When I found out I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time wondering about how my body would hold up when it came time to deliver, but also what would happen when it came time to be a mom and actively participate in my child's life.
It seems obvious now, but I didn't think much about how my body would hold up during the pregnancy, AKA, how an already weakened body would magnify my symptoms as they popped up throughout the journey.
Be prepared, ladies-- backaches can put you out of commission if you're not taking good care of yourself and resting often.
I'm not talking about annoying aches that disappear with Tylenol. I've got some aches right now that make me want to kick, scream, and pull my hair out, and according to my doctor, these probably aren't going to go away soon. Here's the reasoning:
Like many Lymies, I've spent the majority of the last two years in bed or on a couch. Though I once had great posture, a strong set of muscles, and most importantly, a conditioned core, all of that went down the drain as I became unable to exercise. Muscles atrophy, stamina wanes to non-existent, and sadly, those stomach and back muscles you never knew you had under there weaken and basically leave your body like a limp piece of spaghetti.
Now, all of a sudden, your uterus is expanding to the size of Texas, and your center of gravity shifts. And all power to you if you've been able to maintain that recommended maximum twenty-five pound weight gain (especially when your Lyme takes a lot out of you and you get winded while walking, let alone burning calories by exercising.) For the record, I'm at 25 pounds already, and I'm only six months pregnant. I'm also pretty strict with my healthy diet, so it's not like cheeseburgers and candy are doing this to me.
Take that extra weight and the uneven distribution of your girl parts, put it on top of a limp spaghetti frame, and you have one hell of a back problem. After consulting with my doctor and trying everything I can think of, here's what has kept me sane this past week:
1.) Wear running shoes or supportive sneakers. No flip flops, no heels, and no bare feet, even around the house
2.) Lie flat on the floor with your legs up all the way against the wall (your body is at almost a 90 degree angle). This takes the pressure off of your back for a little while. You can also lie on the couch or bed with pillows under your legs in the thought of being on the floor creeps you out
3.) The heating pad has been my number one relief so far. Some people say avoid heat during pregnancy, but it doesn't make me at all nervous if I keep the heat on my back and don't let my body temp raise too much. (Usually 15-20 minutes of heat does the trick)
4.) Regular recommended pregnancy stretches throughout the day
5.) Body pillows have not worked for me, but I hear they work wonders for some. If you sleep with a pillow in between your legs, it's supposed to help with aches and pains, as well as keep you aligned
6.) Most importantly, don't stand for long periods at a time. I'm lame and will admit that a long period of time for me is more than 5 minutes, but everyone has their own own limits, so just be aware of yours. I find it's better if I sit and rest for two minutes before I even start to get achy. Helps me go a lot longer, and I'm not whining by dinner time
Again, you have to go at your own pace, but this new pain has inspired me to do what I can to strengthen my muscles a bit, so I don't get my butt kicked when I'm in labor. It will also aide in a faster recovery later on.
Also, this something to keep in mind if you're not pregnant yet but are considering having a baby. Even if you can do 5 crunches a day, or just one modified "granny" push up, something is better than nothing, and you can work up to more in time. This goes without saying, but the stronger your body is, the fewer aches and pains you'll have along the way.
Of course, in the end, there's one thing that puts it all in perspective, and that's your amazing little baby. Being uncomfortable for a while is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and I'm not trying to make anyone nervous when I bring these issues up--I just promised to share the full experience of Lyme pregnancy here. You could light me on fire if it meant I'd have a beautiful baby boy. It's all worth it in the end.
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.