Published Wed, 2011-03-02 16:28; updated 31 weeks ago.
© ULTRA F/Photodisc/Thinkstock
Some Suggestions for Recovery
There is no time limit to recovery from an ectopic pregnancy. It is common to think that you should get back to work and get “back to normal” as soon as possible, but there are no ‘should’s when it comes to recovery – only what feels right for you. The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust regularly consult women who have experienced ectopic pregnancy, and as a result of our research into recovery have developed this list of suggested ideas about how you might spend some of your time following your treatment, or while waiting for your ectopic pregnancy to be resolved through methotrexate or expectant management. Although this is not an exhaustive list, and everyone has their own unique way of coping with their loss, they hope that you might find something useful here to help yourself to recover and deal with what has happened.
…about your feelings with trusted friends. You may find at this point there will only be certain people you want to see and talk to – and who you trust to say the right thing. Friends and family might find it useful to look at the section on the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust website which is especially for friends and relatives of women affected by ectopic pregnancy.
You may also want to seek out people who know what you’re going through, so visit the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust forums where there are many women and men who have experienced ectopic pregnancy and who are also looking for people to talk to. Many strong and long-lasting friendships have been built here. You are very welcome to phone the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust on the EPT helpline (call 020 7733 2653). The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust trained helpline operators, who have direct experience of ectopic pregnancy, will listen to you and answer any questions you have. You do not need to feel alone. There are many women using their services who have been through an ectopic pregnancy.
Light a Candle:
On this website is a special place where you can light a candle in remembrance of your baby. Some women and their partners like to plant a tree, or buy a piece of jewellery to commemorate their baby.
Use your friends:
When your trusted friends or relatives come to see you, ask them to bring you any films or DVDs they think you’ll like, books or magazines they think you’ll enjoy reading or anything else they know you might be interested in. If people offer to go to the shops for you, let them. It will make them feel good!
If you feel it’s a duvet day, then let that happen. Catch up on films you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t had the chance to. Try not to feel guilty about indulging yourself if that’s not the kind of thing you usually do. Ectopic pregnancy is exhausting and many women feel that they are not able to do much more than sit in front of the television, or relax outside if you have the space (and the weather!).
Amongst the feelings of sadness you may feel extremely angry at what has happened. Expressing these emotions in a controlled way can prevent them from bubbling beneath the surface and bursting out when you least expect, or want, them to. Punching a pillow also helps to relieve tension if you feel angry.
Book a haircut, massage, manicure or pedicure if that will help you feel good. Massage not only helps you to relax by calming the nervous system but increases oxygen flow in the body encouraging healing and also help to balance the endocrine system which controls hormone levels. If you’re well enough, you can go to a salon or spa, and there are mobile therapists who will come to your home. If you’ve had surgery tell the therapist and they will avoid the areas affected.
Food is proven to affect mood, so help yourself by eating healthily for most of the time. Take note of good-mood foods such as turkey, chicken, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts and seeds, which are all rich in tryptophan, an amino acid which helps the brain to produce serotonin to make your mood stable and encourage healthy sleep. If you are being treated with methotrexate it is very important that you avoid foods enriched with folic acid until your hormone levels have fallen to below 5<mIU/mL.
That old cliché about women needing chocolate may not be such a myth after all! Chocolate releases feel-good endorphins in the brain!
New focus on strengthening the body:
Most women feel that once they’ve healed physically, the emotional recovery begins – and again there is no time limit to this. You may find at this point that you need something to work towards – an alternate focus to what would have been your due date. A great way to do this is set yourself a physical challenge or take up a new activity. Obviously wait till you’ve totally recovered from any surgery, and you should be led by your health care providers about that but once healed, it doesn’t matter what your level of fitness, any kind of exercise will release feel-good endorphins into your body, increased oxygen will enable the body to heal itself quicker and you’ll be able to build up your strength physically and mentally. This will, of course, also benefit you whether or not you decide to try to conceive again.
Here are some suggestions…
Get involved: Volunteer, share your experience, proof read… once you are feeling a little better, if you are willing to do some training with us we can almost certainly use your skills and time to help us deliver our services. Find out more about volunteering with EPT here.
