Monday, June 3, 2013

Aspergers & Pregnancy: A Sensory Nightmare

I really enjoy being pregnant. I do! I think every woman does to a certain extent. I suppose, unless you are sick the entire time.

I have found that probably do to Aspergers, and the sensory issues that come with that, I am very intolerant of feeling sick. Motion sickness is not something I can tolerate for the "fun" of a ride at the fair or something. Being ill, especially a stomach ickiness type illness, is very upsetting. It could be something as minor as hunger, and I am very disturbed by it.

Pregnancy sickness was the hardest for me. Putting it into perspective of the flu I ended up with later in pregnancy (with no stomach upset), the stomach ickiness I had at the beginning of my pregnancy was not that horrible. But to me it seemed as if it were the worst possible feeling. It never ceased to bother me. I was very irritable because of the discomfort I felt, and that carried over to everything else. Some people might say that they could still function, that they could busy themselves and almost feel better, or that people should just be able to ignore those feelings of ickiness and move on with the day as if nothing was wrong. I don't know about other Aspies (please leave your feelings about stomach upset in the comments), but for me how I feel physically and how I feel mentally are very tightly connected. To expect me to be able to separate my physical from my emotional and mental is a task I am unable to achieve. 

There have been many other symptoms that I have been intolerant of, but I guess after days and weeks of them they just become a part of the whole experience, crankiness and all. I have been very tired and uncomfortable some days from certain aches and pains, and again, that carries over to my whole emotional feeling. Then of course comes the feelings of guilt that I should be able to be more to others, be more cheerful and helpful and loving, but I cannot seem to be able to get past the physical far enough to cure the emotional.

Then there's other people.
Oh my, other people.
I tread this with caution because though this stuff drives me crazy, I tolerate it with a great amount of patience and respect. I don't mean to make anyone feel rejected or whatnot.

I am the kind of person who doesn't look at other people when I am out and about. I could be walking right past you and I probably will not see you. Eye contact is uncomfortable enough with someone I know and am talking to, it is much worse to even think about making eye contact with random strangers. I have found also that NOT making eye contact with other people means that I am "closed off" enough to not be bothered a lot of times with comments, questions or uncomfortable "hellos" from people - even people I might know, but not recognize.

Of course, near the end of pregnancy, every person you meet wants to talk about it. They want to ask you when you're due, they want to ask you what it is (girl/boy), they want to ask you how you feel, they want to tell you their stories, and worst of all, some of them want to touch you. It is hysterical that no one walks around waiting to touch other people's body parts, until you're pregnant, when it seems like everyone and their mother wants to poke and prod at your stomach. This pregnancy has been rather strange anyway, because my stomach has been sensitive to poking and prodding. Baby isn't bothering me at all, but if I bump into something (even gently), or my son or husband pokes at it, it really does hurt. That's not to say that every person who touches me hurts me, but that is a part of it. The other part is that for some reason I am just uncomfortable with it. Even with people I'm really close to. I can't really explain it, but I am just not the sort of person who does that to someone else because I would feel uncomfortable doing it, or having it done to me. 

It is the part of pregnancy where I just don't want to see anyone or go anywhere, because I'm tired of answering the same questions. Sure, everyone wants to know, and usually other people don't keep those kinds of things locked in permenant memory or anything. That's fine, I don't expect them to. But it sure would be a lot easier if I just wore a shirt that said the when, what and whatevers that people are asking me so that I wouldn't have to. Talking is exhausting. Especially when it is repetitive.

Anyway, I don't know if every pregnant woman feels this way to an extent, or if the Aspie sensitivities and sensory overload is what puts me over the edge. Other Aspies shuold weigh in on this, even men, because it would be helpful to know how Aspie men react to pregnancies too! Men might not carry the babies, but men have symptoms they go through as well. Or, if you didn't have any! 


