Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia: Everything you Need to Know

pregnancy and fibromyalgia

Pregnancy is complicated. It’s simultaneously gross, weird, beautiful, crazy, painful, and blissful. And the way a woman experiences it can vary according to genetics, culture, physical conditions, stress, emotional conditions, support or lack thereof, and so on. There are so many variables that it’s impossible to have a “cookie-cutter” pregnancy. Things get far more complicated when you throw a condition like fibromyalgia into the mix. Whether you’ve had a baby while dealing with fibro or if you’re considering it, please read on.

Highly Conflicting Reports

recently wrote about the problems associated with pregnancy and highly sensitive people. Here, I reference a Temple University study which “found that women with fibromyalgia had more symptoms of pain during pregnancy than women who did not have fibromyalgia. Also, fibromyalgia symptoms seemed to be exacerbated during pregnancy. Pregnant women with fibromyalgia may experience significant pain, fatigue, and psychological stress, especially in the first three months.”

Okay, so if you have fibromyalgia, this makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? You could almost think of pregnancy as one long flare. But then how do you account for the following? I also came across a forum with accounts from women who were trying to get pregnant again because their fibro symptoms went away completely during previous pregnancies. They finally felt normal again…while they were pregnant. Their energy levels were up and their pain was gone.

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health explains pregnancy with autoimmune diseases this way: “For some women, symptoms tend to improve during pregnancy, while others find their symptoms tend to flare up.” This only confirms that there is simply no formula or standard pregnancy experience, much less a standard fibro experience.

They add, “Also, some medicines used to treat autoimmune diseases might not be safe to use during pregnancy.” That’s definitely true with fibromyalgia. Currently, most of these are unsafe to take during pregnancy. And some of them require carefully stepping down when coming off of them. So, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have fibromyalgia and want to get pregnant. Especially if you are on medications for any of your symptoms. That includes herbs and supplements, by the way. Many of those are known to have detrimental effects on babies.

Dealing with Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia

If you have fibro and would like to get pregnant, the first step you need to take is to educate yourself. This is particularly important regarding any medications and supplements you’re taking. In addition to your partner, you need to have serious conversations with your healthcare practitioner. That includes any alternative or supplementary care you receive. For example, massage therapist and acupuncturist need to be clued into your desire to conceive, given your condition. Fibromyalgia is nothing to mess around with, as you are already keenly aware. And pregnancy can bring a whole new level of stress to your body and mind. Combining these can certainly open you up to problems. So, take the time to educate yourself.

If you want to move forward, Dr. Victor Marchione adds a few coping techniques:

  • Be at your best mental and physical state at the start of your pregnancy, as pregnancy can take a heavy toll on your body.
  • Educate family and friends about fatigue and pregnancy in fibromyalgia, so they are understanding of your condition and lend a helping hand.
  • Manage pain and fatigue as you always would, but ensure you do have the green light from your doctors. It is not recommended that you take long, hot baths while pregnant, for example, so speak to your doctor about other natural remedies you can resort to.
  • Get additional help during the postpartum stage.
  • Be more active, as living a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to muscular atrophy, which can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms.
  • Pace yourself – even if you are feeling well, overworking yourself can leave you feeling way below your best the next day.

Depression

Speaking of postpartum, fibromyalgia patients are especially prone to depression. It’s really important that you understand the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. I dealt with it severely for over a year before I had any idea what was wrong with me. In fact, one study from the Clinical Journal of Pain found that, among fibromyalgia patients, “There was an increase in depression, and anxiety during postpartum for the women studied. This did not affect the pregnancy or the health of the baby.” Considering that 60-70% of women experience the “baby blues” after pregnancy, fibro patients needs to be extra cautious. Because approximately 10% of those women develop clinical postpartum depression and underlying depressive disorders, which often accompany fibromyalgia, put you at exceptional risk.

The big takeaways for pregnancy and fibromyalgia here are: 1.) No pregnancy is alike, 2.) Pregnancy can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, and 3.) Educate yourself like crazy before you go down this path. Have you experienced a pregnancy through fibro? Tell us your story and how it impacted your symptoms.

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