So I thought I'd do a quick post about RA and pregnancy, as this blog originally started out to be more about RA. I know there are a couple readers who have RA too, and the more positive info one can find out there the better!
I've been on Enbrel and Plaquenil for a few years. Enbrel is like magic. Although I have some residual wrist damage from pre-Enbrel days (I probably have a 40-degree range of motion or so, they just don't bend beyond that!), except for an occasional (every 6 months or more) flare, I feel great. The Plaquenil (strangely, an anti-malarial) was added a year ago after a flare that involved one ankle. My rheumatologist cleared me to stay on both the medications. He had me go off the small dose of prednisone (which I had though was the safest of all the meds) due to a minor, possible connection between higher doses of that and cleft lips/palates in the fetus. I also registered with a group in California that is studying the effects of lots of drugs on pregnancy, OTIS, in my case joining the one that studies Enbrel's effects: www.raandpregnancy.org. Basically they call me up every couple months and I answer some questions, then within a year of the kid's birth, they send a pediatrician out to take non-invasive measurements of the head, abdomen, etc. They're always very willing to answer questions about what they've found, which so far has been positive...as in, there's no found risk to the fetus. RA will often improve in pregnancy, but since I was pretty "improved" going in, had I gone off the medications I surely would have had a decline. And with flares common 1-3 months after giving birth, I really didn't want to be stuck in a situation where I couldn't walk, couldn't pick the kid up, change a diaper, etc. So it made sense to me to stay on the meds, and from the looks of things the kid is completely unaffected. I'm sure it's always a tough decision to weigh the pros and cons of being on medication during pregnancy, but in my case the risk was minimal to non-existent, and the benefits literally life-changing.
Anyone with RA reading this, feel free to ask questions!!
I'm going to do a kid update in a new post...