Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pregnancy And Motherhood

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pregnancy And Motherhood


– Well, a year and a half ago, we met an incredible
young woman, Stephanie, and her husband, Andres. Now, for years, Stephanie has had chronic rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune and
inflammatory disease. Now, she told me and Pfizer’s
chief patient officer, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, that
she wanted to have a baby, even if it meant losing her life. Take a look. – I’ve been living with
rheumatoid arthritis for almost my entire life. I’ve been married to my
husband, Andreas, for six years. I would be willing to risk
my life to have a child. – Dr. Freda, Stephanie’s
concern about having a baby must be relatively common. – Absolutely common,
and many women are able to have successful pregnancies. – What’s a good plan
for women like Stephanie who want to start a family? – The first priority is to get rheumatoid arthritis
symptoms under control, and then have the understanding of what would be safe
for you as the mother, and what would be safe
for the baby in utero. – We just want to start a family and– – Sure.
– That’s difficult. – Well, Stephanie left here, really, more determined than
ever to become a mother, and I’m happy to announce
that Stephanie and Andres, are the proud parents
of a baby boy, Santiago, now five months old, take a look. (baby cries) – I love being a mom. It’s the greatest happiness
I could’ve ever imagined. But being a mom with RA, it just takes it to a whole new level. (baby cries) It breaks my heart when
I can’t do the things that he would want me to. One morning he needed a bottle, and my hand was stiff and I
couldn’t unscrew the bottle. – It makes me sad. I wish she didn’t have these pains, and she could experience
being a mom like other moms. – Sometimes I’m in excruciating
pain, but he needs me. I’m determined to be the
mom that Santiago needs. Every time I look at Santiago, he’s worth all the health risks I took. – Well, joining me are Stephanie, Andres, and my good friend, Pfizer’s
chief patient officer, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, so
welcome back you guys. (audience applauds) First, of course, let
me congratulate you both on your baby boy. Stephanie, because of your
rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, you knew getting pregnant
would be risky, right? So, did you follow Dr. Freda’s advice? – I absolutely did follow
Dr. Freda’s advice. She told me to plan and
coordinate with all my doctors. I had an entire medical
team working together throughout my entire pregnancy. – Right.
– And then once I became pregnant, Dr. Freida said that I could go into remission,
and I was very lucky, I did. And towards the end of my
pregnancy, the last month, my RA symptoms did start to come back. – So, Andres, how’s
fatherhood treating you? – Fatherhood’s been absolutely amazing. I know that even if
she’s having a flare-up or having difficulty with her RA symptoms, I can count on her to ask me for help. – So, Dr. Freda, now
that they are parents, and there are other steps that Stephanie should be taking, correct? – Absolutely; so, I just have
to say congratulations, too. (audience applauds) Like Stephanie, some women
may have RA symptom flare-ups in the months following delivery, which, of course, makes
taking care of a newborn even more difficult. So, one of the first things to do, then, is to discuss medications
with your doctor. Particularly, if you’re
planning to breastfeed. – Now, she mentioned that sometimes she’s having problems
even holding her baby, is that common for parents with RA? – It is; unfortunately, having
RA, as Stephanie describes, makes even seemingly simple, straight-forward childcare
tasks very difficult; picking him up, putting his clothes on. So, look for things that are helpful in relieving or reducing the
stress on your affected joints. That can be a support pillow, or choosing simple clothes for him. And also consider talking
to an occupational therapist for more tips and tools. – Now, most new parents have little time for themselves
and get little sleep. Is this a particular
concern for people with RA? – It is; I really wanna underscore this. So, for parents who are dealing
with rheumatoid arthritis, it is especially important to
lean on your support network. Ask for help, take the
help, take your breaks, and, importantly, get enough sleep. And it’s also important to remember that people with chronic
illnesses, like RA, may have an increased risk for depression, so taking time for both
your physical health and your mental health
is especially important. – Yeah, and parenting and
managing any health condition could really strain a marriage,
so it’s really imperative that parents communicate with each other. – You know, I agree. It’s a strain, having a newborn, for sure, but getting on the same
page and making sure that you’re clear about
what each other needs is really a good step in helping to ease some
of that potential strain. – Would you like to have more children? – Yes, and I’ll coordinate
with my medical team when I’m ready. – That’s so great to hear. (audience applauds) Look, if you or someone that you know has rheumatoid arthritis and is considering starting a family, you’re gonna a find a
wealth of information on gethealthystayhealthy.com. I really love this website,
so I highly recommend it. – And, of course, while you’re there, you can sign up for
the monthly newsletter, and you can kinda see the first time that we met Stephanie and Andres. – So, thank you guys,
really, for coming back and letting us know what was going on. (audience applauds) That’s so great.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *