When It’s NOT Because You’re Postpartum
So I think we’re already established that I get a LOT of questions over at the Advice Smackdown — way more than ever possibly can get answered — and some of them can be kind of bizarre. These bizarre ones tend to fall into one of three categories:
1) Emails that describe a situation so convoluted that it requires multiple readings to figure out who is who (Person A and B and then Couple C and Person D, along with Person’s B’s friend M and D’s ex-girlfriend Susan) and after a few more multiple readings I’m still not sure I have a basic grasp on the facts or the problem but I am getting the sneaking suspicion that every person involved is either 16 years old or completely crazy.
3) Questions that, oh my God, should really, REALLY be addressed to your DOCTOR instead of some hyperactive Internet advice-y person.
And a huge subset of category three is from women blaming various health issues on being “postpartum” or on the fact that they gave birth…at some point in the past year. Or two. They just keep “waiting” for their overactive bladder or sex drive to snap back to normal, or for their sudden, frequent migraines to go away. Is it normal to develop so many new moles after giving birth? What about lumps in my boobs around my period? Will it get better once they stop breastfeeding, do I think?
I don’t mean to sound like I think these women are being silly or ignorant — after all, didn’t we all spend nine solid months of hearing that ANY AND ALL complaint was likely pregnancy related? What DIDN’T pregnancy cause, from constant nasal congestion to breast weirdness to strange-looking moles on our skin? And there’s no denying that giving birth and breastfeeding bring about another whole round of hormonal cuckooness, and DAMN, but these hormones. They’re responsible for everything! I’ll just wait for things to even out again, I guess.
And then we wait! Sometimes — JUST sometimes — ignoring things that, before pregnancy and childbirth, would have sent us hightailing it to the doctor a long time ago. And maybe still SHOULD. No, it’s not normal to still be peeing three times a night at 19 months postpartum, and probably has nothing to do with whether you had a vaginal or c-section birth. You just have an overactive bladder, and there’s stuff your doctor can give you to help with that. Your low sex drive MIGHT be hormonal, but if sex is really painful no matter what you try, you should talk to your GYN about that.
And speaking of your OB, if you’re like me, he or she has likely become your primary care physician since entering the ol’ childbearin’ years, but after the two- or six-week postpartum mark, it’s time to delegate the pap smears and cervical exams to them and get yourself back in the habit of…physicals. Blood tests for cholesterol instead of whether or not you have immunity to chicken pox for the sake of your fetus. Skin checks at the dermatologist. Instead of playing the endless Postpartum Symptom Blame Game, stop and think if there COULD be another cause. You’re taking your baby to the doctor all the time, right? How about squeezing in a well-mama visit in there too?