Ailments Triggered by Pregnancy and Delivery

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland that arises within the first year after childbirth and affects approximately 7% of women. There are numerous symptoms that appear during both the hyperthyroid and hypothyroid phases of postpartum thyroiditis, including fatigue, goiter, mood swings, hair loss, depression, and substantially decreased milk volume in women nursing.

If you are dealing with the hyperthyroid phase of postpartum thyroiditis, you may experience weight loss, loose bowel movements, muscle weakness, irritability, heart palpitations, and anxiety. If you are dealing with the hypothyroid phase of postpartum thyroiditis, you may experience excessively dry and scaly skin, constipation, constantly feeling cold, puffy face, retaining water, and weight gain.

Anemia

Anemia is caused by a considerable decrease in the number of red blood cells, bringing about an iron deficiency. Pregnancy predisposes you to becoming anemic because of the excessive amounts of blood lost during both vaginal and C-section deliveries. You are diagnosed with anemia when the amount of your red blood cells or the concentration of your hemoglobin is below normal. Hemoglobin is a protein found inside red blood cells that contains iron and transports oxygen throughout your body. 

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which your body is unable to process food effectively and convert it into energy. The food we consume is transformed into glucose for our bodies to efficiently utilize for energy. Our pancreas is primarily responsible for producing insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. If you are a diabetic, your body either cannot make sufficient insulin or is unable to utilize its insulin effectively, causing excessive amounts of sugar to build up in your blood. 

Women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more at risk for developing diabetes post childbirth. Approximately 7 percent of women in the U.S. are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. During pregnancy the placenta produces large amounts of hormones that cause insulin resistance. While a majority of women are capable of increasing their insulin production to compensate, those who are unable to increase their insulin secretion develop gestational diabetes. 

If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, it is essential to get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. Reaching your pre-pregnancy weight within 6 to 12 months post childbirth decreases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Being obese creates a greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes so it is important to lose your weight healthily and slowly and maintain it with a nutritious diet and lifestyle. Breastfeeding also helps lower your baby’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is always important to consume a well-balanced nutritious diet that includes ample steamed vegetables, fruits, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and other foods rich in fiber. Avoid excessive sugar, highly processed foods, and fried foods which are taxing on your digestive system and weaken your Spleen Qi.  Once you have completed your 30 days of rest, incorporate a healthy lifestyle where you are active for at least 30 minutes per day. 

Gallbladder Problems

Pregnancy and the postpartum recovery period may trigger gallbladder problems in women. The function of the gallbladder is to store bile that is produced by the Liver, and aids in the digestion of fat.  If bile contains excessive amounts cholesterol or there’s insufficient bile, or your gallbladder fails to empty on a consistent basis, your body can form painful gallstones. During pregnancy, your hormone levels are at its peak, which inhibits the gallbladder from contracting regularly, and slows the emptying process.

Approximately 12 percent of women develop gallstones while they are pregnant. Symptoms of gallbladder stones include constant severe pain in the upper abdomen that follows after a rich meal, pain in the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distension and bloating.

Women who are obese are more susceptible to developing gallstones. Excessive weight put on during pregnancy and kept on during the postpartum period also contributes to the risk of gallbladder problems. Losing weight at a rapid pace is another risk factor for gallbladder woes. When your body burns fat too fast it can cause the Liver to secrete too much cholesterol into the bile, causing gallstones.

In order to reduce your risk of developing gallstones, you need to consume a high-fiber diet and nutrient dense diet. Fiber helps to reduce the absorption of deoxycholic acid and helps cholesterol dissolve more easily in the bile. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in fiber and beneficial for your gallbladder’s health. It is also essential to lose weight at a healthy pace postpartum to avoid gallbladder problems.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression affects approximately 10 to 20 percent of women post-pregnancy and the onset is within 4 weeks after childbirth. It typically begins 2 weeks postpartum and may last up to several months to a year. There are many symptoms of postpartum depression that can be distinguished from baby blues that affects a vast majority of women dealing post-delivery.

  1. Feeling sad and depressed and crying constantly
  2. Social withdrawal
  3. Anxiety or panic attacks
  4. A constant feeling of being overwhelmed
  5. Low self-esteem
  6. Lack of energy and motivation to do anything
  7. Not being able to sleep at night despite being tired
  8. No appetite
  9. Losing weight or gaining weight
  10. Feeling detached from baby
  11. No interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  12. Having difficulty focusing on tasks 
  13. Having difficulty making decisions
  14. Feeling worthless
  15.  Feeling restless or irritable
  16. Being afraid of hurting the baby or yourself
  17. Reduced libido 

If you are experiencing such symptoms of postpartum depression, it is crucial to contact your health provider as soon as possible. You need to receive proper treatment that is individualized, which may include alternative complementary therapies including acupuncture, acupressure, and herbs, Western medication, or psychotherapy.

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