Dr. Mark Pellegrino is a Fibromyalgia specialist who has seen over 20,000 Fibromyalgia patients in his practice at the Ohio Rehab Center. Dr. Pellegrino is also a Fibromyalgia patient who has been ill with the disease since childhood. Throughout his career, Dr. Pellegrino has helped many pregnant FM patients and has written an excellent article with his expert advice on how women with Fibromyalgia can still have and raise children. I have included the highlights below. To read the full article, click the link at the bottom of this post.
According to Dr. Pellegrino, there is no unusual medical risk involved with pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. Because most women develop Fibromyalgia during their reproductive years, health risks is something female FM patients often worry about. Dr. Pellegrino says:
- Fibromyalgia has not been shown to increase miscarriages or cause inferility.
- Endometriosis frequently occurs with Fibromyalgia and may cause problems with getting pregnant.
- FM has a hereditary component and it can be passed on from parent to child. The doctor said this should not be a reason to avoid pregnancy and it is not considered a dangerous medical risk.
- Dr. Pellegrino has treated many women who did not develop Fibromyalgia until after their pregnancy. It is more common for him to have patients develop FM after their second pregnancy instead of the first.
- Another group of women have indicated that they had some pre-existing mild muscle pain, but pregnancy worsened their overall condition and led to fibromyalgia.
- A few women said the onset of their FM was due to their epidural during delivery.
- Alarge number of women with pre-existing Fibromyalgia state that their condition flared up during the pregnancy. In some, the condition became worse overall, but most have said their conditions returned to their previous stable baseline after the baby was born.
Awoman with Fibromyalgia must consider many issues when deciding whether or not to have a child:
- If her marital relationship is already strained having a child will only add to the strain.
- If extra help is going to be needed due to the Fibromyalgia, the woman needs to know how much support she can expect to receive from her husband and other family members.
- Finances. Will the Fibromyalgia mother still be able to work and care for the baby both? This was our issue. I was not able to do both and had to give up working.
Before becoming pregnant, all of the medications taken related to Fibromyalgia need to be reviewed.
- There are very few medications that are completely safe to use during pregnancy. These should all be reviewed with your doctor.
- While some medications can be stopped immediately, others have to be tapered off gradually. You need your doctor to help you with this. Dr. P. says, “Remember that medicine should be completely out of her system before the woman attempts to become pregnant (about a week after stopping medicines). If one waits until the pregnancy is confirmed, the fetus will already have been exposed to the medicine for a month.”
- Vitamins and nutritional supplements also need to be reviewed with the doctor prior to actual pregnancy.
A hopeful mother-to-be can take several measures to decrease the risk of Fibromyalgia flare-up, whether or not medications were being used.
Here are a few tips:
- Exercise – Studies have shown that 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week will significantly improve overall conditioning and strength. Stretching exercises should be done daily, however, and the trick is to integrate an overall program into your lifestyle and then continue even after the baby is born.
- No smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Nicotine decreases the blood flow to the muscles by constricting the arteries, which decreases the oxygen and increases the pain in the muscles. Cigarette smoke can also be harmful to the fetus. Frequent coughing can strain the back and cause exacerbation of the Fibromyalgia.
- Proper rest. Proper rest resets the bodys physiologic mechanism to help ward off injury, illness, and stress, and reduces the chance of a flare-up.
- Schedule time for yourself. The mother-to-be should try to set aside at least an hour a day for her own private time. This isthe time to relax, listen to music, read a book, work on a hobby, or enjoy recreational activities. This will help deal with physical and emotional stress.
To read more about the changes during pregnancy and how they affect FM, plus after the baby’s born, click the link below: