How Does Fibromyalgia Affect Pregnancy?

How does it affect the baby?

Despite there being very little data on fibromyalgia and pregnancy available, there is some evidence of a possible link between fibromyalgia and the following:

•Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition where the baby’s growth is restricted in the womb, causing the baby to be smaller in size.

•Recurrent miscarriages.

• Polyhydramnios, a condition where the mother has too much amniotic fluid. This condition is linked to preterm delivery, birth defects, excessive growth of the baby, and stillbirth.

In spite of this, most pregnant women with fibromyalgia give birth to a healthy, full-term infant. A woman with fibromyalgia is also less likely to experience preterm labour.

Considerations for planning a pregnancy

A woman with fibromyalgia who is planning to become pregnant needs to take extra factors into account.

It is important to have:

•A trusted team of doctors

•A support system of help throughout the pregnancy and recovery period

•The ability to rest as needed

•Nonmedicinal pain management and coping techniques in place

• Access to up-to-date research on fibromyalgia management and pregnancy

A woman with fibromyalgia may also want to spend time before conception focusing on her health and building up her strength and endurance, to ensure she is emotionally and mentally prepared for pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.

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Tips for caring for a pregnant woman with fibromyalgia

A pregnant woman with fibromyalgia may need some extra care, as pain and fatigue may become overwhelming or debilitating.

The person who is taking care of a pregnant woman with fibromyalgia should:

•Inform themselves about fibromyalgia

•Listen to the concerns of the patient

•Encourage healthy habits, including plenty of rest

•Help make meals and do chores during times of extreme fatigue or pain

It will also be a good idea to line up extra help for the period after childbirth, as the caregiver may find they will be busy taking care of the new mom and the newborn.

Does stress trigger fibromyalgia during pregnancy?

Pregnant or not, stress – both physical and emotional – is known to trigger fibromyalgia. Considering all that’s involved with pregnancy, labor, and delivery, it’s obvious that pregnancy is a time of high stress. With pregnancy, there are changes in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Also, since the time after a pregnancy can be difficult for mothers – even those without fibromyalgia – it’s important to be aware of the possible increase in pain and other symptoms that may occur after giving birth.

Why is exercise important for fibromyalgia and pregnancy?

Exercise helps keep you fit. It strengthens muscles, keeps joints flexible, and boosts mood by increasing serotonin in your body. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitter that scientists have found to be related to fibromyalgia. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send specific messages from one cell to another. While only a small percentage of serotonin is located in the brain, this neurotransmitter is believed to play a vital role in mediating moods.

Too much stress can lead to permanently low levels of serotonin. That, in turn, can lead to aggression and feelings of depression.

Lack of exercise can aggravate low serotonin levels. On the other hand, increased levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with a calming, anxiety reducing effect. In some cases they are also associated with drowsiness. Having stable function in the brain circuits that use serotonin to send messages is linked with a positive mood.

Talk to your health care provider about the level of activity that is right for you.

What exercises can I do with fibromyalgia during pregnancy?

Along with stretching and normal daily activities during pregnancy, consider exercising in a warm swimming pool. The heat might help ease the fibromyalgia pain while the stretching and other low-impact exercise can keep your muscles and joints flexible and strong.

The water temperature should feel comfortable but not hot. In a pool, water temperatures from 83 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit are usually comfortable for exercise. But if you are pregnant, ask your doctor before exercising in a warm pool. Do not use a whirlpool bath or spa or hot water in your bath during pregnancy. Doing so could harm fetal development.


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Author: Dr James Robber

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