To supplement the existing research and my own experiences, when writing my book Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia, I conducted a survey. The results of the survey were so interesting (and I don’t think that’s just me as a research nerd!).
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I sent out the link to my social media networks and received 22 responses. There were nine questions, including a free text box for any comments about pregnancy with Fibromyalgia and/or any advice for other mamas.
It was 50/50 for whether the women surveyed experienced a worsening or a betterment of their symptoms while pregnant.
I was less surprised to find that 70% of respondents experienced a severe flare up after the birth of their baby.
A whopping 70% stated that their number one coping mechanism during pregnancy was resting/napping. 25% said heat pack. Ordinarily I would have agreed with the heat pack, but for pregnancy my number one coping mechanism was rest in the form of meditation.
The most surprising response for me was the spread of answers to the nursing question. 40% managed for 12 months or more! 20% last for six months or 12 months respectively. 15% didn’t manage to nurse. 5% expressed exclusively.
As I shared in my post about Nursing with Fibromyalgia, I managed eight weeks of exclusive expressing with Noah before I had to give up. It was an awful, pressured time. I hated it. With Wyatt I managed to get through the first few weeks and get into the groove before he developed reflux. He just couldn’t keep my milk down. Thankfully I knew it wasn’t all or nothing and managed to mix feed with thickened formula until my supply completely dried up at 12 weeks. This was a far more positive experience. Though it was very draining for me both times.
These results confirm the (little) research I found – the experience of pregnancy and nursing with Fibromyalgia is as diverse as people’s general experience with Fibromyalgia.
You can’t guarantee pregnancy will make you better or worse. You can’t know if nursing will work out for you. But you can arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible to support yourself. This is why I have written this blog and my book. To try to help fill this knowledge gap.
Some comments from mamas for you:
“Don’t push yourself too hard! Listen to your body!!” Jennifer
“One of the hardest 9 months of my life but another reason now to keep going and fight!” Mindy
“1. My son is 10 months and we are still breast feeding, hoping to go long term.2. The two hardest things for me have been lack of sleep, and being forced to sit in the same position for long periods of time while nursing, or while my son slept. I kept five different pillows on the couch, and used them to prop myself and him up at every angle. Really helped.” Megan
“My advice to any fibromite who wants to have a baby…stay active, eat healthy, and follow your providers instruction to a T. Get plenty of rest. Have a nest you can go to, with all of your comfort items, so you can hibernate when necessary. I hope your pregnancy is wonderful, but if it isnt, you will have an adorable little one to help you through life.” Catherine
“Make sure you have a support team because after the baby your body will be in a flare up from the birth, hormones, lack of sleep and stress. It can last a short time or a long time. My flare up lasted almost 2 years.” Sabrina
“Don’t let fibro hold you back from being a mother! Take one day at a time, be kind to yourself and look after yourself too.” Kelly
“I wish I had known about epsom salts when I was pg. Nursing helped me fall asleep more quickly- I think it is oxytocin related. I wish I had asked for more help- more specific ways that someone could help. Laundry, folding, shopping for groceries, more frozen meals. Looking back, I was so scared of letting Fibro “win” I didn’t take enough time to truly take care of myself (easier said than done with a newborn).” Christine
“go into pregnancy with as much information as you can, and make sure you have as much support as you can, if i did it over i would make sure i had as much help in place as i was able.” Patricia
My book, Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia is available now in paperback and eBook.