Having a baby is a magical experience for most women. It not only satisfies their caring and nurturing side, but the importance of their job also fills them with pride and love. Watching their kids grow brings a certain amount of accomplishment and significance to their lives.
To them, kids fill the house with love and bring the family together, making the different pains associated with having babies a small price to pay for such a wonderful feeling.
For some women, however, this experience is more costly than others. Some women suffer unfavorable complications after having a baby that affect them, physically, emotionally or both. In most cases, complications are the side effect of pregnancy and childbirth and will disappear with time as the body recovers.
Some complications take much more time to heal than others, with some disappearing within the first few days to weeks and others taking up to a year to diminish. The variety of complications also exists amongst women. Some women take longer to recover than others, depending on the nature of their bodies and their genes.
In some cases, complications persist and become something that women have to live with for the rest of their lives. Some are dangerous and need medical attention and follow-up, others can just be inconvenient. It can be annoying and hurtful, but for some women having a baby is totally worth the trouble.
There are medications for most of the complications to help make them manageable, although sometimes a few changes in lifestyle, such as eating habits and exercise, is the only necessary treatment needed.
15 Embarrassing Urinary Incontinence
The inability to control urine is one of the changes that happens in pregnancy, which sometimes continue into the postpartum period. After giving birth, the muscles that control the urethral sphincter weaken, compromising the ability to withhold urine.
Urinary incontinence is more common amongst women who give birth naturally than those who have a c-section. This is because a c-section is the cutting of the uterine muscles horizontally, without affecting external muscles.
Usually, urinary incontinence subsides after birth, usually within one year. However, in some women it persists. It naturally increases as the muscles get more relaxed with age, but in young women who have had babies, it can be triggered by sneezing, coughing or exercise. It causes tiny amounts of urine to leak, which is not harmful, but very troublesome.
Doing Kegel exercises can help lessen urinary incontinence postpartum, because they strengthen the weakened muscles, reversing the effects of delivery.
14 More Than The Baby Blues
Postpartum depression is a worldwide condition. It attacks women who just had babies or can have a delayed onset and appear later on. Any woman regardless of her health and socioeconomic status can be affected, more often than not, the predictor of whether a woman will experience PPD is her history of depression.
It manifests as sleeping problems, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, and frequent mood changes. In extreme cases, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts may be present.
Depression may be related to traumatic events in a person’s life. When a mother is having a hard time adjusting to the new role, or when a disturbing setting is maintained in her life, depression may persist longer than expected and may require extra effort to heal.
It's argued that the sudden drop in hormones after delivery increase the risk of depression. Typically, therapy and antidepressants are able to contain the condition. It takes time, however, to heal completely and go back to normal.
13 Might Cause Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases are a set of diseases described as the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues. Such diseases include rheumatoid arthritis that typically affects smaller joints of the hands, and systemic lupus erythematosus, which can affect any body part.
In pregnancy, the immunity is able to tolerate the fetus, although technically its cells are not recognized as “self” cells. This requires some form of modification in the immune system.
The sudden drop in hormones after birth takes about 3 days to fully happen and theoretically results in the body not being able to control a normal immune response. This is the environment in which immune responses spread beyond need and start attacking the body. This malfunction in immunity is very dangerous, even the common cold could lead to attacks on vital organs and possibly death.
It's vital to visit a doctor at the first sign of a problem to protect the organs. Usually, life-time medication is needed, but in easier conditions, treatment may not be permanent.
12 Tooth Decay And Gum Diseases
Teeth and gums are often a reflection of many health problems in the body. During pregnancy, calcium and vitamin D are sucked away from the body at an alarming rate to construct the baby’s bones. This results in weakened teeth that sometimes fall out and in gingivitis, which is the inflammation of the gums.
There's an old wives’ tale that says a woman loses a tooth for every child she brings into the world. This isn't true of course, but is based on true facts.
Teeth are affected by hormones, because the increased hormone level makes the teeth responsive to plaque, putting them at a higher risk for tooth decay. Sugar cravings in pregnancy also play a role in tooth decay because of the increased sugar intake that further damages teeth and gums.
Also, expectant women are at risk of pyogenic granuloma – a localized enlargement of the gum, which bleeds and requires excision. Of course, if the bad effects of pregnancy on teeth persist after birth they will require dental attention.
