I never thought I would have to write these words, however I want to be transparent with you. I have been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy in pregnancy. This has been my third, so far healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, and I had barely entered the third trimester. (I’m 29 and a half weeks, in fact!) Therefore, Bell’s Palsy wasn’t even on my radar as a potentional pregnancy symptom!
How my Symptoms with Bell’s Palsy Started
Disclaimer: The following is not medical advice. This is anecdotal in relation to my personal experience with Bell’s Palsy in pregnancy. Please consult your own physician. This blog is not responsible for any actions you may due after reading my personal testimony. Thank you.
This past Tuesday, I kept mentioning to my husband how fuzzy headed I was. I didn’t feel tired, but more of a fatigue. Of course, this symptom might be attributed to the general fatigue that begins in the third trimester. . .
Later that night, I felt like my taste was off. I was still able to taste dinner, but there were certain ingredients that almost had no taste at all! I thought nothing of it because I didn’t feel sick (so no worries about COVID!)
The next morning, my right eye was watering profusely. I had to grab a muslin cloth just to dab at it. After which, I texted my husband, “I think I must be getting sick!” But as I was applying chapstick, I realized the sensation in my lips was almost gone. I could feel the pressure, but my lips were numb, as was my tongue. Now I was starting to worry!
@intentionalazmom So, let me tell you about my newest pregnancy symptom: bell’s palsy! Yep, i lost the movement in half my face at 30 weeks pregnant. #30weekspregnant #thirdtrimester #pregnancysymptoms #pregnancyjourney #pregnancytiktok #momof3 #momtok #momsoftiktok #bellspalsy #bellspalsyjourney ♬ original sound – Cherish | Intentional AZ mom
I had an OB/GYN appointment the following day so I asked some friends if they would go in for a numb mouth. Then I called my OB to see if they could get me in that same day. Their nurse told me to go into OB Triage since I was in my third trimester. Luckily, I had family members that came quickly to watch my boys and drive me to the hospital, where my husband met me.
However, while driving to the hospital I noticed that I was touching the right side of my face a bit more, almost as if to support it. The numbness was almost reminiscent of the numbing medicine a few hours after getting a cavity fixed.
Presenting as a patient with facial numbness at the OB Triage
My OB Triage took me in right away after stating my doctor’s nurse suggested I come in. Luckily, he happened to be on call at the hospital, so he would be able to see the baby’s monitors and advise as necessary.
The nurses strapped the monitors on my belly and my baby immediately kicked, as he usually does with the dopplers. His heart was a steady and healthy 146. While my husband and I were talking, it dawned on me what might be wrong. I pulled down my face mask (still mandated at the hospital) and asked him, “Honey, is my smile off?”
Then I smiled as hard as I could and I could feel the assymmetry. My husband confirmed, yes it was uneven. I smiled at my selfie camera in my phone. Oh my God, I had Bell’s Palsy!
When the nurse came back, I told her my suspicions and she seemed to agree. She asked to allow a nursing student to see, to which I obliged. How could I deny a rare learning opportunity to a student?
Anyways, I was eventually moved into the ER of the hospital and my diagnosis was confirmed. No labs or urine samples were needed. I had Bell’s Palsy in Pregnancy. While rare, it’s likelihood can be increased in pregnancy.
Having Bell’s Palsy in Pregnancy
Disclaimer reminder: The following is not medical advice. This is anecdotal in relation to my personal experience with Bell’s Palsy in pregnancy. Please consult your own physician. This blog is not responsible for any actions you may due after reading my personal testimony. Thank you.
I’m not a doctor, but my degree was in health sciences and I failed out of medical school, so I’m really good at research. It appears that the likelihood of Bell’s Palsy in Pregnancy is often increased due to (1) immunosuppression and (2) increased extracellular fluid (O Pourrat et al 2013). After the approval of my OB, I was administered a course of oral steroids that will last 10 days.
Fortunately, I had an already scheduled appointment with my OB the following day. I asked him all the questions and the good news is, this isn’t something that shouldn’t last forever! While the steroids can help, it should resolve post-pregnancy. He also reassured me that this condition wouldn’t affect my baby at all.
I did ask him about the association of Bell’s Palsy with being a possible indicator of pre-eclampsia (sudden, high blood pressure). He personally hadn’t heard of Bell’s Palsy increasing the risk of pre-eclampsia, but moreso a symptom. Because I have had low risk pregnancies and my blood pressure readings have been normal, I was assured to not worry.
I’m only two days into my diagnosis, however I shall certainly follow up with future blog posts about my condition. I hope this may help other women who experience Bell’s Palsy in pregnancy. I would like to let you know it will be okay! If you would like to reach out to me, please feel free to DM me on instagram about your experience!