Early pregnancy symptoms and Fibromyalgia

Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Fibromyalgia (2018 Edition)

Pregnancy is an exciting time but it can also be tricky dealing with the early symptoms. Adding the fibromyalgia complexity makes it just a bit more difficult.

Here’s my tips for managing pregnancy symptoms with Fibromyalgia:

Early pregnancy symptoms and Fibromyalgia

Affiliate notice: Some of my links may be affiliate links, I may make a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.

(Find this as a FREE printable report Managing Early Pregnancy Symptoms on the Resources page)

Manage your normal human stuff first

  • Sleep as best as you can
  • Rest
  • Eat as healthily as possible
  • Pregnancy multi vitamin
  • Drink lots of water

(Don’t forget I literally wrote the book on Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia)

Specific for morning sickness

If it’s bad, as in you’re not keeping water or food down, seek medical attention. Hydration is crucial, as is nutrients for your developing baby.

There are a couple more options that I used that you need to do your own research on – essential oils.

(Catch your free report on Essential Oils for Natural Health on the Resources page )

Here’s two starter articles for you.

https://www.mamanatural.com/eo-pregnancy-birth/

http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/using-essential-oils-safely-for-pregnant-nursing-mamas/

I used lavender for pain and peppermint for nausea and headaches. See here for my post about my journey into using Essential Oils.

Managing fatigue 

For me, fatigue is the big issue to manage. My fatigue levels can cause nausea and orthostatic intolerance even without morning sickness.

Really prioritise sleep and rest! After the children are in bed I found lying down to read (with my knees up to rest my low back) really helpful. Even if insomnia is plaguing you, resting helps. Try a meditation.

If, like me, increased pain hits you in pregnancy you might like to try these

  • Stretching – cat and cow pose, child’s pose, forward bend, hip flexor stretches, low back stretches etc.
  • Keep exercising gently
  • Warm baths and showers
  • Arnica pain cream
  • Physiotherapy/massage/osteopathy etc.

If you want to learn even more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then check out my 15-page printable PDF Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Micro Course Workbook. It goes through the existing information about pain relief during pregnancy, my experiences, a list of natural pain relief options, a list of further reading, a template to make your own pain relief plan (pregnancy edition) with space for notes and the brand new Advanced Pain Relief sheet with links to research about medicine use in pregnancy. I have gathered the information and created these printables to make it easier for you to make the best decisions for yourself- it took me years to get it all together.

If you’re trying to head off pelvis issues like me, here’s what I’m doing (my physiotherapist taught me how to do these appropriately),

  • Knee presses
  • Mini squats
  • Calf lifts
  • Pelvic floor, stomach engaged pelvic tilts
  • Superman pose

Please remember that this is a finite time and you’ll soon be thinking on other things, namely your fast growing passenger.

Would you like this post as a PDF printable so that you can refer back to it? Find it on the Resources page


For more information:

Pregnancy and Fibro eCourseThis is the full eCourse for planning the best pregnancy you can have. It has five lessons and plenty of templates for you to turn the learning around to make your own plan.

If the full eCourse isn’t something you have the time for right now, you might be interested in the full workbook available in my store. You can work through this at your own pace.

And do come and join our Facebook group Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia to chat with other mamas doing pregnancy with Fibromyalgia.

 

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Fibro Mama Interviews: Natalie from Surviving Lifes Hurdles

As we well know, our experience of chronic illness differs greatly. In order to shed some light on how other chronically ill parents do it I started the Fibro Mama Interviews series. Our first interview was with Brandi from Being Fibro Mom and our second interview is with the lovely Natalie from Surviving Lifes Hurdles.

Please give a brief introduction to yourselfNatalie- Surviving Lifes Hurdles.png

Hi, I’m Natalie, I’m 32 and I live in England with my partner and lovely 3 year old son who both help to keep me going whenever times get tough!

Since being diagnosed with MS 2 years ago my life has changed completely and I have so much more to deal with every single day.

I still love being a mum though and in many ways being chronically ill has made me a better parent than I was.  I certainly appreciate the little things more and I don’t sweat the small stuff now either!

I write a blog over at www.survivinglifeshurdles.com and you can also find me on;

Facebook

Twitter

Please stop by and say hi!

What are your diagnoses?

I have Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis, which I was diagnosed with just over 2 years ago.

How many children do you have, what are their ages?

I have one little boy who is 3.

Were you diagnosed when you were pregnant?

No, I wasn’t diagnosed until my son was 11 months old when I had a big relapse.  I did have MS when I was pregnant (although much milder at that point) but I didn’t realise it! I struggled with juggling fatigue with a demanding full time job during the 1st and 3rd trimesters.