  1. I found this blog while googling. I'm a Dutch 27 y.o. aspie, 16 weeks pregnant and I can relate to much of the above. Have had all-day-sickness for the last 10 weeks: I just couldn't function anywhere but at home. Now that's over aaaand...
    now I really fear the 'social talk' phase of my pregnancy: the talking, the touching, the advice I didn't ask for, the talking, the talking.. It's like you've become public property and I don't like that social talk-attention..
    How do aspies deal with this?

    1. Wish I could give you some kind I perfect answer here.

      Usually for the most part I avoid eye contact. This doesn't allow for people to feel welcomed in and make comments. I noticed I did this a lot when I nursed my babies.

      I guess the other thing is makin up your mind about stuff.

    2. Sorry commentin isn't working well on my phone.

      Anyway do you have high processing speed? lol
      Have you been researching like crazy? I did. I researched like crazy!!! Was lucky enough to come across a book called "the birth book" by William Sears and it was a life saver which lead me to "the baby book" by him as well!! So that's something for you to check up on.

      Once I made up my min about certain things it made it easier to either say something like "I've decided I'm going to ...." Or just brush off the comment altogether because I was set in my mind what I wanted an no amount of comments would change my mind lol. Sometimes it lead me back to researching though whih is good too!

    3. If it's cold where you are i suppose it's good that winter clothing kinda hides things away so that maybe people will leave you alone. If you have someone who reaches to you reach back! Lol. These are things we can laugh about but probably would never do in real life right?

      Sometimes I would just breathe. It's only a moment and people do relive their own pregnancies in their mind when they see your pregnancy. It's weird. But sometimes a momen won't make much difference.

      If all else fails carry things in front of your stomach lol

  2. How about sensory overload due to sound. I'm 35 weeks pregnant and it's gotten worse! My kids crying, the TV feels too loud, when the kids get too rowdy, when my husband plays his video games too loud, I hate, hate, hate! Having to yell. I get very irritable and overwhelmed and always get a headache afterwards. I try to stim by shaking a leg back and forth but it doesn't help as much as it used to. If I try to go to my room my toddler follows me. :P

    1. i know what you mean! although i dont remember if i was that way during pregnancy just on a normal day, i DO know that i would get that way after going to town for errands. by the time i got home im completely spent and every sound is too loud. hubby and kid arguing, tv, everything. it was worse when baby was born too because i wasnt adjusted yet and i didnt give myself enough of a break, in the way that i expected to be able to do things id been doing previous to having the baby.

      so, i know how you feel, and i dont have any fast and easy solutions. in normal life, we have so many things making noise around us. a fan, a heater, dishwasher, laundry, fridge, all running almost all the time and theres always some noise. the only solution i can give you is to get outside if you can. outdoors there are always noises, but they are noises that are more natural to us. if you live in a town or city this is harder, but if you can retreat to a quiet place in the country once in a while, it can really be helpful. if not, i also found that i would end up staying up late at night because that was the only time i could have it quiet (if i wanted to) and no one was bothering me for anything. another option is getting up extra early in the morning, which is probably harder, but actually better because it can set you up for a better day when you've had that time in the morning. if you're a Christian, its a great time to get up early and read the Bible or something. if you arent, then doing something simple like drinking coffee and watching outside, something peaceful. no tv, no stimulating books, just you and something peaceful.

      however, i know i havent managed the whole get up early thing. im tired, you know! :P and i cant get out of the staying up late thing. :(

      one thing you can knock off your list is the video games. talk to your husband about this stuff. he needs to understand that you cant handle the noise. whether that means you put a little money on some headphones for him or arrange that he plays at a time that you can get out and go somewhere, or something. but first and foremost, talk to him and ask for his help. i know i have a hard time with my hubby too because i just need some space too! he gets all kinds of bathroom time after he gets home from work, and though he deserves some time alone too, i could use his help as well! its a hard discussion.but if he gets some time, then you need some too. you may be a stay at home mom like me, but you still deserve a break just as much as he does. and im talking to myself just as much as to you.

      use some noise cancelling headphones! thats a great idea! i never thought of it until right now. we have some for my son who has sound sensitivities too, but i never thought about using them for those times when im having trouble with sound too. hmm! noise cancelling would just cancel out the LOUD noises, but you can still hear. so that would be worth a try!

