Thursday, June 2, 2011

Antibiotics Throughout Pregnancy?

I apologize for the lack of recent updates and info. I had a few ups and downs last month, but ultimately crashed for a while. Stabilizing now, and I attribute that to breaking down and hiring full time help around the house. I'm now able to spend lots of time either napping (which greatly eases the neuro pain) or at least lying on the couch while Wyatt and the nanny play, without having to get up and chase him around.

When I last wrote, I had experimented with taking a quick break from antibiotics. I was surprised to find that I didn't feel as bad when I was off of the Zithromax, and I wondered if I was feeling so crummy because of too many antibiotics for too long.

As a quick side note, I went back to my original LLMD, as I felt I needed more of a scientific approach than the new doc could offer. (Garlic and meditation are great, but don't bring me any comfort when I'm questioning whether I just had a seizure or if I'm going to croak...)

Anyway, original LLMD helped shed some light on my situation, and I think some of what he said might be helpful to those of you questioning whether antibiotics are the right course of action during pregnancy. Here are his thoughts paraphrased:

1.) When a patient is not pregnant, he agrees wholeheartedly that there is a wall that can be hit with antibiotics. Either the body says, "Enough, please!" or you've been undergoing treatment for years with minimal results, no matter what you try. Some people feel "toxic" from all of the drugs, and in most cases, he would immediately stop antibiotics for a while to let the body take a rest and balance out a little. It makes sense that the body would need a break after working to hard to kill spirochetes, eliminate them properly, and restore itself.

2.) After admitting to him that I had taken a brief antibiotics vacation, he said it made sense that I'd want to do that, and again, If I wasn't pregnant, he would support that decision and pick up again after I'd cleared out my system for a bit.

3.) There are two reasons for his wanting me to stick with the Zithromax:

a.) Pregnancy is not a time to aggressively treat or blast away at spirochetes, but you want to take just enough to maintain your current level of "health" and protect the baby. Protecting the baby is number one when considering antibiotics treatment. Assuming there are no signs of fetal distress or issues exclusive to pregnancy, your baby is not feeling a single bit of the nerve pain (or insert your own bad symptoms here) that you are experiencing. He or she is obliviously floating around and developing in a nice, cozy swimming pool while you feel like crap and count down the days until pregnancy is over (my words here). As far as overloading your body with hardcore antibiotics, that shouldn't happen at all. When I asked if I should be taking more than 500 mg of Zithromax a day, he said no, let's continue to be conservative.

b.) (*I want you to know that I trust and believe in this doctor fully, and this is what made me go home and take those lovely pink pills:) Years ago, his own grandson contracted Lyme congenitally. In the first few weeks of the baby's life, my doctor pointed out to his son that he believed the baby was showing signs of Lyme. The son blew him off, arguing that because his dad was a Lyme doctor, he was obsessed and paranoid and Lyme was all he could see in anyone. The son didn't believe the baby had Lyme. Within three months, the baby was taken to Dr. J in New Haven and tested positive for Lyme. The baby turned out okay, but had to be on antibiotics for a year. Mom hadn't taken her antibiotics during pregnancy.

Normally, I'd be skeptical of a story that reads like an over-the-top cautionary tale, but again, this is a very reputable doctor, he has no hidden agenda and doesn't gain a thing from keeping me on antibiotics, and also, he was serious as a heart attack when he told the story. His conclusion: You can stop taking the Zithromax for the rest of the pregnancy if you want to feel better, but I have a feeling you're going to beat yourself up and feel a lot worse if you end up having to treat an infant for Lyme because you slacked off during the last month. Can't argue that.

And after all that occurred, we found out some interesting information: My Lyme is actually in remission. (I'd heard that from the other doctor I was seeing, but wasn't sure I believed him.) Tests for Bartonella, however, show that I have a raging active infection. Looking at a picture of my blood and seeing tiny little "bugs" scattered throughout it was slightly comforting (weird, I know) because at least there's a visible reason for all of this recent pain. Prior to pregnancy, I hadn't really tackled the Bart very hard, because the Lyme was worse at the time.

