Blush: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

One of the benefits of being the author of this blog is if I have a question about my own health, researching doesn’t feel like a waste of time because I can then write about it.

One of the negatives of being the author of this blog is that everyone knows what is going on with my health. (Not that every post is about me. I usually say if it is.)

Good thing I don’t mind sharing?

So I’m pregnant.

Is anyone surprised? I guess you haven’t seen me lately.

I’m 35 weeks and 6 days today.

Image of myself pregnant, with my daughter happily reaching up to my belly.

It’s also our ten year anniversary, but that’s irrelevant to my health. I’m just excited about it and want to share.

The thing about being so close to the end of the pregnancy is that, well, you’re close to the end. Very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s so cool to feel movement from another being inside of you and you’re never alone (that doesn’t really go away if you have a clingy baby/toddler). On the other hand, you’re sore, it’s hard to move/roll over in bed, and the number of doctor’s appointments increases dramatically (a pain to get to and a pain to arrange around your schedule).

Today, I want to talk about soreness. Specifically the soreness that comes once hormones like relaxin kick in.

Relaxin is pretty great, to be perfectly honest. It’s the hormone that loosens the ligaments and muscles in the hips and pelvic region and allow for the human body to stretch enough to deliver a baby vaginally. Remember, the pelvic area, on a regular day, is only so big. The bones have to be able to accommodate the head and shoulders in order to push a baby out. Hence, relaxin.

However, relaxin starts its work in the third trimester (usually. Sometimes it’s early). So not only are you gaining extra weight from the baby gaining weight, but your ligaments and muscles are no longer supporting you the way that they did before. This can cause quite a lot of pain.

Enough that there’s a name for it.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

I’d like to make a quick note here that although this is most often referred to as a symptom of pregnancy, you can have it and not be pregnant.

So how can I minimize the pain from SPD?

Avoid triggers like standing or sitting for too long, crossing your legs, and lifting or pushing.

Whew. That’s a lot.

But you do a lot with your hips without realizing it.

Physiotherapy is very helpful. Your physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help to minimize the pain and recommend other ways of improving muscle function and joint stability.

Personally, the things I find the most helpful are icing the outside of my hips and doing Kegels. Even if it hurts at the beginning of my Kegel reps, by the time I get to rep 5-6, I feel so much better. Sleeping with a pillow between my knees has helped immensely as well, especially since I don’t normally lie on my side – I much prefer sleeping on my stomach. Not exactly an option right now for some reason.

I hope this helps those of you who are feeling pain, and for those who know me, it helps you understand why I wince every time I move to stand up or try to get into a car. (Widening legs or taking a big step is rather painful for me, especially at the end of the day.)

If you’re not in pain and don’t know me, I hope you at least found this interesting.


References

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Breaking Water

It occurred to me the other day that I don’t remember what to do if my water breaks. That didn’t happen with Dragon.

And hey, look at that, I need a topic for my Blush blog this week. If I’m going to research it anyways, might as well write about it, right?

What is the “water”?

Water. Image from shutterstock.com

In pregnancy, the water is the amniotic fluid that fills the sac that protects the baby in utero. This protection is both macroscopic (bumps and falls) and microscopic (keeps bacteria and other foreign microbes away from the baby).

How does water “break”?

The membranes of the amniotic sac tend to tear or rupture during labour, allowing for the amniotic fluid (water) to leave the body.

Will it be like in the movies, where there’s all of a sudden a huge pool of fluid on the ground?

Apparently this is rather rare (10-15% rupture before labour starts, and only a fraction of THOSE experience a gush of fluid). It will most likely feel like a sudden popping sensation followed by a slow trickle of fluid. Contractions are most likely going to be the first sign of labour, not the water breaking.

What’s the difference between “water” and urine?

The amniotic fluid is usually clear with a slight yellow or pink tinge and odourless (or sometimes sweet-smelling). If it is green or brown, it means the baby had a bowel movement and the health care team in charge should be notified. Urine is yellow (usually) and has a scent.

You can find out more about water breaking too early, what to do if labour doesn’t start, etc in the references. Check it out if you’re concerned or interested.


References

Today’s Parent
Baby centre
Mayo clinic
What to Expect


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Top 5 Differences between a baby during pregnancy and after being born.

Hello Baby loving folks,

The way we treat babies inside is slightly different than outside. Here’s a list of the top five differences according to my observations.