What were your best coping mechanisms?

When I struggled with fatigue I used to rest as much as possible and break down tasks into smaller chunks.  I tried not to get stressed out about what I couldn’t do and at times work had to take a hit.

How long did you nurse for and what were your best coping mechanisms?

I stopped nursing when my son was 6 months old, so this was before my diagnosis but getting up in the night to feed certainly didn’t help my fatigue.  In the day, between feeds, I tried to rest as much as possible but also made sure I went out for a walk regularly for some exercise and a bit of fresh air.

How did you find the first year?

I enjoyed my maternity leave but found returning to a demanding full time job when my son was 6 months old so much tougher than I’d imagined.  My fatigue and brain fog steadily increased until I had a major relapse when he was 11 months old where I was admitted to hospital for a week for tests which eventually resulted in my MS diagnosis.

Following my relapse I struggled with severe fatigue, brain fog, balance and coordination issues to name a few.  I’d instantly gone from being a capable, working mother to being someone who had an incurable/progressive illness, was unable to work, depended on others and who needed help looking after her son for any long stretches of time due to fatigue.  It was a terrifying and confusing time and I struggled to accept my diagnosis initially.  I was scared for my future and what it would mean for my family.

Based on my own experiences, my tips for coping in the first year as a parent with a chronic illness would be;

  • Get as much help as you can; from family, friends, charities, medical professionals, paid help etc, whatever you can manage.  Leave your pride at the door and accept as much help as possible.  Parenting with a chronic illness is hard enough without trying to do it all!
  • Don’t be hard on yourself for what you can’t do.  If you don’t have the energy for loads of baby classes or you regularly have to take time out for yourself due to your illness it doesn’t matter.  Your baby isn’t missing out and what you struggle to provide in one area you will certainly make up for in another!
  • Look after your health.  It goes against all of your instincts to put yourself first when you have a child but when it comes to your health sometimes you just have to.  Accept that your health needs have to be met too otherwise you won’t be in a fit state to be the parent you want to be.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Being ill puts into perspective what’s truly important in life and what isn’t so use this to your advantage and leave getting wrapped up in pointless stress and over-the-top worrying to other first-time parents and enjoy the moment!

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to parents with chronic illness who are, or want to get pregnant?

Find out as much information as you can before you become pregnant.  Get advice from medical professionals about any potential complications due to your illness and whether you will need to stop any medication you are taking etc.  Also join a few Facebook groups and read some blogs of other chronically ill parents for the valuable real-life experiences and support networks they can provide.

Preparation is key.  All those sleepless nights with a newborn are hard enough without a chronic illness so it’s a good idea to get as organised as possible before your baby arrives.  Declutter to make room for all your new baby equipment and get everything you will need in the early days set up well in advance.  Stock your cupboards with loads of healthy and easy-to-grab snacks and batch cook a load of meals to freeze ahead too.

Believe in yourself.  Yes, parenting with a chronic illness will be tough and there won’t be many people who will understand but you will find a way to make it work.  Listen to your body, know your own mind and have confidence in the fact that you will love your child with every ounce of your being.  No chronic illness can ever take that away from you!

What resources would you recommend to support parents with chronic illness)

I know it’s very specific to both MS and the UK but for me personally I would have to say the  muMS UK Facebook group.  It’s great for finding out everything I need to know about parenting with MS and it’s a really friendly and light-hearted group.

surviving life hurdles


For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

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Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

 

Precious Knowledge for other Fibro Parents

In my quest to unearth further information and present it to those of us who need it, I am gathering a survey of fibro parents about pregnancy and early parenting for inclusion in my updated book and on the blog. 

Pregnancy and Fibro

My first book is available on Amazon now

I thought my mission would be complete upon the publication of my book Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia last November and the eCourse of the same name. But, alas, there is more information needed and I have taken the call to seek it out. Particularly in the areas of fertility, pain relief, labour and the fourth trimester (early months).
 
I’d be super grateful if you wanted to share your hard earned knowledge about pregnancy, nursing and parenting with fibromyalgia. This survey is just nine questions on areas we desperately need information on. Of particular importance are the three questions where you can give a paragraph on what you’d tell another fibro parent just starting their journey on the areas of pregnancy, the early weeks and parenting.
There are also a couple of questions about pain management mechanisms you enacted.
 
Every drop of information counts for those of us fighting to live as well as possible while pregnant and parenting with Fibromyalgia.
 
Please feel free to share this to get this spread as wide as possible. The more respondents, the more information we receive!
 
Click to take the survey here.
call for info.jpgThank you in advance for contributing to the mission, I will let you know the results of the survey.

For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

Find my pregnancy diaries from my second pregnancy, in 2016.
Find my book Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia AVAILABLE HERE

For access to my free resource page, sign up here. This includes templates, reports and my free microcourse Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia: Arm Yourself with Knowledge will be up there shortly.
Enroll in my eCourse Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia here.
Join the group Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia on Facebook, we chat about pregnancy, nursing and parenting with Fibromyalgia.

My Six Tips for Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia

I have been researching pregnancy with Fibromyalgia for the past four years and have written about my own experiences here on the blog.

Based on my research and exprience I have compiled six tips for pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. I talk about them in the video below.

The six tips are:

1. Arm yourself with knowledge
2. Get your body into the best place possible before conceiving
3. Prioritise rest and sleep
4. Nourish your body with good food and supplements
5. Get a pain management plan in place- discuss with your doctor what medicines you cannot come off, what you can and get your natural pain management mechanisms in place.
6. Make a plan for the final trimester, delivery and first six weeks that involves a good support system.
If you want to learn more information about pain relief during pregnancy, then check out my 15-page printable PDF Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia Micro Course Workbook. It goes through the existing information about pain relief during pregnancy, my experiences, a list of natural pain relief options, a list of further reading, a template to make your own pain relief plan (pregnancy edition) with space for notes and the brand new Advanced Pain Relief sheet with links to research about medicine use in pregnancy. I have gathered the information and created these printables to make it easier for you to make the best decisions for yourself- it took me years to get it all together.

For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

Pregnancy andFibromyalgia_resources

Pregnancy and fibromyalgia self paced course

facebook group

Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia is on Sale! One Week Special

Just a quick note to let you know that my book, Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia is on special starting today at just .99 cents! And it will slowly return to normal price in increments until the 12th of January. So get in quick!
Pregnancy and Fibro

On Sale on Amazon now!

So if you were curious about what pregnancy might be like with Fibromyalgia, how nursing might go and wanted some tips about each trimester of pregnancy, the first six weeks, nursing, and parenting then head on over to Amazon. My book is only one of two books about this, so I’m really proud to provide some information in an otherwise nearly blank space.

Don’t forget to check out my Pregnancy Diaries page for all of my pregnancy diaries from when I was pregnant with Wyatt last year. I also include the birth story and a diary entry from the first month.

I also provide free resources on my page of the same name – eResources that I have made for you, some key chronic illness blogs and my favourite books (these links are to Goodreads).

May I ask you a favour? After you’ve read my book could you please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? This way we can ensure more people who are fighting Fibromyalgia and pregnancy can find some information.

To stay up to date and receive a free copy of my eBook Fibro Mama Tips for Managing Early Pregnancy Symptoms – sign up here.

A Confession on Pacing and Boundaries with Fibromyalgia

May I confess something to you? I don’t always practice what I preach. I don’t always realise or acknowledge my boundaries, let alone fight for them. I let guilt eat at me and let it trick me into over committing.

A confession on pacing and boundaries with fibromyalgia

I’ve had this growing sense that the amount of hours I was searching for as I seek employment now that my baby is nearing his first birthday were too much. After much internal struggle, I lowered the expectation in my head, knowing we need the extra money, but also that I would not be able to sustain it, my health and be a good mama.

Other posts you might like:

My Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Fibromyalgia One Year Experiment

Natural Pain Relief: Supplements for Fibromyalgia Energy

Living the Best Life with Fibromyalgia: A Book Review

For a long time, I prided myself on being a 60 on the CFS/Fibromyalgia Rating Scale, “Able to do about 6-7 hours of work a day. Mostly mild to moderate symptoms” despite pain levels more in line with a 50, “able to do 4-5 hours a day of work or similar activity at home. Daily rest required. Symptoms mostly moderate.” (My italics)

I pushed myself to 6-7 hours per day minimum and suffered moderate symptoms. I had missed the key as suggested in this article on understanding our situation: “What is the highest level of functioning I can sustain without intensifying my symptoms?”. If my pain is at a moderate level, then I should not be striving to work the hours of a person with more mild symptoms, especially given that I go home to two small children as opposed to being able to rest. You need to take into account your symptom level and your situation. Especially as our context changes so quickly, soon enough those small ones will be at school and will need me in a totally different way.

