Swimming to Help With Hip Pain in Pregnancy

The weightlessness of being in the water is bliss in itself, but what it enables me to do is move. I can keep my mobility up without wearing myself out and causing further pain. I missed a swim due to illness and by the next day I was unable to walk more than a few feet – I fully believe I would be on crutches by now if I wasn’t still swimming regularly.

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When I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks I was halfway through a course of hydrotherapy to help with my Fibromyalgia but when I told the physiotherapy team about my pregnancy they decided that the hydrotherapy pool at the hospital was too warm for it to be safe for me to use and I wouldn’t be able to complete my course. I was absolutely gutted, the pain relief afforded to me by being in that pool was incredible. When they turned me away I almost cried.

Even before I found out I was pregnant the pain in my hips was the focus of my physiotherapy which I attribute to my son getting stuck during labour and requiring a forceps delivery. Naturally, I was apprehensive about hip pain being a problem this time and, unsurprisingly, I was right to be concerned.

As my normal fibromyalgia flares turned into sharper twinges I realised I needed to get back into the water and I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain any level of fitness on land. Having spent several years saying I should join a gym whilst also avoiding actually signing up, I finally took the plunge. I packed my swimming gear and hit the local gym after dropping my son at nursery one morning and signed up for a swim only membership there and then and it has saved me from a whole world of pain since.

I have been swimming three days a week after the nursery run for four months now, at one point I got up to 40 lengths of the pool and I was feeling really fit, since the baby decided to move into my lung space I can only manage 20 but it’s not the lengths that are important, it’s about being in the swimming pool to take the pressure off of my hips, well, all of my joints really. The weightlessness of being in the water is bliss in itself, but what it enables me to do is move. I can keep my mobility up without wearing myself out and causing further pain. I missed a swim due to illness and by the next day I was unable to walk more than a few feet – I fully believe I would be on crutches by now if I wasn’t still swimming regularly.

This ability to move about was missing in my first pregnancy, so my health suffered. I gained a lot of weight last time which I think I have been able to avoid this time… I suppose we will find out how effective it has been in a couple of months!

As my pregnancy progresses I am slowing down somewhat but there is an amazing level of support from the other “slow lane” users at the pool. When I started this I was not expecting to make friends but I have. The support from these strangers means I know I will be able to continue to use the pool until the end of pregnancy… even if I can only wander about in the shallow end in a few weeks.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Antenatal Depression
The A to Z of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
20 weeks pregnant - Half way there

Frank Fridays : the realities of being a disabled parent

I’m honest with my friends about my health struggles, and I also write for The Mighty about some of my experiences. Now I feel it’s time to open up to you, the Mummykind family.

The truth is that my health is often poor, but I don’t make a habit of advertising it. Honestly, I find it so difficult to be honest about my struggles as a disabled mum, because so often people hit me with ‘if you’re disabled, don’t you think it was selfish to have a baby?’. It stings because they don’t understand that I’m a good mum, only that I have difficulties and that must mean I’m a bad parent, right?

Newsflash. EVERYONE has difficulties. It’s how you deal with it that matters.

I’ll try and keep the medical jargon to a minimum while explaining some of what I have to deal with day to day – having dealt with some of my conditions since birth I’ve been told that I sound like I ate a medical textbook!

I currently have seven conditions diagnosed, with more in the pipeline (lucky me, eh!)

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – This is one of my most prevalent illnesses. I was born with EDS, and while every day is different, most days are an uphill struggle. EDS is a rare condition that affects connective tissues. Connective tissues are present in skin, organs, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones (so basically everything). Symptoms I deal with every day are loose, unstable joints that dislocate every day, chronic pain, easy bruising, muscle weakness, fatigue, and problems with internal organs.

