Pregnancy is wonderful! That is the saying you will hear time and time again, rarely will you hear someone say “I had pain during pregnancy”. However the truth of the matter is that pregnancy is difficult and can pose many new health challenges, such as gestational diabetes, chronic pain and various other issues.
In 2013, a reality TV starlet, Kim Kardashian shared that she did not enjoy her first pregnancy and that it was more challenging than she had expected. Her body changed dramatically and under the ever-watchful eye of media she had very little positive response from the outside world. Although most of us do not have photographers following us around, we do have our inner critic who follows us everywhere. That inner critic can be harsh on the pregnant, and every-changing body. Then adding health concerns into the mix, a woman may experience less than ideal pregnancy. As Kim publicly spoke out about the chronic pain she experienced during pregnancy, some tabloids blamed it on her being spoiled but the reality is that chronic pain can be a very real part of pregnancy.
What is chronic pain? I consider chronic pain to be any pain that lasts longer than a period of 30 days, or reoccurs on a consistent basis. More common definitions of chronic pain include a more common interval of time, any pain that has not resolved 3 months since onset, or 6 months since onset. So what do you do?
- Chronic pain during pregnancy is real! Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to do the things you usually would be able to accomplish. Do not push yourself harder than your body will allow.
- Adapt your routine, allow for more time to complete tasks, and take note of what times of day are best for you.
- Sleep. Getting a good night’s rest can be a new challenge as you adjust to new sleeping positions and patterns. The more we worry about getting sleep, the likelier we are to miss out on the zzz’s! Therefore, set a nighttime routine that is going to be consistent: wash face, read a book (no screen time 1 hour before bed), meditate. Your nighttime routine should be designed to decrease anxiety and to prepare you for a night’s rest. Your therapist can help you identify the steps needed for a stress free routine that is suited to your unique needs.
- Talk to a professional, you should talk to your physician about possible medications that can ease your pain.
- Talk to a psychologist, a psychologist can utilize many of their therapeutic approaches to help you manage your pain on a daily basis.
A note on seeking help form a psychologist for chronic pain during pregnancy. In my practice I have met many women who have experienced chronic pain during pregnancy. The client and I worked together as a team, because I believe that the client is the expert on their body and wellbeing. During our sessions we would focus on…
- Identifying patterns in daily routines that can be alleviated, along with that setting a manageable nighttime routine and morning routine.
- Addressing the emotions that come along with experiencing the physical changes.
- Teaching clear communication techniques that help to maintain healthy relationships with those close to you during your pregnancy
- Teaching on how to advocate for yourself at medical visits, etc.
A popular technique for managing pain comes from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT for short). CBT is advantageous because the “tools” (techniques) you learn in session with your therapist, can be used on your own at home. Therefore it gives you the opportunity to be in charge of your pain which can make tomorrow look a little brighter. If you are interested in learning more about chronic pain management, please feel free to contact me – I am here to help.