I keep myself in the boom-bust pain-fatigue cycle. Well, me and my circumstances – I have two small children and we have a mortgage in the most expensive city in New Zealand. We cannot move as this is the only place my husband can do his job. Childcare is not a cheap commodity, nor would I want substandard care for them when I am at work.  As I move forward and go back to work now that I have had my second baby, I must learn to balance all of these demands. And that is going to be my life’s work – balancing life with the fight against the Fibromyalgia.

This year I have finally experienced a slight reduction in pain in my neck, this has enabled sleep to come easier. It’s been such a relief, I don’t want to give it up. But my work requires a lot of computer time, so that’s unavoidable. I can only hope that I can find the hours and position that will do the least damage.

But I will admit it is tough. It will always be a struggle, even if your people understood fully (which they likely don’t).


For more information about Fibromyalgia and an introduction to how to manage it, join my free eCourse.

Free eCourse sign up you vs fibromyalgia

My book is everything I know and have researched to fight Fibromyalgia, this blog post forms part of a chapter.

Please note that this is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase using my link I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

melissa vs fibromyalgia book angled shadowed

 

Fibro Mama Pregnancy & Fibromyalgia Book

Are you wondering if your symptoms will be better or worse during pregnancy? If you’ll experience a flare up after delivery? What nursing with Fibromyalgia might be like? Have you thought about what coping mechanisms you’ll utilise during pregnancy? 
Melissa shares what the research says, what she experienced in her two pregnancies and what other women shared in a survey. 

After being disappointed at the lack of information about pregnancy with Fibromyalgia when I had Noah four years ago, I set about writing up my experiences and researching as new information became available.Pregnancy and Fibro

On my Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries page, I include my journals from my pregnancy with Wyatt last year, which I edited and posted over this past year.

Recently, I told you I was writing a book about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia with my research, my experiences and the results of a survey I took.

The results of the survey were so interesting (and I don’t think that’s just me as a research nerd!) that I’ll write a post about them. It was nearly 50/50 for whether the women surveyed experienced a worsening or a betterment of their symptoms while pregnant. A whopping 70% stated that their number one coping mechanism during pregnancy was resting/napping (I wholeheartedly concur, though my resting takes the form of meditation).

I have finished my book! It’s a little exciting for me as it’s one of my life goals to publish a book.

So Fibro Mama Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia is available on Amazon now.

I’ve written chapters on the existing literature, about each trimester, nursing, being a fibro mama to a tiny baby and toddlers and include some advice for midwives and fathers.

I’d be so grateful if you supported me by purchasing it and leaving a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

I’d also love to hear your top tips for surviving pregnancy with Fibromyalgia because sharing knowledge is so necessary when so little literature exists.

Pregnancy & Fibromyalgia Survey, Book & Page

Fibro Mama Tools for Managing Early PregnancyAfter being disappointed at the lack of information about pregnancy with Fibromyalgia when I had Nu four years ago, I set about writing up my experiences and researching as new information became available.

On my Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries page I include my journals from my second pregnancy last year, which I edited and posted over this past year.

Now I’m writing a book!
On my new Fibro Mama Pregnancy & Fibromyalgia page I include the links to the ebook I’m writing as I publish the posts. When it is complete (and edited) it will be available for purchase, with extra content.
For now, could I ask you a favour?
Would you fill in a survey so I can add to the research available (limited) and my experience (two pregnancies makes me an expert in my experience not collective experience)? Screenshot_20171117-092641
If you’re interested in following my progress in writing the book, or supporting me by purchasing it when I’m finished, please feel free to follow this blog and tell anyone who could benefit by this information.
Please feel free to comment about anything further you’re curious about and I’ll do my best to research it.

Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: Week 30

fibro mama pregnancy week 30I couldn’t believe my baby was coming sometime in the next 7-10 weeks!

This pregnancy was such a different experience to the first one, for which I was so grateful. It was challenging and I was pretty sore and tired (and there’s more to come) but I tried to savour the good bits. To remember the feeling of my tiny baby moving within me, to know I was growing a human life. It’s amazing.

 

A lot of my to-do list had been ticked off for baby. I was not prepared to go out for long shopping trips anymore. Most of what’s left was to prepare what I could in advance to make life easier.

I had been daydreaming/visualising about how it would be better than last time, without a prolonged labour experience, without being left without my husband in the first days, without my son being sick and needing to be back in hospital after three weeks…The difference this could make. I also had a list of the things I could try while nursing and after that in order to support my health – including rhodiola rosea for energy and adrenal support.

Nursing was occupying my thoughts. With Nu I really struggled, he was sick and a lot of problems arose with that, it also hurt (my nipples were ruined and my actual breasts ached so badly – I cried when I had to go and express). I hated it. It did not help my experience of the first six weeks of motherhood.

