So this is my contribution to the internet regarding Bell's Palsy and labor. When I got Bell's Palsy after having my son, there was NOTHING online about it. So here it is...my public service message:-)
I had a healthy pregnancy with my son. I watched a million hours of Discovery Health birthing shows during the pregnancy, but there was nothing about Bell's Palsy in the shows I watched and I never would have believed this would happen to me.
I had an unusually long labor. 40+ hours. This was due to my small pelvis (and an exceptionally long labor progression time is evident of that). During this long amount of time I was happily given an epidural that was fully loaded:-) and one or two additional doses. I was also given pottosin to help speed things along. During this time I became very swollen in my face, legs, etc etc. I didn't realize it at the time but my mom told me later. (Also, I realized it a day after my surgery when I couldn't feel my legs when I touched them, although I could walk and stand, etc.)
After two hours of pushing, I was given a c-section. I spent two hours in recovery, then I was able to hold my son. I had a normal few days at the hospital, and went home just fine.
Five days after the birth I was eating a sandwich at home (I think I'd been home 24 hours) and I thought I was having a stroke. I couldn't eat right. I called my mom who is an RN and asked if a side effect of my meds would give me a stroke. She told me to call the dr. and they told me to go to ER.
I RAN (post c-section!!! and holding my lower stomach:-)) into the ER while my husband parked the car with my son. I thought I was truly having a stroke and that the drs just HAD to stop this because I had a newborn to take care of!
I was told I had Bell's Palsy and that they would give me a steroid and an antibiotic to lessen the severity. They said that I should stop breastfeeding due to the steroid. I opted to NOT take the steroid, just the antibiotic, so that I could continue to breastfeed. I took my chances, but there was nothing to prove that the steroid would truly help anyway.
It was hard to care for a newborn with BP. I couldn't eat properly or close both my eyes- and I couldn't close both my eyes to sleep. It was heart breaking to not be able to go out comfortably as I would be stared at, and I didn't want friends to really see me that way- also I had trouble speaking, drinking, etc etc. We have very few photos of me and the baby during that time, and the photos are really really bad of me.
My BP lasted two weeks. Thank God. However, I do have the "residual" effects everyone talks about. Most noticably is that I have loss of muscle mass around my affected cheek bone. It makes my face look a little thinner on that side- which I kind of like:-) although compared to the other it's asymetrical, which isn't cool. Also, I have more lines on that side of my face, a deeper smile line, and deeper dimples. I notice that I can't smile and talk for a long time without my face just feeling really tired, so I stop smiling as much, and sometimes look at the person like they're boring me, when they are not!:-(.
Another thing, which I think is kind of cool is that I used to be more animated when I talked to people but now I have more of a tendancy to just look straight at them and not be as expressive. this is really cool when someone is being idiotic or something, because I don't laugh or roll my eyes or anything, I just look straight at them...and to me, inside that's funnier, and I feel like I have more control in that way.
It's been three years since I had this happen to me, and I just recently learned that BP can be caused from too much swelling in labor, as it affects the facial nerves!!!! so if you come down with this during pregnancy or labor, this could be why.
The last thing I'll mention is that I think everyone should do what they can to avoid having a stroke. If you have ever experienced Bell's Palsy you can relate to a Stroke patient, and it's really hard. so take good care of yourself, and the things that you can have some control of anyway:-)