When most women plan a pregnancy or become pregnant, they rely on one doctor – their OB/GYN – for advice and care. If you have arthritis, however, you’ll need to continue seeing your rheumatologist as well. If you have lupus or scleroderma – or if you develop any problems during your pregnancy – your OB/GYN will probably refer you to a high-risk obstetrician. If he doesn’t volunteer, you should bring up the possibility yourself.
If arthritis affects your spine or hips, ask if your obstetrician has experience working with women with disabilities – unfortunately, most doctors don’t, says Michael Lockshin, MD, professor of medicine and OB/GYN at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of the Barbara Volcker Center for Women and Rheumatic Disease at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. If possible, find out the same about the anesthesiologist who will be working with you in the delivery room, should you need a C-section or pain medication during vaginal delivery.
Finally, you’ll probably want to stay in touch with your primary care physician. If you are a member of a health maintenance organization, this may be a necessity for medical coverage of your pregnancy.