New mum, new problems

New mum, new problems
Photo:ST

Your body went through so many changes during pregnancy, but you seem to have a new set of problems now that you've given birth. Sasha Gonzales tells you how to get through nine of the most common ones.

THE PROBLEM

My hair is falling out

WHAT'S HAPPENING

During pregnancy, the reproductive hormones produced by your body extend the growth of your hair's life cycle. This results in less hair falling out while you're expecting your baby.

After childbirth, your reproductive hormone levels start to fall and many women think they're losing hair, when it's just the cycle returning to normal. This is a temporary phase, assures Dr Chang Tou Choong, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Dr T. C. Chang's Clinic, Thomson Medical Centre.

THE SOLUTION

Until your hair growth cycle returns to its pre-pregnancy state, keep your locks healthy with a mild organic shampoo or baby shampoo, advises Dr Chang.

 


 

THE PROBLEM

Those ugly stretch marks won't go away

WHAT'S HAPPENING

If you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy, carried a big baby, had increased amniotic fl uid levels, or carried multiple babies, you may have developed unsightly lines on your tummy and thighs.

THE SOLUTION

Unfortunately, there is no way to get rid of stretch marks for good, says Dr Chang. They should diminish on their own about 12 months after delivery. Depending on your skin colour, the lines may start out looking reddish-brown, before fading to a silvery colour. 


 

THE PROBLEM

My nipples are sore and cracked

WHAT'S HAPPENING

If your nipples hurt while you're breastfeeding, it's likely due to poor positioning or latch-on, says Cynthia Pang, assistant director of nursing and senior lactation consultant at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

THE SOLUTION

Your little one should take a big mouthful of your nipple and areola. If you feel any soreness, consult a lactation consultant to learn the correct technique. Meanwhile, soothe the pain with a nipple cream. Continue to nurse while the nipples heal.


 

THE PROBLEM

My left boob is as hard as a rock

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Suffering from blocked milk ducts or mastitis? These are common breast infections that affect a nursing mum. Blocked ducts may result when you don't drain your breast properly while breastfeeding, or if you wear tight or restrictive clothing. The blockage causes part of the breast to feel lumpy, hard and sore. Blocked ducts can develop into mastitis if not treated adequately. That's characterised by breast infl ammation or pain, and fever.

THE SOLUTION

Be sure to drain your milk supply by feeding or expressing regularly. It helps to massage the breast gently before every session. And keep nursing, as this helps to unclog the blockage and clear up the infection, Cynthia adds. You may also use painkillers or apply a cold compress to the affected area.


 

THE PROBLEM

I'm not sure if I love my baby

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Feeling moody, tearful and easily irritated in the first week after delivery? You could be hit by postnatal depression, says Dr Theresa Lee, senior consultant at the department of psychological medicine from KKH.

Other common signs include having a hard time connecting with your newborn, poor concentration or forgetfulness, and feeling lethargic. You may even have a hard time sleeping when Baby is asleep. Postnatal depression is thought to be associated with hormonal changes that occur during the fi rst week after delivery. Adjusting to your new role and coping with baby-care duties can also cause you to feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless.

THE SOLUTION

Share your feelings with your loved ones so you can come up with solutions together. Ask them to help care for Baby, as well. The problem can usually be resolved spontaneously, says Dr Lee. But see a doctor if the low mood persists and you're crying almost every day for more than a week. This is especially important if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.


 

THE PROBLEM

I'm leaking urine again

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Carrying your baby for nine months can weaken your pelvic fl oor - that is, the tissues and muscles that support your bladder, bowel and uterus. When your pelvic fl oor is weak, you may fi nd it hard to squeeze the sphincter muscle to stop your urine from fl owing out when you sneeze, cough, laugh or exercise.

THE SOLUTION

Kegel exercises - where you squeeze your sphincter muscle at the bottom of the bladder for a few seconds and then release it, as if you were trying to control your urine fl ow - are helpful, but you'll need to do them regularly for them to be effective.

Dr Yong Tze Tein, senior consultant from the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Singapore General Hospital, recommends 10 repetitions three times a day for four to six weeks.

Schedule a visit to the doctor if there is no improvement or if the problem affects you socially. Meanwhile, wear incontinence pads until you regain control of your bladder.


 

THE PROBLEM

Not tonight, Honey

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Pain in your pelvic area can put you off sex. Dr Yong says that the wound should heal one to two weeks after delivery. Having intercourse then shouldn't be a problem, as long as you're also emotionally ready. If you're breastfeeding, it can cause vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable.

A lack of time and energy, as well as the emotional distance between you and Hubby after the arrival of Baby, can make you lose interest in sex. You probably also feel conscious about your post-baby body because of weight gain, stretch marks and other issues.

THE SOLUTION

Get a lubricant to help with the dryness and make sex more enjoyable. Dr Yong reminds that it's important to set aside time to reconnect with your spouse and communicate your feelings.


 

THE PROBLEM

I still look pregnant

WHAT'S HAPPENING

First, the good news: you can expect to lose about half of your gestational weight gain around six weeks after delivery, says Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, head and senior consultant of the inpatient service division of obstetrics and gynaecology at KKH. The not-so-good news: it takes time to lose those last few kilos.

That's because you need to continue to eat well, says Prof Tan. Breastfeeding mums need their nutrients during this period, since these will also be going to their milk supply. In fact, your requirement for certain nutrients, such as protein and B vitamins, is higher during breastfeeding than pregnancy.

If you've had a caesarean operation, a balanced postnatal diet is important to help heal your wounds. And if you suffered from medical complications during your delivery, you shouldn't resume exercise too soon, either.

THE SOLUTION

Don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself to get your body back. Having a balanced diet not only supports your breastfed baby's growth and development, but it also protects your own nutrient stores. Check with your gynae during your postnatal check-up if you can begin your workout regime yet.


 

THE PROBLEM

My back's killing me!

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Back pain after delivery may be due to a number of reasons, including incorrect postures when sitting, standing while carrying your baby, changing diapers and breastfeeding, and joint laxity, says Cammy Tsai, senior physiotherapist with the department of rehabilitation from National University Hospital. Joint laxity can persist for up to three months postpartum.

THE SOLUTION

Watch your posture and do gentle back exercises, Cammy advises. Make sure you get enough rest in between workouts, and avoid lifting or doing anything too strenuous.

It also helps to see a physiotherapist who can assess your body movement and posture and come up with an appropriate treatment plan.

If you want to get rid of knots in your back at a spa, be careful that the therapist doesn't twist or manipulate your back or neck, as this may aggravate your condition.

Young Parents, published by SPH Magazines, is available in both digital and print formats. Log on to http://www.youngparents.com.sg/subscription to subscribe and for more parenting stories.

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