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MS and Pregnancy:
A Pre-Postpartum Checklist
by Rose Cohen

Nothing compares to the joy (and relief) of welcoming a newborn family member. But the weeks after delivery are daunting-and hold some special pitfalls when MS is in the mix.

  • The breastfeeding decision: Whether yes or no, don't let anyone guilt you
    Women differ and so does their MS! Have a thorough discussion about nursing with your own MS doctor. Healthy, well-adjusted babies can be raised on bottles. Today's formulas are easy and nutritionally superior to those of old. On the other hand, the advantages of breastfeeding to an infant are real. A breastfeeding consultant may pave the way to a good adjustment.


  • Inexperience: Get smart
    The "mother instinct" is a myth. Parenting is learned. Make time for classes in infant care-and connect with friends who have young kids. (A good pediatrician is vital, but you need another parent for heart-to-hearts about the weird stuff.)


  • Fatigue: Absolutely plan to have help
    "How can one little baby take up so much time?" You'll believe it only after you've lived it. It takes weeks for a new mother to regain her normal strength. Meanwhile, even the most easy-going infant shreds sleep, disrupts mealtimes, and produces laundry in Alp-like dimensions. Add the unique fatigue of MS and be assured you will need help. Whether help comes from family members, volunteers, paid houseworkers, baby-care professionals, or a combination of all four, create a schedule with a division of labor and realistic limits.


  • Depression: MS might increase the odds
    The risk of depression is high in MS. Plus, depression goes hand-in-hand with post-pregnancy hormonal shifts. An estimated 70% of new mothers without MS have bouts of feeling blue, angry, and anxious within a few days of birth. One out of 10 moms who do not have MS develops serious postpartum depression. Persistent feelings of inadequacy, irritability, lack of interest in the baby, or over-concern about the baby are among the signs that your hormones have hit you up. If negative emotions fill your space, call your MS health-care provider. Untreated depression can be deadly. Treatment can restore balance and joy.

 

 
     
 
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  Last updated May 2006  
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