What Is Osteoporosis and Why All Moms Need to Know the Signs

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Pregnancy, child birth, and breastfeeding can take a lot out of you! Most of the changes your body will go through are temporary, and will subside during your postpartum recovery. However, some can last beyond pregnancy and breastfeeding, and have an adverse affect on your long-term health. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects about 54 million Americans. It’s most common in women over the age of 50, but pregnancy and breastfeeding can be a cause. It’s rare in pregnant or breastfeeding women, but it’s important for all moms to know the risks.

Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses too much bone, doesn’t make enough bone, or both. The result is incredibly weak bones that break very easily.

It can be caused by several factors, such as other medical conditions like lupus or types of cancer, some medications, and even drastic weight loss. During pregnancy, your body needs plenty of calcium in order for your growing baby’s bones to develop. If you aren’t getting enough calcium, your baby will draw what it needs from your bones. Sadly, lots of women in their childbearing years don’t get enough calcium, so pregnancy can have an affect on their bone health.

However, your body does a pretty decent job of protecting your bones while you’re pregnant.

Pregnant women absorb calcium better than non-pregnant women, and get it from food and supplements. Your body also produces estrogen during pregnancy, which is a hormone that actually protects your bones. If you do experience bone loss during pregnancy, it’s usually temporary, and will restore itself during your postpartum recovery or after you’ve stopped breastfeeding.

But some women do develop osteoporosis during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Although it is rare, we should all be aware of how to prevent it.

Because the first symptom of osteoporosis is often a broken bone, it’s nearly impossible to know if you’re suffering from poor bone health. But there some steps you can take to make your bone health a priority during pregnancy, breastfeeding, ans beyond. Most importantly, make sure you’re getting enough calcium. This can be in the form of a supplement, but your diet is also really important. Dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu and almonds, and foods fortified with calcium like orange juice and cereals are great sources.

Getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also super important. Bones need exercise to get and stay strong! Regular exercise (especially weight-bearing exercises) will help you build and maintain strong bones. As long as you’re cleared by your doctor, you can even continue an exercise routine throughout your entire pregnancy. In addition to a calcium-rich diet and plenty of exercise, avoid smoking and drinking in excess, both of which can negatively impact your bone health.

Osteoporosis is rare in pregnant and breastfeeding women, but it can happen. Make sure you’re prioritizing your bone health, so you can be strong for your little ones!

(Image: iStock / Minerva Studio)