Arthritis can present or develop in people of any age, and many women who have arthritis may be able to have a baby without any real problems. One exception is certain forms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Some arthritis medication can temporarily reduce the ability to conceive, or can lower the sperm count. Some drugs can also make the contraceptive pill less effective. Some arthritis treatment may place the baby at risk of birth defects and it is best to talk to your doctor if you’re planning to have a baby.
Pregnancy is hard on the back, hips and knees because of the extra weight carried. How much this affects you will determine what type of arthritis you have. Some women with rheumatoid arthritis find that their arthritis symptoms improve during pregnancy.
Labour and childbirth require movement of the back and hips, which can aggravate arthritic joints in this part of the body. Talk to your midwife or obstetrician before labour. Consider water birth, which will take much of the weight off your back and legs. Some women with serious hip disease may require elective caesarean section.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2011)