Effects of Pregnancy & Guidelines for Breastfeeding Moms with Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia is the disease of a million myths, because of all the misunderstandings, half-truths, and untruths that exist about it. One of these myths is that it’s strictly a middle-aged and older women’s disease. However children and men get it too. And more than half of women with fibromyalgia are under age 40, still in their reproductive years.

Pregnant women who suffer from fibromyalgia can expect to have increased issues compared to pregnant women without the disease. If you have fibromyalgia and are thinking about getting pregnant, it’s important to learn all you can about both conditions.

Sometimes, symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as pain, fatigue, and depression are thought to be signs of the pregnancy itself. As a result, they may be undertreated. In addition, the added stress of having a baby may cause fibromyalgia symptoms to flare, making you feel much worse. Pregnant women with fibromyalgia may experience significant pain, fatigue, and stress, particularly during the first and last trimesters of pregnancy.

Educate yourself

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.

How Fibromyalgia affects your pregnancy?

First, you have to understand how fibromyalgia affects the likelihood of pregnancy. Though there has been little research in this area, there’s no evidence that fibromyalgia negatively affects how fertile a woman is. However, many women with fibromyalgia experience discomfort during sexual activities. This may cause them to engage in sexual activities less frequently.

Firstly the nausea and fatigue in the first trimester will likely be worse. It’s also common for pregnant women with fibromyalgia to experience more pregnancy-related pain and stress. The hormonal changes, physical changes, and the labor and delivery all increase the stress level in moms-to-be with fibromyalgia.

Not every pregnant woman’s experience with fibromyalgia will be the same. However, all women typically experience an increase in pain, especially over the last few months of pregnancy. This is when even healthy women tend to experience more discomfort.

With pregnancy, there’s a tremendous increase in the amount of hormones in your body. Along with weight gain, your body is out of balance, and your shape takes a different form. Most women experience nausea and fatigue, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. Is it any wonder that fibromyalgia symptoms are often misdiagnosed and thought to be a normal part of pregnancy?

Tips to move forward

It’s imperative that these women find ways to distress, as relaxing can alleviate some of the exacerbated symptoms brought on by fibromyalgia. Think: a pregnancy massage, watching your favorite TV show or movie, reading a really good book, or just getting off your feet and resting for awhile.

Walking and swimming are both low-impact exercises that take the pressure off your body and could bring a measure of relief. However, it’s important you talk with your obstetrician before starting any sort of exercise program.

Ask your doctor about some measures you can take to alleviate pain and be more comfortable. Inquire about medical pressure stockings, a maternity belt later in your pregnancy, and when it would be ok to resume taking hot baths. Working with your doctor will help to ensure a more pleasant term.

Organize some help for when you bring baby home. A good idea is to nap when baby naps so you can get some strength and energy back. Be aware that it’s possible that you make experience a flare-up postpartum. Perhaps a friend or family member can take over cooking and cleaning while you focus on yourself and your new baby.

Effects on baby

Once a woman becomes pregnant, fibromyalgia can affect the pregnancy itself. For example, one study observed 112 pregnant women with fibromyalgia in Israel. Results found that these women were more likely to have recurrent miscarriages, abnormal blood sugar, excessive amniotic fluid, smaller babies.

Postpartum depression

It’s widely believed that a woman’s fibromyalgia will continue to be worse for a period of time after giving birth. Fibromyalgia sufferers typically have very disrupted sleep. And research has shown that the worse they sleep, the more pain they have, especially in the morning.

It’s no coincidence that the mother’s fibromyalgia generally doesn’t start returning to baseline until after the baby starts sleeping better. It’s also crucial that a mother’s mood is followed closely, since post-partum depression can be missed or misinterpreted as fibromyalgia.

Effects of pregnancy on Fibromyalgia symptoms

Not every pregnant woman’s experience with fibromyalgia will be the same. However, all women typically experience an increase in pain, especially over the last few months of pregnancy. This is when even healthy women tend to experience more discomfort.

At this point in a pregnancy the woman is gaining weight rapidly, there is increased pressure on the low back, which is often a problematic area for people with fibromyalgia, and the baby’s growth is accelerating, on the other hand, chemicals like relaxin are released in the body during pregnancy.

Among other things, they help to relax muscles. This may have some beneficial effect. However, overall, the average woman with fibromyalgia will notice a significant increase in her pain. This is especially true over the last few months and particularly in the low back and hip areas.

Treatment

Rest is crucial. Even healthy pregnant women often find the need to sit or lie down to relieve pressure on their back and legs. Schedule 20-to 30-minute breaks throughout the day. You to take leave from our job earlier than you intended in order to get enough rest.

Pool therapy or sitting in a hot tub may be particularly soothing especially for those with back pain and in the late stages of pregnancy. Exercise is important as well, but it must be tailored to individual ability and endurance. Being in a pool during exercise may help.

Fortunately, medications are not the only treatments proven effective for Fibromyalgia. Stretching, meditation, yoga, and deep heat ointments may help. Massage also may be helpful, as long as it’s not too aggressive. Your family, doctor, and employer all should support you in this health-related decision.

Breastfeeding and Fibromyalgia

When it comes to the research concerning pregnancy and fibromyalgia, the outcomes are indecisive. Some women say that their symptoms were lessened when they became pregnant. Others say that their flare-ups became worse.

