Pregnant Without Land Legs: Facts and Fears

On the second anniversary of losing my land legs, my life changed forever again.  This time for the better. I found out…. I’m pregnant with my first baby!  My husband Ian and I are so excited and grateful.  It seems poetic somehow that these events happened on the same day, exactly two years apart. 

I planned on having kids earlier, but when my “sea voyage” began, it seemed impossible.  The waves I felt were often so strong that I didn’t feel stable enough to hold a baby while standing.  Even as things got better, I was terrified that becoming pregnant would make my symptoms worse.  Until this year, I didn’t have a doctor who understood my condition enough to help me through pregnancy, so facing it without a treatment plan was scary.  

I had wanted to have kids my whole life, but I had never pictured myself being a mom with a chronic illness.  I started working with a therapist to help me deal with my fears surrounding symptoms, pregnancy, and motherhood.  

The turning point for me mentally came during one of those horrible, scary vertigo days that seem to come out of nowhere.  I was reading before bed one night, and the words in front of me began to sway.  If you close one eye, open it, then close the other eye and open it, really quickly over and over again, that was what my vision looked like with both eyes open.  

I woke up the next day with the same problem.  None of my usual strategies seemed to help at all.  It was scary, hard to function, and really frustrating.  I don’t know what triggered it.  

The visual issue became intermittent and faded after a day, but it made me realize that pregnant or not, things can and probably will get worse, anytime, without a trigger, and without warning.  I realized it was time to move on with my life, and not let the fear of potential future suffering hold me back from starting a family.  

I tried to find out as much as I could about pregnancy, mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS), and vestibular migraine.  Here are some of the interesting facts I discovered:

  • Approximately 80% of women with MdDS feel better while pregnant (trimester not specified)
  • 50-80% of women with migraines experience a reduction in attacks while pregnant
  • About 63% of all women experience dizziness while pregnant, and around 35% of those women experience vertigo

Here are some anecdotes I was told by doctors and dizziness professionals:

  • Many women with vestibular migraine experience an increase in dizziness and vertigo during the first trimester, but feel better in the second and third trimesters.
  • Some women with MdDS start to feel better as soon as they get pregnant, even to the point where all symptoms stop completely! This sounded too good to be true, but after doing a search on a few different MdDS Facebook groups, I found a few posts from women who experienced this!
  • Many women with migraine disorders feel worse in the first trimester as hormones shift, then feel better starting in the second trimester when hormones stabilize. 
  • Pregnancy itself can trigger the onset of both vestibular migraines and MdDS (spontaneous or motion-triggered).  My doctor recommended avoiding boats or other types of transportation that could trigger symptoms.  
  • Women prone to motion sickness are often prone to morning sickness. 

I was so excited at the idea that pregnancy could stop the MdDS for a while, but the outlook for vestibular migraine symptoms didn’t seem as good! In my next post, I’ll tell you all about my first trimester.

If you are new to MdDS and/or VM and looking for a guide and support, I’d love to coach you! Learn more about meeting with me for help with VM and MdDS management here:

2 thoughts on “Pregnant Without Land Legs: Facts and Fears

  1. I am so happy for you Sandy!!!!!
    Looking forward to hearing how pregnancy on a boat goes for you! Hoping you can stay at port for a while!!

    Liked by 1 person

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