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The Fibromyalgic Pregnancy and Beyond - Early Pregnancy - physical and emotional challenges

Early Pregnancy - physical and emotional challenges

 You are pregnant!

Well done, may I be the first, well okay maybe second or third person to congratulate you on your success. I hope you had some fun getting to this stage. By this stage of about 5 weeks I expect you will have already done a pregnancy test if you were planning on becoming pregnant. The tests are so sensitive now that as early as the first day of your missed period, the test can detect your pregnancy although the indicator may only show up as very faint, but faint or not if it is there so is your baby! From now until the end of week 10 your baby will make it’s presence know in a variety of ways by changing the way things taste and smell, rewiring your emotions enough to make you want to weep at adverts for toilet roll and for some, making even waking up a more tiring experience than usual. Sorry to have to be the one to break this to you but you have just jumped onto the pregnancy rollercoaster.

 Does pregnancy make FM worse or vice versa?

There is not a lot of research based and documented evidence about how fibromyalgia is affected by early pregnancy and vice versa. The studies that have been done only had a very small number of participants in them and the results were contradictory with some saying FM symptoms became much worse during the pregnancy and others saying that FM sufferers declared that after the initial few months they felt better than they did before they were pregnant (this could be due to a hormone called relaxin and we will discuss this as your pregnancy progresses).  It would be advisable for you to keep pregnancy related symptoms and FM symptoms separate in your mind as we have a tendency to blame or relate everything to FM and it isn’t always the case.

 What you can do to make pregnancy symptoms easier to cope with:

Stress Keep your stress levels as low as possible. Have warms baths and try listening to relaxation tapes (you know the ones with dolphins squeaking, raindrops falling, ocean waves etc.), you won’t mind being teased about listening to “hippie music”, when you are drifting off in your own world with a smile on your face! Guided mental imagery and progressive muscle relaxation really do work and give you an excuse for lounging in the bath.

 Exercise By about week 6 your body will have increased your blood volume by about 50% and it is more important than ever that you keep as mobile as possible in order to help your body smoothly circulate this increased blood flow and to prevent blood clots. At risk of contradicting myself, I am also advising that you rest when you need to; your body is working extremely hard and you need to try and sleep often.

 Fatigue This is a symptom that has no cure except to sleep. Naps work well especially for people with FM who are lacking in restorative sleep to start with. Little and often is better than none and please remember your increased exhaustion is more likely to be due to your pregnancy not a flare up of your FM. If you need to go to bed at 4 pm to feel rested, then do so, you wont be any good to anyone if you wear yourself out completely. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants as they won’t make you feel more awake, are unsafe for your pregnancy in moderate to large doses and have been linked as a FM flare trigger. A little bit of caffeine in chocolate, for example, is an acceptable amount a few times a week and dark chocolate is loaded with iron.

 Nausea Try to eat several small meals a day to ease the strain on your nauseous tummy. Crushed fruit frozen in ice cube trays is kind to sick tummies and still nourishing for your body. Motion sickness bands work wonderfully to ease the nausea and you can buy them without prescription at any major chemists. Ginger also eases nausea and can be found in gingersnaps, ginger soda and tea or in capsule form.  If you feel so ill that you can’t bear the thought of swallowing anything try sprinkling a few drops of ginger essential oil on a warm flannel and inhaling the vapour. Drink plenty of fluids as dehydration will make your nausea worse and also exacerbate any FM symptoms.

 Cravings   These can start at any time during the pregnancy or not at all, simply eat what you crave within moderation. Craving non nutritional substances (coal, match heads, paper, ice, to name but a few) is known as pica rather than cravings and if you experience this urge please discuss it with your midwife or doctor as some non-nutritional substances are harmful to your baby as well as yourself.

 Mood swings (also known as the pregnancy rollercoaster).  Mostly to blame for this somewhat bewildering sensation is the fact that your endocrine glands have floored the accelerator (hormone production wise) and are now in overdrive without having given you time to even put on your seatbelt and your placenta is about to do exactly the same. So yes you do have an excuse for weeping copiously when your favourite house plant dies.  FM can often cause low moods, only to be expected when coping with pain, weakness and fatigue on a daily basis but it is worth keeping in mind that if you suffered from low moods and depressions before pregnancy then you are more at risk of depression during and after pregnancy. If you or your partner are at all concerned then talk to your doctor about what help is available and do it sooner rather than later.

 Libido Early pregnancy with its constant tiredness, nausea and mood swings can make your sexuality the furthest thing from your mind. However for some, the increased blood flow to your breast and genitals can cause an increased sexual arousal and desire for sex. There is no right or wrong way to feel and whichever way you do; it is likely to change as your pregnancy continues. Just to reassure you, if you feel so inclined, penetrative sex is not linked with an increase in risk of miscarriage.

 A means to an end I hope this hasn’t seemed all doom and gloom. Although early pregnancy is sometime a struggle, it is a struggle with a purpose.  You are going through this while doing the most important job of your life, growing your baby. The symptoms won’t last forever, in fact by week 11 -12 you will begin feeling more like your old self as your body begins to adjust to these changes.

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