All areas around bearing children with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia are sorely lacking in readily available knowledge. The postpartum period is a mystery to all women, but when there is a chronic illness in the mix it is vital to be prepared. In the Pregnancy and Parenting with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia Facebook group (which you are welcome to join if you are a female considering children, are pregnant or have children) we talk through all of the areas regularly.
Recently though, I realised I hadn’t addressed the postpartum period here on the blog. Mostly because I have no idea how much of my experience was unique to the chronic illness and how much was “normal” to all postpartum periods.
If you have seen the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse you will know that as part of that we make plans for coping during delivery and those early weeks and the Postpartum Checklist I have created will now be available as a special bonus for enrolling in the course. Look out for my next post which will discuss things to consider prior to trying to conceive which will include another handy checklist that will also come with it.
So what are my top five things to consider for the postpartum period as a mama who has done this three times?
Arm yourself with knowledge
The first step is always to arm yourself with knowledge. You need to know what to expect during a “normal” postpartum period and what might occur as a mama with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue.
As a good start you can check out my Pregnancy Resources page.
Learn about breastfeeding, expressing, formula feeding and mix feeding so you are prepared for whatever happens. Take advantage of your midwife or doctor’s experience but disregard what doesn’t work for you. Take the knowledge that you can mix feed in so it doesn’t feel like all or nothing if breastfeeding is a kick in the pants.
Have your natural pain relief mechanisms down
Not only crafted a list, but actually use them so often that they are second nature to reach for. In the pregnancy and nursing period, the more natural options the better. This is not to say medicine doesn’t have a place, but natural options are vital. See this post for My Top Five Natural Pain Relief Mechanisms.
Research and discuss medicinal options with your doctor/medical team
Be prepared before you have had the baby and realise that your are having a massive flare up or the after pains are mean. Have your medicines pre vetted for the breastfeeding (if you are) and ensure that nothing you have been given interacts with the other. The Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia course has a list of advanced pain relief options including lots of places to go for more information, but www.drugs.com is a good place to start. I always encourage people to do some information gathering themselves so they can make an informed decision with their doctors.
Consider what and how you will tell the delivery team about your illness
In my first delivery/postpartum no one really knew what fibromyalgia was and I didn’t know what or how to tell them. For my second and third I knew better. I was able to advocate for myself much more strongly. Although my pelvis issues needed more advocating than the chronic pain and fatigue. Consider making a list with a brief description of your illness, how it might impact you in your labour/postpartum period, what medicines you are on, what you cannot tolerate and if there are any special considerations.
Compile a list of handy items that will help you
Things like urine alkiliser, warm socks, nursing bras, bottle spray with witch hazel for a sore botty, open button pyjamas, heat pack, your pillow and your pre approved medicines and natural pain relief options. All those things that will make you comfortable as a postpartum person and as a person with chronic pain and fatigue.
In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia book I share my research and personal journey through three pregnancies, deliveries and postpartum periods. In Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia eCourse I help you prepare for the best pregnancy, delivery and postpartum periods possible despite chronic pain and fatigue. It is practical, easy to understand, with heaps of resources and made by a mama who has done it all three times herself.
“This course gave me the confidence to know I will cope and I will get through it.” – A Fibro Parent