Sleep? Are You Kidding?
Ask any new mom how they are sleeping, and they will probably crack a wry smile or look at you like you are crazy.
“Sleep is always a challenge for new moms, and poor sleep can contribute to more aching in the joints,” Amin says. “We don’t recommend additional medications because we don’t want you to be groggy for those late-night or early-morning feeds,” she says.
So what is a new mom with RA to do? Drink lots of fluids and eat small, nutrient-dense meals, Husni suggests. “Dehydration can make you feel worse or more tired,” she says. “It is also very easy to want to skip meals, but make sure you eat smaller meals more frequently."
Lean on Me
New moms are at risk for baby blues or more serious postpartum depression after birth, and depression and RA tend to travel together. There are no studies on how common postpartum depression is in RA, but new moms with RA may be at greater risk. In addition to having a chronic illness -- a risk factor for depression -- new moms are often sleep-deprived and may feel stressed out, which can also raise the chance of becoming depressed.
“Those with RA may be more susceptible if they don’t take care of themselves,” Husni says. “Get help even just for a couple of hours so you can take a bath and relax. Lean on friends and family, or if you have the means, hire help,” she says.
Nelson agrees. “Take care of yourself first. Motherhood is physically draining with RA,” she says. She leaned on her husband when things got rough and her joints began to ache. “I am lucky that I have a supportive husband who has been there every step of the way.”