Pregnancy is a cycle that demands a lot from your body especially in the first three months.
The high hormone levels can cause all manner of symptoms including nausea, fatigue, mood swings and sleepiness.
When one is suffering from fibromyalgia also known as fibrositis, the symptoms may be more pronounced.
In fact, some women suffering from the condition may not know that the intense discomfort they experience may be as a result of fibromyalgia and not the pregnancy itself.
However, the good news is, you can still go on to have a child even when suffering from fibromyalgia.
All you need is a careful management of the symptoms and regular checkups to ensure all is well.
What is fibromyalgia?
According to Mayo Clinic, Fibrositis is a condition where one experiences unexplained muscle pain, fatigue, and tenderness.
Other symptoms include sleep disorders, mood swings, and memory issues. Pain may start from one point then spread to the entire body.
Fibromyalgia may start after a physical trauma, a lot of stress, surgical procedure or an infection.
Often, there may not be a direct cause of the condition. It can start off slowly where the pain intensifies over the years.
There are treatment options that help control the disease, but there is no known cure.
The condition can be chronic where it can last even for a lifetime. Medications improve the quality of life, but regular checkups are required more so when symptoms flare up.
People suffering from fibromyalgia tend to be more sensitive to pain. The brain magnifies the pain sensation and even causes one to experience pain even when there is no underlying cause.
A diagnosis may help a doctor understand the extent of the condition and the medications to prescribe.
Mostly, the drugs help minimize or entirely phase out the pain. It will also help relieve fatigue, muscle tenderness, improve mood, and sleep patterns.
As noted earlier, stress can also cause the condition. Minimizing stress levels can be a treatment option. This involves understanding and dealing with the stress triggers.
An exercise routine can help manage stress levels and at the same time relax the muscles minimizing fatigue.
In general, incorporating activities that help relax, sooth the muscles and make you feel joyful can alleviate the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy
Women experience fibromyalgia more than men do. Medication can suppress the symptoms even for years, but pregnancy can trigger them again.
According to research carried out by Karen M. Schaefer, assistant professor of nursing at Temple University’s College of Health Professions, pregnant women suffering from fibromyalgia are more often misdiagnosed.
Symptoms of the condition are mistaken as a normal part of the pregnancy. Many of the women may suffer for long hoping that the symptoms will go away after childbirth but in some cases, this just gets worse.
Painkillers or any other medication to manage fibromyalgia may not be recommended for pregnant women.
If you are planning to get pregnant, your doctor may tell you to get off all the medication and instead rely on natural methods.
The drugs may interfere with fetal development the reason why it is so important to avoid any medication unless recommended by the doctor.
Because the brain tends to magnify sensitivity to pain and other discomforts, pregnancy can be a stressful moment, coupled with the fact that you cannot take any medication.
Ordinarily, stress levels tend to be higher when pregnant, so do fatigue and nausea. Muscles also have to stretch to accommodate the growing fetus.
The spinal cord has to bend which may lead to back pains. This means more pain if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.
Hormonal changes can lead to stress. Serotonin is one of the hormones associated with stress levels.
The brain produces low amounts of the hormone, but it is vital in balancing the mood and minimizing stress levels as WebMD explains. Too much stress hinders its production leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Exercise, relaxation techniques, and swimming may trigger the hormone’s functions.
In the first few months or first semester of pregnancy, the symptoms may be as a result of the increased hormonal levels.
The last months’ symptoms may be as a result of the added weight, outstretched muscles, and general body discomfort because of the growing fetus.
One of the things to note is that the extent of pain felt during childbirth may be the same or slightly more than that of women who do not have fibromyalgia.
According to the Healthline website, the condition does not increase chances of stillbirths, C- sections or premature babies.
One can still go ahead and have a successful pregnancy amid the discomfort and pain that comes with the condition. Learning how to manage fibromyalgia when pregnant can make a lot of difference.
As highlighted earlier, any medication when pregnant or breastfeeding is not recommended.
The doctor may ask you to discontinue all drugs that control the condition as soon as you realize that you are pregnant. It can be worrying, but you can still manage fibromyalgia effectively.
How to Manage fibromyalgia when Pregnant
Patients with fibromyalgia need more care when pregnant than ordinary women do. You cannot walk alone on this journey as many get to realize.
It will involve your doctor, a therapist, your partner, family, and friends. You may also have to explain to your colleagues at work why you need the special care.
The aim is to reduce stress as much as possible, incorporate an exercise routine and rest every so often all throughout the day.
To reduce fatigue and muscle aches, it is essential to exercise regularly. These should be exercise routines that do not stress your body too much but at the same time help your muscles relax.
For the best routines, consult your doctor first. Walking, stretching and swimming may all be excellent if done in moderation but regularly.
Exercising, as noted earlier, releases the feel-good hormone that controls moodiness and stress levels.
You will feel happier, more relaxed and in control of daily activities such as sleep and chores.
If anything leaves you stressed or worn out, just avoid it or ask someone else to handle it. Your primary objective is to avoid anything that can trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Gentle massage can help relax muscles. You are less likely to feel fatigued after a massage session.
The process should be gentle, comfortable but exert enough pressure on the muscles, which in return forces them to stretch.
The massage should cover all areas of the body. Not only will it relax the muscles but it will also promote a better blood flow.
You are less likely to suffer from swellings and stiff joints. Your partner can massage you or go for professional sessions.
One of the things pregnant women suffering from fibromyalgia find comforting is deep in the pool. The water should not be hot but on average from 83 to 88 Fahrenheit.
When the water is too cold, the muscles constrict leading to more pain. Warm water not only helps you relax but it stretches the muscles as well.
Gentle stretches and other preferred exercises can be performed in the water.
Sitting in a tub also helps with back pain. Many women agree that pool therapy is one of the best recommendations for pregnant women with fibromyalgia.
Even before pregnancy, you may have realized the positive effect a nap had on your general mood and energy. You felt good, fatigue disappeared, and you were able to concentrate on work.
For those who have to deal with fatigue taking half an hour break for a nap every day can help according to the Parent.
Even when you are at work, you can excuse yourself or leave early for the much-needed rest.
It is also essential to reduce exerting more pressure on the body than is required. This involves sitting on comfortable chairs, not wearing high heels and clothes that restrict body movement.
Sitting for long periods may also hurt your back. If this is your daily routine, take breaks in between where you walk for a few minutes to promote blood flow and ease the pressure on your back and shoulders.
Tiring your body may also trigger the aches. Whatever you do should be in moderation.
Care after Childbirth
Fibromyalgia pain during pregnancy may get better with time. In fact, some women confess to having less painful symptoms while pregnant.
You may experience more pain during childbirth but not to any significant levels. Afterwards, the symptoms may be present for a while.
If the pain is too much, you may decide to put the baby on the bottle as you go back to the medication.
Taking medication while breastfeeding may harm your baby. Also, breastfeeding may trigger more pain. This is because it stretches the muscles and involves many hormones.
Yes, you can get a baby even when you have fibromyalgia. Advance preparations, which involved consultations with your doctor, preparing your partner, getting a support group and most importantly having access to a warm pool are some of the things to think about.
It may surprise you to realize the experience may not be as bad as you had anticipated.