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Pain Management while Pregnant: Living with Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS

06 Jul 17
Megan
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One of the issues I considered before we decided to even try to start a family was dealing with pain during pregnancy. Pain management while pregnant is a tricky topic. Many of the drugs available for pain management are either unsafe or untested for use during pregnancy. This was particularly true for the drugs I have found to be useful over the last few years.

There are some drugs that are safe to use but I made the personal decision to avoid taking drugs unless needed while I was pregnant.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m writing this post during my third trimester and publishing on my due date. By the time you are reading it, I may have had the baby.

Pain Management while Pregnant – drugs

The only prescription drugs I’ve continued using are my asthma medications (the benefit definitely outweighs the risks) and a very low dose cortisone cream for the rashes I’ve had on and off throughout the pregnancy. The doctor says these rashes are probably caused by hormonal changes.

When pain levels have been really bad I’ve been talked into using Panadol (paracetamol). However, because I know it doesn’t really do anything for most of my pains, I don’t take it often.

I also have a diazepam suppository sitting in my fridge for if the pelvic pain gets to a completely unbearable level. I haven’t tried this drug yet. It was recommended by my pelvic pain specialist as one that would be safe to use while pregnant if needed.

Avoiding drugs is a personal decision and one that I recommend you discuss with your health practitioner. I know of others with Fibromyalgia who have remained on some form of medication throughout their pregnancy as the benefits outweighed the risks for them. My main reason for deciding to take this approach is my tendency to react badly to many different medications.

Pain Management while Pregnant – physical therapies

– Acupuncture/Bowen Therapy

The pain management technique that has been beneficial for me during this pregnancy has been maintaining regular acupuncture/bowen therapy sessions throughout pregnancy. This maintained my ‘normal’ low pain levels throughout the first and second trimester.

In the third trimester my back, hip and pelvic pain increased. To deal with this, for the last month or so of the pregnancy I have increased my sessions to weekly from my usual 3 weekly schedule. I’m also hoping the acupuncture will help me to go into labour naturally before the hospital wants to induce me.

– Physiotherapy and Physical Supports

In addition to the acupuncture sessions, I have had support from several physiotherapists. The techniques they have suggested include a combination of massage, exercise and physical supports.

The physical supports they provided include a pregnancy support belt and a tubigrip. Both of these are meant to help with SPD pain. The belt I wore until I got so big that putting it on was uncomfortable. The tubigrip I wear almost daily to support my belly and hips. The only reason it isn’t daily is it makes the rashes worse so I balance pain and rash management on a daily basis. I also use my walking stick when needed to maintain my balance and reduce pain levels.

– Exercise for Pain Management

During the first trimester (and most of the second trimester) I maintained my pre-pregnancy exercise routine. This routine included maintaining a reasonable step count (I’d built up to 7,000 but cut back to around 4,000 by the second trimester), and regular yoga and gentle stretching classes at my local gym.

As this became more difficult I cut back to mainly water based exercises. The hospital I’m giving birth at runs hydrotherapy classes twice a week that I attend when I can. If I can’t, I do some of the exercises from these classes at my local pool at least once a week.

At home, I have focused on my pelvic floor strength and basic stretching.

Pain Management while Pregnant – other techniques

On top of the physical management techniques outlined above I have maintained my other pre-pregnancy pain management techniques.

These include:

Overall, pain management during pregnancy can be difficult. Especially if you live with a chronic illness and are trying to avoid medications as much as possible. Personally, I have found using a combination of physical therapies, meditation and relaxation allowed me to maintain my pain levels throughout most of my pregnancy.