  3. The quite outside time sounds great! I do live in a city but I live in an apartment complex with mature trees and in a quiet cul se sac. I could step outside a bit. But what a coincidence I just ordered my husband some noise cancelling headphones for Christmas that he's been wanting (I ordered them more for my peace and quiet! Lol) and I got up early this morning and had some hot chocolate by myself after sending my son off to school and my 2yr old daughter was still asleep. It was awesome!

    1. that IS awesome! im glad that those ideas can work for you! :)

      its easy as moms to forget our own needs as we answer the ones for our children all day long. even NT moms struggle with this. but for us, its almost critical to our health and sanity. its really hard to do it, i still struggle with it. especially knowing how hard my husband works, and like i said, he deserves quiet time too. but i am trying to pray and figure out a way to put God first in my day by getting up in the morning before the kids, but its still a work in progress. i still have to get to bed sooner! :P

  4. My husband has 2 jobs I know how you feel! It's still critical for our sanity that we get some me time. Hubby gets a nap as soon as he comes home. But mommy has to be available 24/7. I go to bed at midnight every night. Btw my name is Erika too! Lol

  5. What! No way!! Are you my secret twin? I'm up until midnight a lot too. I try not to be. But ... I'm usually trying to finish something ....

  6. Hi, I am almost 31 years old and diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome a year ago. Me and my Asperger husband are planning to have a baby. Please can anyone give any advise that may be useful for me? Thanks in advance

    1. take it easy. give yourself more time than usual to do things, and get used to things. if you work, you might want to start easing your way out of that if you can? i never really worked any serious jobs, so i dont know anything about that end.

      do things little at a time. dont let yourself get too overwhelmed, sleep whenever you get a chance. before baby comes, do some cooking for the freezer - make meals ahead that you can freeze, or stock up on food that is non perishable and simple to just heat up.
      ask friends, family to help you out in the beginning! ask if someone would be willing to come over and simply clean up, make a meal, and leave without bothering you or the baby. i was fiercly protective of my first when he was born, and wanted no one to visit. so please be clear with people up front. if family wants to visit right away, and you arent comfortable with that, SAY SOMETHING so that it doesnt end up awkward for life. trust me on this one. its ruined relationships. be clear about your boundaries. say something like "we'd love that, but we would love some time just baby and us at first. feel free to come over and cook a meal or clean a little, but dont expect to visit or see the baby much" - that way you can have a bit of a nest for a while if you need it (and you might!)

      invest in "the happiest baby on the block" - that movie is absolutely fantastic. watch it before and soon after baby is born. also check youtube for dunstan baby language, watching before and after baby is born.

      i have been obsessed and fascinated with pregnancy and birth ever since i was pregnant with my first - so a total of 8 years so far. :P one thing that really helped me was being totally informed about the entire process. with my first, "the birth book" by william sears changed my life. i went all natural and it was fabulous. the 2nd time around i read the bradley method book - if you can take a bradley class, that would be even more fantastic.

      if you can get a midwife, im telling you that its worth it. i had two pretty positive experiences, but if you're anything like me, i wanted things a certain way, and both times i was disappointed by the fact that the hospital "requires" certain things, even to the point where things were done that i was not informed of, nor did i want, and though they werent HUGE things, it was enough to make me think that had i had the resources beforehand, the ability and money, i would have done a midwife. (we are 2 hours from the closest midwife - so that was a no go :( unfortunately.)

      anyway. im flooding you. im just so passionate about birth and this stuff. but the number one piece of advice i can give you is to inform yourself about all the possibilities and choices and everything. the birth book was a huge part of that. they cover all parts of birth both natural and medicated.

      another great resource was "the business of being born" - there is also a follow up movie for that as well. it was very balanced too by the end of the movie, so thats helpful.

      anyway. feel free to ask me anything.

  7. I am 26 weeks pregnant with my third son and I have Asperger's.I can say that I en joy the feeling of my son moving like I did with my two other babies,what is hard to me is all the stress associated with growing a new life.I observe that I am far more nervous and anxious than the vast majority of NT pregnant women that I have met.I rationally know that many things can go wrong with a pregnancy and I often struggle to focus on the positive emotional aspect of being pregnant.I did t get sens or overload due to nausea,but I have always found contractions to be especially distressing.They are painful for eveyone but they cause panic and tears very quickly on me.With my second baby I endure them during 29 hours all natural (epidural request was denied) and ended up having an emergency c section.My midwife encourag├ęs me to have a VBAC this time but to avoid all risk for my sweet baby boy as well as for my own sanity I will request a planned repeat c section.
    Concerning people touching my baby bump I don t mind as long as they are very close relatives ou health care providers but the thought of a connaissance or a stranger doing so makes me deeply uneasy and I am glad that not so many people are during enough to touch without asking for consent.
    Good luck to the other mothers to be.

    1. im so sorry! i was almost completely the other way - where i was not worried about complications or anything like that, i just knew it would go well, and both labors did. the things that bother me the most was being in a hospital - them and their "protocol".
      i could imagine if you were having trouble with the pain, your body probably "locked up" and wouldnt let the baby down. :( so sad and frustrating after you had such a long labor. im so sorry.
      i am very fortunate and lucky, my babies came whether i was ready or not. my son was slower, but i was "tied down" with all their monitors and IV. my 2nd i was allowed to not have the IV, and they only tried monitoring on and off, which was frustrating as hell because it hurt to be on my back, and she kept moving (and was so far down already!) that they couldnt "find her". she was on her way out and they couldnt find her.
      i just want to be left alone during labor. i had a 7 hour (lying down) and 1.5 hour (on all 4s). im unexpectedly pregnant again and im rather certain im not going to make it to the hospital at all. its an hour drive.. you do the math. :P

      but anyway. i support your decision. VBACs can be complicated and i could see how maybe it would be just as frustrating to go through labor again and still end up with a c-sec if the same thing happens again.

      im thinking i should write a new pregnancy/aspergers post based on what im going through lately. its much different because with this pregnancy that this post was about, we had tried so hard to have her. this pregnancy is unexpected, unplanned. so its a whole different set of emotions.
      thank you for your comments!

  8. Hello, I don't know whether this is still an active thread, but I am 18 weeks pregnant and I have aspergers. I'd love to to hear any websites or other resources (if you ever found any) where this is discussed. I am also wondering what other autistic women's experiences were in terms of disclosing their autism to care providers. I want to tell my Doula, OBGYN, etc... so they could understand me more fully, but I am afraid that I will encounter...some kind of terrible ignorance where the person will say I'm not a fit parent because of autism.

    1. yes this is still active! :)
      i havent found much more for links or other info on pregnancy and aspergers/autism. i have lived through three pregnancies tho. ;) so ive got that!

      what i found for me was that homebirth was best. as a part of the need to control my circumstances, unfortunately there are few places where you will be allowed to control the entire birth. my midwife had the gift of just listening to my vision and dreams and goals, and allowing me to have the freedom i desperately needed going through the experience. though i had three natural births that all went well, my third - the homebirth - was the best because it was all about me, my turf, and my decisions!

      your doula would be the easiest one to talk to about your aspergers, if you felt comfortable with her. she is probably the one who is going to be the most up close and PERSONAL with you - your obgyn might just view you as another mom on her list, while the doula will be more connected, i feel.

      you might still have the ignorance, but i havent run into anyone who doubted my parenting because of autism. i do know that the fear is there, and that there are jerks out there, so if you know you've got one you cant trust, i wouldnt offer up any information you dont want to give. you can talk about certain traits you have with the "thats just how i am" sort of explanation, and that should be enough.

      18 weeks is still early, some midwives will accept a transfer up until almost the end, so dont be afraid of it! some hospitals have midwives on staff as well, so you could explore that option. it might offer you more natural or mom-led experience, but not all midwives are equal - an in hospital one is still likely tied to whatever protocol the hospital has in place.

      anyway. thats all i can think of for now! :P now im curious and if i werent so busy / distracted with other things at the moment, i might google more on pregnancy and aspergers!

      thanks for the comment, and for reading! :) good to know my posts are making a difference to people. if you want me to write more about my experiences, or write about a certain topic, just let me know! :) im willing to try to write about things you're interested in!

  9. I googled it and there IS an official study released on the topic of pregnancy and Aspergers! It's on a nursing page btw.

  10. I googled it and there IS an official study released on the topic of pregnancy and Aspergers! It's on a nursing page btw.

  11. I'm a suspected aspie with 5 kids - one who is diagnosed asd. I'm not sure if chasing the official diagnosis for myself is worth it at 38, but with that being said, I'm in various trainings to become a maternal support practitioner/doula, pregnancy & infant loss advocate as well as childbirth educator.

    I know that during my births, I had a rather not typical experience from pain management to support and postpartum and it put me at a fairly large disadvantage compared to NT's. I'm hoping to specialize and be able to support women on the spectrum but I'm not sure if my experiences were unique or if that's how other aspie women experience the pregnancy and birthing process.

    Any further input would be awesomely appreciated. Feel free to email experiences to me -

    1. so worse or better, do you think? im not sure what you're saying i guess. :/
      i LOVE that you are going into that!! thats fantastic! :) we need more women supporting other women through birth experiences. it used to be about a womanly community and now its only about the medical professionals, and its been that way for several generations, so its not as simple as going back to our womanly community because they were lied to much worse than we are. its like we are slowly coming full circle from midwives and homebirths, to extremely medicalized with twilight births (which i refer to as a part of the 'birth rape' spectrum) to cascade of interventions leading to another form of 'birth rape' - unnecessary interventions/sections. more women need to go into birth armed with the real, factual information, not the horror and torture that everyone talks about birth being. you know where that horror comes from? being strapped down to a bed knocked out with drugs, being stuck in the bed on your back because its more convenient for the IV and the doctor's position. these things are not healthy and do not promote healthy happy empowered births!! these things make women suffer more! movement in birth is literally life changing. im telling you.

      my first i was restricted to the bed because of the monitoring and the IV. they let me walk in the beginning, but there was no moving around once they put that monitor on because then they would lose the reception again.

      my 2nd i was allowed to move more and she literally almost birthed herself when the doc was out of the room. i wish i had let her instead of breathing thru a contraction.

      my 3rd was a midwife homebirth and it has HEALED ME from all previous. i was SO EMPOWERED, and allowed to go through the process all on my own terms, in my own way, in my own positions, and in the safest place i have: my own home, my turf!
      i just cant fully put to words the difference it made, not only for the experience itself, but for the period of time after! especially after my 2nd, i was SO depressed and SO tired... i wouldnt say i had postpartum, but i was definitely not as empowered and confident as i should have been.

      its been said so many times - how you are treated during birth will be remembered for the rest of your life. women can have the same empowering experience, even in csections, if they feel heard and respected and loved.

      with a midwife, too, you build a connection, woman to woman, with her. shes not just your doctor who sees you 15 minutes every few weeks/months. she is your friend, she answers your calls, she calms your fears and she encourages you to find your way. doctors dont have time, even if they have the intention.

      its seriously life changing.
      birth has more to do with the woman than it does the baby. we've been putting all our focus on the baby, and ignoring moms, and i feel thats why so many women are ending up with horror stories looking back on their births. of course they are happy with their babies, but they are left tossed out with the bathwater.

  12. Hi, I will be with my daughter when she gives birth. I have had a t shirt made that says "please don't touch me unless you have to" and I bought headphones so she can block everyone out. Do you have any other practical tips or suggestions? Thank you.

