressing: http://optimisticwithms.blogspot.com/2012/06/pregnancy-ms.html
      I had a very good pregnancy with no relapses and just a few minor flare ups of old symptoms. My research has been that women with MS do very well during pregnancy - it is common for MS to go into remission during pregnancy because the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy and, therefore, not attacking itself. Luckily, this was my experience. I went into labor a month early (due date was 7/27 and he came on 6/27). My water broke at about 1:00 am and my labor progressed very fast (he was born 5 1/2 hours later) and fairly uneventfully (other than the normal pain and whatnot). I went off Copaxone as soon as I learned I was pregnant and stayed off until a month after my son was born. It was important to me to breastfeed for a little while at a minimum. It was about 3 weeks after my son was born that I started having moderate flare ups and it became clear that it was in my best interest to get back on Copaxone to prevent any worsening. I have been back on Copaxone ever since. By the way, I chose Copaxone in the beginning because it is the only treatment classified as Category B for pregnancy so it can be used during pregnancy (I did not want to go that route, but if I had had any bad relapses during pregnancy I probably would have gotten back on the Copaxone while still pregnant). I was 27 when I was diagnosed so I knew that children were still a possibility for my husband and I, so that played a big part in choosing my treatment and I have been lucky that I have done very well with Copaxone. Like I said, I am back on Copaxone (since July 2012) and doing well.
      The one caveat here is that everyone responds differently to MS, so my experience may not be yours. I hope that you do as well or even better than I did throughout my pregnancy!
      You also asked about meds and while I already mentioned Copaxone, I am a very strong believer in vitamins and other lifestyle changes to help. I believe that Vit D is essential and I also take other daily supplements (including Calcium Citrate, folic acid, & B12). I would highly recommend getting your Vit D levels checked and consider taking Vit D at a minimum.
      I hope this information helps. Feel free to ask questions anytime.