11 Permanent Bone Loss
Because the effects of pregnancy on teeth and gums are related to hormones and nutrition, rather than a local cause in the mouth itself, they are replicated in all bones of the body. Adding the effects of pregnancy weight on the bones of the back, legs and feet makes the entire skeletal system suffer.
After birth, women do not typically rest as they need. With a new baby to care for, lift, rock and feed, there is little room for a break for a mother’s bones. Back pain is the most widespread pain in new mothers who care for newborn babies.
Naturally, when a mother is not able to make up for the lost vitamins and minerals, due to poverty or neglect, her bones do not recover after birth, even when the hormones settle and the pregnancy weight lightens.
Although, in theory, bone mineral density recovers after birth, around half of the women who go through pregnancy and childbirth suffer some degree of bone loss permanently. It may not be enough to cause decreased function in bones, but puts her at risk in old age. As menopause hits, the problem aggravates.
10 Undesirable Weight Gain
Weight gain during pregnancy is expected and healthy. However, there are limits to how much weight that should be gained. The exact amount of weight gained in a pregnancy depends on a woman’s pre-pregnancy weight and her general health condition. Women who struggle with issues related to being unhealthy and over weight are generally placed on diet plans for their health and their babies’.
Weight gain that persists after pregnancy puts a woman at risk for diseases like hypertension, diabetes, strokes and inflammatory conditions.
Cravings make women gain more weight than they should during pregnancy. With hectic lifestyles and caring for a newborn, there's little time for a mother to watch what she's eating and maintain a healthy diet.
Also, breastfeeding mothers get hungrier and thirstier than normal, so they end up eating more and some gulp down high calorie soft drinks. All this contributes to weight gain postpartum, which may be hard to lose and has adverse effects on health.
9 Eating Disorders
A woman’s self-esteem and body image are drastically affected by pregnancy and childbirth. It's overwhelming for a woman who can't seem to lose weight to be frustrated by the amount of effort needed to get back on track.
When a woman gains weight uncontrollably and isn't able to get back to her normal weight, it affects how she feels about herself. Some of these women may start developing an eating disorder. Starvation is common for women who develop this kind of problem.
Also, the overwhelming lifestyle encourages emotional eating, which makes women feel guilty and detest their bodies even more. This results in a vicious cycle that leads to problems, especially bulimia and depression. Women who attempt to lose weight too fast and too early compromise their own health and possibly the health of their babies if they are breastfeeding.
If not, it's still dangerous for women to be underfed when caring for a newborn.
8 Extreme Fatigue
Fatigue is a normal byproduct of the new mom lifestyle. Lack of sleep, barely eating well and maximized effort all contribute to a zombie-like mother. However, some mothers suffer more than others, depending on their baby’s temperament and how much help they get. Over time, some women develop irrational sleeping patterns and headaches. They become tired all the time, even when the baby starts sleeping better.
Fatigue is also related to water intake. Mothers who don't get enough liquid throughout the day get more tired than others.
Some fatigue could be related to nutrition, because lack of essential nutrients can make a person tired. This is especially true for women who lack the iron necessary for adequate circulation and proteins necessary for muscle building to compensate for muscle mass lost in the efforts.
Additionally, carbohydrates are essential for providing energy, so a satisfactory amount of complex carbohydrates is vital to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
7 Abdominal Numbness
Abdominal numbness is the absence of feeling and sometimes a tingling in the abdomen around a c-section scar. Initially, a c-section scar is burning and painful, but heals over time. It may require medical attention if the scar is bleeding or producing pus. Also, a fever is a sign of something wrong, so if a c-section mother develops a fever, the scar should be checked by a doctor.
As the first few months after the surgery pass, the scar minimizes in width and color. It becomes lighter and dissipates gradually. In some mothers the scar persists for many years. Most mothers agree that the numbness might even remain on parts of the scar.
Because a c-section cuts into many layers of the abdomen, it passes by many nerves in the way and causes disconnections. This makes the abdomen feel numb to the touch, often for many years after the birth. The sensation is restored and sometimes elevated, if a woman has a second C-section.
6 Painful Vaginal Tearing
Vaginal tearing is associated with vaginal birth that is difficult and complicated. It could happen due to increased baby weight or the birth of a baby with a large head. Usually, a minimal degree of tearing happens in every birth and requires a few stitches. In more complex situations the tearing is larger and causes excessive bleeding, requiring many stitches or cauterization.
Tearing is less likely to happen in the second and subsequent births. When the mother pushes, rather than the baby being forced out by contractions, the risk of tearing is reduced.
