Pregnancy is often a challenging time - morning sickness, swollen ankles, heartburn and so much more! However, some women don't realize that the postpartum phase may also trigger unwanted symptoms.
Doctors don't always share information about what happens to a woman's body and mind after she gives birth. Usually, physicians (obgyns) are focused on helping women through pregnancy and childbirth.
Today, we want to share 15 postpartum symptoms that doctors keep on the DL. Our goal is to help you out by letting you know what you should watch out for after your newborn arrives.
Some women breeze through the postpartum period, except for exhaustion. Others find themselves burdened with a lot of health issues and/or emotional instability. We're all different and our postpartum experiences differ, too.
We hope that your postpartum experience is a pleasant one. However, we do think that you should be aware of these lesser-known postpartum symptoms.
If you're currently dealing with any of these symptoms, be sure to reach out for the care and support that you need and deserve, via your doctor and those closest to you.
You deserve the best medical care, as well as a shoulder to cry on.
15 Crazy Pink Eye
If you have bloodshot eyes right after labor, it may be because your pushing triggered the bursting of the capillaries in your baby blues, greens, browns or hazels! During the secondary stage of labor, pushing is required and it does have the capacity to burst blood vessels within the eyes. Blood builds up in the white section of each eye. Lots of things can strain the muscles in the eyes and burst the capillaries. Coughing and puking are other examples!
In general, it will take about two weeks for the problem to clear up. The best remedy is definitely time. It's not good to overuse Visine or other OTC remedies, as overdoing it on the Visine may dilate your pupils and also set the stage for "rebound redness'. Try not to worry about the burst blood vessels too much. If you're concerned that the redness isn't going away, talk to your doctor.
14 Postpartum Preeclampsia
This health condition is high blood pressure which is a recent development that is linked with having a baby. It may happen just days after labor or happen many weeks later. When you have this condition, your urine will have higher-than-average protein levels.
To protect yourself, you need to know the symptoms. Keep watch for severe headaches, problems with vision and light sensitivity, swollen arms, legs and face, a pain in your tummy that is close to your ribs, upset stomach, vomiting, rapid weight gain and less urination.
Your doctor will need to test you for this condition. If you have it, he or she may prescribe medication which lowers blood pressure. You may also need to take anti-seizure medicine. Both types of medications are considered to be safe for mothers who are nursing their babies.
This condition is rare. If you think you might have it, be sure to seek out medical advice right away.
I was lucky enough to avoid this postpartum symptom, although I did suffer from a couple of the others. Hemorrhoids definitely suck and they are pretty common after childbirth. They happen due to a very uncomfortable swelling of a vein within the rectum.
If you've had a vaginal delivery, you're at higher risk for postpartum hemorrhoids. The symptoms include bleeding after a "number two", discomfort, rectal itching and swelling around the anus. Ouch!
To relieve the annoying pain, consider applying good, old-fashioned Witch Hazel to the affected area. It helps to take down the swelling. Another home treatment strategy is Prep H, which is available over the counter.
Also, a lot of doctors recommend stool softeners to women who are dealing with hemorrhoids. These stool softeners usually work within a few days.
Drinking a lot of pure H20 and sitting on a cushion (and treating yourself to some relaxing sitz baths) may also help you to feel better.
12 Hair Loss
As if childbirth weren't bad enough, some of us have to endure hair loss after our bundles of joy arrive. Usually, women have better hair while they're pregnant and worse hair afterwards. This is because extra estrogen during pregnancy keeps hair in its growing cycle, which is also known as a "resting" cycle.
After childbirth, estrogen levels plummet and the hair that was "resting" during the growth cycle falls out. Usually, the hair loss crisis stops by half a year after labor. Some women experience hair loss for a full year afterwards.
Now, let's share some treatment tips from dermatologists. These tips are just for new moms. First, choose shampoos which are volumizing. Stay away from conditioning shampoos. Use conditioners which are made for fine hair and use them mostly on the ends.
Be gentle with your hair and remember, "This too shall pass"! We don't think Rogaine is a good option, so try to be patient and let things resolve. Women who breastfeed shouldn't use Rogaine.
11 Swelling And Hardening
All manner of breast hell may strike after you give birth. We mean swollen breasts, infected breasts and breasts with clogged ducts!
Typically, breast swelling hits a couple to five days after childbirth. Your boobs will get bigger and a bit firmer and they'll feel so tender to the touch, because they are beginning to produce milk. Doctors refer to this phenomenon as "postpartum breast engorgement".
Unfortunately, some mammaries swell up a lot and make it difficult for babies to get the milk that they need.
Mastitis (breast infection) is also a possibility. It's a breast tissue infection which usually happens while a woman is breastfeeding. It may be triggered when germs from your baby's mouth go into a milk duct in your boob, via a crack in your nipple.
If you feel a lump or spot within your breast which hurts when you touch it, a clogged duct may be to blame. You may also experience a "hot" sensation or find that one or both breasts are swollen. Sometimes, nursing takes away the hot and swollen sensations.
Usually, ducts get clogged because breasts aren't being emptied out enough. If you have a fever, as well as clogged duct symptoms, go and see your doctor.
10 V Bleeding
Post-childbirth, bleeding can be pretty heavy and intense. As the days pass, blood tends to lighten in color and there is less of it. Bleeding after labor may continue for up to six weeks. Good times!
Discharge after labor is called Lochia and it's composed of tissue which is sloughing off the inside of the uterus, germs and blood. It's possible to pass blood clots which are Lochia, particularly if you've been in a recumbent position for a while. Usually, these blood clots are nothing to worry about.
This bleeding and discharge is part of the reason why most women wait six weeks or so before resuming physical relations after childbirth.
Stay far away from Tampax during post-childbirth bleeding. Use pads. At first, you'll probably need to change them every four hours. If you soak through a pad completely in an hour, it's best to talk to your doctor. Some women experience bleeding which is abnormally heavy.
9 Kidney, Bladder Or Uterus Infections
Kidney infections are something that a lot of ladies have to deal with after labor. They are triggered by germs which move from the bladder to the kidneys after childbirth.
Additionally, bladder infections may develop once a baby is delivered. If there was a catheter placed within your bladder to stop pee buildup during childbirth, you're at higher risk.
The symptoms of these two infections are frequent peeing which may be painful. With some of these types of infections, women may have fevers, too. With a kidney infection, a woman may feel some discomfort in her lower back or her side, and generally feel unwell.
Infections of the uterus are caused by germs which trigger pain within the lower portion of the abdomen, as well as fever.
Antibiotics will be needed to cure any of these three postpartum infections. If you have symptoms, see your doctor right away. There is no need to suffer.
8 Too Worried About Baby's Health
It's very normal to care a lot about the health of your newborn. However, some new moms worry way too much about the health of their babies...and this may be a sign of postpartum depression.
If you're experiencing a lot of anxiety about your baby's health, even though the doctor says the newborn is doing fine, you will benefit from learning about postpartum depression.
Caring for a newborn may feel overwhelming. It's a tiring job! Also, post-childbirth drops in estrogen and progesterone levels frequently set the stage for postpartum depression.
Women who suffer from PPD (postpartum depression) are emotionally fragile. They may cry a lot, find it hard to bond with their babies, suffer from major mood swings and eat too much or too little. It's also common for women with PPD to withdraw from their loved ones and experience serious fatigue.
7 Pain Or Numbness Around C-Section
Unfortunately, pain after a C-section is pretty much par for the course. It's something that you may anticipate. However, some women don't realize that numbness around the C-section site is also a strong possibility. When a surgeon opens up your midsection, there is going to be a recovery period. There's no two ways about it.
Pain may be related to the incision itself. Numbness is usually linked with nerve damage. Sometimes, nerves are cut during a C-section and these nerves don't typically repair themselves afterward. Most women start to experience less numbness from three weeks to months after surgery, while a few never get rid of the numbness.
It's also possible to suffer from back pain and leg pain after a C-section. All of the C-section symptoms that we've talked about today are quite common. Most women ask for pain relief when discomfort isn't manageable any other way. Some women who deal with a lot of numbness need surgery to fix their problems.
6 Postpartum Anemia
We lose some blood when we give birth and afterwards. Sometimes, this blood loss leaves us with postpartum anemia. If you've been feeling extremely exhausted, you're producing less breast milk than you used to and you feel short of breath and weak sometimes, then you should ask your doctor to test you for this type of anemia.
You may have some symptoms we've listed here or all of them. Other symptoms to watch for include rapid heartbeat, loss of libido, paleness, confusion, mood swings and headaches.
