Masked By Pregnancy

Morning Sickness is what we all think of when it comes to pregnancy. Everyone knows it happens and some people get it worse than others. I guess in the medical world where they like acronyms they call it nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). I like the term pregnancy sickness because morning sickness is such a misnomer. Pregnant women can be sick at any time, not just in the morning.  It is also common to have pregnancy sickness after the first trimester and in fact people have told me that they threw up throughout their pregnancy.

The thing that I wish I had known about pregnancy sickness is that just because it’s normal doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else going on. I had a miserable pregnancy and was sick for the first five months. In my first trimester I basically kind of endured. I was sick every day. I could barely eat or sleep and I spent most of my time reading to keep myself from thinking about how sick I was. My midwife was sympathetic but because it’s normal, wasn’t worried about me. In fact unless you are dehydrated or haven’t been able to keep anything down for longer than a 24 hour period, medical advice is to ‘stay hydrated’.

After awhile I did google everything I could about pregnancy sickness and tried all of the classic tricks and tips. Perhaps over time some of them were helpful but the main things that I’d like to talk about today are the actual illnesses or problems that I had that were masked by pregnancy.

Problem number one: I had a sinus infection.

Sinus infections can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, aches and pains, depression, mood swings, lethargy and malaise. I have no idea how much of my morning sickness was caused by my sinus infection but I can say that the sinus infection was making things WAY worse.

My midwife recommended I go to a chiropractor for the swelling and puffiness she saw in my face. The first adjustment moved the sinus infection and gave me the mother of all headaches but that and subsequent adjustments made my sinus infection fall out of my head in a month. My sinus infections can and usually do take months to heal.

Problem number two: my stomach was pushed up into my esophagus.

And yes this is just as uncomfortable as it sounds. When part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm into the esophagus, it can cause pain in the abdomen or chest, fluttering sensations under the breastbone, difficulty breathing, anxiety due to restriction of lungs, burning in the chest, heartburn, belching, hiccups, nausea, regurgitation, vomiting and/or throat irritation.

The symptom to look out for is lack of digestion after long periods. This is easy to spot when you throw up. I, for example, would spend all day feeling awful but force myself to eat, and at three in the afternoon I would throw up. At that point everything I had eaten that day would come out and it would have not digested -at all-.

My chiropractor not only told me what was causing that he quickly put my stomach back where it was supposed to be. Which helped a lot with nausea. He had to adjust my stomach more than once during my pregnancy. It’s apparently a pretty common problem for pregnant women. First due to throwing up, and later due to lack of room the baby pushes on the stomach. It is possible to push your own stomach back in but I recommend getting someone who knows what they are doing to do it the first time so you know what its supposed to feel like.

Problem number three: food intolerance

Food intolerances and allergies can cause symptoms that mimic pregnancy. I had a few exposures during my pregnancy that were responsible for making my nausea, vomiting and stomach problems much worse. Again pregnancy was difficult but this was not helping.

If you are sick during pregnancy it might be beneficial to rule out the possibility that some other problem isn’t making things worse. It could be some of the problems I point out here or any other chronic health problems that you have experienced in the past. The sickness may be part of pregnancy but then again, it may not, and its important to take care of these things so they don’t add extra stress to the body during an already difficult time.

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