Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy

Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis often notice changes in their symptoms during pregnancy. In fact, many have fewer symptoms when they pregnant. However, some may experience a flare during pregnancy. Therefore, we will discuss what you need to know about Rheumatoid Arthritis and pregnancy.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pregnancy

How Does RA Affect Pregnancy?

With careful medical care, women with RA today can expect to have successful pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. However, women with RA who become pregnant may have an increased risk of the following complications:

  • Preeclampsia is a complication during pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and an excess of protein in the urine. It can also occur after childbirth.
  • Premature delivery another complication that is more likely to occur in pregnant women with RA. There are multiple studies that show women with RA are more likely to give birth prematurely.
  • Low birth weight is another complication that may occur. According to a 2009 study, women with more sever RA had a higher likelihood of having underweight babies.

Those who suffer from RA may experience symptoms while pregnant that are common both during pregnancy and with RA. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Numbness or pain in the hands
  • Joint pain (particularly in the lower back and hips)

Planning for Pregnancy with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research suggests that some women with RA have more difficulty conceiving than those without the disease. However, always assume you are fertile until you receive evaluation by by a physician.

It is essential to involve both your rheumatologist and OB/GYN when planning for pregnancy with RA. The majority of women who have well-controlled Rheumatoid Arthritis have healthier pregnancies and babies than women who have really active disease at the time they become pregnant. Ideally, you need to have RA under control for 3 to 6 months before attempting to become pregnant. Women with uncontrolled RA may be at increased risk of complications.

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Hurt the Baby?

RA itself does not seem to harm the developing baby, even if the disease is active during pregnancy. While some women with RA may have a slight risk of miscarriage or babies with low birth weight, the vast majority of women have normal pregnancies without complications.

However, controlling RA generally requires disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Therefore, there’s a role for safe DMARD use before and during pregnancy. Not all DMARDs are safe, though. When considering pregnancy with Rheumatoid Arthritis, discuss medication options with your doctor here at AOCBV.


These are just the basics of Rheumatoid Arthritis and pregnancy. Contact us today with the link below to schedule an appointment with our doctors!

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