Zithromax is not the very best drug for Bartonella, but it is an effective one, which could explain my feeling worse on Zithromax-- it's working, and there's die-off.

My first question was, "Am I going to pass this on to the baby?!" The doctor said that he doesn't believe Bartonella is as easily transmitted (if at all) as Lyme. He gave me a long reason for it that described the differences in how the bacteria travel through the body and where it's stored, but honestly, it went over my head and I forget the parts that made sense. Bottom line is that Bartonella transmission is low on the list of things to worry about in terms of congenital transmission, and in theory, even if it were a problem, antibiotics will protect the baby the same way he or she is protected from Lyme.

I know this is a lot for one entry, but I figured I owed you all an update and some new info.

As of now, I am confident that staying on the Zithromax is the best option for me, even though I'm not feeling so great. I want to keep the Bart in check as much as I can. After I deliver, I plan to start a brief course of Levaquin (which is good for Bart and has helped me in the past) followed by a longer course of Minocycline, maybe both together. We'll see where we go and what to add from there. In the meantime, I'm in the horizontal position as much as possible for the next 7 weeks until I meet my little guy!

Feeling exhausted and basically useless around the house, but finally more optimistic now that I have some answers and a plan of attack for the future.

Anyone out there have any Bartonella experiences they'd like to share?


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I have chronic Lyme (for who knows how many years), Babesia and Bartonella. Was diagnosed in Nov. 2009 and started antibiotics in Dec. 09. I'm happy to report that the lyme is under control (only 1 indeterminate instead of many positives in the western blot) and the babesia is negative but the bartonella is a raging infection (your story felt like my own). My husband and I want to start trying to get pregnant and are scared but your post spoke to me and helped a lot. Thank you for having this blog. I do have a wonderful LLMD who will be monitoring me closely should i get pregnant and we'll consider what i need to be on to protect the baby. Right now I'm trying to be good with my sugar free gluten free diet and detoxing, i'm also on the Byron White herbal protocol. Good luck with your new little one!!

  2. Your blog has given me some hope...I recently got bitten and within 4 weeks of it was put on antibiotics. I have been off meds for 2 weeks...but my husband and I have been wanting to get pregnant since a miscarriage prior to the lyme. While luckily I feel fine (knock on wood), I am beside myself with fear that I will not be able to have a healthy baby now. I have been wondering about low level antibiotics through pregnancy, but I am not sure that the OB would comply. No llmd's here and my OB is not familiar with lyme & pregnancy. I find there is little information about pregnancy after early lyme treatment and am glad to know I am not alone in this.

    1. Hi Anon, can you tell me what you did/how it turned out? I am in the same boat currently

  3. Hi L, Congrats on being ready to start a family! That's wonderful news! I'm sure you guys will do great, especially since you have a good LLMD to monitor you along the way! How has the modified diet worked for you, and also the Byron White? I've heard about it a bunch lately--have you found the protocol beneficial? I don't know much about it.

    Anonymous, I am SO happy that you were able to catch the Lyme early on. When caught early, Lyme can be treated properly and won't leave you with the harsh health issues you read about with chronic Lyme patients.
    Also, good for you for researching pregnancy after Lyme. It's smart to take the precautions and learn as much as you can. I, too, wish there were more info out there, especially regarding pregnancy and acute cases of Lyme.

    That you're feeling fine so far is a great sign! Chances are, you can move on with life and start a happy family. I don't blame you for being concerned--it's common knowledge now, even with the most skeptical doctors, that a quick course of antibiotics does not always cure the infection right away. Many will add a second course if the patient remains symptomatic after the two week course.

    If I were in your position, I'd wait it out a bit before trying to conceive again, that way you can see if your symptoms start to come back. You'd probably know fairly quickly if you were relapsing. For me, symptoms start to return within a month or two after stopping an antibiotic. That's how I know the infection isn't totally cured yet. If in a couple months you're still feeling great, it's probably safe to say you're good to start. Just give the body a little time to figure out if it beat the infection. I'm not a doctor, so please take what I say as just an opinion. :) I hope your doctor is sensitive to your concerns. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be persistent about another round of treatment if you find you're not feeling well.


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