As we know, everyone is dissimilar, so it’s tough to define whether your symptoms will flare or decrease during your pregnancy. You should keep in mind though, that it is not genetic. Your baby will not be born with fibromyalgia. Conversely, when it comes to having fibromyalgia and breastfeeding your baby, the outcomes are considerably clear.

There have been loads of studies done to look at the manner fibromyalgia affects breastfeeding. All of these studies do specify that it can be actually challenging to breastfeed if you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. However, that’s not to say that it’s unmanageable.

It is still very likely for you to breastfeed with fibromyalgia syndrome. However, you must make certain that you comprehend that it will be challenging and why it is challenging, also prepare yourself with the tools required to get through these complications.

The good news is that having fibromyalgia doesn’t prevent you from become pregnant. However, if you decide to have a baby, it’s important that you understand the risks. However, there is also research that indicates there are certain risks associated with pregnancy while you have fibromyalgia.

They include large fluctuations in hormonal levels, A worsening of symptoms, particularly during the first 3 months of the pregnancy, Greater psychological stress, Increased pain and a restriction of intrauterine growth.

Difficulties faced during breastfeeding in fibromyalgia women

“All nine women felt that they were not successful in their attempts to breastfeed, and felt frustrated,” Schaefer writes. Difficulties included muscle soreness, pain, and stiffness, fatigue,  a perceived shortage of breast  milk and sore nipples.

Generally speaking, women with fibromyalgia have a more difficult time breastfeeding than those who don’t have fibromyalgia. This is due to Use of medications, Sore nipples, Stiffness, Lack of milk and Pain. The problems were bad enough that some participants felt they needed to resume medication, which meant giving up breastfeeding to avoid passing the drugs to the babies through breast milk.

The difficulty with breastfeeding is mainly the result of pain because women with fibromyalgia have a lower pain threshold. Mothers with fibromyalgia often have an especially tough time with breastfeeding, according to a new study. Problems not directly related to FM, but that nonetheless increased pain, like sore nipples caused by candida or thrush also made breast-feeding unbearable. Also common among the women was the sense that their milk supply was not enough to nourish their babies.

In addition, if pregnancy alleviated some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, most people find that those symptoms return soon after the birth. The symptoms often feel even worse than they did before the pregnancy, and this can make it a very difficult time to deal with breastfeeding.

Feeling “forced” to wean their babies earlier than planned, the mothers were sad and depressed, Schaefer writes. Others stopped breastfeeding after being diagnosed with other health problems, such as hypothyroidism or hepatitis B.

Guidelines

Consult a lactation specialist if you feel that you are having trouble nursing or that the baby isn’t latching on properly. You can consider hiring a care giver to help you out with the baby or get help with the housework. Ask your family to help you as much as possible too. 

Focused breathing is deep breathing that can lead to reduced anxiety and soothe feelings of stress. It also improves oxygen flow in the body which can help muscles. Since stress can cause your fibromyalgia to flair, and can keep your milk from letting down, it is very important to create a stress-free environment when you plan to nurse. Try to create a quiet, relaxing location for nursing.

Ask friends and family members for encouragement and assistance. Delegate other tasks. Save as much energy as possible for infant care and breastfeeding. Probably the number-one parenting practice that help to breastfeed successfully while better managing fibromyalgia is co-sleeping.

Not only does breastfeeding release hormones, like oxytocin, which helps with the pain of fibromyalgia, but breastfeeding smoothes hormonal ups-and-downs that come with giving birth.

Support groups and lactation specialists can offer a number of techniques that may help you successfully breastfeed the baby despite fibromyalgia. Nipple vasospasms can make breastfeeding very painful.

There are treatments that may work for moms with nipple vasospasms including wool breast pads to keep the nipples warm between feedings, using a warm compress prior to latch and after breastfeeding, and a prescription medication from your doctor.

Staying in one position for too long, as in the case of breastfeeding, may increase your pain and stiffness, especially in your joints. Laid-back breastfeeding worked best for during the day.

Try relaxation techniques and music therapy to promote relaxation and reduce discomfort during breastfeeding. Use a sling or some type of support, such as a pillow, under the baby. Pay attention to proper nutrition. 

Before discouraging a mother’s nursing efforts, providers should first explore non-prescription methods for reducing discomfort and pain. A more proactive approach is to consult with a lactation specialist while pregnant to begin the process of planning for successful breast-feeding.

You may also want to try aromatherapy or other treatments that will help you to relax in the months after the birth.

Pre-pregnancy planning is important if you know that you have fibromyalgia. However, if you get pregnant while dealing with fibromyalgia, the important thing to remember is that there are many ways to manage the symptoms so that you can enjoy your new role as a mother.

Related Article:

How does fibromyalgia effects Pregnancy

References/Sources:

  • Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy via healthline
  • Challenges come in pregnancy in fibromyalgia via Fibromyalgia News Today
  • Help for Breastfeeding Moms With Fibromyalgia via Web MD.
  • Study Finds Fibromyalgia Prohibits Sufferers From Breast-feeding via Science Daily
  • Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Fibromyalgia via Fibromyalgia.info

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

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