    1. a homebirth. :P
      i would definitely bring with you your mama bear. hospitals are notorious for not caring what the laboring mother actually wants, because they think they are "helping".

      (im going to get off course on the hospital vs homebirth thing, but dont worry, i get back to hospital advice at the end).
      monitoring can vary from constant to intermittent, and every single time they wanted to do it, it ticked me off. my body was telling me to be on all 4s. they needed me on my back to monitor. because of my experience of labors being so quick, the baby was moving downward so quickly that they couldnt keep a reading on her so it would take them so much longer to get the length of time they "needed" to monitor for. it was excruciating.

      with my 3rd i finally went with a homebirth and it was the best thing i ever did. seriously. im an hour from the hospital but i had no warning signs or risks, and two previous fast and easy labors. my midwife was prepared and it went so well! not to mention the mental and emotional parts of just being in my own space, and going right from labor to my beautiful glorious bed... it was so beautiful. i wish i had done it with #1 and #2. even tho i had "good" experiences physically, mentally, they made me feel like it was done TO me, not something i got to experience on my terms. they make you feel kinda like an invalid. you cant get out of bed very much. you cant hold your baby and carry them to walk down the hall (seriously they wouldnt let me do that i had to push them in the bassinet). you are delivered food. the whole thing just made me feel like an invalid. at home, one of the greatest things i had was a nearby friend who came over the whole first week and kept an eye on my other kids, cooked food and served it to me, the whole 9 yards. she was a Godsend. but even if she wouldnt have done that, it was still a lot easier to be in my own house the whole time, never having the "jarring" experience of being tossed out alone.

      anyway. back to the more practical answer you really wanted...

      bring your mama bear. if laboring mama says NO, it means NO. be willing and able to stand ground for her.
      the emotional signposts of labor include doubt. when mom gets to transition (the final stage before actual delivery), she will begin to doubt what she wants, how she feels, what she needs, and everything. she will just say "i dont know, i dont know, i cant do this, i dont know what i want". things like that. this is totally normal for transition, its a HUGE emotional sign that delivery is imminent. whats important for her support person to know is that time is when you need to reassure her - "thats ok, just wait, just listen to your body, this means baby is almost here!!!"

      be willing to tell the nurses to back away (hopefully quietly because drama might upset mama) and give mama space. ive heard of people locking themselves in the bathroom.. but thats probably not the best idea. but if you have to, you have to.


    2. just quietly watch her. something that helped with my pain is being on all 4s, and someone holding my hips, pushing them together. i dont know why, but it really helped. it must be awkward for the person doing it because i was pretty much naked all three times, but it felt incredible.

      redirect any screaming into work. screaming is energy escaping out the top. what we want is for the energy to go downward.

      one thing about pushing: the baby will push itself out. its called fetal ejection. look that up. its a real thing. definitely with my 2nd - she delivered herself before we even knew it was happening. you know how babies will "stand" when their feet meets something - they push back with their feet? the uterus is tightening, and their feet are touching it and they will push back as the body is pulling the uterus up. thts something new i read - its less about the cervix opening as it is the uterus is pulling upwards - exactly like a turtleneck going over your head. the neck isnt getting bigger, its getting pulled over the head. ;)

      knowing these things, and helping remind her when shes starting to lose control can help her remember.

      slow deep breaths.

      bringing some of her favorite calming music. although sometimes people want the music off, so go with how mom feels.

      chapstick for dry lips.

      seriously, a protein bar. hospitals often dont want mama to eat - though that wisdom is changing - you still might encounter a bit of rejection to allow mom to eat. now, in real serious labor mom wont be thinking about food. but if shes hungry beforehand, hopefully have something for her regardless of what the nurses say.

      which leads me to another thing: dont go in before you have to. how far are you away? maybe you can get to town but delay showing up at the hospital until its really serious. my MIL was adamant about not rushing in when she went into labor with my husband because she remembered with her first they didnt let her eat. :P so she made sure to take her time and eat and whatnot before going in. this is important. ;)