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What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. MS is an autoimmune disease, a disease where the body produces antibodies or lymphocytes against substances naturally present in the body. In people with MS the brain has difficulty getting messages to the rest of the body.

MS is the most common chronic autoimmune demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) which preferentially involves young women in early child bearing age, so it's not unusual to have women with MS get pregnant.

There is a wide range of how people are affected by MS, it can be relatively disabling, with some losing their ability to write, speak, or walk while others have only mild symptoms.

What is the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

The exact cause of MS is still being researched and many different causes are being discussed including viruses, autoimmune disorders, environmental factors, and genetic factors. In all of these possible causes the body's immune system attacks its own nervous tissue. 

Symptoms of MS may be mild or severe, they may appear in various combinations, last shorter or longer.

What impact has multiple sclerosis on pregnancy and pregnancy on multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis can first appear during pregnancy, it could have been diagnosed prior to pregnancy or in the postpartum period.

The good news is that if you have MS and get the right medical care, chances are you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

There is little evidence that MS increases infertility In general, the course of MS is not made worse or better with pregnancy. There are some studies showing MS symptoms are made better during pregnancy. A 2015 study showed that  there were no negative long term effects of pregnancy as well as no additional negative effects during pregnancy. Another review stated that female patients with multiple sclerosis, especially those without severe symptoms, should not be discouraged from having children. Other studies show that MS symptoms decrease in pregnancy and increase during the postpartum (after delivery) period. Getting pregnant, congenital abnormalities, the course of pregnancy, and labor and delivery, are generally not significantly different in women with MS when compared with those without MS.  Pregnant women with MS need close monitoring of the disease and of fetal well-being. More frequent prenatal visits may be needed. 

Women in labor with MS may not have pelvic sensation, and may not feel pain with contractions. This may also make it difficult for them to tell when labor begins. Delivery of the baby may be more difficult in women with MS. While labor itself is not affected, the muscles and nerves needed for pushing can be affected. This may make Cesarean section surgery, forceps, and vacuum-assisted deliveries more likely.