Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Damage Done by Pregnancy

Nobody tells you about the damage pregnancy can do to your body. 

The physical exhaustion is nothing compared to the number of years it takes off your life.

I reckon I aged about 10 years in my 4 continuous years of 3 pregnancies. Even now, 2 years after my last pregnancy, I’m still recovering. 

I recently signed up for a course of cranial-sacral (CS) therapy, because I feel that my body is out of alignment, my muscles have tightened up (lost their memory, according to the CS guy), and I’m so stiff and sore all over. 

I feel that my body needs a lot of repair; I can trace back the brokenness to my second pregnancy, aged 36, when I really started to notice the wear and tear on my body. 

Granted, my age could have some bearing on it too, but I went from being quite fit to being an exhausted zombie not able to walk or talk properly. 

My hands became weak and numb and I could barely use them in the mornings. I had developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is caused by pinched nerves and swelling, and made worse by pregnancy. This has progressively got worse since then and now I have to wear splints on my wrists every night.

My pelvis collapsed under the extra weight I was carrying and no amount of physio, chiropractic treatment or cranial sacral has managed to return it back to normal since; I’m told I have a sprained pelvis now and every time I lift the kids for too long it hurts again.

My brain turned to mush and I was constantly in a bubble during and after pregnancy - until I convinced my doctor to put me on a daily pill for under-active thyroid. It was a lightbulb moment. Within a week, the fog had lifted and I could think clearly again. It wasn’t just exhaustion, breastfeeding or depression – and I hadn’t lost my brain after all. It came back, clarity resumed. It makes me wonder how many women are diagnosed with post-natal depression when really they have a sluggish thyroid?

My hair fell out. This could have been something to do with the thyroid issue, but generally in pregnancy and breastfeeding your hormones are all over the place, as are your nutrient levels, so your hair thins and loses its lustre. Mine was always very thin to start with, so it thinned to very little on top – and never came back, even though I've tried expensive remedies since then. 

My gums receded and bled causing major gum disease aka pregnancy gingivitis, which cost €700 to fix! Your gums are more likely to become inflamed during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes that make them more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque. In the UK, they offer pregnant women free dental care, not in Ireland.

My belly turned to jelly and has never recovered tone or shape since. One big meal can swell the jellybelly to look 5 months pregnant. 

My nether regions became sore and sensitive because of tearing during birth and having to be stitched afterwards (more painful than giving birth in my experience).

My sinuses exploded during pregnancy as my immune system lowered and my hayfever/allergic rhinitis became unreactive to antihistamine. I tried acupuncture but that only worked temporarily. Then I found a cure

My sanity was stretched to the very brink by colicky babies, sleepless nights, hyperactive screaming kids and the incessant demands of motherhood.

The only thing that seemed to improve was my eyesight, which apparently is due to changes in the hydration of the cornea, so I don’t have to wear my glasses so much anymore.

Oh and I also developed the ability to remain calm in stressful situations and multitask like a demon on speed. That’s a big plus point. 

But even though I’m broken and battered, it’s all definitely worth it. Don’t let this put you off having babies – some people would give their right arm and eyeball to have babies, so I gave up very little of myself in comparison. 

What damage did pregnancy do to your body?

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  1. Oh Amy, you poor thing (except for the eyesight of course)! I suffered terribly with carpel tunnel in my first pregnancy and had to wear splints all the time but it went away about 2 months after baby arrived. I have a couple of other pregnancy-related things that I think now will never leave. I don't want to say this post was a good read (!!!) but it is well written and I think it's good for others who have long-term problems that related back to pregnancy, it's good to know we're not alone!

  2. No joke, no one really warns you of the lasting effects of pregnancy! But I wouldn't change it for the world! :) Danica


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