It had been five years since my diagnosis of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis when I got the news that I was pregnant. My body was embarking on yet another journey: multiple sclerosis with pregnancy.
I was newly married and so grateful that my lifelong dream of becoming a mother was coming true.
Managing my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis was more important now than ever.
My “why” to all my health efforts had always been to an active mom.
Now that moment was here.
It’s thanks to all those health efforts though that I had been stable for nearly 5 years. Within six months of my diagnosis, the lesions on my brain shrunk and went in active and years later there was no new activity.
This was my ideal position to be entering pregnancy, as it’s often recommended to establish stable disease activity prior to becoming pregnant to help reduce the risk of a postpartum flare.
Now, my goal was to maintain this stabilization of multiple sclerosis through pregnancy and postpartum.
Adjusting My MS Diet to Pregnancy
But it had me wondering how pregnancy would change my diet and therefore my ability to manage MS.
As with anything in life, it’s much easier when I can chunk it down and take it just one step at a time.
Navigating the first trimester was my first step, and even that, was often a day-by-day plan.
Here’s what it looked like for me, but I want to preface it by saying just as everyone’s experience with multiple sclerosis is unique, every pregnancy is different.
I don’t share my story suggesting that it’s the “right” approach. I’m not an expert in fertility or pregnancy.
I’m a fellow MS warrior with a dream to become an active mom and I believe in the power of sharing our story. My hope is that my sharing mine, it will encourage you and our fellow Multiple Sclerosis and Wahls Warriors to discover the unique path that best supports you during your pregnancy.
In fact, to help this collective effort, please share your experience in the comments below so we can learn from you too.
Mornings with Multiple Sclerosis & Pregnancy
Mornings aren’t always easy with Multiple Sclerosis, nor are they easy with pregnancy. So what will happen when the two overlap?
It’s no secret that one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, is morning sickness.
Nausea came first and I quickly discovered that an empty stomach wasn’t helping the cause.
Here are some ways I managed morning sickness:
- Always have a little something in my stomach.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Diffuse peppermint essential oils
- Sip a cup of ginger tea
I awaited the mad dash to the bathroom and while I made a few, I never actually got sick.Was it because I had been following the Wahls Protocol for five years?
Was it beginner’s luck with my first pregnancy?
Was the rumor true that you feel your best during pregnancy when living with Multiple Sclerosis?
Was it a combination of all these factors or something else that I was completely unaware of?
Because I’m just one person and this is my first pregnancy, I don’t think we’ll ever truly know.
But I wasn’t going to question it either.
I’ve learned to be grateful for every day of health.
Pregnancy Aversions & Cravings
My experience with food aversions and cravings was similar – present but manageable.
The smell of mushrooms or bacon cooking were the two that triggered nausea most for me. So, if they were cooking in the kitchen, I had the fans going and diffused my essential oils.
As for cravings, I ate a lot of fruit, but I think that had more to do with the fact that it was summertime, and all the fresh berries were in season.
Eating for Multiple Sclerosis & Pregnancy
This was the trickiest part of my first trimester.
How could I eat the nutrient-dense foods that I needed to manage Multiple Sclerosis when pregnancy had me turning up my nose at them.
My normal salads lost their appeal. I wanted more comfort food, and with being tired so much, I didn’t have the same energy and desire to prep all the healthy meals.
After five years on the Wahls Protocol, I wasn’t about to deviate now, but I also had to find a way to adapt and make this work during pregnancy.
My favorite shepherd’s pie quickly became my favorite, go-to meal. It felt comforting and by adding veggies to the base and using mashed cauliflower in place of the mashed potatoes, I was getting veggies in.
I had a lot of pureed vegetable-based soups. This too felt more comforting while still getting veggies in.
Adding more starchy vegetables also seemed to help both my energy, nausea, and hunger. Thankfully sweet potatoes are versatile and easy to cook, so they were my go-to, along with some occasional rice.
Of course, not every day was perfect, but that’s the reality whether I’m pregnant or not.
My highest priority is always avoiding my personal non-negotiables:
- Nuts (they’re a migraine trigger for me)
Next, my focus was to fill my plate with as many whole foods as possible.
As I tell anyone on an autoimmune journey, it’s about progress over perfection.
Have compassion with yourself along the way.
Do the very best you can each day and pay attention to the results.
It was only the beginning of my 9-month journey with multiple sclerosis and pregnancy, but so far, I was relieved that my first trimester went better than expected.
We’ll see what the second trimester brings!