We're all familiar with the saying that children are a gift from God and many are still out there trusting to receive this beautiful gift we speak of. However, we know that not every woman will experience pregnancy either for medical or other reasons but what do we know about sickle cell and pregnancy?
For the women that want the opportunity to experience motherhood but are afraid to have children because they have sickle cell disease, the question of whether or not to terminate these pregnancies if or when they occur can only come after a clear understanding that though such pregnancies are likely to result in live birth, they are at an increased risk of medical, fetal and obstetrical complications.
Some women have no change in their disease during pregnancy, while others may have worsening disease. Crises may still occur in pregnancy and may be treated with medications that are safe to use during pregnancy. Anemia may result in lower amounts of oxygen going to the fetus and slowed fetal growth and because sickling affects many organs and body systems, women with sickle cell disease are more likely to have complications in pregnancy. Complications and risks for the mother may include but not limited to:
- gall bladder problems including gallstones
- heart enlargement and failure from anemia
Complications for the fetus include:
- poor fetal growth
- preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- low birth weight
- still birth and new born death
Mothers with the sickle cell trait though are not at a higher rate for pregnancy complications, the baby may be affected still if the father also carries the trait. If this is the case, a procedure used to obtain a small sample of amniotic fluid called amniocentesis is offered to determine if the fetus has the trait or actual sickle cell disease.
Most women women with scd can deliver vaginally unless there are complications that prevent this from happening and some women may benefit from blood transfusions to replace sickled cells with fresh blood. It is important that who receive these transfusions get screened for antibodies that may have been transferred in the blood and that may affect the fetus.
Having sickle cell and being pregnant is not therefore impossible but women with the disease who want to have children need to be fully educated on all the risks she faces along with her baby before making the decision on whether it would be a safe decision to become pregnant.
Any advice for women with sickle cell anemia who want to have babies? Please leave them in the comments.
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