If you’re like most new moms, you probably did your best to prioritize your health while you were pregnant. You took all the right vitamins, researched the best forms of exercise for expecting mothers, and avoided potentially problematic foods. Once you safely delivered your baby, though, you may have let your health fall by the wayside. Sleep has probably become a distant memory, and your meals have become a hodgepodge of whatever convenience foods you can throw together in between naps and feedings.
This situation is totally understandable, and it’s one in which many new moms find themselves. However, by putting your own health at the bottom of the list, you could actually be doing your baby a disservice.
After all, in order to provide your new baby with adequate care, it’s important to make sure you’re also prioritizing your own health and well-being.
One way you can do this is to be on the lookout for symptoms of these five common conditions that affect new moms.
4 Most Common Postpartum Conditions that Affect New Mothers
1. Breast Pain
Many new moms experience breast pain after they’ve delivered their baby. In addition to pain, you may also experience swelling, and your breasts may feel lumpy or hard. This is usually a sign of engorgement.
Your breasts can become engorged when your body is establishing its milk supply and is trying to figure out how much milk needs to be produced.
The best thing you can do to prevent breast engorgement is to nurse frequently and without restrictions after your baby is born. For most moms, this means nursing every 2-3 hours, with one longer sleep stretch. After a while, your milk supply will normalize and you’ll likely be able to go longer periods of time without nursing.
As for treating engorgement, the best option is usually to alternate between warm compresses and ice packs. Use warm compresses prior to feedings. This helps improve milk flow. Ice packs between feedings can relieve pain and discomfort.
Postpartum exhaustion affects most new mothers. But, in some cases, this exhaustion is a symptom of a more serious condition, like postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum thyroiditis occurs when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed after childbirth.
Postpartum thyroiditis often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms mimic those of postpartum fatigue. Many women with postpartum thyroiditis experience the following symptoms:
Rapid weight loss
The most common treatment for postpartum thyroiditis is the use of drugs that block the effects of thyroid hormones on the body. Doctors may also prescribe thyroid hormone therapy.
There’s not much you can do to prevent postpartum thyroiditis. But, if you know you’re at a greater risk of developing it, you can work with your doctor to monitor your health and address it as soon as possible.
The following women are at risk of developing postpartum thyroiditis:
Women with autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes
Women who have a history of postpartum thyroiditis
With high concentrations of anti-thyroid antibodies
Women with a history or family history of thyroid issues
Postpartum depression is a serious condition that affects up to one in five women. Many women meet the criteria for postpartum depression and don’t even realize it.
Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
Changes in appetite
Feelings of worthlessness or numbness
Thoughts of suicide
Thoughts of hurting others
Postpartum depression isn’t always preventable. But, some women have found that talking with a therapist before and after delivering their child to be helpful. Establishing relaxation techniques like meditation, proper nutrition, and a consistent exercise routine can also make a difference.
These prevention tips can also help women manage their postpartum depression. Working with a therapist is especially beneficial, especially when combined with antidepressant drugs.
4. High Blood Pressure
Many women who suffer from preeclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy don’t realize that they may also suffer from high blood pressure after giving birth.
This condition is common among preeclamptic women, especially those who developed preeclampsia early on in their pregnancies.
If you experienced preeclampsia during your pregnancy, you should make monitoring your blood pressure a priority. Using an at-home blood pressure monitor can help you stay on top of things and let you know if you need to take steps to maintain good blood pressure.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you lower your blood pressure. Lifestyle changes like an improved diet, plenty of rest, and exercise can also help lower your blood pressure naturally and prevent preeclampsia in future pregnancies.
It can be scary to learn about potential health conditions that can affect you as a new mom. But, remember that knowledge is power.
The more you know about your health, the more you can do to keep yourself feeling your best and ensure that you’re able to provide your baby with the best care possible.
Keep this information in mind and reach out to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions.