Women Should Watch Out For These Problems After Pregnancy

Don’t Ignore Swollen Hands and Feet—Your Heart Will Thank You The body goes through tremendous stress during pregnancy and childbirth that can affect all organs. Strain… Aisha Abdullah - January 28, 2023
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Don’t Ignore Swollen Hands and Feet—Your Heart Will Thank You

The body goes through tremendous stress during pregnancy and childbirth that can affect all organs. Strain on the heart can cause an extremely rare kind of heart failure called postpartum cardiomyopathy. The condition occurs when muscles in the heart are weakened, and the heart’s chambers are enlarged in the weeks and months following childbirth. This makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood and deliver oxygen to the body’s organs. The cause of postpartum cardiomyopathy is more common in new mothers who are over age 30, have a history of heart issues or high blood pressure, are of African descent, or have multiples. Symptoms are similar to other types of heart failure and include shortness of breath when resting, swollen limbs, elevated heartbeat, fatigue, and swollen veins on the neck. Good nutrition during and after pregnancy, regular exercise, and avoiding alcoholic drinks and smoking may help reduce the risk of postpartum cardiomyopathy.

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Sudden Weight Changes Could Be a Sign of Thyroid Problems

If you notice a sudden, unexplained change in your weight after pregnancy, postpartum thyroiditis, or swelling of the thyroid gland. The first phase of this condition, hyperthyroidism, usually occurs within one to six months of delivery. Hyperthyroidism is the production of too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms are often not noticeable but may include unexplained weight loss, increased heart rate, hair loss, and anxiety. The second, more severe phase is hypothyroidism, which usually occurs four to eight months after delivery. Hypothyroidism means the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. Signs of this phase are unexplained weight gain, fatigue, body aches, constipation, and depression. Hypothyroidism can usually be treated successfully with hormone replacement therapy.

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You May Struggle To Regain Your Sex Drive After Delivery

After childbirth, many women feel far too exhausted and overwhelmed to even think about sex—for good reason. Most doctors recommend avoiding sex for four to eight weeks after giving birth while their bodies are still recovering. There is no concrete timeline for when your libido will return after delivery. Hormonal changes, fatigue, and sleep deprivation can dampen your desire for sex. That’s very normal, and some new moms may not recover their sex drive for many months or even longer if breastfeeding. However, your sex drive should return eventually. If you are concerned about a lack of sex drive or low libido combined with depression or pain during sex, consider speaking to your doctor. These could be symptoms of other health issues that need to be treated.

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Epidurals Are Great for Pain but Can Cause Debilitating Headaches

An epidural is an injection in the space around the spinal cord that prevents you from feeling pain below your waist. The procedure is a common, effective way to handle pain during childbirth. But, like all medical procedures, it is not without risks. One side effect of epidurals is a severe headache lasting up to a week. These epidural headaches occur when the epidural needle is injected too far, causing leakage of spinal fluid. Epidural headaches, also called post-dural-puncture headaches, are usually treated with over-the-counter pain medicine and rest. Symptoms usually resolve within a week or two. Talk to a doctor if the headache persists beyond that point or worsens.

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Retained Placenta Can Cause Bleeding, Cramps, and Fever

After a baby is delivered, the placenta is expelled from the body, usually within minutes of birth. Sometimes, part of the placenta remains behind, putting the new mother at risk for postpartum hemorrhage (heavy bleeding after childbirth). A retained placenta is usually spotted by the doctor delivering the baby. Still, it can be missed, especially if the placenta is not delivered intact. Signs of a retained placenta appear within one to ten days after birth. They include fever, heavy vaginal bleeding, clots in the blood, and stomach cramps. If the retained placenta is discovered after delivery, it will need to be removed surgically.

Source: CDC

The Bacteria That Causes Strep Can Make You Sick After Childbirth

Group A streptococcus, or strep A, is a common bacteria that causes a host of infections, including strep throat. These bacteria live in the throat, nose, and skin and spread easily. Common procedures during pregnancy and delivery can make you vulnerable to a strep A infection, including vaginal exams with forceps, catheter insertion, and stitches to repair tears. In addition, Strep A can be spread from mother to baby, making it especially important to prevent the infections from happening in the first place and treat those that do arise early. Signs of a strep A infection include fever, chills, pain, fatigue, and feeling dehydrated. Strep A infection can develop into a more serious infection or sepsis if left untreated. Thoroughly and regularly washing hands with soap and water can reduce the spread of Strep A bacteria.

Source: Vecteezy

Vaginal Odor and Discharge Could Be Bacterial Vaginosis

A host of bacteria live in and around the vagina. If something happens to disrupt this bacterial population, it can lead to bacterial vaginosis, which is the overgrowth of certain “bad” bacteria in the vagina. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after delivery can increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms of the condition include abnormally colored and foul-smelling vaginal discharge, vaginal soreness or itching, and a burning sensation when peeing. Untreated bacterial vaginosis can cause uterine or bladder infections if the bacteria in the vagina travel to the uterus or urinary tract. Talk to your doctor right away if you think you might have bacterial vaginosis. The condition can be treated with a course of antibiotics.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

Fever and Other Postpartum Warning Signs

3 Conditions to Watch for After childbirth

Common Postpartum Complications, Plus When to See a Doctor

Postpartum complications: What you need to know

Warning signs of health problems after birth