September 30, 2013

Pregnancy and Autism - What It's Like

I wrote pretty much every day of my pregnancy with the Little Man in my (shared online) personal journal. People commented that it was extremely detailed - I became extremely introspective during my pregnancy and I realize now, looking back, that I was experiencing sensory overload, pretty much 24/7. Which is kind of understandable when having someone in your space 24/7 for 41.4 weeks. Not only that but the Little Man was really good at making his presence known - he exhibited what some believe to be an early sign of Autism, which is increased fetal movement. It felt like I had Animal from the Muppet Show playing drums in my uterus every morning at around 4am. Other times too, but 4am was one of his favourite times, unfortunately. I actually had to get up and walk around the house, trying to rock him back to sleep. He would quiet down and then I would lie down again and he would start up again. I was pretty much always tired while pregnant.

Kelly J Au from while pregnant with the Little Man
Me pregnant with the Little Man
Anyway, back to other issues, some of which I believe are experienced by NTs, but maybe it's a bit more sensitive to those on the spectrum. If you're an Autistic who has been pregnant, feel free to share your experiences in the comments for the benefit of others.

1) My skin felt itchy from the inside.

2) I did not want to be touched by anyone. I accepted hugs with express permission, but they had to be firm ones.

3) My personal space perimeter grew by a few extra feet.

4) I wanted complete silence, pretty much all the time. It took me a long time to crawl out of this state, which I wrote about here.

5) Despite my wheat intolerance, I found myself more able to digest more things, including citrus. It was as if my IBS/digestive issues disappeared.

6) Like I said, I became very introspective and very withdrawn. I overanalyzed every emotion and pretty much wanted to be alone in a cave in the forest.

7) It sounds contradictory, but I also became hypersexual. Every experience felt more intense.

I asked on the woman's Aspie group I'm on and I can't say the majority of them had these same issues to the same extent, so I think a lot of these were more caused by my SPD than my Autism.

On the plus side, many of us did NOT have horrible morning sickness. Maybe we're less likely to actually vomit?

The main point I want to make is if you're Autisic and concerned about being pregnant, you will make it through ok.

When it comes to labour, I'd say the vast majority of us (the Autistic women I spoke to) were very calm and quiet during our labours. This, unfortunately, meant nurses did not take our need for pain relief seriously. Many underestimated our stage of labour. This does not mean if I have to do labour again that I will put on an act in order to get some help, nor do I think any woman should have to do that. We need to be believed at our word - all women, not just Autistic women. Just because we are quiet, does not mean we are not in great pain. Some of us were lucky to have an advocate with us (an understanding partner) who were able to convince medical staff that we really are in pain. But that's not the case for everyone and that doesn't make any sense really. What needs to happen is the woman always needs to be respected and greater understanding for the Autistic experience needs to happen

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