What Are The Reasons For Postpartum Headaches & How To Treat It
Postpartum headaches is a relatively rare condition. The exact causes of this problem lie in anxiety and stress of taking care of a newborn as well as the ensuing fatigue that it causes. However, this is not to simplify the problem because it can also be the result of a condition called Cerebral Vein Thrombosis or CVT. Postpartum headache treatment is usually based on what the underlying causes are: anxiety and stresses of raising a child are usually a matter of simply coping with the problem and finding ways around the child's regime while CVT has...
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...to be treated in a manner similar to DVT or deep vein thrombosis. Not many people are aware of the condition known as postpartum headaches, because fortunately, it is not very common in women.
This relatively rare condition can be seen in women who have just given birth. Postpartum headaches occur mainly due to the stress and anxiety that generally follow childbirth and delivery. It is only natural for women to get all worked up about how they are going to handle their new responsibilities in the role of a mother. Moreover, every time the newborn baby cries for an unknown reason or does anything that is unexpected, the levels of stress and anxiety in a woman tend to increase. In addition to that, in today's world of nuclear families, many women are expected to handle their babies, the house and at times their careers without any help or support. All the pressure that is put on a woman due to these factors could cause her to have some severe headaches, which can be described as postpartum headaches. Several health experts believe that women who experience severe headaches during the first trimester of the pregnancy also have a higher tendency to suffer from headaches postpartum. However, there is no adequate scientific evidence to back this claim up. Also see postpartum stress
Conditions During Postpartum Headaches
Postpartum headache that finds its etiology in CVT is a problematic condition. Just like DVT, here also clot formation is a result. Thrombosis is a condition in which blood clots form in the veins due to a mishap in coagulation factors. The body usually has a mechanism to deal with sudden clots using natural anticoagulants. If this is deficient, then a blood clot forms and if this clot breaks off, the condition is called an embolism and can be fatal. An embolism that passes into the lungs can be immediately fatal and is called a pulmonary embolism.
CVT will cause an increase in pressure to the brain and just one of the manifestations of this is a headache. Another cause of headaches postpartum has been found in a routine procedure that is performed in the delivery room. This is called the epidural. This is an injection to the lower back of an anesthetic to aid in the delivery process. What happens here is that sometimes the injection is not administered correctly and results in a dural puncture. A dural puncture affects the spine greatly and any small issue here can also result in headaches.
Postpartum Headache Causes
Health experts believe that postpartum headaches are not a very serious concern, as some of the major postpartum headaches causes include negative factors like stress, anxiety, lack of rest or sleep, depression and fatigue. However, not all instances of post partum headaches are caused by these factors. Other causes for a recurring headache postpartum may be a bit more severe. For example, a woman could also be suffering from a migraine problem, which crops up only after childbirth. These headaches can be described as postpartum migraines. Read about migraines during pregnancy
Postpartum headaches can also be seen as a result of taking an epidural during delivery. This is quite a serious problem, which occurs due to an epidural that has not been administered correctly. When this happens, there could be a leakage of spinal fluid, which leads to headaches that are quite severe. Postpartum headaches because of an epidural should never be left untreated.
There are two other conditions that can lead to severe postpartum headaches. These are known as Cerebral Vein Thrombosis or CVT postpartum headaches and Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT postpartum headaches. Thrombosis is a term that is used to describe a condition where a blood clot is formed within the veins, because of a mishap in coagulation functioning. The human body contains many natural anticoagulants, which deal with the clots that suddenly form in the blood. If there is a deficiency of these anticoagulants in the body, then it leads to the formation of blood clots. If any of these blood clots just break off, the results could be quite serious and even fatal. DVT postpartum headaches occur due to the formation of blood clots in the deeper venous system of the body.
Because women believe that postpartum headaches are usually harmless and are a natural occurrence after childbirth, they tend to let the condition go unchecked and untreated. However, it is absolutely essential for a woman to known what the exact cause of the problem is, as the treatment options used for each condition may be different. A doctor or a medical health care provider will need to know what the exact cause of the problem is, before prescribing the required postpartum headache treatment options.
Treatment for Postpartum Headaches
Treating CVT is a similar to any other thrombosis and requires a taking heparin or warfarin. Note that warfarin is not prescribed when you are breast feeding. Dealing with the fatigue and stress of managing a newborn child is sometimes quite an arduous task until the child starts to get into the normal circadian rhythms. The best way to cope is to mold your day around the child by sleeping when the child sleeps and being awake along with the child. Fatigue during pregnancy and stress is something that is also better dealt with when you have some company to help. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to deal with the problem of a recurring postpartum headache, in case the triggers are stress, anxiety and other such negative emotions. What generally makes postpartum headaches or migraines postpartum seem a lot worse is that fact that most women are supposed to avoid pain relievers in case they are breastfeeding. Conditions like migraines postpartum headaches, epidural postpartum headaches, CVT and DVT postpartum should never be treated at home. Nevertheless, there are several ways to cure postpartum headaches with the use of simple home remedies. Given below are some tips to alleviate this problem:
Heat therapy: Many women have stated that the application of heat directly to the back of the neck can help get rid of the headache almost immediately. A hot water bag or a heating pad can be used for this purpose. Relaxation techniques: Many new mothers believe that it is nearly impossible to get sufficient time to relax, after the birth of a baby. However, there are several techniques that can help women in getting rid of their stress and tension, without taking up too much of their time. Women who have recently had a baby can use techniques like massages, Yoga, meditation, aromatherapy and so on, to soothe their mind and to relieve their headaches.
Following a nutritious diet: A woman's body requires a lot of nutrients after going through childbirth, for faster recovery. A nutritious diet is even more important to women who are breastfeeding, as they need to pass on the essential nutrients to their babies. However, it is not uncommon for new mothers to skip meal, while looking after their babies. Women should make sure that they eat frequent meals throughout the day, which consist of healthy foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, calcium and other essential nutrients.
In most cases, postpartum headaches should last for no more than two or three weeks. Therefore, in case the headaches do not get better within that time frame, it is important to inform the doctor about it. While the remedies mentioned above are relatively safe for all women, it is best to check with a doctor before using any of them. In case the headaches are accompanied by other symptoms like high fever or dizziness, then the woman should get in touch with her doctor immediately. In fact, it is best to seek emergency care, in case of postpartum headaches and dizziness or a postpartum headache and fever. Doctors may also certain medicines that can be taken by women who are breastfeeding, to help alleviate postpartum headaches.