Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy

Fibromyalgia can be painful enough, but pregnancy will amplify the already persistent pain, stomach issues, achy joints, and chronic fatigue. This can make any woman (and their loved ones) feel helpless. Healing options are limited while pregnant, but there are options for relief with fibromyalgia and pregnancy.

Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy #fibroparenting #TheFibromyalgiaMagazine #BeingFibroMom
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This article first appeared in The Fibromyalgia Magazine, February 2018. Get the digital copy of the magazine from Pocketmags.

Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are products I recommend and have verified and/or used.

My Reality of Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy

Having children of my own was once only a dream for me. From the time I started puberty, I had issues with my reproductive organs. Occurrences of ovarian cysts became more regular than my menstrual cycle by the time I was 12, and by 20 I was told by numerous medical professionals that pregnancy was simply not in my future.

It was disappointing to be told at a young age that I wouldn’t experience pregnancy or have children of my own. Of course, since I was young, I diverted my attention elsewhere and drowned my sorrow of this loss any way I could. Besides, I thought, if I am meant to have children during my life, then I will. Somehow or another.

Fast forward to today and my life is full of kiddos! My husband and I have four children, each of which was unplanned. By unplanned, I mean I was told I could not carry children of my own and yet I became pregnant four times. Each pregnancy was different and the children are just the same – unique in their own individual ways. Despite how different each pregnancy was, one thing that was the same throughout each of them: the pain.

I wasn’t diagnosed with fibromyalgia until a year after my fourth child was born. It didn’t occur to me during my pregnancy that I shouldn’t be experiencing the pain levels I was. That the stomach issues, back pains, irritability, and other issues were more intense than a typical pregnancy. Had doctors listened to me the countless times I voiced my concerns, I would have been able to enjoy my pregnancies more than I did at the time, and I would have known there were options for women living with fibromyalgia and pregnancy.

Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do now to change how difficult my pregnancies were back then. What I can do now, is help other women who are experiencing fibromyalgia while pregnant. There are options. You do have choices to safeguard yourself and your unborn child. Pregnancy does not have to be miserable and painful the entire time. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable, exhausting, and terrifying for anyone, but when fibromyalgia is added to the mix, it can be even more overwhelming and stressful. There are ways to get relief. Here are some tips and resources to help.

 

10 Tips for Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy

1.Try Natural Remedies

Medications are not an option for me due to negative reactions and adverse side effects, but there are other ways to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms naturally. These include using essential oils, magnesium lotion, melatonin for sleep, hot or cold therapy, moderate exercise, yoga, and stretching. A few fibro parents have said they had success with chiropractic care and prenatal massage.

An Effective Natural Remedy Plan for Chronic Pain #ChronicPain #naturalremedy
created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © Alex Master at www.stock.adobe.com

 

2.Discuss All Treatments with Your Physician

Be sure to tell your physician any concerns you have. If you plan to become pregnant, tell him/her your plans. If you become pregnant, make sure you are referred to an obstetrician gynecologist that will also work with you during this time. Despite cynicism of fibromyalgia diagnosed by some physicians, there are physicians that are willing to listen and work with you. Give them a chance to care for you the way you need to be cared for.

 

Popular Fibromyalgia Medication Could Be Linked to Birth Defects #fibromyalgia #BeingFibroMom
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3.Rest, rest, rest

A body living with fibromyalgia is a body that requires more rest and more breaks than other bodies. Our energy levels are already depleted, and pregnancy will drain them even more so. Be sure to take rest or naps more often, and take frequent breaks throughout the day. Neglecting this need will only aggravate your symptoms and cause more pain than is necessary. Stay ahead of the curve and listen to your body.

4.Catch some Zzzz’s

Just as increased rest and frequent breaks are important, so is sleep. And sleep seems to be impossible when pregnant, I know. The bed is uncomfortable and there is no easy position to sleep once you become further along in the pregnancy. Sleep is still needed though, no matter how difficult it becomes. Talk to your physician about natural sleep remedies such as essential oils or melatonin. If medications are something you’d like to try, ask your physician about safe medications for sleep while pregnant.

getting the sleep you need with fibromyalgia #fibromyalgia #sleep
adobe stock, modified by Brandi, Being Fibro Mom

5.Form a Support System

One of the important strategies I’ve learned with fibro is to build a strong, solid support system. A group of friends and loved ones that understand – to an extent – my daily struggles, and are willing to be there for me when I need it. This could not be any more important when pregnant – before, during, and after. You are going to have difficult days. You will become overwhelmed. You will have to ask for help. If you don’t have a support system in place, get one in place now.

6. Stick to a fibromyalgia diet

There are certain foods to avoid while living with fibromyalgia. These foods include processed foods, foods rich in sugars, red meats, fried foods, wheat, and animal fats. These foods will increase inflammation, affect cognitive function, and can irritate the stomach. When these issues occur, it can cause your body to experience a flare in symptoms lasting anywhere from days to weeks, or even months. Instead, eat anti-inflammatory foods such as greens, sweet potatoes, or berries. For body aches, try tart cherry juice, and for an energy boost try apples, eggs, oats, or almonds. Herbal teas will also help with various ailments including nausea, exhaustion, and body pains. Eating healthy and every few hours (before you’re hungry) can help fight fibromyalgia symptoms naturally.

