Multiple Sclerosis and Becoming a Mother
Multiple sclerosis can cause sensory problems like vision problems, numbness, and or tingling in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include a limitation of movement to one or all four extremities as well as limitations with fine motor skills, speech and body movement. The causes of MS are still not clear but it is obvious that the myelin sheaths that cover the nerves are attacked. It is possible for women with MS to have normal healthy pregnancies.
Women with MS are often prescribed medications that are used to treat symptoms and slow the diseases progression. These medications should be evaluated for their potential passage into breast milk. It is important to understand any potential effects the medications may have on the baby. Unfortunately, the symptoms of MS may be exacerbated during the postpartum period. Research has shown that there is an association between increased breastfeeding and decreased postpartum exacerbations, suggesting that breastfeeding may actually benefit women who suffer with MS. The upper extremities may be affected from MS making it difficult for the mother to pick up or hold her new born baby. Helping the baby to latch on effectively may also be challenging. If the baby is able to latch on successfully then it may be easier for the mother to breastfeed her baby instead of bottle feed her baby.
A lactation consultant can help a mother with MS to breastfeed effectively. The lactation consultant should show the mother different breastfeeding positions that she may be able to use. The consultant should also help the mother try out different breastfeeding pillows to determine which one works best for her. A mother who experiences fatigue should be encouraged to try breastfeeding positions while lying down.