5. Input and Output

Oh the joy of not caring when or how a baby eats or poops. While pregnant no one really thinks about it much except for how cool/weird a process it is. But once the baby’s out EVERYONE tells you how to do it and how you’re doing it wrong.

4. Kicking

Sometime soon after birth kicking goes from a joyful, “OMG” moment to an annoyance and eventually a real pain. Tiny toes and fists hurt.

3. Control to Judgement

When the birthing parent is pregnant there are laws, rules, and pressures to make them do specific things. In most cases, it’s to protect the baby. Unfortunately, sometimes they prioritize the baby over the birthing parent instead of protecting both.

However, once the baby is out, the health and mental health of all parents is often ignored or considered secondary to the baby. Resources that would be available before disappear and the laws change completely.

2. Abstract to Concrete

The ultrasound, the kicking, the heartbeat, and even (for some) the growing of the baby is all sort of unreal and abstract. You’re afraid to believe and it all seems like a big prank.

Then the baby arrives and you have a baby… Like it’s there and it needs you to do stuff. Where are this kids parents? Wait, that’s us… And you now that you believe, you’re afraid. It eventually settles back to real from surreal, but it’s always a little bit of a shock.

1. Love

The thing that’s growing has your affection, a deep feeling of attachment, and terror. It’s completely impossibly there. But you don’t Love it yet.

Then it comes out and your heart melts at this tiny, wrinkled, screeching, proof that you don’t know what you’re doing. And sometime between holding them and going home you realize you’d die or kill for them. But you don’t Love them yet.

I’m not sure the exact moment it happens, but sometime after the birth and before the first year, they smile, or wiggle, or something else and you suddenly feel like squishing them or howling in joy, and just like that you love them.


Did I miss anything? What do you think?

Éric

Blush: Chest pain during pregnancy

The past few nights, I have slept with my Teddy.

This is not my Teddy. This one looks more like Raoul, Dragon’s sleep bear. Image from www.chapters.indigo.ca

He was given to me by my grandfather when I was born, and he is VERY well worn. I haven’t really slept with him since I was a teenager (possibly earlier, but I don’t remember the exact age when I stopped cuddling him in my sleep).

So why am I all of a sudden cuddling him again?

Because yes. (Sorry. Inside joke.)

I am cuddling my Teddy because I need the extra support between my arms as I lie on my side, otherwise my rib cage feels like it’s being crushed. And Teddy is exactly the right size to give that support and allow for easy rolling over.

Chest pain was not something I experienced in my first pregnancy. Heartburn, yes. Feeling like my upper arm was too heavy and crushing my sternum, no.

This seems to be a fairly common symptom, or at least, it was easy to find a reason why I was feeling this way. The expanding uterus puts pressure on the diaphragm, causing the rib cage to widen. Poof, pain. It’ll go back to normal once the baby is here because my internal organs will go back to their normal places.

If I had to guess, I would say that the placement of the placenta is what is causing the differences between this pregnancy and the last. The last one, I had an anterior placenta (forwards), and this time it’s up top.

Differences:

  • last time, I couldn’t stand the pain and nausea of being on my stomach, even at the very beginning; this time, I have woken up on my stomach several times and the only thing that hurts is my back
  • last time, no chest pain; this time, chest definitely hurts
  • last time, baby was mostly on the right side of my body (I felt very lopsided in third trimester); this time, baby is hanging out at the very bottom almost constantly (we’ll see what happens in third trimester)
  • last time, didn’t really grow out very much; this time, I feel like I’m already the size I was when I delivered

Hmm…that last one doesn’t really fit the hypothesis – you’d think the anterior placenta would mean a bigger belly because it’s taking up more room.


Reference

UPMC

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Blush: Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Back in August, I asked the moms of Keladry’s due date group if they had any super early warning signs that they were pregnant. I’m talking about before a missed period and before an hCG test would show a positive.

It seemed like an appropriate time to ask, as many of the moms were announcing second (or third) pregnancies.

I got an excellent response. Many of the moms had unusual early pregnancy symptoms, as the only symptom mentioned pre-week 4 in any of the research I did was mild cramping/spotting.

Keladry chose the colour. Image from amazon.

