Part of Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla’s story is her struggle with pregnancy. Before Isabella, Robin’s other half had several heartbreaking miscarriages. In her recent Instagram post, the Showtime host shared how she opted to be treated as an APAS patient when she was pregnant with Isabella to ensure her pregnancy will be successful. Her journey with APAS-like symptoms has shed new light on the challenging pregnancy journeys of aPl-positive mothers. But what is APAS and how does it affect the pregnancies of mothers-to-be?
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Apas mom 🙋🏻♀️ i inject heparin 2x a day. Is it painful? A little. Is it worth it? Definitely. I had several miscarriages and even though i tested negative for Apas my OB, Dr. Eileen Manalo (who in my book is the best ob/gyne in the country), treated me as an apas patient and that is why i have Isabella. Isabella and Baby Surprise (my nickname for baby #2 hehe) are both naturally conceived. I have no fertility issues but aside from apas i also have pcos, i had cysts in my ovaries, i even had gestational diabetes with my other pregnancy wherein i needed to inject insulin as well. These are the reasons why Robin doesn’t want me pregnant because i go through so much. But for me it is a small price to pay because in exchange i get to mother one of God’s greatest creation. So this is a message for all the women who are trying… don’t give up. One day God will bless you with His greatest gift. Believe. It may be a difficult painful journey but it will happen. Remember nothing worth having comes easy. Sending lots of baby dust your way 💕
What is APAS?
APAS – also known as antiphospholipid antibody syndrome – is a systemic autoimmune disease known for its production of antibodies that tend to attack the person’s own body. This abnormal reaction results in blood clots and complications in pregnancy. The production of antiphospholipid antibodies alone does not automatically mean you will have problems of pregnancy along the way.
Those positive with APAS can be classified in three ways: asymptomatic aPl positive patients with no blood clot or pregnancy complications; APS patients that only exhibit pregnancy complications; and APS patients with blood clot with or without complications in pregnancy.
How is APAS Diagnosed?
APAS is properly diagnosed with the help of blood tests and medical assessments.
Patients suspected to have APAS are often referred to either a hematologist (if blood clots are involved) and a rheumatologist (if conditions affect the immune system).
Specific blood tests are performed to check the presence of abnormal anti-phospholipid antibodies that could increase the chances of clots in the blood.
Apart from blood tests, patients also need to go through medical assessments where they will be checked if they had:
- 1 or more blood clots that were confirmed
- Unexplained late miscarriages that occur at or after the 10th week of pregnancy
- Premature births that happened around or before 34 weeks
- Early miscarriages on or before week 10
What are the Pregnancy Complications that Come with APAS?
ApL positive pregnant women may experience several pregnancy complications including:
- Miscarriages that occur early in pregnancy (between week 4 and week 9 of conception), or ones that happen late into the pregnancy (on or after week 10). Recurrence of early miscarriage in subsequent pregnancies is one of the signs that the mother could be ApL positive.
- Blood clots which can occur early in the pregnancy, or up to six weeks after the delivery of the baby.
- Preterm labor which occurs before week 37 of pregnancy and comes as a result of either preeclampsia, eclampsia, or placental problems.
What Treatments Are Available for Pregnant Women with APAS?
There are a few available treatments to help women with APAS have successful pregnancies. Available medical help available includes giving low-dose aspirin to help block platelet aggregation and blood clotting, and subcutaneous injections of prophylactic low-dose heparin that slows the clotting ability of the blood. These treatments are given to aPl positive patients with pregnancy complications.
Pregnant aPl patients are also encouraged to watch out for signs like numbness, swelling, and chest pain; increased protein in urine; bleeding of gums and nose; having dark stool; bruising; and signs of pre-eclampsia.
Patients positive with APAS are also encouraged to have a birth plan that includes giving birth to a hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to ensure the infant’s well-being.
What to Do After Childbirth
After delivery, mothers with APAS are still highly encouraged to work closely with their rheumatologist to manage the disease. Subcutaneous injections of heparin are needed to be administered to prevent blood clots.
APAS is a silent, often unrecognized culprit that steals the joy away from pregnancy. But – like how Mariel Padilla worded it – nothing worth having comes easy. Thanks to modern technology, and skilled doctors in the country, pregnancy amidst an APAS diagnosis is still very much possible.