This time I was hoping that a better start, the baby being well and a different baby would make a difference. I was hoping that baby will latch well, drink well and not be resolute about going to sleep after one minute! I was also hoping that the entirely different situation will give me some leeway in the pain and energy levels. I had my double expressing machine, nipple cover, cream and ice packs ready. I was going utilise the six weeks my husband is home to really make a luxury out of feeding – go and lie down comfortably with my heat pack and potentially a guided meditation to try to make it a rest at the same time.

My lower back/hips continued to feel rather sore, almost like they were being sawn off. I had found that not taking a walk (in addition to my 8000 incidental steps per day), doing pelvic tilts and yoga stretches on all fours made a difference. As did lying on my side but leaning slightly back on my maternity pillow when in bed. Heat pack, warm showers and arnica rub helped.

Meditation continued to be a life raft. 45 minute body scans with my heatpack about lunch time made a huge difference to my pain and energy levels. The days I couldn’t lie down were quite difficult.

From the day that 30 weeks ticked over, all of a sudden, I felt blinded by exhaustion. By the evening I was in a lot of pain and so tired I felt ill. I had to crawl into bed as soon as Nu was in bed to lie down. Lying down helped, but being in bed for so long made my low back and hips very sore by the early hours of the morning. Being proactive (and knowing at 27 weeks my iron levels had been at the bottom of the normal range) I scheduled an iron injection for a boost. This wasn’t without troubles, it is painful to get the injection and for the day after, and it also leaves a bit of a stain (I still had a stain from where I got it last December). But it actually made all the difference in the world.

I was simultaneously counting down, taking it one day at a time and enjoying my time with Nu.

I thought I would share this journey, as I did with the first, to provide a sense of what it’s like for a mama with Fibromyalgia to do pregnancy. Find the rest of the diaries here

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Fibro Mama Pregnancy Diaries: Weeks 25-29

fibro mama pregnancy diaries weeks 25.29Following the onset in week 22 or so, my low back and hip pain became worse. Sleeping was difficult, I had to start the night with a hot water bottle and as the night progressed it got harder to ignore. By 5am I wriggled around trying to get comfortable more than I slept. The morning was spent trying to mobilize and push through. My midday liedown became challenging for relaxing enough through the pain to rest and as the afternoon and evening wore on the pain became worse.

I tried third trimester yoga videos on YouTube (this one’s a goodie), used my heatpack religiously, took Panadol and Panadiene as sparingly as possible and attempted to pace appropriately. It felt like the business end of pregnancy came far too early!

I tried to really focus on eating nourishing food such as Bircher muesli, soups and salads. I also took a pregnancy multivitamin and probiotics to support my body.

The fatigue was reasonable (but difficult) given the battle that sleep had become. My body was heavily exhausted but I woke every one or two hours, sometimes more. Getting up was hard, but two year olds wake when they wake and you can’t ignore those loud “mama, mama” calls!

My tiny passenger seemed to make use of his growing space, simultaneously kicking and punching high and low. He always let me know he was there, growing nicely, getting ready to come.

The short Gestational diabetes test was not as awful with better planning this time. I ate a proper breakfast and took reading materials. Though the sugary drink made me feel dehydrated all afternoon!

Unfortunately the results were not good, so I had to do the glucose tolerance test…I had to fast for 10 hours and go to the lab at 8am (with no breakfast or coffee!), have a blood test, drink the same sugar drink, sit for two hours and have another blood test. I was quite unwell with it and so had to lie on the bed in fetal position to stop from vomiting, but I made it! I was pretty wiped afterwards and so hard a very quiet afternoon.

I was super pleased to find the results were “perfectly normal”!

At 28 weeks I crossed into the third trimester. With midday naps, pacing, good food, good supplements and regular physio I felt like I was coping quite well despite the battle that the nights brought (including dead arms every hour). The low back and hips were not so bad when I didn’t overdo it, the upper back was not so forgiving and I did get some regular spasming which wasn’t fun. Lying down with the heatpack, taking Panadiene and meditation helped.

By week 29 I was focused on organising the last of baby’s things so that I could rest more later, reading up on labour and enjoying my last weeks with Nu as an only child. This child brings me such joy and I really revel in the fact that he’s super rough and tumble but always has a kiss and a cuddle for his mama.

I thought I would share this journey, as I did with the first, to provide a sense of what it’s like for a mama with Fibromyalgia to do pregnancy. Find all diaries and other pregnancy resources here

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