A worried mother holds a baby carrier

Tips for First-Time Moms With RA

Although I experienced chronic pain with my son 4 years ago, at the time I had no diagnosis to explain my pain. In fact, my pain had no voice at all as it was something I quietly lived with. That made it hard to connect to other moms who also were dealing with chronic pain in the setting of parenthood.

One of my biggest regrets is missing out on the support, tips, and community I could have gained with a known rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis as a first-time mom.

6 tips for first-time moms with RA

I’m sure everyone’s tips to a first-time mom with RA would vary, but mine would go something like this. Try to take care of yourself, enjoy the sweet moments, and, most of all, this too shall pass.

Parenthood is hard on your joints

Parenthood is a surprisingly active role for many moms and dads. Lifting and carrying a baby, changing diapers and tiny clothes, and helping play with tiny toys over and over again can really put a strain on painful joints. There’s even a condition called "mommy thumb" that causes painful tendons in the hand from overuse.

Being on top of your symptoms is especially important during parenthood when a little one is relying on you for care.

Parenthood can exacerbate RA exhaustion

Parenthood is exhausting and, unfortunately, can make baseline fatigue even worse. It’s really hard to tell the root cause of fatigue in the setting of RA and parenthood: sleep deprivation or exacerbation of symptoms.

Having a good idea of your baseline prior to parenthood and tracking sleep and RA symptoms can help you sort it out.

Don’t forget to ask for help

It truly takes a village to raise a child, even more so when a parent has a chronic illness. The best tip I can give is to ask for and accept help when you need it.

Help can make all the difference in your personal health and happiness in the early months. Don’t be too proud to take care of yourself.

Carrying heavy things can be tough

Babies grow incredibly quickly and, before you know it, that extra weight can put a strain on your body. I try to practice good lifting and holding techniques as well as good postures from the beginning to limit aches and pains. However, it’s almost inevitable to feel the aftermath some days.

Postpartum hormones can cause pain

According to research as much as 40 to 60 percent of women with RA experience a flare of symptoms postpartum. It’s believed that the shift of postpartum hormones and breastfeeding could be a possible cause of postpartum flares.1-3

It’s important to be aware of this and also have good communication with your doctor to treat flares as soon as possible.

Try to be on top of medicationIn the thick of caring for a baby, it’s so easy to neglect your own care. Being sleep-deprived can also make you incredibly forgetful. Try to stay on top of your own health care including medications. Even simple reminders like phone alarms or daily pill organizers can be helpful.Do you have any tips for first-time moms with RA? What kinds of help did you find most helpful? Share with us below!

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