Dr Norain Ishak, Primary Care Doctor

1 May, 2023

Post-Natal Health and Lifestyle: Bone calcium loss, hair loss, sleep loss and many other health issues

Motherhood is one of the sweetest phases of life. Being a mother is hugely rewarding but, at the same time, it takes a lot of energy, commitment and patience. Fact is, a mother going through the post-natal phase has to juggle time and energy between taking care of their baby and self care.

Dear all mothers out there, taking care of yourself is an essential part of being a responsible mother, too.

Post-Natal Health and Lifestyle: Breastfeeding and Bone Health

Breastfeeding helps to improve the physical and emotional bonding between the new mother and the baby. However, studies have shown that mothers often lose 3 to 5 percent of their bone mass during breastfeeding, which may be caused by the growing baby’s increased need for calcium, which is drawn from the mother’s bones. Mothers also may lose bone mass during breastfeeding because they are producing less estrogen, which is the hormone that protects bones. Thus, to help support a mother’s bone health during breastfeeding, it is important to include at least two to three serves of dairy products or equivalent high-calcium foods every day.

Good sources of calcium include:

Low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese
Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, collard greens
Canned sardines and salmon with bones
Tofu, almonds, and corn tortillas
Foods fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, cereals, and breads

Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing, is also important to make the bones stronger. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include walking, climbing stairs, and dancing.  

Post-Natal Health and Lifestyle: Postpartum Hair Loss

Postpartum hair loss is one of the common conditions among postnatal mothers that usually occurs three months after childbirth. Changes in the hormone estrogen during and after pregnancy cause postpartum hair loss. In the last trimester of pregnancy, estrogen levels increase, and this prevents the typical shedding of hair. After childbirth, the estrogen levels drop and cause a large number of hair to enter the resting phase of hair growth. Subsequently, after a few months, this hair starts to shed.

Although there is no specific treatment for postpartum hair loss, mothers can do a few steps to prevent further hair loss and damage such as choose a shampoo and conditioner that adds hair volume, be gentle when washing and combing the hair and try different hairstyle. For example, a shorter haircut is easier to take care of when handling a new baby.

Post-Natal Health and Lifestyle: Adequate Sleep for Mothers

On average, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, most mothers lose sleep after the new baby is born for several reasons. The experts advise new mothers to also pay attention to their own sleep needs, as sleep helps you form memories, repairs cells and tissue, ensures a good immune system and, most importantly, good sleep provides the mother with energy to enjoy the next day with the little one. Sleep deprivation can cause other issues such as irritability, anxiety and depression, and injuries or accidents.

Thus, it is crucial for mothers to practice good sleep hygiene that works best for both mother and baby. Mothers are recommended to take a nap when the baby naps – and put aside the house chores first or get help from other family members or a babysitter to look after the baby. It is also important to create a good sleeping environment which is cool, dark and quiet. Besides, parents can also start sleep training for the baby as early as six months old to help the child sleep better.