The majority of people with Parkinson’s are over the age of 60. They obviously don’t deal with issues such as pregnancy. So there is not a lot of research out there that tells how Parkinson’s affects a pregnancy or how a pregnancy affects Parkinson’s. One small study that tracked 17 pregnant women with Parkinson’s showed that pregnancy was associated with a permanent worsening of symptoms in 10 of the women. All the babies were born healthy and there were no complications during the pregnancies themselves. So the risk to the baby was no greater than that of any normal pregnancy. That was good news.
The bad news: no medicine during pregnancy or breastfeeding or even while trying to conceive meant that I could be off my medicine for a couple of years. This was a pretty big deal since I was taking a medicine specifically to slow the progression of the disease. At the recommendation of my neurologist, I was also taking a couple of supplements that had been shown to slow the Parkinson’s progression. All of that would have to go. So I would be giving up my meds, and taking a risk that the pregnancy might permanently worsen my symptoms.
My husband was very scared about the worsening of my symptoms. Me? I wanted a baby bad enough that I was willing to risk a worsening of my symptoms. Of course, then that brought up a whole new round of questions I had to consider. Is it fair to have a baby and possibly not be able to give 100% physically to him? I struggled with this, and with whether I was being selfish or not. There were just so many unknowns and no way to know how my symptoms would progress or if they would progress at all. I always just kept coming back to the baby. I just wasn’t ready to give up that dream.
We knew that if we decided to try to have a baby that we didn’t want to take any drastic measures to get pregnant. With my first, getting pregnant took more than 2 years. I had my Fallopian tubes cleared twice and had surgery for Stage 4 endometriosis. I took Clomid for 7 months before conceiving. However, after she was born in November, I was pregnant again in February (even though I was exclusively breastfeeding). That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. By July of the same year, I was pregnant with my son, even though I was still breastfeeding. But it had been 6 years since he was born, and since endometriosis can grow back, it was really hard to guess at how easily I might conceive or if I would even be able to get pregnant at all.
After consulting with both my neurologist and my OB, we decided I would come off my meds 1 month before we started trying to get pregnant. That would give the Parkinson’s meds time to leave my system. My plan was to (hopefully) conceive within 6 -9 months, be pregnant for 9 months, and have some time to breastfeed the baby. That would limit my time off meds to a little over 2 years, which I considered a reasonable amount of time off. I didn’t really feel like I had 2 years, or even a whole year, to try and conceive. I needed to be back on my medicine within 2 years or so and if it took a long time to get pregnant that would not be possible. So I was praying that I would get pregnant very quickly!