The word osteoporosis means porous bones. In this condition, bones become way too brittle and fragile, and a person becomes more susceptible to fractures and abnormalities due to the loss of bone density. Basically in this condition, you may find it difficult to walk and move. It is a very common condition globally. Although osteoporosis can strike anyone, it can also develop during pregnancy. Osteoporosis during pregnancy is a rare and usually temporary condition, but its impact can be serious.
Osteoporosis makes fractures more likely, especially in the hip, spine and wrist. In some cases, many women don’t even realise they have the problem until they’ve seriously broken their bones. If you have pregnancy-associated osteoporosis (PAO), you may experience symptoms such as back pain, loss of bone density, fractures during and after pregnancy, and hip pain.
Risk of osteoporosis during pregnancy
The exact cause of osteoporosis during pregnancy is unknown, but there are several factors that can be the reason behind it. These factors may include:
- Hormonal imbalance in a pregnant woman can lead to a temporary decrease in bone density.
- The developing fetus requires a significant amount of calcium for growth. So, if a pregnant mother does not consume enough calcium to meet the fetus’s demands, it can consume calcium from the mother’s bones, resulting in osteoporosis.
- Another reason is vitamin D deficiency which can impair calcium absorption.
- If you have a history of pre-existing osteoporosis, you may be at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis during pregnancy also.
- Other factors such as smoking, unhealthy item, and excessive consumption of alcohol can also result in bone health issues.
Does breastfeeding relate to a decrease in bone density?
Since estrogen levels are relatively lower during lactation, which inhibits calcium absorption, breastfeeding does, to some extent, contribute to temporary bone loss. Therefore, adding foods high in vitamin D and calcium to one’s diet is strongly recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers in order to maintain strong bones.
How can osteoporosis be prevented during pregnancy?
Osteoporosis can be prevented by maintaining a diet that provides the essential vitamins and nutrients needed to strengthen bone structure. A few dietary and lifestyle changes to avoid osteoporosis include:
1. Eat more protein: Protein is necessary for bone growth and repair. So, add protein-rich foods such as lentils, tofu, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy products to manage osteoporosis.
2. Adequate intake of calcium-rich foods: Calcium is crucial in building and maintaining strong, healthy bones; hence, dairy products, sardines, spinach, and almonds that have high calcium levels should be added to the diet.
3. Add more vitamin D: Regular vitamin D intake allows the body to absorb the calcium added to the diet. Adequate exposure to the sun along with adding food groups high in vitamin D like fish, liver, and eggs can help promote bone density.
4. Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and may contribute to bone health. Eat chia seeds, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed in your diet.
5. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption: Avoid or limit the daily consumption of alcohol and caffeine as they can interfere with other essential nutrient absorption.
6. Avoid smoking: Both smoking and alcohol consumption can negatively affect bone health. Make sure you are not under the influence of any of them.
7. Exercise regularly: Engaging in exercises that strengthen muscle and core strength like yoga, pilates or even swimming but under the supervision of a fitness expert and doctor.
Moreover, focus on a balanced diet that comprises fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Consulting a doctor is essential!
Osteoporosis can be prevented and managed by eating a balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy. However, it is crucial for pregnant women who have a history of osteoporosis or are exhibiting alarming signs to seek medical attention to completely treat the condition.