Oh my god! You’re MASSIVE!”
These are the words that I’m absolutely sick of hearing these days (currently 8 months pregnant). I find myself having to justify the size of my bump on a regular basis after that first comment just to try to make people understand!
It started when I was 15 weeks pregnant and about to board a plane for a family wedding. It was a family member who said it too, which was kind of heartbreaking.
Then came the ‘funny’ (aka. not so funny) questions like, ‘Are you having twins?’, ‘Gosh, you’ve not been doing much exercise then’ and, ‘You’ll be enormous by nine months!’.
Little do they know, the size of my bump isn’t because I’ve suddenly started overeating or quit exercising. It comes down to my unique body shape. I have a pelvis which is rotated slightly forwards (known as an ‘anterior pelvis tilt’), a curved lower back (known as ‘lordosis’) and I also suffer from fibroids.
Of these, fibroids are the main thing that's making my bump look bigger- they do grow rapidly in pregnancy due to the increased levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
Seeing as fibroids are relatively common, I thought I’d share my experiences with you and give you a helping hand if you too are struggling with your fibroids.
I’ll explain more about fibroids including the symptoms and causes, then go on to explain how I treated them holistically, without going the usual route of medications, invasive surgeries and hormone treatments so you can too.
Fibroids are relatively common non-cancerous growths that are found in the uterus. According to the statistics, around 80% of women could be suffering from them. However, most women don’t even realise they have them because they don’t experience any symptoms.
Neither did I, until I had a pelvic scan whilst trying to get the root of my fertility issues. The scan showed that I have two fibroids- one which measures around 2cm and the other was so tiny that it wasn’t worth discussing.
(So not only was I being told that I had a blocked left fallopian tube, cysts on the ovaries and I would have a slimmer chance of conceiving because of my age, I had to think about fibroids that could grow to a size of a grapefruit!!!!)
I was quite lucky because fibroids can vary greatly in size, from just a few millimetres (like mine) to much larger. The largest ever recorded fibroid came in at an eye-watering 40lb (18.1kg)! Ouch!
As I said, many women don’t realise they have fibroids because they don’t have any symptoms. Other women can be plagued by symptoms such as:
Like many health problems, fibroids can be caused by a variety of factors. Genetics always plays a huge role so if your mother, sisters, grandmother, aunties or cousins have suffered from fibroids, it’s almost certain that you will too. If you are of African or Caribbean origin, you’re also much more likely to have fibroids.
Studies show that fibroid growth is also affected by the level of oestrogen and progesterone in your body, so a hormone imbalance could also be the cause.
Additional, environmental factors could also play a role. If you smoke, drink heavily or you’re exposed to toxins such as pesticides, chemicals or xenoestrogens, you’re also much more likely to develop them.
In short, yes. Fibroids can make it much harder for you to fall pregnant although it does depend on how large your fibroids are and where exactly they are. If they’re positioned near your cervix, in your fallopian tubes or they affect the lining of your womb or its blood flow, they can certainly cause problems.
If that wasn’t enough, fibroids can also cause problems during pregnancy as they can grow bigger, especially during the first twelve weeks. One of my fibroids doubled in size when it was measured at my twelve-week scan, although it hasn’t grown since.
They usually provide extra antenatal scans to pregnant women in the UK to ensure that their fibroids don’t grow more and to measure the baby’s growth more accurately.
During labour, I’ll also be more closely monitored and they’re encouraging me to have a vaginal birth due to the complications that a c-section may bring on when suffering from fibroids.
As soon as I found out about my fibroids, I wanted to know what I could do to stop them from increasing in size or causing me additional fertility problems.
Now, the most common treatments for fibroids are invasive surgery, hormone treatment, an IUD or just monitoring if they’re not too big. I didn’t want to go the surgery route but I was still concerned that those fibroids would stop me from falling pregnant or grow out of hand once I was pregnant that I decided to treat them holistically.
Here’s what I did:
Great health always starts with diet, so I first looked at ways I could shrink my fibroids using nutrition. I quit sugar, gave up alcohol (see my pregnancy blog post for more details), ate mostly organic food, upped my green leafy vegetable intake and also added flaxseeds to my diet for an extra boost of omega 3 fatty acids. All these changes helped gently detox my body and nourish me from the inside too.
All plastics are terrible for hormonal balance and health, especially BPA. That’s why I eliminated wherever I could, I invested in a reusable glass water bottle, I bought products that said ‘BPA Free’ and I tried not to buy produce that was wrapped up in a heap of plastic. This last one was sooo hard as the stuff is everywhere, but I tried wherever I could.
It’s always best to understand exactly what’s happening inside your body, especially when it comes to hormones.
That’s why I made sure I got my hormone levels checked with my GP, and I’d highly advise you do the same. These tests could highlight an underlying hormone issue which you can then treat and prevent your fibroids from growing any more. (I go into this further in my upcoming preconception programme- contact me for more info )
Castor oil packs are basically heated flannels soaked in castor oil which you place over your abdomen to reduce your fibroids. It’s an Eastern therapy which promotes healing, helps break down excess tissue, promotes detoxification, helps reduce inflammation, improves circulation and boost the blood flow to the reproductive organs.
I did these religiously when I was treating my fibroids as my research told me that it was a traditional yet effective way to do it naturally. If you’d like to research this further have a look at this handy resource. However, I wouldn’t recommend you do the castor oil packs during your period.
Who knew I would end up giving myself fertility massages?? Anyway, I did and I loved them. Self-massage is a great way to help circulation. It gets rid of stagnant blood, breaks up scar tissue and helps to get your hormones rebalanced so it was wonderful for treating my fibroids. I purchased my DVD from the US but there are plenty of videos to view on the internet.
My acupuncturist made me a blend of herbs that I drank twice a day. The main ingredient was Dong Quai root which helps to increase circulation, remove excess tissue and promotes new blood. Again, my research told me that this herb could be useful for women with uterine fibroids so I drank it up. However, please check with a qualified professional before using herbs.
I also used essential oils to help me control my fibroids. My favourites were frankincense and lavender as these two are known to help shrink fibroids.
All of these natural techniques helped me to get my fibroids under control and conceive my beautiful baby. Sure- I could have gone the mainstream medical way and opted for surgery, but I knew I had to give my body a chance to heal itself naturally. That’s exactly what it has done.
As I write this blog I am in my third trimester and can’t wait to meet the baby… December will soon be here!
I hope the information I’ve shared about my experience with fibroids has been of use. If you know anybody who may also be going through these challenges, please pass it on.
Don’t forget that if you want further information or to work with me on a one-to-one basis, all you need to do is contact me.
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