BackgroundAutoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARDs) such as inflammatory arthritis and Lupus, and many of the treatments for these diseases, can have a detrimental impact on fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Disease activity and organ damage as a result of ARDs can affect maternal and foetal outcomes. The safety and acceptability of hormonal contraceptives can also be affected. The objective of this study was to identify the information and support needs of women with ARDs during pregnancy planning, pregnancy and early parenting.MethodsThis mixed methods study included a cross-sectional online survey and qualitative narrative interviews. The survey was completed by 128 women, aged 18–49 in the United Kingdom with an ARD who were thinking of getting pregnant in the next five years, who were pregnant, or had young children (< 5 years old). The survey assessed quality-of-life and information needs (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale Short Form and Educational Needs Assessment Tool), support received, what women found challenging, what was helpful, and support women would have liked. From the survey participants, a maximum variation sample of 22 women were purposively recruited for qualitative interviews. Interviews used a person-centered participatory approach facilitated by visual methods, which enabled participants to reflect on their experiences. Interviews were also carried out with seven health professionals purposively sampled from primary care, secondary care, maternity, and health visiting services.ResultsSurvey findings indicated an unmet need for information in this population (ENAT total mean 104.85, SD 30.18). Women at the pre-conception stage reported higher needs for information on pregnancy planning, fertility, giving birth, and breastfeeding, whereas those who had children already expressed a higher need for information on pain and mobility. The need for high quality information, and more holistic, multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and integrated care consistently emerged as themes in the survey open text responses and interviews with women and health professionals.ConclusionsThere is an urgent need to develop and evaluate interventions to better inform, support and empower women of reproductive age who have ARDs as they navigate the complex challenges that they face during pregnancy planning, pregnancy and early parenting.