Welcoming our new born baby was such an exhilarating moment. I will never forget the very first time I held my son close to my chest, to finally get to see and hug him. I was excited to experience this journey into motherhood, to face it head on, challenges and all. I knew that motherhood was hard, but I didn’t know that having to manage psoriasis after giving birth would make it so much harder.
It’s been two and a half years since I gave birth to my beautiful boy and it’s been two and a half years of battling with intense psoriasis flares. Before giving birth, my psoriasis was very manageable and I did not have to worry much about wearing tees and shorts. However, since becoming a mom, I totally had to rediscover how my body works and how my skin copes with this new chapter of my life. In this blog, I wanted to share with you my experiences and journey in the past two and a half years when I first became a new mom.
Psoriasis Flare After Giving Birth
Chest became covered with psoriasis
A few weeks into my breastfeeding journey, my chest became covered in psoriasis. Breastfeeding became really painful and uncomfortable and I had to constantly apply steroid ointments to heal. It became challenging for my skin to recover as I had to either constantly feed my son or pump milk.
Scalp psoriasis became worse
Due to the busyness of motherhood, my scalp psoriasis became worse. It became much drier and flakier. I didn’t even have the time to put on my scalp ointment prescribed by my doctor as it was time consuming and I would rather sleep whenever I get the time.
Psoriasis spread like wildfire all over my body
Soon enough, psoriasis spread all over my body - arms, legs, back and torso. The only place it didn’t spread to was my face. I had red, itchy, inflamed spots all over and putting ointment on just didn’t make sense anymore.
Psoriasis Management After Giving Birth
Swapping nightly feeds with formula
This was one of the things my doctor advised as the lack of sleep was really aggravating my skin. I initially wanted to exclusively breastfeed my son but as my body couldn’t cope, I had to give myself some rest and allow my husband to help me with the feed.
I only relied on topical ointments prior to giving birth. However, when I became covered with psoriasis from head to toe, topical ointments were not working any longer. It became impossible to manage using ointments alone. My doctor then prescribed that I take oral medication for a couple of weeks to give my body some relief. It did alleviate the flare but only during the time that I was taking the medicine. As soon as I stopped, the flares came back. It seemed like a never-ending cycle. I eventually stopped taking oral medication as I couldn’t take it during prolonged periods of time. I also stopped breastfeeding at this point as the medication affects milk production.
As my son grew, he was able to sleep throughout the night. I would sleep whenever my baby sleeps. This helped me gain back my strength and also bring back emotional and mental stability. It helped my skin recover better as I was able to use ointments regularly, applying it before going to bed.
UV Light Therapy
I saw a dermatologist who prescribed for me to undergo UV Light Therapy for as long as I needed it. It did help my skin to heal but I did notice that I would get sunburnt and would then result in red itchy skin. This would then result in new spots coming out even if the old ones were already healed. It did help to calm down the intense flares. I eventually stopped as I felt that topical ointments would suffice to manage my flares.
Changing the way I deal with stress
I used to be a very anxious person. I would worry a lot about so many different things. I would worry about what other people think of me, especially when they see flakes on my scalp and hair that I could no longer hide as my psoriasis was in full flare. Stressing about so many things and allowing it to affect my emotional and mental state further aggravated my flares. I eventually realised that I had to stop putting so much stress in my mind and body. It was easier said than done but I had to fight for my health so that I can be the mom and wife that my family needs. I had to change my mindset and rewire my thought processes so that I can react differently when stress comes. Doing this allowed me to heal faster and recover from my flares.
Change in diet
I had to do an audit on the things that I’ve been eating and reduce the food that was causing inflammation. I reduced eating red meat and processed food and ate more vegetables, chicken and fish. I learned how to find healthier alternatives to the food I used to love but are not good for my skin.
Sticking to a skincare routine
I found a routine that works and products that heals and hydrates my scalp and skin. It was not an easy journey, but instead a journey filled with trials and errors. I am still on the journey to find the best skincare routine and products for me but I have discovered a lot of good things for my skin along the way.
As a new mom, dealing with a newborn can already be overwhelming. But dealing with it along with psoriasis flares can feel like an impossible battle to conquer. However, I want to let you know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is hope. It took me two years before I could say that I have it under control. I still have areas where inflammation comes and goes but I feel so much better than two years ago. And that is good progress.
And so dear new mom, speak to your doctors and dermatologists and don’t be afraid to try new things. Your body is on a whole new level of emotions, hormones, and changes. Finding what works for your skin is a journey so give yourself grace and allow yourself to recover. You’ve done an amazing job bringing such a beautiful human being into this world. You are amazing.