Take up Yoga: The combination of gentle stretches and breathing techniques work your mind, body and soul, helping to build core strength, tone your body and relax the mind so you feel more balanced and centred. If you can’t find something locally by searching the web, contact your local library who may have lists of what is available in the area.
Join a health club: As well as a gym, a lot of health clubs have a swimming pool, steam room and sauna, so you don’t have to sweat it out on the exercise machines – you can relax in the sauna too. Most gyms also run classes from gentle yoga and pilates, to boxercise, which is perfect for when that anger strikes and you need to punch it out.
On your bike: Pack a picnic in a rucksack and head out to your local park or if you’re feeling more adventurous you could contact your local authority to find a biking trail close to you. Or sign up for a sponsored cycling event and raise money for the EPT - visit www.endurancelife.com for some cycling events in beautiful locations around the UK.
Run for the EPT: Fancy getting your trainers on for the Adidas Women’s 5k or the Big Fun Run and raising money for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust? Click here for details to find out about entering either of these events. You don’t even have to run the whole thing - you can walk and make friends with other great women on the way round. These events are mainly fun – and inspirational. And we’d be very grateful for any money raised. In fact there are thousands of fun runs and events happening all over the country during the year. All you have to do is sign up and get your friends and family to dig deep for a very good cause. Visit Running Diary for a list of all running events around the country, plus some cycling events and triathlons. Pay to enter, email The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust to let us know you’re running for EPT and they'll send you a fundraising pack.
Also check out www.endurancelife.com for trail-running events called the Coastal Trail Series (10k, half-marathon and marathon) in scenic locations around the UK.
Ten tips for training
- Get the Kit. Treating yourself to a new pair of trainers, trackie bottoms and T-shirt will not only make you look the part, but feel the part.
- Walk! On your first day, simply walk briskly for 10 minutes. Then the next time run for just a minute and then briskly walk for 10 mins. Fitness is incremental and will slowly build up. Before you know it you’ll be running for longer than you thought possible.
- Increase your time. Aim to increase the amount of time you run, rather than distance – it’s easier.
- Treat yourself. At the end of each week of training, reward yourself – be it with a bottle of pinot grigio with a friend or a new accessory.
- Get a running buddy. Why not pop a thread on our message forum to see if anyone in your area enjoys running or is training for an event.
- Listen to your body. You’ll experience muscle aches and tiredness while running, which is normal, but if the muscle aches get really painful, go slower or stop.
- Breath well. When you’re running aim to breath in for two steps and out for two steps. And a good guage for knowing if you’re over exerting yourself, is that you should be able to hold a conversation while running. If you can’t and find you’re breathless, slow down your pace.
- Join a running club. Get fit and meet new people.
- Drink lots. Of water! Aim for two litres a day – a sign that you’re properly hydrated is your pee should be clear.
- Go soft. Avoid running on hard surfaces such as roads all the time – this can give you shin splints (that horrible pain you feel down your shin when you run sometimes). Alternate your training between roads and parks and grassy areas.
Great sites for budding runners
The Running Bug – this has everything you need to know, from how to chose the right pair of trainers and which sports bras are best, to the stretches to do as a warm-up and warm-down.
Park Run – If you live in Brighton, London, Great Yarmouth, Coulsdon, Basingstoke, Leeds, Stockport, Middlesbrough, Cardiff or Glasgow, you can take part in a free 5k run every Saturday morning and get timed. And don’t be put off if you’re beginner, people turn up of all ages and ALL abilities. Your times are then put up on the parkrun website a few days after – along with photos too – and they note if you’ve improved on your previous time. It’s a really friendly atmosphere and they meet rain or shine – or snow!
Map My Run – This fantastic site not only measures your running routes for you, but will also suggest routes in your area. It also has training programmes and calendars, details of races and events and just about anything else you can think of to do with running.
And finally, here are some words of encouragement from three ladies who have run for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. We hope you feel inspired to do the same…
Jill Ansell had an ectopic pregnancy in 2004. She says:
“I was treated with methotrexate and overall was very lucky with the care and options I was given, the hospital were great and the ectopic trust provided invaluable support.
