DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor. Please do not make any decisions without speaking to your healthcare provider. I will not be held liable for any decisions you make from reading this blog. This blog is to not offer medical advice.
I’ll never forget when I found out I had MTHFR. We just had our 5th miscarriage & I finally found a doctor wanting to help. I got the results as I was driving home from work and ran to the computer to google “MTHFR”. I called my mom & tried not to cry over what I was reading. I have MTHFR Heterozygous A1298C which worked with my Factor V Leiden in terminating our pregnancies.
The further I read, the more things started “clicking”. Not just my miscarriages, but my irregular periods all my life and how I would throw up for 3 days straight after drinking ONE beer. How I felt nauseous after EVERY SINGLE MEAL and why I was always so tired. Cystic acne. Not to mention the migraines that run in my family and even my Grandma’s non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis and diabetes. The list goes on.
Everything that just seemed like products of life, finally were making sense. My ‘dirty gene’ was causing it. MTHFR was finally the answer I was looking for.
At first I felt scared. Like I was doomed.
Then I felt empowered.
I felt hopeful I could finally have a rainbow baby if I started making the changes I need to. (And guess what?! I DID!)
HOW MTHFR AFFECTS PREGNANCY
Some people can have MTHFR and have healthy pregnancies with zero intervention and some may never have a healthy pregnancy until they discover and treat MTHFR.
Since our body can’t properly methylate, it is making it hard for new, healthy cells to be created. Methylfolate is a critical nutrient affecting neurotransmitter production, DNA regulation, immunity and and the cardiovascular system as well as hormone levels and detoxification.
Also, MTHFR causes blood clots early in pregnancy between the uterus and placenta. So instead of causing infertility (which it can), it most commonly causes early miscarriages. Sometimes they can be so early that you never even knew you were pregnant and your miscarriage can be disguised by a late period. That thought has haunted me at times and I wonder how many losses I’ve really had.
If you have MTHFR folic acid is the WORST thing you can put in your body. And the scary thing is it is EVERYWHERE. In the 1990s the government started enriching flour with your daily dose of folic acid to prevent birth defects and spina bifida. However, those with MTHFR can’t process the SYNTHETIC folic acid and it stores as a toxin in our blood stream which while pregnant, can cause birth defects such as spina bifida. Eliminating folic acid is crucial while pregnant. And be cautious- some doctors think MTHFR is a folic acid deficiency and like mine did & will actually prescribe you a high dose folic acid pill.
Instead of worrying about folic acid, supply your body and baby with what it needs- L-methylfolate and natural folate found in foods. Click here to read my previous blog post on Eating For Your Genes.
While pregnant I took Smarty Pants Prenatals that were recommended to me by another MTHFR mama. Since then I have heard Ritual vitamins have L-methylfolate and have heard great things about their vitamins but I haven’t personally looked into them.
One thing to also look out for is labels will use “folate” to describe folic acid. I would stay away from anything that has folate/folic acid fortified in it and know you are getting more than enough nutrients and L-methylfolate if you take a safe prenatal and Eat For Your Genes.
MTHFR FRIENDLY DOCTOR
I’ll be honest with you, it’s going to be really hard to find a doctor educated in MTHFR.
The MTHFR gene mutation was discovered about 20 years ago so it is still relatively new. My OBGYN told me MTHFR & Factor V were causing my recurrent miscarriages but MTHFR was “the least of my worries” and actually prescribed me a HIGH DOSE folic acid. Ouch.
I am grateful I did my research before I came in and I knew that that was not the right choice for me. I also knew MTHFR was not the least of my worries which I’ll explain in a second.
I do just want to warn you that you might not find an educated OBGYN in MTHFR and if they prescribe you folic acid, please do your own research and decide what is best for YOU and your baby. Ask a ton of questions and if you are not comfortable with the doctor, don’t be afraid to shop for a new one. Doctors work for you and you should never feel that they are not educated in the problem you are facing or brushing you off.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- Should I take 81mg of Aspirin in my 1st and 2nd trimester? Why or why not?
- Am I a candidate for Lovenox or Warfarin? Why or why not?
- When will I be able to schedule an anatomy scan and check for Congestive Heart Disease?
- Will I be having any test to check for birth defects or chromosome abnormalities?
- How do you think MTHFR will affect me during my pregnancy?
- Should I have my child tested?
- Do you support me if I decided to not have an epidural?
- Is there someone you can refer me to who is heavily educated in MTHFR?
MTHFR & MISCARRIAGES
You probably found out you had the MTHFR gene mutation after a miscarriage (I am so sorry mama if this is the case).
When my doctor told me MTHFR was the least of my worries, I felt differently. All of my miscarriages including my 6th one (Addy’s twin brother) was before 11 weeks. So being told Factor V Leiden was causing all my miscarriages didn’t make sense.
MTHFR causes miscarriages typically before 14 weeks. Factor V Leiden causes later term miscarriages or stillbirths. So it really upset me when she said she wasn’t concerned about MTHFR. However she did prescribe me 81mg Aspirin to take once a day throughout my pregnancy to shut me up.
Aspirin of course comes with it’s risks, and you do whatever you feel most comfortable with. But since MTHFR typically causes a miscarriage by a blood clot forming in between your uterus and placenta, I felt safe and protected taking my low-dose aspirin.
The second I found out I was pregnant we were in Italy and I didn’t bring my Aspirin with me because I didn’t want to think about pregnancies or miscarriages. Low and behold it’s ALL I could think about & I ran to the pharmacy down the street to get it as soon as I got a positive test. We were in Italy for two weeks and by the time we got home I was already 8 weeks pregnant. I really think Aspirin helped me sustain my pregnancy.