Tearing is a side effect of birth, not a cut that a doctor makes. It might be a first-, second- third- or fourth-degree tear, depending on the number of layers torn. It shouldn't be confused with vaginal muscle relaxation. It's true that muscles relax during labor to accommodate the baby being pushing out, but the muscles go back to normal after some time.
Kegel exercises also help vaginal muscle tone up and heal faster.
5 Scary Postpartum Hair Loss
Normally, hair is not stationary. About 85 to 95 percent of the hair on our heads are growing and the other 5 to 15 percent are in a resting stage. After the resting period, this hair falls out and is replaced by new hair. Estrogen maintains this resting phase for a longer period of time, making hair thicker.
When estrogen drops, hair shedding increases and hair becomes vulnerable to brushing and shampooing. Hair loss may not start directly after birth, even when the hormones drop, and begins within the first 3-4 months postpartum
Some women experience hair loss for up to a year. Nutrition may be part of the problem, because necessary vitamins and minerals do not reach the hair when the entire body lacks those very things. Minoxidil, which is available in spray form, may help.
It's a vasodilator that widens the capillaries in the scalp, allowing more nutrients to reach the hair and strengthen it. However, it's not safe for women who breastfeed.
4 Sever Postpartum Migraines
Migraines are hormone-related. When hormonal imbalance occurs during the phases of pregnancy and childbirth, they contribute to migraines. This is why migraines are not just a pregnancy symptom, but is also sustained after birth. Migraines are unpredictable and could last for hours.
It is advised to keep a diary of the time and duration of pain to consult a doctor and receive adequate treatment. Abuse of painkillers may have an effect on the stomach and lead to complications.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that also drops during pregnancy and labor causing migraines. The postpartum lifestyle that involves lack of sleep, stress and skipped meals is also a trigger for migraines. In women with oral contraceptives, the mechanism of action of the contraceptive induces migraines.
In some women, migraines persist after the first few months of the postpartum period. Some women develop chronic migraines that occur more than 15 days per month.
3 Undiagnosed Hypertension Is Dangerous
Many women report hypertension starting at the postpartum period, even when if it wasn't an issue for them pre-pregnancy. It is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in urine. A blood pressure of 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater is the main indicator.
This condition develops within 48 hours or up to 6 weeks, in which it's known as late postpartum preeclampsia. If untreated, it could result in seizures and other complications.
Often, hypertension begins in pregnancy. Women who had hypertension during their pregnancy have a higher risk of developing hypertension after birth. It also happens more often in women who suffer from health problems associated with their weight or who have a family history of hypertension.
Twins or multiples are also a risk factors for hypertension. If this condition goes untreated it may cause strokes, pulmonary edema or blood vessel blockage by a blood clot, which is why immediate treatment and follow-up is a must.
2 Type 2 Diabetes
Sometimes diabetes develops during pregnancy, it's most commonly known as gestational diabetes. Sometimes, it persists after pregnancy. Diabetes in an otherwise healthy pregnant woman can increase her risk of developing diabetes later in life.
Usually, a woman with gestational diabetes does not have elevated blood sugar directly after birth, giving the illusion that the condition has subsided. Yet, research suggests that blood sugar levels can increase for up to 3 months after birth.
It's necessary to monitor blood sugar for up to 6-12 weeks postpartum to maintain glucose status. Even when this condition develops, factors like breastfeeding and weight management can ease the condition under some control, but this does not alleviate the need for medication.
Insulin resistance, which is the inability of the body to respond to insulin, is one of the factors that causes immediate need for medication and monitoring. Research also links postpartum diabetes to risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Hence, women who suffer from this condition need regular heart monitoring.
1 Postpartum Thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis is an uncommon condition in which a previously normal-functioning thyroid gland becomes inflamed within the first year after birth. It could last anywhere from weeks to months. Initially it produces hyperthyroidism symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, fatigue and insomnia, which are often mistaken for stress, making it harder to recognize.
As a standard, normal thyroid function is restored within 12-18 months after the symptoms start to appear.
Gradually, hypothyroidism may develop, in which the thyroid gland is not functioning normally. It is manifested as fatigue, dry skin, constipation and lack of concentration. In most cases, women experience hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, but not both.
It's believed that women who already had an underlying autoimmune thyroid condition develop postpartum thyroiditis due to fluctuations in immune function during pregnancy. Family history also affects a woman’s chances of developing this condition.