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Why do my joints hurt so much? After-effects of birth

Posted on 01 August 2012 by Annerley

Since having my baby 2 months ago, my joints have become progressively stiff and painful.  During my pregnancy, it was only my knees which got a bit stiff towards the end. At my 6 week post natal check up, my doctor told me not to worry about it and it will pass.  But it’s gotten worse.  When I get up off the couch I’m literally hobbling like an old woman for a few steps before I can straighten up.  And it’s not just the weight bearing joints of back, hips and knees.  Even my fingers get stiff.  When I wake up in the morning, I have to bend and flex my hands a few times before I can use them.  Is this a normal after effect of pregnancy? I am breast-feeding and so am wondering if I’m missing something in my diet?  I eat pretty healthily – lots of fruit and veg, and at least 2 glasses of milk per day.

Hulda responds:

Unfortunately your symptoms are not an uncommon after-effect of birth and generally it resolves with no long term side-effects.  There are a number of theories on why this occurs; they include hormonal changes and dietary imbalances.  The hormonal theories identify that oestrogen is low in both postnatal mothers and menopausal women and both of these groups of women suffer from joint pain.  Women who are experiencing the effects of a dietary imbalance usually are low in (or lack) calcium, potassium and magnesium or a combination of these minerals. Some useful tips and advice is to increase or take supplements of the above minerals or/and high doses of fish oils; omega 3 fatty acids.  If your situation continues to deteriorate, you should ask your doctor to further investigate the symptoms.  Some will advise you to stop breastfeeding and for some mothers this may be of some value, However most feel there is little difference. None of these suggestions have been proven by evidence but many women have felt that they have made a positive impact on their quality of life.  It is important to try and maintain a low impact exercise, such as swimming or gentle yoga under supervision of an experienced yoga instructor.  You could also consider complementary therapies such as acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.


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