Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
"The immune system kind of goes on holiday during pregnancy, which is beneficial to patients."
Surprising long article from US News Health
"Pregnancy does put musculoskeletal strain on the body, it does disrupt sleep and it does make people stop their regular exercise routines" – all changes that could make fibromyalgia worse, Clauw says. But that's not always the case.
"[Women] do better than they think they'll do, and they do better than I think they'll do," Clauw says.
In fact, some women might find their fibromyalgia symptoms actually improve during pregnancy, says Dr. Howard Sharp, an OB-GYN at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, where he heads the Pelvic Pain Clinic. "The immune system kind of goes on holiday during pregnancy, which is beneficial to patients."
That was the case for Christy when she was pregnant with her first child. Her symptoms improved so much she thought she "was cured," she remembers. But after she stopped breast-feeding, her fibromyalgia symptoms – namely, joint pain in her feet – came back in full force. "It was a daily struggle," she says.
While no one's studied it, Clauw speculates the oxytocin released during pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding helps ease fibromyalgia pain. "It's at least theoretically possible that some of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy make pain better," he says.
It can also make new motherhood better, he's found. "[New moms] are not sleeping at all, they're waking up every two hours, they're not exercising at all, it's stressful to be new mother," he says. "That was where I was particularly surprised that a lot of people were doing better than they had before they had become pregnant."