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Fibromyalgia and pregnancy
Thursday 22 July 2010
How to Cope With Fibromyalgia During Pregnancy
Women who suffer from fibromyalgia can still enjoy a happy and healthy pregancy. Coping with fibromyalgia while pregnant is challenging, but well worth it.
Women with fibromyalgia may hesitate to get pregnant for fear of worsening symptoms, however there are many ways to combat the pain and exhaustion to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Although a limited number of studies have been performed to determine the impact fibromyalgia has on pregnant women, the reports that are available show the majority of new mothers viewed their pregnancy as a positive experience. In 1997, a study done in Norway concluded that most women with fibromyalgia felt an increase of pain and fatigue during their pregnancy, but delivered healthy, full-term babies.
Stress Management For the Pregnant Woman
One of the most important things a woman can do to combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia while carrying her baby is to steer clear of stress. Pregnancy itself is a significant stressor due to the increase of hormones in a woman’s body, and studies have shown that both physical and emotional stress trigger fibromyalgia flare-ups. Too much stress also leads to permanently low levels of serotonin, resulting in depression. Pregnant women need to recognize that their bodies are more susceptible to stress and do everything they can to reduce excess pressure and anxiety.
An important way to manage stress during pregnancy is allowing others to help. Letting family members to pitch in with housecleaning, shopping, and other chores will take the pressure off the mom-to-be. Pregnant women must remember that they are working hard enough carrying their babies, and let go of the notion that they need to do more.
Pregnant women are encouraged to practice meditation or different breathing techniques to calm themselves down when they feel stress starting to build. Enjoying stress-free activities like quilting, watching movies, or playing board games is recommended. Fibromyalgia feeds off stress, so it is essential that pregnant women stay as calm and worry-free as possible.
Exercise is Essential For Fighting Fibromyalgia
Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin have a negative effect on pregnant women, especially those with fibromyalgia. The best way to naturally boost serotonin in the body is with exercise. Not only will a regular routine of exercise keep the pregnant woman’s muscles limber and her joints flexible, but it will also improve her mood by elevating her serotonin levels. Positive endorphins released during exercise are a natural high that make women feel good about themselves, which is especially vital during the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy.
Exercising fifteen to twenty minutes a day can reduce fibromyalgia symptoms during pregnancy, but for some women, just the thought can be exhausting. The key is to find a low-impact activity that won’t aggravate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but still gets the body moving. Yoga, swimming, and stationary biking are ideal ways to exercise sore muscles without pushing to the extreme. Pregnant women should always stretch before and after exercise, drink plenty of water, and rest when they feel fatigued.
Pregnant Women Need More Sleep
Getting adequate rest cannot be emphasized enough, especially for those suffering from fibromyalgia. Sleep disturbances are very common for those with fibromyalgia, and such problems may be exacerbated during pregnancy.
It is important for the pregnant woman to have a good sleep routine. She should make sure her room is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Avoiding eating right before bed will also help her get a better night’s sleep. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning is ideal for developing healthy sleep habits.
For women that took sleep medications before getting pregnant; stretching exercises, deep breathing, or listening to quiet music may help them relax them before going to bed. Taking a nap during the day is recommended as long as it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
Treating the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia During Pregnancy
Dr. Brian Mason, a high-risk obstetrician, states that certain pain-relieving drugs can safely be used during pregnancy, along with trigger point injections. Although the risk for birth defects is limited when these medications are used appropriately, women should research possible side effects before making their decision. Some women may choose to use painkillers or antidepressants during pregnancy while others opt not to. It is a personal decision based on the severity of the symptoms a woman experiences.
A variety of alternative therapies and treatments are safe for women during pregnancy that may alleviate the pain and aches associated with fibromyalgia. Massage therapy (with a certified prenatal therapist), acupuncture, warm baths (never hot, or for prolonged periods), and physical therapy are all options that help women cope with fibromyalgia during pregnancy.
Twenty-five of the twenty-six pregnant women involved in the study in Norway encouraged other fibromyalgia sufferers to have children. Despite the challenges they faced, the women endured and even enjoyed being pregnant. Many women with fibromyalgia have reported feeling better than ever during their pregnancy and experienced better sleep and fewer headaches. Every pregnancy will be different, so it is best for each individual to enter into their nine-month journey without any specific expectations. Worrying about an increase of fibromyalgia symptoms will only cause stress and worry, so it is recommended to take it one step at a time.
Although a woman with fibromyalgia may struggle at times during her pregnancy, she will realize it was completely worth it when she holds her new baby in her arms.
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