Osteoporosis During Pregnancy: All You Need To Know

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones in the body become weak and brittle. It leads to many problems and discomforts due to the toll it takes on the bones. It is a very common problem, faced by more than 10 million Indians every year. It is characterized by fragility of the bones resulting from decreased bone density and porousness of the bones. While it is more commonly seen in postmenopausal women, it has been seen that pregnant women also complain of this problem. This osteoporosis associated with pregnancy, however, is a rare condition. It is when women face weakness of the bones and possible bone breakage during pregnancy or soon after giving birth.

Pregnancy Associated Osteoporosis

It is a rare condition that occurs in the first pregnancy and generally does not occur again. It generally occurs in the third or final trimester, or in the first few weeks after giving birth. Women who have faced this problem of pregnancy-associated osteoporosis have complained about breaking bones or getting fractures.

Why Does It Happen?

This problem is still a bit of a mystery with regard to the question of susceptibility. Therefore, the reasons behind why some women suffer from it while others don’t are still unclear. The causes of this problem, however, can be understood by achieving an understanding of bone health during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the demands that a mother’s body has to fulfil are tremendous. While the baby is still in the womb, it receives all its nutrition from its mother’s body. Even in the weeks or months following birth, the newborn baby or infant is still dependent on his/her mother’s nursing. This means that the baby is dependent on the milk produced by the mother’s body.

The nutrients that the fetus absorbs from the mother include all the nutrients that are necessary and available for healthy development to be able to occur. This includes proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium. This need for calcium especially increases in the last trimester which is when most of the development of the skeleton happens. This means that the fetus will absorb the most amount of calcium from the mother in the last 3 months of pregnancy. After birth, the newborn infant depends on the mother’s breast milk to be able to obtain this calcium.

Keeping this in mind, it is not hard to imagine that a mother with low levels of calcium will face bone problems during pregnancy when there is an excess demand for calcium. With the fetus absorbing the calcium, there may not be sufficient amounts of calcium left to sustain the optimum bone health of the mum. This calcium deficiency is what could potentially cause osteoporosis as there isn’t enough calcium to maintain bone mass or bone density.

This problem, however, is quite a rare condition. While there is an excess loss of calcium for the mother, there is an increase of estrogen during pregnancy. Higher levels of estrogen correspond to increased bone health. Additionally, the loss of bone mass during pregnancy is temporary with bone density going to back to normal a few weeks after giving birth. While many women may face this loss of bone mass, very few have actually complained of fractures or other bone-related accidents.

You can never be too careful with these kinds of things, though! So the best thing to do if you’re pregnant and if you fear being in this kind of situation is to ensure that your calcium intake matches your body’s and your baby’s needs. This means eating foods rich in calcium during the last few months of your pregnancy and the first few months of motherhood. It can help keep your bones healthy while simultaneously ensuring that your baby receives all the calcium she/he needs. These foods include yoghurt, broccoli, cheese, and most importantly, milk. So drink up! 

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