The Fibro Diet: foods to eat and not eat with fibromyalgia #thefibrodiet #beingfibromom
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7. Get a fibromyalgia coach

During an interview with Tami Stackelhouse, Fibromyalgia Coach, she discussed the benefits of a fibromyalgia coach when planning to become pregnant or after becoming pregnant. I didn’t realize how helpful a coach can be during this time. To find a fibromyalgia coach, visit www.FindAFibroCoach.com.

I reached out to Tami for a statement for this article, and this is what she said about having a fibro coach:

One of the best times to work with a coach is when big changes are happening in your life — pregnancy is certainly no exception! Many fibromyalgia patients find that their symptoms change during pregnancy causing them to need different treatment and coping strategies. A Certified Fibromyalgia Coach or Advisor can help to shortcut much of the frustrating trial and error process and bring support, clarity, and sanity to your life.

Tami Stackelhouse
Fibromyalgia Coach & Founder
International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute

 

Resources to help with fibromyalgia and pregnancy

Support group

Joining a support group either online or in person may be beneficial for some individuals. For me as a fibro parent, I have gained a lot of support from my fibro parenting group on Facebook. It’s a group of parents all battling fibromyalgia. We understand each other’s struggles, victories, and the importance of support. When there is an issue shared, we rally together to encourage and comfort one another. It’s a great way to connect with others and ask for advice without the fear of being judged, mocked, or belittled. Articles, research, and other resources regarding fibromyalgia are also shared in the group. To join our fibro parenting group, click here.

Fibro Parenting Facebook Group #FibroParenting

Additional Resources

Articles and research regarding fibromyalgia and pregnancy are limited. Here are the few articles I’ve found regarding this under reported topic.

Books

I only know of two books about fibromyalgia and pregnancy, and I’ve read one of the two. The book I haven’t read is called Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy: Book Three of the Fibro and Fabulous Series by Amanda Kimberley LB. It’s available on Amazon and has five star reviews.

The book I have read is called Fibro Mama: Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia by Melissa Reynolds, and is also available on Amazon. Melissa has experienced multiple pregnancies and her book is largely based on those experiences, making it relatable and easy to understand. Prior to publishing the book, she conducted her own research survey and she includes those results in the book. Her resources are also listed and referenced to make them easy for the reader to find. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a firsthand account of this topic.

image from MelissavsFibromyalgia.com

 

Conclusion

Pregnancy does not have to be a terrifying ordeal for someone living with fibromyalgia. It can be an enjoyable, beautiful, life changing event for you and your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to speak your concerns, use the tips and resources listed above, and embrace this time in your life. Right now, this pregnancy, is all about you and your unborn baby. You can do this. Until after your baby arrives. That requires different tactics, but that’s okay – I can help with that area, too.

 

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Brandi

I'm Brandi, follower of Christ, wife to an amazing, supportive husband, blessed mother to four sweet children, and a fellow spoonie. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

10 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy

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  • April 22, 2015 at 11:00 pm
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    My daughter was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while she was in college. So she had begun diet and nutritional supplements, alternative medicine treatments before her marriage. Early in her marriage she was on prescription medicine to help with sleep issues. As she and her husband prepared for the possibility of pregnancy she gradually reduced dosages. When she was pregnant she discussed medication type and dosage with her OB-Gyn and one medication was changed. She chose to go into labor naturally, did not want to be induced. She labored at home for a while with my assistance. She hoped to avoid medications during labor but during active labor she needed the pain relief of an epidural. She has a healthy baby. Her biggest struggle is the sleep issue–she continues to work on diet. Have you heard of the GAPS diet?

    Reply
    • April 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm
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      I have heard of it, but that’s it. I know changing what I eat has been a huge way to decrease pain and increase my quality of sleep. I’m happy to hear she had a good pregnancy and healthy baby!

      Reply
  • July 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    These are good tips. I have a friend who just went through pregnancy with Fibro and she wished there had been a post like this before she got pregnant so she knew what to expect! I bet this will be helpful to a lot of people.

    Reply
    • July 29, 2015 at 2:44 pm
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      Thank you! I wish I would have known, too, when I went through my pregnancies.

      Reply
  • December 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm
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    My wife is pregnant right now, and she wants to go see an OBGYN to see if they have any tips for her. That being said, I really appreciate you sharing with me that this is a great way to make sure everything is working right, and if there is anything she can do to make sure the baby comes out right. I’ll make sure I show this to her right away so we can start looking for one. Thanks a ton for the help.

    Reply
    • December 3, 2015 at 2:25 pm
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      Congratulations on the pregnancy! I’m so glad my article could help. I wish I would have been more aware of my symptoms and illness before I was pregnant. Each pregnancy was a bit harder, and with my illness undiagnosed, it made it worse. Please let me know if I can help with any further questions.

      Reply

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