Navigating Arthritis During Pregnancy: Insights and Considerations

Updated August 2023

Pregnancy is a transformative journey that brings about lots of physical and emotional changes.

For people with arthritis, this journey might require a bit more planning and attention, as managing arthritis symptoms while nurturing a growing life becomes a delicate balancing act.

In this article, we will explore arthritis during pregnancy, offering insights, considerations, and tips to help individuals make informed decisions and experience a healthier pregnancy journey.

The journey to parenthood can be uncertain and demanding, often both physically and emotionally, and sometimes more so if you are living with arthritis.

With proper planning and medical care, most people with arthritis can have safe, successful pregnancies and become loving, capable parents.

The first step on the path towards parenthood is to discuss your family plans with your rheumatology team before you start trying for a baby.

Some of the following information has been adapted from Arthritis and pregnancy - A practical guide to bumps, births, babies and beyond. Download or order your copy for further information. 

Family planning

I have arthritis…is having a family possible?
Conceiving a baby may take longer if you, or your partner, have arthritis but experts are not exactly sure how or why. 

Whatever your type of arthritis, your rheumatologist can help guide you as you plan to conceive. They can also refer you to other specialists, such as an obstetrician, to improve your chances of getting pregnant if you’re having difficulties conceiving.

If you or your partner has arthritis, make it a priority to talk to your rheumatologist at least six months before you start trying to conceive.

Your rheumatologist can advise on medications and other treatments during conception and pregnancy.

They will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that protects the health of your unborn baby, while also keeping your arthritis under control.


How your body will respond to pregnancy will be different for everyone. Some women sail through pregnancy and even find that that their arthritis symptoms go into remission (their symptoms improve or completely disappear) during pregnancy. But that does not happen for every mother-to-be.

Pregnancy brings with it many physical changes to your body. If you are living with arthritis, some of these changes may even make your arthritis symptoms feel worse. 

Pregnancy can also have a powerful effect on your mood, thoughts and emotions. Some emotional ‘ups and downs’ are a normal part of pregnancy.

However, if are feeling constantly sad, worried, scared or nervous, thinking negative thoughts about yourself, or are finding it difficult to sleep, eat or do the usual activities in your life, seek support. 

Talk to your GP or obstetrician about how you’re feeling and they can suggest the best treatment options.

Life with a new baby

Caring for a new baby is equal parts exciting and exhausting for all new parents. And, as a parent with arthritis, you may even experience some additional challenges.

Order or download Arthritis and Pregnancy for some tips that may help with

  • Nappy changing, bathing, and dressing
  • Cots, bassinets and high chairs
  • Out and about
  • Asking for help and taking care of yourself


Whether to breastfeed or not, or for how long, is a very personal decision. Many mothers, whether living with arthritis or not, can have issues that can prevent breastfeeding, or make it very difficult.

There are usually no physical reasons that prevent women with arthritis from breastfeeding, apart from possible discomfort if you and your baby are not positioned correctly during feeding.

You can get advice on this from your child health nurse or lactation consultant.

Some arthritis medications are safe to take during breastfeeding as they do not pass into breast milk, or only in very low levels that are safe for the baby. Others can pass into your breast milk and will not be safe for your baby.

Talk to your healthcare team, including your rheumatologist, about your plans for breastfeeding so that the best treatment plan, for both you and your baby, can be put into action when your baby is born.

Considerations and Tips for Managing Arthritis During Pregnancy:

#1. Consultation is Key:

Before planning a pregnancy, consult with your rheumatologist. They can assess your arthritis severity, medication usage, and overall health, offering guidance for a safe pregnancy journey.

#2. Medication Discussion:

Discuss your current medications with your healthcare provider. Some arthritis medications might need to be adjusted or changed during pregnancy to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby.

#3. Pain Management Strategies:

Non-medical pain management strategies such as physical therapy, gentle exercises, and using assistive devices can provide relief while minimizing risks.

#4. Prenatal Care:

Regular prenatal check-ups are crucial to monitor both your pregnancy and arthritis symptoms. Open communication with your healthcare team is essential.

#5. Healthy Lifestyle:

Adopt a balanced and nutritious diet, maintain a healthy weight, and get plenty of rest. These factors contribute to overall well-being, benefiting both you and your baby.

#6. Exercise Wisely:

Engage in pregnancy-safe exercises that help maintain joint flexibility and muscle strength without worsening arthritis symptoms.

#7. Emotional Well-Being:

Pregnancy and arthritis management can be emotionally challenging. Seek support from healthcare providers, friends, family, or support groups to address emotional needs.


Arthritis and pregnancy can coexist, but thoughtful planning and guidance are essential.

By collaborating closely with your healthcare team, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and practicing self-care, you can navigate the complexities of arthritis during pregnancy.

Remember that every pregnancy is unique, and what works for one person might differ for another.

Through proactive management and a holistic approach, individuals with arthritis can embrace the joy and anticipation of parenthood while effectively managing their condition.

Adapted from
Arthritis and Pregnancy - A practice guide to bumps, births, babies and beyond. (2018). Arthritis Australia. 

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