No, it’s not short for an explicit word. It’s an acronym for methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase. It’s the gene responsible for making the MTHFR enzyme, which plays a part in processing amino acids. This enzyme specifically involves the processing of folate. After some recent blood work was done, I have the MTHFR gene mutation. More accurately, I have the MTHFR C.665>T gene mutation.
First, it’s fairly common and most people don’t know they have it. It’s not just a mutation in women, it’s also found in men. It’s associated with various health problems, but may not cause any issues if you have said gene mutation. There’s a bunch of research and information out there on the internet. Some helpful websites were:
Again, these were helpful for me. There are many other websites with information if I’ve piqued your curiosity. What I’m about to write is my own understanding about it. I’m not a medical professional, just a mom trying to figure out what it all means.
In regards to me though, I’m going to stick to what MTHFR means to me and future pregnancies. The main concerns with MTHFR and pregnancy is 1. I am susceptible to blood clots. It doesn’t mean I will, but there is a higher chance I could and 2. Since MTHFR is responsible for the processing of folate, the gene mutation mean my body cannot process any form of synthetic folate (aka folic acid) into a usable form. As we mostly all know, folate is a key vitamin in early fetal development.
This wouldn’t have been discovered if I never had the blood work done. I only had blood work done because at the end of December I had an 8 week appointment, only to discover an empty gestational sac (also known as a blighted ovum). There was the initial sadness and anger of another loss, but that was later replaced with a peace that if the MTHFR was never discovered, what if it would have caused a later loss? I am also choosing to not dwell on if this played a factor in Penelope’s birth. I am using this information to help make decisions about what it means for a future pregnancy.
My midwife has a plan of what to expect the next time I get pregnant. However, before that can happen, I’m starting a regiment of vitamins and supplements to prepare my body: a food based prenatal containing folate (not folic acid – which is harder to find), vitamin B12, vitamin B6, additional folate and baby aspirin. In addition to that, there are other vitamins and minerals which my body needs too: Iron, Magnesium and vitamin D. You might think that’s a lot to take and it is, but if this is what is required for my body to be prepared, then so be it. This is only to prepare my body. When I do get pregnant again, I get to add more. First is progesterone, a hormone often given to pregnant women during their first trimester. Next is a blood thinner, Lovenox. Lovenox, is a daily injected medication. Yes, injected. I’ve had to come to terms that in the future I will have to stick myself daily with a syringe for approximately 36 weeks. It’s a lot to do, but I’m not the first woman to experience this. There are many women who stick themselves daily throughout their pregnancy because you do what it necessary to bring that baby home. Is it over the top? Perhaps. Is it being cautious because you don’t want to have another loss? Yes.
I am not my midwife’s first case of MTHFR, she’s had many healthy babies born to moms with this gene mutation. Moms who probably took the same vitamins, supplements and medication. She is optimistic and reassuring for me when I can’t be for myself. As much as I want to look forward to what this year holds, I rely on other people to be hopeful for me. I just need to take it one day at a time.