MEDICATIONS TO TAKE (& AVOID) DURING PREGNANCY
After finding out you have MTHFR, I would not only ask your doctor if the medications you are on are safe, but do your own research and see how they are interacting with your body. Are they making your symptoms worse? Are they safe to take during pregnancy?
During my pregnancy I took Lovenox 81mg twice a day (for Factor V Leiden, although many MTHFR mamas have taken it for a successful pregnancy) and 81mg Aspirin. I wish I knew at the time to detox during this time but I was unaware.
Remember that your doctor works for you and if you ever feel like they are rushing you or not giving you any clarity, it’s okay to switch doctors.
Since pregnancy often causes heartburn, it’s SO common for women to turn to Tums and other antacids. I highly recommend staying far far away from them (forever) and using herbal remedies such as ginger (during pregnancy) or apple cider vinegar (when you’re not pregnant) for heartburn. Because one of MTHFR’s most important roles is to convert B vitamins into their active usable form, antacids deplete or block absorption of certain B vitamins, such as folate and vitamin B-12. So all the hard work you’re doing to help your body function properly will for nothing if you take antiacids.
SO, WHAT ABOUT AN EPIDURAL?
Listen, you can’t plan your birth. I honestly don’t believe in a birth plan at all & you can read about that here.
I was hesitant to write this section but I felt it was unfair to not give you all the information so you can make an informed decision for YOU. I do beg you however, to not allow yourself to feel defeat or failure if your birth plan doesn’t work out and you get an epidural. THAT IS OKAY!!!
I labored 18+ hours without an epidural and begged for one every step of the way. When I finally got one I was needing an emergency c-section anyways but the first one was given a half hour too early and I had to get another spinal tap. So I had TWO epidurals within an hour.
I don’t regret it, but I am still feeling the effects of it.
WHY YOU WANT TO AVOID AN EPIDURAL
General anesthesia in itself is a challenge for someone with MTHFR mutation because of not only the concern of changes in airway associated with pregnancy but also because of adverse effects on homocysteine metabolism. Also if you are on anticoagulants during pregnancy and went into labor spontaneously, you would not be cleared for a spinal anesthesia until at least 24 hours from your last dose.
Receiving an epidural with MTHFR puts you at risk for hyperhomocysteinemia which can cause vascular occlusive diseases and thrombosis. Use of spinal taps and anesthesia causes irreversible inhibition of methionine synthase and can further increase homocysteine levels which can cause lifelong issues especially if you don’t detox properly or eat for your genes
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET AN EPIDURAL
The last thing I am here to do is to shame any moms or make you feel like you have failed if you had an epidural. I HAD AN EPIDURAL. There is no such thing as a birth plan because you literally can’t control it. So if you get an epidural, IT’S OKAY.
There are a ton of things you can do to reverse the effects and all that matters is that you are aware and proactive.
Can you guess what the first thing I’m going to say to do is? DETOX! DETOX! DETOX! DETOX!
TRS is AMAZING and safe for you to take after birth and if you’re breastfeeding! You don’t have to worry about the toxins you’re detoxing being excreted through your breast milk! I would start slowly if you didn’t detox during pregnancy. I had a great reaction with TRS but I started at 1x a day for a week then 2x a day for a week, then 3x a day for a week, and then after that jumped up to 5x a day(2 in morning/3 at night).
Teas are amazing as well. I didn’t feel comfortable drinking anything other than pregnancy or milk tea while I was breastfeeding but after doing a ton of research, almost all teas are safe. I would of course do your own research and do what you feel comfortable with. Making a detox tea with a few drops of CBD to help aid the detox and combat inflammation will do wonders in removing the toxins from your blood, brain, tissues, and organs after an epidural. Again, DON’T DO ANYTHING YOU’RE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH JUST BECAUSE YOU READ IT IN A BLOG. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS FOR YOU.
WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS MTHFR?
I was advised by my high-risk specialist to not test Addy for MTHFR or Factor V Leiden until she is 13 years old. If we tested her at birth then it will be a pre-disclosed disease and will make our insurance prices skyrocket. I will probably get her out of pocket testing done when she is a little older for a variety of things so we can work on being preventative. However, my husband is homozygous c677t & mixed with my gene, she has at least ONE form if not BOTH copies of MTHFR. (Click here to learn about the different variants of MTHFR).
With that being said, I encourage everyone to live as if you have MTHFR. That’s not being “overly cautious” or “dramatic” but instead it’s learning to work with your body and live a non-toxic lifestyle that EVERYONE can benefit from.
Toxins aren’t immune to certain people. MTHFR or not, if you have a huge toxin burden your body & health will pay the price.
PREGNANCY LOSS RESOURCES
I am so sorry mama if you have experienced loss. There is nothing I can say or do to take your pain away but I am here for you and know your pain. You can always DM me on Instagram if you ever want to chat.
If you are pregnant after experiencing a loss, I highly recommend the Pregnancy After Loss Support Group. They are full of incredible resources, love, and support to help ease your anxiety during pregnancy. They have also all experienced loss so it is great to chat with someone who understands what you have gone through.
Also if you are looking for support, I wrote an incredible blog in collaboration with some amazing women about their individual rainbow baby stories. You can read that here.
Thank you for sticking through this post and I hope some of the information helped you.
You got this and will have a healthy and successful pregnancy.
Sending you love,