Some of the most common problems explained with help from The Private Clinic of Harley Street
Becoming a new mother is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life but there is no denying that pregnancy and child birth can have some less than desirable side effects on woman’s body.
Many women will often choose to suffer in silence because they feel embarrassed about talking about their symptoms. However, there is no reason for women to feel like this; these conditions are common and many of them can be easily treated.
B asked the experts at The Private Clinic of Harley Street – one of the country’s leading cosmetic surgery groups – to share their expertise on some of the most common post-pregnancy health complaints.
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins which have become widened, lumpy and twisted. They are usually blue or dark purple in colour and typically occur under the skin of the legs. They form because the valves in the legs stop working properly and as a result, when we stand up, the blood in our legs will fall down the veins, rather than flowing upwards towards the heart.
Mr Dynesh Rittoo, Vascular Surgeon, says:“When you are pregnant, you are at a much higher risk of developing varicose veins as the weight of the growing baby puts added pressure on the veins in your pelvis. This makes it harder for the blood to flow and therefore increases the likelihood of the veins developing.
“As well as this, during pregnancy, there is more blood circulating around the body to help with the development of the baby, also increasing pressure on the veins.
“Although there is little evidence to suggest you can prevent the formation of varicose veins, there are some simple steps you can take to help ease the symptoms of existing varicose veins, including avoiding standing or sitting still for long periods of time. You can also wear support stockings, take breaks throughout the day, raise your legs on pillows to ease any pain or discomfort and take regular exercise. This will help by improving circulation and causing the blood to flow smoothly.”
Haemorrhoids are dilated blood vessels in and around the lower rectum and anus and they are caused by increased pressure on the pelvis. Haemorrhoids are an incredibly common condition that effects many pregnant women, or women after childbirth.
Mr Nick West, Consultant General Surgeon, says: “When you are pregnant, haemorrhoids are more likely to form as the veins below your uterus become swollen and stretched and the weight of your growing baby increases pressure on these veins.Constipation is also a key factor in the development of these haemorrhoids, as the straining that comes with this can aggravate, or even cause, haemorrhoids.
“They can settle down a bit after childbirth, as the pressure on the pelvis is relieved. If your haemorrhoids do persist after childbirth, then you can manage the condition by taking steps such as staying hydrated and drinking lots of water, increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, using baby wipes or moist toilet paper rather than dry paper and using over-the-counter topical treatments and pain killers.
“If your haemorrhoids persist for more than a couple of months after childbirth, it is probably time to consult a specialist.”
A bunion, medically known as a Hallax Velgus, is a deformity on the foot around the big toe. They form when the big toe leans towards the second toe rather than pointing straight ahead and this throws the bones out of alignment producing the bump.
Dr Andrea Bianchi, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, says: “Genetics play a major part in the formation of bunions; this means that if your mother or grandmother suffered from them, then it is likely that you will also develop them. During pregnancy the weight of the unborn child means that women tend to put more weight on the front of the foot to give them greater stability. This can cause the front of the foot to collapse, increasing the risk of painful bunions forming. Wearing appropriate orthopaedic insoles when pregnant can reduce the risk of bunions forming.
“Unfortunately, once bunions form, they will not go away without undergoing surgery. They can cause chronic pain, swelling and redness over the big toe joint, particularly after wearing tight-fitting shoes or shoes that don’t fit you properly. The symptoms of bunions can be eased by wearing wide shoes with a low heel and soft sole, bunion pads to reduce rubbing and taking regular painkillers to ease the discomfort.”
It is common knowledge that pregnancy and child birth can affect a women’s body in a variety of different ways but perhaps one of the most surprising changes is in the thickness of hair.
Jane Mayhead, Senior Trichology Consultant, says: “During pregnancy, many women will find that their hair will grow quicker and become much thicker than before pregnancy. This is because during pregnancy, women will experience a surge of hormones, particularly oestrogen, and it is when these levels rise that women will experience an increase in hair growth and less hair fall.
“The oestrogen hormone causes the growth cycle of the hair to increase and often delays the transition to shed. This means that the hair is less frequently renewed and replaced at the site of the follicle. As a result, pregnant women will find that they will not only have more hair but it will be thicker and shinier hair.
“Therefore, when the hormone levels decrease after child birth, the growth and thickness of the hair will also decrease. This hair loss is more common than people think and I frequently see patients who are concerned about post-pregnancy hair loss and thinning.
“Maintaining a balanced diet can help boost the strength of hair. Keratin is the fibrous protein in hair and nails which is the main structural element. Therefore a diet consisting of protein-rich foods will naturally boost the keratin and consequently, the strength of your hair.”
Acne is a very common skin condition that tends to form on the face0 and is one that can be particularly problematic for pregnant women and new Mummies. The condition it characterised by painful spots, oily skin and redness.
Dr Rishika Sinha, Consultant Dermatologist, says: “Many women suffer from acne during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Women will find that it often occurs during the six-week period when there is a surge in the hormone progesterone. This causes the glands to produce more sebum (oil secretion) and this can sometimes clog up pores and encourage bacteria, leading to inflammation and acne.
“The best option is to continue to thoroughly cleanse your face with a mild cleanser morning and night during your pregnancy, as well as washing hair, pillows and towels regularly. Some women will find that the acne will go away after giving birth, but if the acne persists after pregnancy, then I would suggest seeking advice from a dermatologist who can advise on the best course of treatment.”