“I have always been fairly sporty but never entered an actual race before. I decided that I would really like to raise money for the ectopic trust and the Adidas Women’s 5K seemed the perfect starting block! Training and raising the money was a great feeling and brilliant focus. I think exercise and feeling good physically can really improve your whole self and the added bonus of setting myself a challenge and achieving my goal was a great feeling. I feel proud of myself and can’t believe it is me when I think I’ll now do longer distances and greater challenges! I think I have the bug!
Jill now volunteers her time and coordinates people who want to do running, fundraising activities for us.
Following an ectopic pregnancy in April 2008, 36-year-old Vicky King decided to sign up for the Adidas Women’s 5k after seeing it advertised on the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust website. She says:
“I’d had surgery to remove my right tube, and after the physical recovery I found myself feeling a bit lost. A close friend was pregnant and had the same due date as I would have had, so I felt I really needed to have a new focus – I also wanted to give something back to the EPT. The helpline and message forums had been a Godsend in the months after my ectopic. I started my training off fairly tame with small walks and built up to small jogs. I found the running really cathartic and it helped me to feel a lot more positive – I don’t think I realised much confidence I’d lost in myself after the surgery. The actual event in Hyde Park was inspirational, with so many women running for so many great causes, and I’d recommend it to anyone. And meeting the other EPT women was great – we’re all very special ladies!”
Carmen Norman’s ectopic pregnancy in 2004 meant major surgery and months of sitting around doing nothing while her body recovered, but it only made her want a London Marathon medal even more. Here she explains how she ended up running the Marathon four times!
“In December 2004 I found out I was pregnant. Unfortunately a few days later I woke up with intense pain in my lower right abdomen. I couldn’t walk very well and the pain was so bad that by lunchtime I had to go to casualty. I had an ectopic pregnancy! I had to have a full laparotomy. My right tube had started to rupture and there was some bleeding. The tube had to be removed and I was in surgery for nearly three hours, spent a week in hospital, and about 8 weeks recovering physically. But I had survived an ectopic, which kills too many women even in the noughties.
“Four months later I decided I needed to do something to help me get well again and lose all the weight I had gained from being idle for so long. My neighbours used to do some short runs every Sunday morning, so I invited myself along. The run was just under three miles. I lasted the first 600 yards before I had to walk. I continued to walk/run all the way, but I managed to get to the end. I felt disappointed that I couldn’t run more, but decided to stay positive, told myself ‘Hey, I only had major surgery four months ago’, and I promised myself I would keep joining my neighbours every Sunday.
“The next week I ran a little bit further, and each week, a bit more. Within about eight weeks I was running all the way round the route. I then decided I wanted a challenge, but by this time it was too late to enter into a 5K Race for Life, but I found out about the Cancer Research 10K runs which were in October and one of the runs was only 40 mins away from my home. I entered, finished the run in 62 minutes and raised £600 for Cancer Research. I got the bug. I wanted to do something else and I set my sights on the London Marathon.
“Was I being ridiculous, aiming for the marathon when I had only been running six months, wasn’t in a club and didn’t have a coach or running partner? I don’t know, but I decided it is what I wanted to do. I applied for a place, choosing to run for the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. I couldn’t believe it when they gave me one! This is it now, I’m in. I carried on running with my neighbours, but I would usually continue to run after they had stopped. By the end of December I was comfortably running 10 miles and then the marathon training started. I followed a couple of different plans, adjusting them to suit my needs. I took part in the Milton Keynes Half Marathon in March for practice, and finished in 2h15mins.
“At times self-motivation is hard, but my family kept me encouraged and I am enjoying my fitness. I really do feel fabulous and I have lost about two stone. I ran the London Marathon in 2006 only 18 months after my ectopic pregnancy and surgery. I completed the marathon in 4h57mins and raised £2,500. I got my medal and it was such an amazing experience, I will do it again! I have since run the London Marathon two more times raising over £5,000 and improving my finish time with each event (I am running again in April 2009). I have also completed the London Duathlon in Richmond park three times, and several other half marathons, 10 mile runs, 10k runs and duathlons. My medal collection is getting quite impressive.
“Having an ectopic pregnancy was one of the worst experiences of my life and I often think about the baby that I lost. However, turning my thoughts to something positive, that keeps me fit and makes me feel great has helped me cope and move on from my loss.”
Copyright The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust (Registered Charity Number: 1071811).