Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience. You may decide to stop your medications — or not. This is a discussion you will need to have with your rheumatologist and/or dermatologist and shouldn’t make on your own.
When I found out I was pregnant, I talked to my doctor about stopping Otezla. To be honest, I was only seeing maybe a 50 percent improvement in my psoriatic arthritis symptoms and I didn’t think it would be beneficial to stay on it. After talking to my rheumatologists and my ob/gyn, I also decided to stop taking a lot of the supplements that help me manage my condition.
At first, I was nervous as to how I was going to manage my symptoms while pregnant. But I soon realized that, despite having to stop some drugs and supplements, there are still many things that are fine to continue during pregnancy. Here are a few things to try:
Use essential oils
Something I turn to often to provide relief are essential oils. The symptoms they can help support range from inflammation, nerve irritation, stomach issues, and skin flare-ups. An essential oil blend called Deep Blue is a lifesaver for me whenever my joints are hurting or my body’s aching. Since I can’t take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or high doses of turmeric during my pregnancy, Deep Blue is my go-to.
Wear sea bands
Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been extremely nauseous. My first trimester was horrible, I was throwing up five to six times a day. Because of this, I started wearing sea bands religiously. (Honestly, I think I’m going to permanently have indentations on my wrists from them.) I have always used compression gloves to help support my hand stiffness and pain, but these bands actually help as well. They feel great and I’ve had to wear my compression gloves less because of them.
Even if you’re not experiencing nausea, don’t forget about your psoriatic arthritis tool kit. You can still use compression gloves. Stim machine? Plug it in and fire that baby up. If you have questions about which tools are safe to use, ask your doctor or midwife.
With psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to keep moving. Whether it’s by keeping up your hand exercises, yoga, or by doing a YouTube video, keeping your body moving can be very beneficial. Need some examples? Check out thse strategies.
When I was in my first trimester I didn’t want to move an inch. If I did, I knew I’d end up in the bathroom losing my lunch. I knew moving would be really helpful for my joints, but I also knew I had to honor my body. I paced myself and didn’t push it. Once I was feeling better into my second trimester, I was able to start doing more yoga and walking more and more. Don’t overdo it, but remember that remaining active can be very helpful for all systems in your body.
Get lots of rest
In the same vein of keeping your body moving, your body needs to rest too!
Your body is going through a lot. You’ve got a baby growing inside you, but you’re still dealing with your autoimmune issues as well. That’s why extra rest is vitally important. Your body can focus on healing and calming inflammation when you’re resting. So take extra rest when you can and definitely pace yourself.
Make smart food choices
Now more than ever it’s essential to keep a good handle on your diet. With pregnancy can come some super intense cravings. But remember, many foods can cause flares. During my first trimester I was living on hard candy 24/7. All that sugar really caused my psoriasis to flare — all over my scalp, legs, and chest. Once I cut back on the candy, my legs cleared up completely and my scalp started to become less irritated.
There are many ways to use food as a tool to help fight your inflammation.
Try some new lotions
With the psoriasis flare-ups, I couldn’t turn to normal lotions and products because now that I’m pregnant I’m even more crazy about the ingredients I’m putting on and in my body. After talking to my dermatologist, I’ve been using a simple combination of coconut oil and melaleuca essential oil. This simple combination is helping with the itch and providing some soothing relief.
Accept the imperfections
I can’t say the coconut and melaleuca mixture is clearing up all my psoriasis, but it is helping me manage. I think the most important thing to do is to accept your imperfections. Sure, my scalp is flared up and it isn’t ideal, but when I’m holding my little one it’ll all be worth it. So treating myself with love, patience, and giving myself the respect I deserve, helps me deal with the flare ups.
Each of us will have different experiences during pregnancy, but by remaining positive throughout your journey you can help approach your health in a positive way. Sure, some patients experience remission during their pregnancies, while others may have bigger flare-ups. You’ll never know what kind of experience you’ll have until you’re in the middle of it.
Just remember that you’re not alone, there are so many women who have experienced or are experiencing this situation. Looking for support? Make sure to follow the Psoriasis Health Central Facebook page and connect with other psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis patients who are going through similar situations!