Common

  • mild cramping and spotting can happen as early as 1 week after the last menstrual period (LMP)

Uncommon (according to my informal research done on the subject)

  • tired
  • ovaries hurt when sneezing or coughing
  • breasts hurt/get hard/sore
  • pimples
  • abdomen hard/cramping/pulling feeling
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • couldn’t drink/taste coffee (taste sensitivities)
  • extreme lower back pain
  • tasting blood (copper taste in mouth)
  • vivid dreams
  • sensitive skin
  • sensitive to smells
  • there are tons more

Lots of these “uncommon” symptoms show up later in pregnancy-related research. So why is there only one symptom listed pre-week 4?

There are a couple reasons for this, one being that it is hard to study people who don’t know they’re pregnant yet. Another, in my opinion, is that every pregnancy is so different, even in the same family, so the results are varied that it’s hard to publish because there’s no consistency.

Or you could be like me, and have no symptoms at all until I see a positive on the pregnancy test. Does that mean my symptoms are psychosomatic? Perhaps. And that is pretty hard to prove.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/early-symptoms-timeline

https://www.kidspot.com.au/birth/pregnancy/signs-and-symptoms/first-symptoms-of-pregnancy-what-happens-right-away/news-story/2683c7eed8bb3fe71f95599078bddea5

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/symptoms-of-pregnancy/art-20043853

Blush: Pregnancy Physio

A friend of mine recently told me that she’s pregnant (woo!!!) and I asked her to let me know if she thought of anything that made her go “Wow! I didn’t know that!” about pregnancy.

She said this:

“In my second trimester, I’m going to get recommended to a physiotherapist. I didn’t do it for my first, but I really think I should for my second.”

That really made my day.

Because, while my pregnancy with Dragon was pretty mellow, I did have pain in my hips when my ligaments shifted to accommodate the pregnancy changes. And it never ONCE occurred to me to go to a physiotherapist for it.

It seems pretty obvious now.

I thought I should do some research into why it’s recommended, and if there are any risks.

Image from americanpregnancy.org.

Please note, I am not in the medical profession. If you have any questions about whether this is right for you, please see your doctor. I don’t know your medical history, whether you are considered high risk, or other factors.

Searching for resources on physiotherapy during pregnancy was difficult, to put it mildly. Most of the sources I found ended up being written by physiotherapists on how to exercise safely while pregnant. Since I thought that was also important information, here is the best article I found on that subject.

Physiotherapy is recommended to prevent and help lessen pain in the lower back and joints of people who are pregnant. It will also help prepare for labour.

A good physiotherapist will also give home exercises to do to keep mobility up and pain down.

Risks that I found seemed to be related only to exercise in general (if you’re bleeding, stop; if you feel increased pain, stop; etc). However, any physiotherapist will tailor their routine to your needs and that of your body.


References

https://physiotherapy.ca/pregnancy-related-pelvic-girdle-pain-words-can-hurt-susannah-britnell

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-and-physical-therapy/

http://dynamicphysiotherapy.ca/blog/physiotherapy/is-it-safe-to-undergo-physiotherapy-during-pregnancy/


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Blush: How could someone not know?

One of the many mom groups I’m in on Facebook has a member who just found out she is pregnant – at 26 weeks 5 days. Some people (in her real life) are questioning her about how she didn’t know. I don’t know the specifics of her case, but the point is, she didn’t know. Here are some reasons why she might not have known:

Pregnancy tests are crap

Pregnancy tests look for hCG in your urine. There are ways to get false positives (like some fertility treatments – how awful is that?), but it is very easy to get a false negative as well. If your levels of hCG are low, it won’t be detected by home pregnancy tests.

Weight gain is inconsistent

Not everyone gains a ton of weight when they get pregnant, or look like they’re smuggling a beach ball, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. In my personal experience, I lost 9 pounds over the first 4 months of my pregnancy. And I didn’t get a noticeable pregnancy bump until around 5-6 months, because I already had a tiny bit of extra in my lower abdomen. Someone who is extremely exercise conscious, who is tall, who has extra pounds, who is stressed (all different cases there) could easily not know they are pregnant. They may not have this symptom, or it might go unnoticed.

6 months
6 months

6 months
6 months

7 months
7 months

9 months
9 months

2 days overdue
2 days overdue

 

“Morning sickness”

I didn’t get nauseated in the morning. I got it at 5:30 pm, like clockwork. However, if I ate small snacks throughout the day, or took a nap in the afternoon, I didn’t get it. And I only felt a little queasy – I didn’t have any vomiting.

But morning sickness can show up all day, at any time during the day, or not at all. If they are one of the lucky ones who fall into the latter category, then this symptom wouldn’t help to define pregnancy.

What about menstruation?

