Pregnancy and Sensory Challenges

Pregnancy comes with many challenges... here are some weird sensory ones that I've noticed.

For many people, this is the telltale sensory experience in pregnancy. I am super sensitive to smells normally, so I figured that I'd be losing my cookies every whipstitch when I got pregnant. Fortunately I have not had that problem! But there have definitely been times when I walked away from an area that smelled like fish, or eggs, or peppers (after the kitchen fiasco in our home referred to as "the great pepper incident").
The smells that have really gotten to me are (oddly) related to clothing. Being underemployed at the point that I needed to switch from normal clothes to maternity clothes, I was not really in position to go buy a new wardrobe. Fortunately, 4 of my friends loaned or donated their items to me, saving me a lot of money and hassle. However, I wasn't really counting on the sensory experience of walking by my closet and smelling 4 different people instead of my own ignorable smell. So every middle of the night trip to the bathroom woke me up even more by the strange sensory experience.

Again, I've been very lucky in this arena. I worked with a girl last year who could predominantly only eat macaroni and cheese for the duration of her pregnancy because everything else made her sick. I really haven't had any true aversions, and very rarely anything that could be classified as a craving. But there are feelings occasionally of "I need meat" or "I need cheese" which I assume is my body's way of trying to get all the right nutrients. I used to eat very little red meat and have 1-2 "accidentally vegetarian" days per week, but that has changed considerably. Baby wants meat, so there have been quite a few burgers and roasts. The texture of meat is not something I'm really too fond of either on a normal day, and I often seek out soft foods (applesauce, pudding, yogurt) but it's been a necessary change to keep my body in balance. I've generally found that there are a lot of days when I'm just not interested in most foods, not really in the mood for anything in particular. I've eaten a lot less Mexican and Chinese food during the pregnancy, but generally eaten a lot of spicy foods.

I have found that I'm a little more sensitive to certain textures than I normally am. Long-time readers will remember my battles trying to entice myself to use lotion. My skin is much more prone to being dry (and the water exercises make it exponentially worse) but I am finding myself even less willing to use the lotions I need.
I have several issues with my clothing as well. First is the problematic issue of the change in how clothes fit seemingly from day to day. We have at least twice packed for a week-long trip only for me to find mid-week that packed clothing does not fit. Very frustrating and odd from a sensory and mental perspective.
My other major clothing issue has been wearing Ted hose (compression stockings). If you're not familiar with these, they have a hole in the bottom. Not such a big deal when I'm resting, but when I'm wearing shoes and walking around I have to consciously (and very frequently) suppress my awareness of the feeling of the hole. It's the "seams in the socks" sensation on steroids.
The final tactile issue is that of personal space. First, the baby doesn't mind taking up my space whenever he feels like it by kicking or rolling. This is a fun sensation sometimes but can be a distraction. The bigger personal space issue is that everyone and their brother feels compelled to come right up and touch you. I'm a little defensive and ticklish and prefer to have warning before touching. Not so lucky with that sometimes.

Sensory Overload
In general, with the anxiety, hormones, stress and various sensory increases, I'm just more easily overloaded than before. So this, combined with a lot of fatigue, has led to a lot of naps. Some days I come home from work and just need absolute quiet, feet up, and no stimulation at all to unwind. And many days, I spend a lot of time in bed if I'm just struggling with the overload. I have downloaded some nice relaxation apps and mp3s so that even when I can't actually sleep, I can go to my calming space and come back to an appropriate level.


Anonymous said...

Do you have a list of your favorite relaxation apps/mp3's? Would love to see it if so.

Cheryl said...

I have an entry coming up later this month about apps, but briefly, I have been using Relax Me, Piano Sound to Sleep, Relax Melodies, Relax and Sleep- all on android.

I made a playlist of songs that I find relaxing but for my pregnancy primarily used the 2 Hypnosis for Birth recordings. Those are available on amazon for about $2 each and I found them very beneficial.