Mother’s Day 2022: Embracing motherhood comes with its own set of challenges. A new mother is not just entrusted with responsibility of a new life but also finds herself at risk of a host of physical and mental health issues that can make her journey even tougher. Sleepless night and postpartum depression can also take a huge toll on a mother’s well-being, while some physical health issues can crop up during the process of delivery. Hormonal changes leading to hair loss can be especially devastating, further damaging the confidence of new mothers. (Also read: Mother’s Day 2022: 7 special and meaningful activities to treat your mom with the best Mother’s Day surprise)
On the occasion of International Mother’s Day which is being observed on May 8 this year, we spoke to experts about common health issues that may affect new mothers.
Baby blues or postpartum depression is a clinical condition that can affect new mothers and can cause symptoms like anger, hopelessness, numbness and guilt.
“Although about 10% of women develop symptoms of postpartum depression, there’s a misperception that it becomes evident only after childbirth. Nope, not really. Expectant mothers can face symptoms of depression while they’re still pregnant, although they become more pronounced after childbirth. New mothers need to remember postpartum depression is a conquerable condition. When you rise above it, you’ll discover the joy in little things, says Dr Pratibha Singhal, Director and Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida.
Dr Sushruta Mokadam, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune says mastitis happens when breast become hard, swollen, and painful due to the accumulation of breast milk in the milk ducts.
“Sometimes there can be infection leading to a breast abscess. It will require the doctor’s attention and lactation training to handle the ever growing needs of the baby vis-a-vis the discomfort of the mother. It usually responds well to antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs,” says the expert.
Infection or sepsis of the urinary and uterine tract
Dr Mokadam says it can occur post delivery inspite of precautions. “It may present as pain at the stitches, fever, discharge and burning while urination. Prompt treatment will usually alleviate these symptoms and get her back on her feet,” the expert says.
Haemorrhage or increased bleeding
Experts say this may result from inadequate uterine involution or shrinkage after the baby is delivered.
“Usually this happens gradually over 45 days and some irregular bleeding is expected. The first few menstrual cycles can be heavy due to anovulatory cycles while breast feeding. It’s not a matter of alarm and can be tackled with a good diet, iron supplements and effective contraception which is often overlooked,” according to Dr Mokadam.
Pelvic floor dysfunction
Carrying a baby and then pushing it out can bring a lot of changes in the pelvic floor. There can be incontinence, pelvic pain, and even pain during sex. Dr Mokadam says Kegel’s exercises are a must as part of postpartum tissue toning and prevention of urogenital laxity and prolapse.
Haemorrhoids or piles
Another common offshoot of the increased pressure on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, it is vital that the mother eat a healthy nutritive, fibre rich diet and avoid exacerbation of symptoms after delivery, says Dr Mokadam.
Postpartum hair loss
A majority of new moms will notice thinning of hair. This postpartum hair loss is caused by increased shedding. It can continue for a few months or a year. So, don’t panic, keep taking your vitamins, and follow your doctor’s advice, says the expert.
This is a common postpartum issue. Body changes, fatigue, and fear of pregnancy can affect the libido too. High levels of prolactin, the milk hormone also brings down the sexual desire while breastfeeding.
The inflammation of the thyroid gland can happen after one delivers the baby. “It is seen in 2 phases. During thyrotoxic phase, symptoms that one exhibits are anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weight loss, and irritability. During the hypothyroid phase, there can be red flags like fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and depression. These are to be diagnosed early through blood tests and medication,” says Dr Mokadam.
One of the most common outcome of becoming a new mother is the change in her skeep-awake cycle to coincide with that of her baby. While her motherly instincts override her own comforts and desire for a good rest, it’s upto the family to support her through this phase, both physically and emotionally, concludes Dr Mokadam.