• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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Asperger’s and Pregnancy; Sensory Issues

I have scoured the internet looking for what is written about asperger’s/autism and pregnancy and I could find nothing.  Being pregnant (again) with our fourth child, I think now is as good a time as any to start talking about pregnancy and autism.

I found plenty of information claiming that autism is linked to pregnancy in obese woman, to diabetes in pregnancy, to the flu during pregnancy, which I believe is all rubbish. But—there is nothing to be found about the autistic pregnant woman.  Hello world—we get pregnant, we have children, and there are things that our bodies process differently than our neuro-typical counterparts during pregnancy.

I like to tell people that having olfactory sensory issues (smell) is like being a pregnant woman all the time.  My sense of smell is always heightened, and my gag reflex in overdrive. For those NT women who have experience horrible sensitivities to smell accompanied by nausea and vomiting throughout their pregnancy, they have experience a smidgen of what I experience as a normal everyday occurrence.

Every woman’s experience with their pregnancies is different and being autistic makes no difference in this area for me. Each of my pregnancies was completely different, but some things were strangely the same.

During my first three pregnancies, I felt great!  My sensitivities were dulled. I did not gag on horrid smells as bad as I usually do, and I had virtually zero nausea and vomiting. This pregnancy, however, is a whole other story.

I have been sick to my stomach, tired, achy, and gag on every smell that drifts past my nose. The interesting part though is that I am not gagging on the same smells I usually do.  Tuna for instance—I can’t stand the smell of tuna.  I cannot even make it for Aspie Teen, who loves tuna sandwiches, because I will smell tuna all around me for the whole day. I can’t handle it.

Aspie Teen almost fell on the floor when I popped up in bed and asked him if he could make Mommy a tuna sandwich.  Yes, odd that I would eat the tuna at all but I can blame that on the pregnancy. What I found more interesting is that I was able to smell the tuna without feeling a hint of displeasure.

Salami on the other hand, well let’s just say I won’t be buying my weekly half pound of Salami for the next nine months.

So—to all the pregnant autistic woman—did you notice any changes in your sensory processing? Anything that you can point out that may be different from your NT counterpart’s pregnancies—or do you think we can just chalk it all up to every pregnancy is different??

For me, I think the pregnancy exacerbates the sensory issues, and the fatigue lowers my overload threshold.  But on a brighter note, I am hypo-sensitive to pain, which I believe worked to my advantage when birthing without pain medication.

Please leave your comments, I am curious to hear your stories!

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.