For women with a chronic disease or condition, most assume that pregnancy is out of the question. In fact, many don’t even bother to ask their doctors – they expect a “no” before they’ve even started to ask any questions. But there’s plenty of research to suggest that these women don’t always have to be too scared to try. With professional support before conception and throughout a pregnancy, many can go on to have a child of their own.
Sufferers of the autoimmune condition lupus, for example, are often fearful that pregnancy will worsen their condition. When the truth is, with careful preparation, many sufferers can have a successful pregnancy. But to minimize problems, lupus sufferers are best off seeking, and heeding, professional advice.
Epilepsy is another example. Some doctors find their patients are unwilling to take their antiepileptic drugs if pregnant, or trying, for fear of side effects. And women are quick to tarnish all drugs with the same brush – when some formulations or combinations can actually be much safer than others. It’s a question of asking, and in good time – as the earlier a doctor manages a woman’s treatment, the better chance she’ll have of a healthy pregnancy.
HIV sufferers may also be unwilling to try, but research shows that with adequate preparation, mothers-to-be can reduce the transmission rate from 25% to around 1% if they work alongside their physician on a prevention strategy. And this huge jump in transmission figures is simply the difference of seeking professional help or not.
Rather than being too scared to try – or too scared to ask – women with chronic diseases or conditions should have the courage to voice their concerns to healthcare professionals. Unless they do, they’ll never know just how good their chances are at having a family.