Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice, and is to be treated as general information. Individual circumstances may vary and always seek medical advice from a qualified professional and act accordingly. If you are having a medical emergency, contact 000.
Apart from maybe their wedding day, becoming a mother is arguably the most wonderful experience of a woman’s life.
Being a mother is a joyous experience that brings unconditional love, an unbreakable bond, and a sense of purpose. It is also a journey of growth, self-discovery, and endless opportunities to teach and learn. Best of all, you get to watch your child grow, learn, thrive, and turn into a person you can be very proud of.
Yep. The joys of being a mother really are boundless!
However, being a mother is also a huge responsibility. One that includes providing for your child’s physical and emotional needs, ensuring their safety and well-being, guiding them through life’s challenges, and nurturing their growth and development.
Motherhood is effectively a 24/7 job that you do for the rest of your life. It requires patience, dedication, and endless reserves of strength.
But, with all the responsibilities and tasks that come with motherhood, it can be easy to neglect one’s own health.
With this in mind, here are five conditions that mums need to keep an eye on to make sure they are fit and well.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common mental health condition that affects many women in Australia after giving birth.
According to some studies, up to 1 in 7 women experience PPD , with symptoms usually starting within the first four weeks after giving birth.
PPD is different from the ‘baby blues’, which are short-term mood swings that many women experience after childbirth. Symptoms of PPD include feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and a loss of interest in activities.
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing PPD, including a history of depression or anxiety, a difficult pregnancy or birth, a lack of social support, and financial or relationship stressors.
Fortunately, PPD is treatable, with options including therapy and medication widely available thanks to government funding. If you think you (or your partner or friend) might be suffering from PPD, it is worth seeking help from a healthcare provider.
A supportive partner, family and friends, as well as self-care practices and joining a support group, can also be helpful.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and affects approximately 12-14% of expectant mothers in Australia. It happens when our bodies cannot produce the levels of insulin we need to regulate our blood sugar levels whilst pregnant.
The risk factors for GDM include being obese or overweight, aged 25 years or older, having a history of diabetes in your family, and having had GDM in a previous pregnancy. Symptoms can include increased thirst, frequent urination and fatigue.
If left untreated, GDM can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. Women with GDM are more likely to develop high blood pressure and preeclampsia and require a caesarean section. Additionally, babies born to mothers with GDM are at higher risk of being born prematurely, having low blood sugar levels, and developing obesity and diabetes later in life.
To manage GDM, women are often advised to make dietary changes, increase physical activity, and monitor their blood sugar levels. Some women may also require medication to regulate blood sugar levels. So, it is important to work closely with healthcare providers to manage GDM and ensure the health of both mother and baby.
After delivery, women with GDM should continue to monitor their blood sugar levels as they are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a common blood disorder that affects many women in Australia, especially during pregnancy. IDA occurs when our bodies are unable to create haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues due to having low iron levels.
Suffers of IDA often feel fatigued, weak, short of breath and have headaches, dizziness and paler skin. It can also affect cognitive function and lead to poor work or school performance.
Typically, women are at higher risk of developing IDA due to blood loss during menstruation and pregnancy. Other risk factors include a poor diet that is low in iron-rich foods, gastrointestinal disorders that affect the absorption of iron, and certain medications.
Treatment for IDA usually involves increasing iron intake through dietary changes and supplements. Eating iron-rich foods including red meat, poultry, fish, beans, and leafy green vegetables, as well as taking iron supplements may also be recommended. In more extreme cases, blood transfusions may be necessary too.
Postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and damage. It is a condition that affects some women in Australia in the first year after giving birth.
Those afflicted with this condition tend to experience fatigue, weight gain or loss, anxiety, depression, and hair loss. Occasionally, symptoms of hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) may be followed by hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).
Women with a history of thyroid disorders, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, are at higher risk of developing PPT. However, other risk factors, such as a family history of thyroid disorders, previous thyroid surgery or radiation, and certain medications, play a part.
It is strongly recommended to seek medical advice if symptoms of PPT are present, as untreated thyroid disorders can have long-term health consequences.
Diagnosis of PPT involves blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels and antibodies. Treatment for it may depend on the severity of symptoms but often may include medications to regulate thyroid hormone levels.
Typically, PPT resolves within 12 to 18 months of treatment. Although, in some cases, women may develop chronic hypothyroidism that requires ongoing treatment.
Protein deficiency is a condition that many Australian women suffer from after giving birth. It occurs when the body does not get enough protein from the diet.
Protein is an essential nutrient that is important for building and repairing tissues in the body. A protein deficiency can be caused by several factors including a diet that is low in protein, malabsorption disorders and chronic diseases.
New mothers may be particularly susceptible to it due to the demands of breastfeeding and the healing process after childbirth. Symptoms can include a weakening immune system, muscle weakness, fatigue and even hair loss.
To prevent protein deficiency, new mothers should aim to consume at least 75 grams of protein per day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
If a new mother is struggling to get enough protein from her diet, she may want to consider taking a protein supplement or a nutritional drink by Nutricia .
The list of medical conditions outlined above is not meant to scare you. Rather, it is a reminder to you of how important it is to look after your own health, as well as that of your children.
For this reason, early detection, prevention, and management of these conditions are crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. So, if you experience the symptoms of any of these conditions, you should make the time to seek proper medical advice.
If you are unable to get to the doctor during the day due to a lack of transport or having to look after multiple children, it might be worthwhile calling an after hours GP .
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