Orthostatic Hypotension – When my new Orthopaedic Surgeon heard I had this, he said ‘really? But you aren’t old!’. Well, newsflash Mr, young people can have Orthostatic Hypotension too. Put basically, when I change position from lying to sitting, or sitting to standing, my blood pressure plummets to dangerous levels, and I lose consciousness and faint.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – the cells in my body that react when you have an allergic reaction are over active, and my body spontaneously develops new allergies all the time, even to something that was safe yesterday.
Gastroparesis – my stomach can’t empty itself as effectively as other people’s can, which means food stays in there for far too long. Glamorous.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – I’m super tired all the time! Yay!
I also have Celiac disease and Asthma, but those seem pretty pale in comparison!
Now that’s out of the way (and well done if you’ve got this far, medical stuff can be snooze inducing!) hopefully some of what I’m about to say will make more sense!
I think it’s important to start with the fact that the realities I experience living life as a disabled parent will be very different to someone else’s. Life is so variable, and what’s difficult for me might seem like a walk in the park to someone else, and vice versa.
The biggest reality I’m trying to deal with right now is that parenting my daughter is nothing like I thought it would be. Though I try to do the best I can, there are days like today where I really can’t function enough to look after myself, let alone my little one.  I’m blessed to have my husband at home with me all the time (fainting unpredictably means I can’t often be left alone) and my wonderful John is often left to care for my little climber while I have to rest. I often feel a real sense of guilt because I’m not living up to the perfect image in my mind of what a mother should be. I’m faced with the reality that I can’t do all I want to for her all the time. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make me a bad parent for having to take a step back and recover my strength. It’s a good example of self-care to set my daughter, if anything.
It also strikes me that my monkey won’t grow up in the same way other children will. While it’s great that both her mum and dad are home with her all the time, it worries me that I’ll miss out on important things later down the line because of my health. Because my illnesses are so unpredictable, i’m often fine in the morning and struggling in the evening, or the other way around, and that can be difficult to understand for one so little.  I might not be able to take her to the park when she wants to go, and I might have to watch her play from a distance rather than getting involved.
Not being afraid to ask for help is a big lesson I’ve learnt over the last few months. It is practically impossible to look after a crawling explorer while you’ve got a hip that is constantly dislocating, you’ve got a migraine which is making you vomit and see stars, you’ve taken enough prescription medication to tranquillise a horse, and you’re dealing with an allergic reaction from something (and it really could be anything at this point). When I first asked for help, I have to admit that I felt a little ashamed, as though I was being naughty for asking for help. But that’s when I realised we have the saying ‘it takes a village’ for a reason. And in our family’s case, it really does.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. While I may have painted a bit of a dreary picture, I get to see my daughter grow up in a way most people don’t. With any luck, I won’t miss any firsts, and while physically I might not be able to do as much as I want to, I’m still able to raise my daughter to be a kind and considerate human being who is already being exposed to diversity at a young age.
While I may struggle more than most, my struggles don’t define me, and more importantly, they will never beat me.
If you’re intrigued by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, check this awareness video I was involved in!
What realities are you struggling to come to terms with?

Breastfeeding Blues

Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.

Looking at my happy, healthy, strong and beautiful little girl, it’s hard to remember why I worried so much. My daughter is 18 months old, she’s 95th centile for height and 91st centile for weight. We couldn’t have a more incredible bond. I’ve struggled with Postnatal Depression- but I’ve always adored her and I know that she loves me too.
It’s breastfeeding week this week, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears when reminded of the fact that I couldn’t breast feed my baby.
I was scrolling back through photos when a found this picture of Florence latching. I didn’t realise it had been taken, but seeing it soothes me and reminds me of how I tried my best. After a major artery was ruptured after a tear during labour I had a massive haemorrhage and lost around 66% of my total blood volume. I had to have a triple blood transfusion and a plasma transfusion but despite this, I was left very anaemic.
I was later diagnosed with sepsis due to complications of being strep b positive. When I wasn’t fighting for my life I was trying to feed my baby. My milk never really came in and due to my mother having to bottle feed my baby whilst I was in intensive care, my already almost non existent supply couldn’t match that of a whole formula feed.
Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.
We started our journey trying so desperately to breastfeed, but this journey was cut painfully short due to circumstances out of my control. My heart still breaks about this, because after a difficult labour and pregnancy, it would have been lovely for something to work out!
A family friend who is a lactation expert came to see me a few months ago, we talked through it all and she tried to reassure me that I have no reason to feel so awful, I really did try my hardest and she truly believes that it would have been almost impossible for me to breast feed, given the circumstances such as fighting for my life, the medications I was on and other factors such as having an underactive thyroid and PCOS.
Some people don’t want to breastfeed and that is fine. Babies who are bottle fed still thrive… But I wanted this so much for my baby and it still hurts that I couldn’t even provide her with something as simple as my own milk.  Yes she is incredible and she is thriving, but every time I see someone else feeding their baby, I feel like a failure. I can’t help it, but that’s how I felt then and often how I often feel now. One day it might stop hurting, but for now it is still a very sore subject. My body physically couldn’t feed my baby. My body failed me and my baby. Without formula, my baby would have starved.
I’m sure that the colostrum and the action of poaching my daughter on my breast helped to lay the perfect foundation for our incredible bond, but formula, and my love, influenced our incredible girl to blossom so beautifully.
Don’t buy into the “Only 1% of women cannot breastfeed” … it is a load of crap. Think of the Mummies on medications, the Mummies who are mentally or physically unwell, or fighting for their lives through illness or after a traumatic labour. The babies born prematurely or with a tongue ties. This supposed statistic leaves far too many parents feeling inadequate or like failures and it isn’t okay!
Shout out to all mummies in the same boat who have ever felt inadequate because of feeding problems and complications. I completely feel your pain, this week and always.