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3 words...round ligament pain. Oh my.
This is probably my biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks. And my goodness, it is uncomfortable! Round ligament pain happen as the uterus expands in pregnancy. There are ligaments (special muscles) that hold the uterus in place in the abdomen. During pregnancy, the uterus expands and the fetus grows and consequently these ligaments have to stretch to accommodate the larger size of the uterus. Just like when you stretch any other muscle in ways it is not used to, pain can result. Even though I've experienced it before (with my previous pregnancy), it's still a shock when it happens. Sometimes it occurs when I get up from a sitting position or when I roll over at night. It can happen at other times as well, but those are fairly common. The pain is a shock that takes my breath away until it eases, just like any kind of muscle cramp would.
I also had a slight illness scare during Week 17 that called attention to how scary it can sometimes be during pregnancy. Right at the start of Week 17, we found out that a case of Fifths Disease had been confirmed in our other child's room at daycare. Fifth's is an annoying, but generally benign childhood disease. It usually involves a rash and flu-like symptoms. By the time they're out of childhood, most people have had this disease and developed immunity to it. Further, it's usually no big deal when a child (or adult) ends up with it. However, that's not necessarily the case when you're pregnant. For pregnant women who are not immune, it is possible to contract the disease and have it impact the pregnancy. In women who contract it before 20 weeks, about 5% will end up losing the pregnancy. Because a child who was in contact with my child had this disease, it's possible that I was exposed to it as well. Because Fifths was not being diagnosed as such (and there were not tests for it yet) when I was a child, I actually had no idea whether I'd had it in the past (and thus would likely have immunity) or not.
I called my OB's office as soon as we found out, explained the situation, and asked for their advice. While it is likely that I am immune, they wanted me to have a simple blood test anyway to determine whether I'd been exposed or was already immune. It can take more than 10 days to get the results of the test, so I'm actually still waiting on the results. However, since nobody in my house has come down with it, I'm hoping we're all immune and this will not be an issue for us.
This really made me think though about how scary it can be when you're ill and pregnant at the same time. Illness is not fun at the best of times, but during pregnancy everything seems much worse. Certain illnesses that are "no big deal" most of the time can be dangerous to a pregnant woman or a fetus. Not to mention the fact that if you do become ill, there are many medications you cannot take. Medications during pregnancy are discouraged, period, unless there is a clearly established need for them. There are some things that studies have shown to be safe, but there is also a hefty list of those with more significant risks. Even a regular cold can see so much worse when pregnant if you're avoiding cold medicines.