A woman looks at a floating pill bottle contemplatively.

To the Moms Who Have to Take Medications During Pregnancy

I don't have the patience to read one more post from my birth group about how someone won't even take a Tylenol during pregnancy. Or, how they did take one, and now they feel like the worst mom ever.

There are women who feel that it's not appropriate to take Tylenol, drink coffee, or do many other things that are generally considered safe while pregnant. And some of them shame other moms for doing those things. Mom shaming - and medication shaming - is real, and it’s hard. But taking medication for your chronic illness during pregnancy is not something to be ashamed of, no matter what others have said to you.

Taking the right medications while pregnant

Currently, in my second trimester, my medication list is 14-20 meds long depending on the day and I am really struggling with it. It’s more than I took with my first pregnancy. But they are all necessary to keep my body from turning into a war zone. Even though I have a team of specialists overseeing all my medications to make sure they're as safe as possible, it’s still really hard to actually take them sometimes.

Unfortunately, most of the shame I’ve felt about my medications has come from people in the medical field. During my first pregnancy, I didn’t have doctors who were familiar with lupus and pregnancy. They told me to stop my medications and I ended up flaring a lot before getting back on course almost 2 months later. By my second trimester, I had found a great OB/GYN office.

So you can imagine my surprise when I returned for the confirmation of my second pregnancy and the OB was harsh with me when he reviewed my meds. He crossed off half the meds, without asking why I was taking them, and expressed displeasure about several others.

I’m very grateful for my maternal-fetal doctor and my rheumatologist that specializes in lupus and pregnancy, who were both kind and went over my medicines line by line to reassure me. They kept me on most of my meds; I only ended up switching one medication, stopping one, reducing the dose on another, and changing a couple from every day to once a week.

I know how you feel

To the moms who have to take medicine during pregnancy, I know how you feel. I know what it’s like to wonder, "How can this really be safe?" I’ve even asked my doctor that exact question.

I know what it's like to have my regular doctors ask questions about the medicines that are controlling my lupus during pregnancy.

I have been shocked and upset when my pharmacist told me they would not fill my script unless they spoke to my maternal-fetal doctor on the phone.

I have waited until the last unbearable moment to take my pain meds even though I know they are safe in small, infrequent amounts.

I know what it’s like to have your doctor pull up Reprotox to re-familiarize themselves with a less common medication.

I should really have MotherToBaby bookmarked since I check it so often to read about expected medication transfer from mom to baby.

I have watched the lactation nurse walk into my hospital room with reams of paper to go over the safety of breastfeeding on specific medications.

I have asked if my child can have their live vaccines on time because of their exposure to my immunosuppressant.

I've stressed and worried about all the things we might not know about medications that are considered safe - or worth the risk – for certain pregnancies. And I enrolled in a clinical trial so that my experience can further research about pregnancy and lupus.

Wanting to find moms living with chronic illness

So, I'm not like the other moms who are afraid to take a Tylenol. The Tylenol isn't what worries me. I would love to have a birth group full of other chronically ill moms so that we could empathize with one another about how our pregnancies are uniquely challenging.

If you’re going through this too, know you’re not alone.

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