Biologics with a baby bump: Taking Humira while pregnant

It’s something I’ve done nearly 250 times, iced my thigh to help numb the area prior to giving myself a Humira injection. It’s a process that’s become part of life, nothing feels foreign about it. My last shot was different though. When I placed the ice pack on my leg it hit my pregnant belly for the first time. Immediately I started to get emotional. Then, my baby boy started kicking…over and over and over. The injection laid next to me on the coffee table, in its usual spot. My mind began to race—since I started administering the injection in 2008, I always stare at a photo of a family member or friend who inspires me or say their name out loud for strength as the needle needs to stay in 10 seconds to ensure all the medication is transferred. It’s been the perfect distraction from the pain up until now.

This time—I said my baby boy’s name. Sorry, not sharing it until he’s born…but, I said his name and it literally took away my pain. So many people in the Crohn’s community and anyone who depends on a biologic drug for relief can relate to not only what it’s like using this type of medication but also how big of a role it plays in family planning.

Humira belongs to a class of biologic medications. Biologics are genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes. They are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling inflammation. Crohn’s disease is linked to an overproduction of certain proteins, including one called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is produced naturally by your body’s immune system. Humira targets and helps block TNF by blocking its action in the body to help diminish inflammation that can lead to symptoms. Other biologics that may ring a bell: Remicade, Cimzia, Tysabri and Stelera.

I attribute Humira to helping me maintain a remission state, it’s been a miracle drug for me. That being said—as my baby and my belly continue to grow, I find myself counting down the number of injections I need to do (7 more!) before he’s herimg_5688e…as the medication does pass through the placenta. Humira is a category B drug. Category B drugs are considered “likely to be safe for pregnant women.” The category ranking means that studies of Humira in pregnant animals haven’t shown any risk to the fetus.

My regular OB, high-risk OB and gastroenterologist all have the same advice—stay on Humira throughout pregnancy, as the mother’s health needs to come first in order to stay ‘flare up free’ until baby arrives. Even though they’ve told me that multiple times, I find myself repeatedly double checking at every appointment.

Each woman and couple needs to do what they are most comfortable with. It’s all about looking at the benefits vs. the risks. It’s such a delicate balance. While not ideal, the injection provides me with the peace of mind that I’m doing all I can to keep my disease in check so my baby has the best chance for reaching a full-term birth. At 28 weeks and a few days pregnant, my Crohn’s has been nearly non-existent since my positive pregnancy test. (knock on wood!) I feel I owe the calmness of my disease to my unborn son and the injections that have helped me get to this place.

 

8 thoughts on “Biologics with a baby bump: Taking Humira while pregnant

  1. Bianca G. says:

    Hi Natalie, thank you so much for sharing your story! Can you please provide an update on yourself and your baby’s health after pregnancy while still on Humira? I have been anxious about going on this drug while also trying to figure out how to plan for and have kids. Thanks so much.

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    • Natalie hayden says:

      Hi Bianca! Thanks so much for reading. That’s a great story idea, my son will be six months in September. I will plan to do a story about my health and my baby’s health 6 months since delivery. I know it can be stressful to be on a biologic drug while pregnant, but I feel like it’s even worse/harder to play russian roulette and not provide your body with the medication needed to keep the disease at bay so you’re able to bring a life into this world. With my future pregnancies I plan to stay on the drug as well. I delivered at 39 weeks and 4 days (scheduled c-section) and had the most wonderful pregnancy–symptom free for all nine months. Mama’s health needs to come first, so baby is able to get here safely.

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  2. AG says:

    Thank you so much for this post! What did you end up doing with immunizations? I am 15 weeks and I’ve been taking my Humira. My OB wants me to stop and my GI does not. Would love some insight from a mama whose been there.

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    • Natalie hayden says:

      Thank you for reading! The only immunization my son was not able to receive was the Roto Virus (because it is a live vaccine). That’s really really surprising that your OB wants you off Humira. My OB was adamant I stay on Humira the entire pregnancy, and so was my GI. You have to do what you are comfortable with, it’s your body and your baby.

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  3. Dannie says:

    Hi!
    Just read your article – I’m desperately searching online but no search results seem to bring anything up…. I’m 8 weeks with my second child. First child I had morning sickness (well nausea really not really sickness) which wasn’t pleasant but bearable. I wasn’t taking humira then . This time I’m taking humira and the nausea is so debilitating that I’ve not got out of bed for 2 weeks so far … I was just wondering if you had morning sickness or anything ? I’m definitely feeling worse yesterday and today and injected yesterday morning but I don’t know… I just wondered if you had any experience of this or indeed knew anyone else taking it who did!

    Thank you and hope your little one is good!
    Dannie

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    • Natalie hayden says:

      Hi Dannie, Thanks so much for reaching out and for checking out my blog. I hope my words have brought you peace of mind. Congrats on your second pregnancy. I would not attribute your morning sickness to the Humira, at all. I’m not a doctor, but every pregnancy is different…and that is a “normal” pregnancy symptom. I was on Humira my entire pregnancy–did my last shot two days before my scheduled c-section. I had nausea (most of the days) the first trimester…but felt fantastic once I was out of my first trimester. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

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  4. Alex says:

    Hi there.

    I am currently twenty seven weeks pregnant with my first and have been taking Humira for the last 5 years, every two weeks. My GI recommends staying on it until at least week thirty four. When did you finally go off Humira? I dread taking the needle every time.. I think I will do a dose at twenty eight weeks and thirty weeks and then call it quits. Your story does motivate me though to continue using it.

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    • Natalie hayden says:

      First of all, congrats! I stayed on Humira my entire pregnancy and plan to do that with future pregnancies as well. The risk of a postpartum flare is high, better to be proactive so you can be home and not in the hospital when your baby is here. My high risk ob, regular OB and GI all wanted me on it through the entire pregnancy. Yes, it is emotional at the end–my last injection was 2 days before my scheduled csection, but you must trust in knowing you are doing what’s best for you and baby. My son was born perfectly healthy–didn’t even have 3 colds his first year of life. Feel free to email me through the contact page if you want to talk further. IBD Moms need to stick together. 🙂

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