No new mom deserves to feel as bad as postpartum anemia will make her feel. Luckily, it's possible to get relief. Your doctor will be able to decide if you should get iron (this corrects the deficiency that causes anemia) via IV or through an oral supplement. It's also good to eat foods which are rich in calcium, as they help iron to absorb...and work its calming, energy-giving magic!
5 Postpartum Anxiety
Did you know that anxiety is very common after childbirth and that's it's not always linked with postpartum depression? If you're overwhelmed and on edge after having a baby, you may suspect PPD. Sometimes, it's not PPD.
The best way to get help is to go visit your doctor.
Ten percent of new mothers are diagnosed with postpartum anxiety. Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include moodiness, restlessness, nausea, sleeplessness, dizziness and rapid heartbeat.
Your doc may decide that antidepressants are right for you. For example, Ativan or Xanax may be prescribed. Exercise, light therapy and healing, restorative Yoga may also work wonders. Any stress relief management that you can do will be helpful. Also, be sure to eat a healthy diet and get enough hydration.
The last thing that you should do is suffer in silence. One in ten women have the same problem and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
4 Leg Pain
This type of post-baby discomfort usually hits breastfeeding mothers. It's generally caused by improper nursing posture, and lack of sleep may make it worse. Most women who suffer from leg pain after childbirth experience annoying "pins and needles" sensations, or stronger pain which is spasmodic.
Some women only feel the pain while they nurse. Others notice it during attempts to sleep or during non-breastfeeding activities.
It's believed that gaining weight while pregnant sets the stage for leg pain after labor. Also, hormonal changes may play a role.
To treat this kind of pain try nursing in bed, on your side, and with your newborn's tummy against your own tummy. Put a compact cushion between your knees (your knees should be bent).
Some women choose glider chairs for nursing and they often help to alleviate leg pain, too.
If you get some "me time" consider going for a massage. If the pain gets really bad and you can't take off to a day spa because you're parenting, an over-the-counter pain reliever will be helpful.
3 Baby Blues
There are many ways to feel bummed out after you have a baby. There's postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and the baby blues.
Nick Lachey's beautiful wife, Vanessa, has admitted to suffering from the baby blues and she's certainly not alone. It's estimated that seventy percent of new moms get the baby blues.
In general, the baby blues don't hang around too long. Typically, it's a short-lived phase whereby a new mother gets weepy, feels sad and suffers from moodiness. All of these emotional issues are linked with the hormonal changes that happen after labor.
Society expects women to be bursting with joy after they give birth. The truth is that hormones plummet afterwards and this hormonal shift tends to cause emotional instability in seven women out of ten!
Unfortunately, some women feel uncomfortable reaching out for help, because they know that society wants to see them with big smiles on their faces.
If you think that you might have the baby blues, please understand that it's normal. Also, don't hesitate to share your problem with your doctor and the people who care about you.
Headaches are so annoying. Some headaches are enough to ruin an entire day. Migraines may ruin more than one day. If you're getting more headaches after you've given birth, you should know that headaches are a postpartum symptom, even if doctors don't talk about this particular postpartum symptom too much.
Generally, the headaches happen because hormone production has gone way down. It's a big change that takes its toll on the female body. Moreover, women who were administered anesthesia during labor may get headaches afterwards. Some get migraines due to the after-effects of anesthesia.
Tiredness and muscle tension may also trigger headaches.
OTC remedies are usually enough to stop the pain. However, a woman shouldn't rely on them too much, for too long, or she may get rebound headaches. Advil and Tylenol are considered to be safe for breastfeeding mothers. If you need stronger medication, talk to your doctor.
1 Clogged Pipes
Your baby is likely having NO trouble pooping, but you might be having a lot of trouble! Constipation is gross and no fun at all and it's something that lots of ladies have to contend with after they give birth.
Sometimes, postpartum pain relievers trigger constipation issues. Also, if you're still using prenatal vitamins after giving birth, they may be to blame. We don't think you should stop taking these vitamins if your doctor wants you to take them, but there are versions out there which are known to causes fewer incidences of annoying constipation. Ask your doctor for a new prenatal vitamin recommendation if your current brand is making it hard to poop.
Sometimes, the problem is psychological. You may be so worried about the pain that a "number two" will cause that you're subconsciously holding back. Your body is in a tender state "down there", so you may be terrified of the pain that pooping will bring!
Fiber is the answer. Use a supplement or drink mix or get it naturally through the foods that you eat.
Sources: Familydoctor.org, Mayoclinic.com, Parenting.com