Labor and later - is the hard part over?

Delivery usually progresses normally in women with MS. However you may have extra difficulties in pushing during labour, because of the muscle weakness associated with MS. Forceps or suction devices may be necessary.

Some obstetricians believe that the most effective pain-relievers during labour are epidurals or general anesthetics. Others recommend strong pain medications such as opioids or Lamaze techniques.

After your baby is born, you may find that your symptoms are worse during the first 3 to 6 months. The risk of relapse (a recurrence of symptoms) is approximately 20% to 40% after delivery. However, doctors believe that these relapses will not increase your risk of long-term disability. The first 6 months after delivery is the highest-risk period for flare-ups, so ensure you get proper nutrition and rest during this period. Try to reduce your risk of and exposure to infections, fever and stress. Eat a well-balanced diet that follows Canada's Food Guide, and increase your intake of vitamins B and C.

Having a baby means extra work for parents, and for women with MS the added work can increase feelings of fatigue. If possible, try to have extra help at home; conserve your energy for yourself and your baby.

Most doctors believe that the risk of flare-ups does not increase in women with MS who breast-feed. However, you should talk to your doctor and obstetrician if you're considering breast-feeding. Some women find they are too tired to breast-feed. For others, breast-feeding is not recommended because they are taking certain MS medications.

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