I’ve suffered from psoriatic arthritis for the last seven years and during that time I’ve had a number of different appointments with specialists and been prescribed a number of different medications, painkillers, immunosuppressants and biological drugs. Psoriatic arthritis is caused by my body ‘repairing’ healthy joints. In effect, my immune system is working overtime but in all the wrong areas. The thing with psoriatic arthritis is that it goes into periods of remission and flare without rhyme or reason.
During a flare, any of my joints can be affected causing heat, swelling and stiffness. It can affect how I walk, move and take care of myself. I’ve been really lucky in the sense that for the most part, my arthritis has been in remission for the last couple of years. Of course, I’ve had some pain issues and I’ve still had to take strong medications but I felt ok and has it wasn’t impacting my life too much.
Pregnancy & Psoriatic Arthritis
When we decided to have a baby, I spoke in depth with the specialist at the hospital about how this would affect me. Could you get pregnant suffering from psoriatic arthritis? Can it affect the baby? I was told that it was completely safe to get pregnant and that actually during pregnancy often psoriatic arthritis goes into remission due to the hormones that the body naturally produces. I have to say that although I suffered from lots of different ailments during pregnancy arthritis wasn’t one of them. The specialist had mentioned that often psoriatic arthritis can come back with quite a vengeance after birth but after having Hugo in June I felt fine!
It started with what felt like normal shoulder pain. Breastfeeding Hugo meant that I spent a huge part of my day sat upright holding him. I started having this pain across my shoulders that I put down to sitting poorly and holding a baby all day. So, I started to be conscious of how I was holding Hugo and I would use a feeding pillow as a support to give my shoulders a rest. The pain didn’t ease though and I found I was completely stiff across both shoulders and it became increasingly difficult to lift Hugo. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and my knee was completely swollen that I realised the arthritis was making a comeback.
Due to breastfeeding I’m limited to what kind of medication I can take and of course I don’t want to take anything that will pass through the breast milk and affect the baby but I also don’t want to have to stop breastfeeding so I’m kind of in a Catch 22 situation. Whilst I was waiting for an appointment with the specialist my other knee swelled up and I also had some pain and swelling in my right foot.
I’ve been taking paracetamol and ibuprofen regularly and they just weren’t doing anything. I was stiff, unable to pull myself out of bed and holding or feeding Hugo was difficult. I saw my GP who initially prescribed some oral steroids to help get over the worst part whilst I was waiting for the specialist appointment. At first, they helped and they are safe at that dosage to take whilst breastfeeding but I was still in quite a lot of pain so I was really hoping that the specialist would be able to help.
Seeing the Specialist
I saw a specialist nurse at the hospital initially who administered a general steroid injection. I’ve had these injections before and they’ve never really been that effective but I was hopeful that this time it would help just keep things at bay just whilst I finished a breastfeeding journey. The alternative is a steroid injection directly into the joint which is much more painful and can often cause more issues than it fixes.
After a week, the steroid injection had been ineffective and I was left in agonising pain. I realised that this might well be the end of my breastfeeding journey because as much as I want to feed my baby in this way my health has to come into it too. It was a really emotional moment to be sitting at 30 years old and have your body completely failing you. When I spoke to the specialist at the hospital he advised that starting the biological drugs again would be an option and although there are traces that pass over in the breastmilk they aren’t absorbed in the gut so don’t cause any issues for breastfed babies.
The thought of taking such a strong drug whilst breastfeeding makes me nervous however I have spoken to many different people including the specialist pharmacist who have all advised me that it is completely safe. I know that this drug works and that I will gain my independence again and it means I can continue to breastfeed so sounds like the best solution. I need to wait until Hugo has his second set of vaccines which is in a couple of weeks so until then I am topping up with oral steroids and regular paracetamol and ibuprofen which for the most part are helping. Fingers crossed this flare is short and my arthritis hits remission early.
Thank you for stopping by! Check out my last post here.
Love as always!
*Don’t Forget you can sign up to my newsletter quick and easily by entering your details in the sidebar.*
If you want to know more about me head over to this page. Do you like posts like this? It’s free and easy to follow me on Bloglovin. Don’t forget to check out my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & YouTube channel. Links marked with * are affiliate links this does not cost you anything. For more information on any of this please head over to this page.