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One of Bachelor Nation’s most beloved alums has revealed she suffered an unexpected condition during her latest pregnancy.
Emily Maynard kept news of her fifth pregnancy quiet until she gave birth to her daughter, Magnolia Belle, in October. Although both mom and baby are doing well, the former “Bachelorette” star revealed she developed Bell’s palsy, a condition which results in severe muscle weakness, during the ninth month of her pregnancy.
On Jan. 1, the 34-year-old took to Instagram stories to recap some of her personal highs and lows of 2020. Maynard shared a photo of herself from September, one month before she gave birth, wearing an eye patch.
“Got Bell’s palsy and had to wear an eye patch,” Maynard captioned the photo.
The photo prompted an explanation from Maynard after she received messages from fans asking about the condition, which although rare, can occur in the third trimester of pregnancy.
“I had it in high school and lucky me am one of the very few people that get it twice,” Maynard wrote in a separate Instagram story. “It started with a bad headache that got progressively worse and went into my jaw. Thought it was an ear infection but then woke up one morning and couldn't spit out my toothpaste or put on mascara. I knew exactly what it was so doctor prescribed me a steroid.”
Bell’s palsy symptoms include rapid muscle weakness on one side of the face that can cause paralysis, drooping, drooling, increased tears, increased sensitivity to sound, head and jaw pain as well as loss of taste.
While the exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, experts believe the onset of paralysis is caused by inflammation and swelling around facial nerves. The condition is often related to viral infections, such as chicken pox, herpes simplex, upper respiratory infections, mumps and the flu due to their resulting inflammation. Although the condition can occur at any age, women in their third trimester of pregnancy have an increased risk of developing Bell’s palsy.
While the prognosis for Bell’s palsy is often positive, it is possible to suffer permanent nerve damage as well as ocular issues such as vision loss or scarring to the cornea.
Maynard revealed that she struggled with her altered appearance but with the help of medication she was able to make a full recovery.
“I thought my age 34 I was free of the vanity I cherished so much in my 20s but there's something very humbling about being 9 months pregnant and not able to move half of your face!” Maynard said. “I cried a lot and felt horrible but thankfully it got better day by day.”