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PMS: How It Changes After Childbirth

Having a baby changes everything. And for some moms, this includes PMS symptoms, which can get worse postpartum. The cause? PMS is triggered when neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) respond abnormally to hormonal fluctuations. The fatigue and tension that come with new motherhood can alter the way these neurotransmitters behave, sending headaches or mood swings into high gear. If your symptoms are on the rise:

Keep a health diary. Logging how you feel the week before your period can help you and your doctor better understand how your cycle works.

Eat right. Skipping meals causes your blood sugar to drop, which can trigger the release of stress hormones that exacerbate PMS, according to Geoffrey Redmond, M.D., author of It's Your Hormones. So eat regularly -- and talk to your doctor about how you can get more calcium and magnesium, which experts think may help alleviate PMS.

Exercise. Physical activity (even a few trips up and down the stairs) releases endorphins in your brain, which can reduce PMS symptoms.

Take a break. Because the demands and stress of caring for a baby can worsen PMS, get a babysitter from time to time or ask a relative to help occasionally. And don't feel guilty about it.

Get an Rx. Discuss medication options with your doctor. For instance, hormonal birth control, such as the Pill, helps some women manage PMS symptoms by lessening or stopping monthly hormonal fluctuations. And antidepressants -- used before your period or throughout your cycle -- can regulate neurotransmitters and get your body back into balance.

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