Labor and Delivery

About 25 percent of women with lupus deliver healthy babies prematurely, often by C-section. Infection is a possibility after any delivery. If you are taking medications that suppress your immune system, however, infection is more likely. Most infections can be cleared up fairly easily and quickly with available antibiotics.

If you took corticosteroids for more than two or three weeks during pregnancy, your doctor will likely give you stress doses of corticosteroids during delivery and monitor your baby after delivering to make sure she is producing adequate corticosteroids on her own.

Post-Partum

If your baby came prematurely, he or she may have to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. If your baby was born with heart block, he may need to have a mechanical pacemaker implanted. Fortunately, most babies do well, says Dr. Petri and, except in the case of heart block, a mothers’ lupus probably won’t have a lasting effect on an unborn child.

A more common and much less serious problem for babies of mothers with lupus is a skin rash. “It could be anything, but often it is often spots all over [the baby] or just on the face,” says Dr. Lockshin. For a physician who is not familiar with the problem it may appear to be something more serious and for a woman who doesn’t know to expect it, it can be terrifying. “I make sure my lupus patients know about this in advance. And I tell them if their baby is born with a rash to call me first before they listen to what anyone else thinks it is.” Fortunately, the rash resolves on its own with time without any permanent effects.

If you plan to breast feed be sure to discuss medications with your doctor. Certain medications may also interfere with breast feeding – either because they suppress milk production or pass through the breast milk and are unsafe for the baby.