A coordinated care plan between your haematologist and your obstetrician helps ensure the health of you and your unborn child.
Some people are diagnosed with an MPD in their twenties and thirties – a time in life when you may be thinking about starting a family. The good news is that having an MPD doesn’t have to prevent you from having children. If possible, you will want to plan ahead with your health care team before becoming pregnant. And if you’re already pregnant, your haematologist can help protect your health and that of your unborn child. Here are ten tips for pregnancy with an MPD. You can find more detailed medical information in our Pregnancy section. We also invite you to participate in our UK-wide survey of MPDs in pregnancy.
If you (or your partner) are thinking about becoming pregnant or if you are already pregnant, it’s important to talk with your haematologist, GP and obstetrician as early as possible. They can assist you in making treatment decisions and advise you about your care as you go through your pregnancy.
Some medications for MPDs are not compatible with pregnancy. Optimally you should stop treatment with certain drugs (such as hydroxycarbamide and anagrelide) six months before trying to become pregnant or before fathering a child. These drugs are dangerous for a developing fetus. Your haematologist can assist you with choosing a safe medication and adjusting to any new medications before pregnancy if needed.
Women with MPDs do have a higher rate of miscarriage than women in the general population. A new research survey in the UK is investigating the best way to care for women with MPDs through their pregnancies, to ensure the optimal outcome for both mother and baby. Until we learn more, the best way to care for yourself and your unborn child is to coordinate your care closely with a haematologist and an obstetrician who can monitor you carefully throughout your pregnancy.
It can be helpful to bring others in your life into the picture. Help them to understand what you are going through, and ask for help and support – both emotional and physical – as you go through your pregnancy. This is especially important if you have suffered a miscarriage. Learn more in our Pregnancy section.
There are several treatments that are safe and effective to take during pregnancy.
Talk with your doctor and explore our Treatment section for more information on these treatments.
Miscarriage can be a traumatic and lonely experience. If you have suffered a miscarriage or a stillborn child, the Miscarriage Association (UK) can provide much-needed support and understanding.
Plan ahead for delivery Women with MPDs need careful monitoring throughout their pregnancy, especially for pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a common risk for pregnant women with MPDs and can be dangerous for both mother and unborn child. If you develop pre-eclampsia, you may be induced so that your baby is born a little early – this protects your health and that of your child. Your haematologist and obstetrician may recommend that you deliver your baby in a hospital rather than at home. This can sometimes feel disappointing but it is often the safest choice if your risks are higher than normal.
Your blood volume will decrease quickly right after delivery or after a miscarriage, and this puts mothers with MPDs at higher than usual risk of suffering clots. Your haematologist may recommend heparin injections for a period of several weeks after delivery to reduce any risks. Whether your baby is delivered vaginally or by caesarian section, you may also be at higher risk of bleeding after delivery, especially if you are taking heparin. Your incision take a number of weeks to close if you have had a caesarian section. It can be helpful to plan ahead by involving friends and family members early and asking for help, especially if you are very fatigued and are unable to drive for a time while on medication.
If your blood counts are high, your haematologist may recommend that you begin treatment with a cytoreductive drug such as hydroxycarbamide or anagrelide shortly after delivery. These drugs are not safe for newborns and can be passed through the breastmilk to your baby. If you require this treatment it will not be safe for you to breastfeed your baby. Talk with your haematologist for more information about breastfeeding and treatment options.
Many women with MPDs have gone through a miscarriage or have grappled with the problems of having an MPD throughout their pregnancy. If you would like to speak to someone who’s been there, please contact us or click here to learn more about peer support.