PREGNANCY AND MS: Our Ambassador Monique shares her journey
You’ve recently met our newest Kiss Goodbye to MS Ambassador, Monique Bolland – our all-round boss lady with the winning smile! If you haven’t, or just want to read her inspirational story again, you can get to know her better here.
Monique was diagnosed with MS at the age of 23, with pregnancy being the last thing on her mind. But as she drew closer to 30, Monique’s neurologist raised that if she saw children in her future, the earlier she had them, the better.
Regardless of if you are living with MS or not, pregnancy is most likely one of the best and most challenging chapters in a woman’s life.
For Monique, naturally, the two big questions that circled her mind were: ‘Will my baby be healthy?’ and ‘Will I be healthy enough to take care of him/her?’.
Amongst the array of typical changes a pregnant woman would experience, women living with MS can also often experience a period of remission during pregnancy. However, the chance of relapse within six months of giving birth is slightly increased.
Following her doctor’s approval and with enough studies proving it safe, Monique continued her monthly medication throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. If Monique had stopped, her risk of relapse would have been high and the usual treatment of steroids to contain the flare up are not an option during pregnancy.
“I weighed up my options and decided that staying on course was the safest option for both me and the baby.”
Along with those contemplations, Monique had other concerns.
While genetics do play a role in developing MS, if you have a parent with MS you only have a slightly increased chance of developing MS yourself (around 2%).
In addition to that, Monique also considered her own mental health. Depression can be more prevalent in MS than the rest of the population and needs careful monitoring, especially during times of added stress such as in the post natal period.
Monique says she was “incredibly lucky” with her pregnancy, with her body handling it well aside from terrible morning sickness during the first trimester.
She did however struggle with fatigue, a common side effect of both MS and pregnancy. Some mornings Monique would find it difficult to drag herself to work and says that her husband would literally have to “half drag/half carry” her sometimes.
Being well versed in health and nutrition, Monique ensured to stay fit, healthy and rested knowing the risk of the stress that her body was going through. She tried to meditate every day, and did Pilates up until the last couple of weeks of her pregnancy.
Here’s a few words of wisdom from Monique for anyone in a similar situation:
“I think that the more you can get your body in shape before you fall pregnant, the better. I’m not talking about losing weight, but about getting fit, strong and healthy. Pregnancy is hard on anyone’s body, but if you have any sort of chronic, inflammatory health condition, it’s going to be that little bit harder, so do what you can to prepare. Clean up your diet and supplement to fill any gaps, because you’re literally building a baby with what you put into your body.”
Thankfully, the rollercoaster of emotions, morning sickness and the many considerations were all well worth it in the end! Monique gave birth to a happy and healthy little girl – Mackenzie, who is now 18 months old! 😍 Mackenzie’s already a bright and bubbly little girl who loves chatting to anyone and everyone, and singing her way through the day.
“It’s still hard on the days that I have my medication when all I want to do is lie down, and all she wants is for me to pick her up and play; but she’s a good little girl and a lot of fun to be around so I don’t mind.”
Monique’s biggest hope for the future is that her daughter never has to consider a future with MS for herself or her mother’s life. As a Kiss Goodbye to MS Ambassador, she continues to advocate and raise funds for life-changing MS research, especially by involving her nutritional supplement company Nuzest in many of our activities such as The May 50K, City2Surf and many more.
Like us, Monique is on a mission to Kiss Goodbye to MS. For herself and people living with MS right now, people diagnosed tomorrow and our little people like Mackenzie – our next generation!