Sure, if you’re regular, you might notice that you’re not menstruating. But irregular periods happen… er, regularly. There is also a chance of period-like bleeding happening whilst pregnant. I was told by my doctor to keep an eye out for spotting, so it’s fairly common.

Baby movements

Not all babies move in distinct ways. Personally, I didn’t realize that the uncomfortable gas bubbles I thought I was feeling was actually the baby moving until week 19, when she made my stomach pop out a bit. I can see how someone who didn’t know they were pregnant would just think they had bad indigestion or something.

Also, my baby moved A LOT. Some babies don’t. We’re told to count 10 distinct movements every day. I had 10 in under a minute. The doctor counted. He said that he didn’t often feel them moving that much…and this was well after the 6 month mark, because my baby was shy when somebody else’s hand was on my belly (including my husband!).


There are many more reasons, including existing health issues, contraceptive use, infertility, etc that might hide a pregnancy from all involved.

Do you know anyone who didn’t know they were pregnant? How did they find out? When did they find out? Tell me the story in the comments!


Reference

http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/issues/10-reasons-you-might-not-know-you-are-pregnant11.htm


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Blush: Toddler Touching

While Blush is primarily aimed at people over the age of 8, the other day someone contacted me and asked me if I had any recommendation about their toddler touching themselves.

They didn’t want to discourage their toddler from exploring, but they wanted to know how to tell them that they should be doing that in private.

So I did a little digging. Most of the first pages that pop up in a search are forums, parents helping other parents, with no valid sources. However, www.psychcentral.com provided me with a great article (follow the link to read it) written by a valid source, and peer reviewed by another.

To boil it down: treat the child as a whole person with valid wants, and teach them that what they want to do is normal, healthy, and should be done in private. You can explain to them where “private” is, and remember, be prepared to do so many times over, because children forget.

I hope that helps! If you have further questions on this topic, you can ask me anonymously here.


I am going to be writing a new game – a sort of sequel to Blush! I have do NOT have a publisher for it, I don’t have completed questions for it, and I don’t have a full concept for it, but I could use your help.

So if you have any questions about pregnancy, anything that surprised you while you or someone you know was pregnant, anything about newborns (first 3 months) – PLEASE submit them through our anonymous question box, found here.

Thank you!

You can find Blush: A Card Game for purchase at Renaissance Press.

Blush: More Weird Pregnancy Stuff

You can read the first part here.

There are some things that I’ve only recently realized were weird during my pregnancy, like that hair grows abnormally fast. Armpit and leg hair included. Or maybe it just grows slower now that I’m nursing.

Contractions don’t necessarily hurt very much at the beginning. It took mine about 7 hours to start being anywhere near the realm of what I would call painful.

Then there’s all the weird delivery stuff that happens:

  1. You will get used to, or not care, that you are naked in front of people
  2. Labour might be way longer than you expect
  3. You will probably throw up during the pushing part of your delivery because of how hard you’re pushing (I did)
  4. You will probably poop at some point during delivery (I didn’t)
  5. The placenta is bigger than you think, and very squishy-hard when it comes out
  6. The first time you get up from the toilet (whatever you excrete) will be terrifying – there is SO MUCH blood in the toilet. Don’t worry – the next time will have a lot less
  7. You still look pregnant after delivery – it’ll take some time for the belly to go away. This makes for a great resting place for the baby if you choose to nurse

img_20160919_130022_01
Photo credit to Kat, who managed to sneak in just before noon to meet Keladry.

There’s also some pretty strange things that nobody tells you about having a newborn, like cluster feeding – this is what helps the milk to come in, and it happens over the second day and night. It’s exhausting, and would definitely have made us think we were doing something wrong, because she woke up every hour to feed a tiny bit and then go back to sleep. Every time the baby has a growth spurt, this happens again, except on a slightly smaller scale.


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Blush: Weird Pregnancy Stuff

I have recently been made aware of a few weird things about pregnancy.

  1. There’s a mucus plug that blocks the cervix. This adds an extra layer of protection for the baby.
  2. Stretch marks can appear overnight.
  3. Dizziness can happen very suddenly. Always have protein within arms reach, and go sit down.
  4. Blood volume increases by 50% while pregnant. This causes the body to be warmer than normal, and can cause “the glow”. It also burns more energy (see number 3), and can cause swelling in extremities.

The stretch goal questions have been sent to the publisher, and will be edited by professionals soon. Keep an eye open for updates – the pre-order should be available soon!