Going through a pregnancy is a stressful ordeal, one that only gets tougher after delivery. Giving birth to a child and then caring for said newborn puts a lot of pressure on your body. Therefore, it is common to experience certain irritating post-pregnancy reactions. If you have found yourself complaining about red, itchy skin in the days after your delivery, you may be experiencing one of these reactions.
Hives after pregnancy may seem like a cherry on top of an already existing list of things to worry about. But with sufficient care and attention, you can manage them as well as you managed those nine months carrying a child.
What are postpartum hives?
Postpartum hives are hives after pregnancy. These are usually in the form of a bumpy rash that spreads over your arms, chest, neck, face, legs, shoulders, etc. Hives usually result from being exposed to allergens, which stimulate the release of histamine in your bloodstream, causing a possible reaction in the form of itchy, scaly skin. But hives after pregnancy may also be a result of stress.
Hives are an indicator of disturbance in your immune system. They are experienced by at least 20% of females after having their deliveries.
Symptoms of post-pregnancy hives
So, do you have hives after pregnancy or is it something else? There are several signs of postpartum hives that you can be on the lookout for:
- Bumps on your skin which are usually red, pinkish or skin-coloured.
- A rash over the skin of body parts such as your face, arms, legs etc is one of the most common symptoms of post-pregnancy hives.
- Certain patches of your skin gain a rough texture similar to the condition of eczema.
- A series of bumps on your skin that turn white when you press of them.
- The appearance of raised welts.
- Presence of flat bumps on the skin that may run together.
- Patches of scaly skin that also itch.
You should be aware of these few obvious signs. Because while taking care of your body during pregnancy is important, continuing the same post-pregnancy is just as essential.
Causes of postpartum hives
While you may have previously experienced hives, there may be particular pregnancy-related causes that result in hives after pregnancy. Thus, to be able to prevent them, one must be aware of what things to avoid. Because hives may not be something too serious, but they are still another discomfort which you can try to rid yourself of with enough awareness and preparation.
Here are some of the common causes of postpartum hives:
This is the number one reason why you may be experiencing hives after pregnancy. If you only suffered from mild allergies or no allergies in the past, going through pregnancy can change that. 33% of females come out of pregnancy with worsened allergic and asthmatic symptoms. This is because pregnancy puts a strain on your immune systems and knocks off your inner balance.
Allergies can be stimulated by pollen, dust, animal fur, certain medications like ibuprofen, etc. If you previously didn’t have any food allergies, the change in eating patterns during your pregnancy may alter that.
It is good to know about any possible allergies that you may already have, so you can avoid those things during and after your pregnancy.
2. Insect Bites and Stings
This is also a type of allergic reaction. The bites and stings of certain insects like bees can cause an allergic reaction in your body. While seldom severe, stings can have serious effects as well. Thus, in the days after your pregnancy, try to secure your home from insects, especially your room and the baby’s room.
It is easier to catch the flu or a cold while you are pregnant. Certain germs may enter your system when your body is vulnerable during pregnancy and then, cause distress in your immune system after the baby is out.
Another reason for experiencing hives after pregnancy can be genital infections contracted during giving birth. Infections such as bacterial infections, urinary tract infections, mononucleosis, etc can be a result of germs entering during delivery. This can cause a reaction on your skin.
4. Exposure to certain surroundings
Your body is extra-sensitive after pregnancy. Thus, being exposed to too much sunlight, or extreme heat or cold can set off a negative reaction. Something as simple as wearing clothes which are too tight can also result in hives.
5. Liver problems
Pregnancy disrupts certain body mechanisms from their normal behaviour. One such organ is your liver. The liver is responsible for removing toxins from your bloodstream. The changes during pregnancy may slow this process down and result in a buildup of unneeded substances. In rare cases, this is the cause of hives.
This can trigger an allergic reaction resulting in hives over the face, legs and stomach. It can be accompanied by fatigue, fever, bloating, and even high blood pressure in rare cases.
Caring for a baby right after going through pregnancy isn’t a piece of cake. The stress of being a new parent can cause depression lack of sleep, panic attacks, anxiousness, etc. Such mental burden can be reflected by your body as a physical reaction.
When to see a doctor about postpartum hives?
Usually, urgent medical treatment is not required for hives after pregnancy and they go away on their own. It normally takes a few hours or a few days for the allergen to leave your system. The maximum time taken for hives to heal is between six to eight weeks.
However, if you are not fully sure if what you are experiencing is hives, go to a doctor. If hives are accompanied by symptoms like difficulty in breathing, dizziness, fainting, anaphylaxis, swelling of face, tongue, throat, lips, etc. then go get it checked out immediately to find the triggering cause.
If hives don’t clear up soon or appear more than once, seek medical treatment to aid you through it.
Post-pregnancy hives treatment
Even if the hives are mild, having a post-pregnancy hives treatment plan can be a huge advantage. Preparing for situations like these ensures that you are not caught off-guard when they happen and instead, help you face them even stronger. Here are some suggestions you could consider adding to your post-pregnancy hives treatment plan:
- Medical creams such as steroid creams, anti-itch lotions, etc. to ease the reaction. However, it is necessary to ask your doctor about the safety of these creams while breastfeeding, to ensure proper care for both you and your child.
- Medications such as antihistamines, which are drugs used to treat allergies. Steroid medication can be used as well. Be sure to confirm with your doctor about the safety of the same.
- Taking allergy shots as well as keeping an EpiPen handy.
- Using medications directed towards an imbalance of the liver if the reaction is severe.
If you are hesitant about using external chemicals, there are always natural remedies available.
- Using natural creams like aloe-gel and shea butter to soothe itchy symptoms of post-pregnancy hives.
- Using wet, soaked wraps to ease the effects.
- Getting someone to help you with the baby, so you can manage your stress and get enough sleep.
- Having home visits with your therapist to discuss post-pregnancy feelings.
- Taking a relaxing bath with either cool to lukewarm water as per your preference.
- Wearing comfortable and loose clothing. Weight gain after pregnancy is normal and your old clothes may not fit as easily anymore. Wear clothes that are loose and easy to relax in.
- Keep track of your allergies and try to avoid any possible allergens which can disturb your body mechanisms.
- Treat yourself with care and patience as you figure out your way of being a parent. Don’t neglect your needs.
Managing of your post-pregnancy needs
Hives after pregnancy or any other issue, it is most important to not blame yourself for it. These things happen. There isn’t any way in which you could have been ‘better’. Being a new parent is scary. It is normal to have a few stumbles along the way. Don’t expect to be ready for everything. As prepared as you may be, there are bound to be situations that occur suddenly.
Being stressed and tired does not mean you hate your baby. Feelings of distress are natural when you are entering this uncharted area in your life. Irritation or annoyance does not diminish your love for your child.
There is no correct way of being a good parent. It always takes time to find out your path. Remember that you are learning, too.
Once upon a time, you didn’t feel ready to go through a pregnancy. Yet, you lived through nine of months of excitement, pain and restlessness. And here you are, facing another thing which you will never feel quite prepared for. But you have lived through these doubts once before and you will live through them again.
After all, you have the rest of your life to figure it out.