8 minutes, 8 seconds
Getting to know you
Can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Paula, I am 33 years old, I am a computer teacher, I’m married and I have two children. I also have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis for almost 10 years. In addition, for six years I have been blogging my stories with multiple sclerosis.
Deciding to start a family
When you and your partner decided you wanted to start a family, did you discuss this with your doctor straight away? What kind of things did you talk about during this conversation?
The first time I spoke with my neurologist about starting a family was before I got married taking advantage of a treatment change. It was something that my partner and I had planned to do in the future, but we still did not have very clear when. That first time, he talked to me in a general way about what was the procedure to follow for the pregnancy of a woman with multiple sclerosis and recommended that I be a year without outbreaks.
On this occasion, after two years without outbreaks, with the decision taken by us, I transferred it to the neurologist to explain in more detail what this planning would be like to get pregnant and what were the deadlines to stop the treatment I was taking at that time.
Did your doctor talk to you about issues like drug half-life etc. when coming off treatment and trying to get pregnant? Did he recommend a time to wait to try to conceive?
Yes, I was told that each treatment has a “cleaning period” and that after that time I could start trying to get pregnant. In my case, according to the treatment I was taking, that cleaning period was three months. Being such a long period and given the previous activity of my disease, we decided to put another treatment with a shorter cleaning period to avoid that during that time I had an outbreak. When I finished the cleaning period I started to see blurred and dizzy, I waited a few days in case it got better and I went to visit the neurologist. What I didn’t know is that I was already pregnant, so a few days later I called back to tell him about it.
Did you have any worries about actually getting pregnant? (i.e. symptoms impacting on the ability to physically have sex)
What worried me the most was how long it would take me to get pregnant.
How far in advance of actually getting pregnant, did you stop your MS treatment? Were you worried about doing so? Do you feel like you were well informed enough to make the decision to do so?
In my case, it was three months prior to becoming pregnant the first time and two weeks prior to becoming pregnant the second time. The first time, I was very worried but on the second occasion, I relaxed a lot. In both cases, I talked to my neurologist about what to do if I did not go as planned, mainly if I had an outbreak or it took several months to get pregnant.
Being pregnant with MS
How has MS affected your pregnancy, has your experience been different to that of your first child (or vice versa – has your pregnancy influenced your MS symptoms) this time? Did you discuss any changes with your doctor?
My experience has been very different in the two pregnancies. With the first one, it gave me an outbreak just when I got pregnant, after the recovery the illness was as if I was on pause. In addition, due to the weight, the sequels that had in the legs worsened during that period.
With the second, I had symptoms of multiple sclerosis during the first two trimesters, which I used to have in my daily life: tingling, cramps, that disappeared during the last trimester. In both cases, I was informing my neurologist of all the symptoms.
Did your doctor advise you get straight back on to treatment as soon as you had your baby?
Yes, in both cases I was recommended to return to treatment after having the baby.
Did you want to get straight back on to treatment as soon as you had your baby?
I wanted to make the decision that would be best for everyone, to find myself well and to be able to enjoy the experience with the least possible risks. I wanted to be fine without being aware of multiple sclerosis.
Advice for others considering having a baby
What advice would you give to people living with MS who want to start a family (both men and women)?
If they want to be fathers or mothers, do not be afraid, they will give the best of themselves to take care of their children. If they need to do something differently from others because of their circumstances or limitations, for example, not to hold them so much in their arms, not to worry, the children adapt and understand it. They end up becoming a great force to keep moving forward. They are going to do it superbly.
Also, plan it with the neurologist to look for the best time and the best option, but that the final decision corresponds to each person.
Are there any myths about women living with MS and pregnancy you wish to dispel?
Pregnancy is NOT contraindicated for women with multiple sclerosis. You have to talk to the neurologist, plan it, agree on a plan with times, objectives according to the circumstances of each person and explaining all the risks of each decision. In addition, that despite our limitations we are capable of taking care of our children like any other person, what they need most is love and affection.
© Genzyme Europe B.V.
Date of approval: April 2018
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