Rachel Contreras is Dr. Aardsma’s youngest daughter. She has provided the following report of her current pregnancy. Rachel writes, “I hope this is helpful to many other women in my shoes!”
April 23, 2019
I am a 24-year-old female, currently 21 weeks pregnant with my third child. I started taking Vitamin MePA one month before the beginning of this pregnancy. This is a report of my experience with Vitamin MePA supplementation and pregnancy so far. To my knowledge, I am the third woman to take MePA while pregnant, the second to begin taking it before conception, and the first to take the newly recommended dose of two drops during pregnancy. My hope is that this report will provide helpful information to other women who are wondering how to approach including MePA in their diet during the sensitive time of pregnancy.
My first pregnancy was difficult. From 5 weeks through 20 weeks, I experienced intense, debilitating morning sickness. As the morning sickness was resolving, I realized I had developed prenatal depression. I am normally an emotionally stable person, and had never experienced depression before. It was a challenging experience. Thankfully, the depression lifted shortly before the end of my pregnancy.
In the third trimester I developed high blood pressure, another first for me. I began taking a calcium-magnesium supplement daily, hoping to manage it without medication. My blood pressure never reached dangerously high levels, and returned to normal following the delivery.
Labor began spontaneously at 41 weeks and was an intense 6 hours long. The delivery went well, but my postpartum recovery was physically very difficult. It was about 9 months before I felt fully recovered.
My second pregnancy went better overall. I had morning sickness again, but it was less severe this time and went away as the second trimester began. I experienced prenatal depression for a second time, but it was also much less severe, and it did not interfere with my quality of life nearly as much as it had the first time.
My blood pressure was elevated throughout the pregnancy, from my first prenatal appointment at 11 weeks through several weeks postpartum. I again supplemented daily with calcium-magnesium. I also developed an abnormally high heart rate and an irregular heartbeat. My care provider told me my cardiovascular system was, for some reason, stressed by the pregnancy.
A new issue was gallbladder pain that developed around 8 weeks. The initial assumption was gallstones, but an ultrasound showed none. The unofficial diagnosis (I chose not to undergo the diagnostic test during pregnancy and breastfeeding) was an inflamed/low-functioning gallbladder, a condition irritated by pregnancy due to thickening of the bile. I went on a low-fat diet to minimize the pain and hopefully avoid surgery during pregnancy. This was successful, and the daily pain resolved around 4 months postpartum, although I continued to notice pain when I would eat particularly high-fat foods.
Labor did not begin spontaneously, and post-term with no measurable amniotic fluid, I chose a Pitocin induction. The induction failed, which was only the second time my OB had ever seen that happen. Artificial rupture of the amniotic sac finally began contractions, and my second daughter was born an hour later. My postpartum recovery was very straightforward this time around, and I felt I was well recovered within 3 weeks.
I started taking Vitamin MePA on October 22, 2018. My initial dose was 3 drops daily. A month later, my third daughter was conceived. I dropped my dose to 2 drops daily once I realized I was pregnant, at about 3 weeks.
So far, this has been my smoothest pregnancy. I experienced very little morning sickness, with minimal nausea, mild food aversions, and no vomiting. I have also not developed prenatal depression or experienced mood changes. My blood pressure readings have all been normal. Surprisingly, my gallbladder symptoms have not worsened, remaining at my non-pregnant normal (pain with consumption of large amounts of fat), and I have not had to modify my diet.
Two things have been worse this time around. I have experienced intense fatigue throughout this pregnancy, despite getting the most and best sleep I have since my oldest child was born. (My two older children are both sleeping well currently, allowing me reasonably good sleep for the first time in 5.5 years.) This has been by far the most exhausted I have ever been in my life. Simple daily tasks feel overwhelming, and I find myself frequently sitting down to rest during something as straightforward as making a bed. The fatigue does seem to be slowly improving now that I am well into the second trimester.
The other thing that has been worse this time is back pain. I had mild back pain in my first two pregnancies, but this time it has been significant. It began promptly in pregnancy and has affected my lower back and pelvis. At times, it has been debilitating.
An ultrasound at 19 weeks showed a healthy, normally developing baby, measuring exactly on her due date and in the 75th percentile for growth. It does not seem that MePA has in any way affected the normal progression of fetal development.
It is, of course, impossible to know how this pregnancy would have gone if I was not supplementing with MePA. The nature of pregnancy, different for each woman each time, makes it difficult to reach any definitive conclusion on the effect of MePA on my pregnancy. For instance, I was delighted to experience very mild morning sickness for the first time. This may have been caused by the vitamin, but it is easy to find plentiful accounts of other women who had huge differences in morning sickness from pregnancy to pregnancy. Similarly with the absence of prenatal depression for the first time: it could be the vitamin improving my mental health, or it could simply be the fact that I am sleeping well and my life circumstances are the least stressful that they have been in recent years. I personally believe my normal blood pressure and lack of increased gallbladder symptoms are likely due to the vitamin, as these good outcomes were unexpected by both myself and my care provider based on my history.