Random facts I didn’t learn in medical school

But am asked about, or complained to about, quite often. I’m not happy I had to learn some of this stuff on my own skin, but at least the knowledge comes in handy.

* When your milk first comes in, you may feel feverish and shaky, and break out in a cold sweat. It’s normal to feel this way on occasion even later on in your nursing career. If the feeling persists for more than, say, 15 minutes, you actually do have a fever, or have pain or redness in one or both of your breasts, get thee to your doctor. It may be mastitis. (Note: I’ve never personally had mastitis, thank God. But you need to be able to differentiate what’s normal from what’s not).

* It’s normal for a woman who’s given birth and nursed to be able to express a drop or two of milk, or find tiny milky deposits on her nipples and bra, for years after she weans. However, actually dribbling large amounts of milk, especially with menstrual disturbances, is not normal and should be checked out. (again – the last isn’t my personal experience, just a caveat).

* General anesthesia causes many people to feel like zombies and yawn at the most unexpected times for several weeks after the surgery. My theory is that because traces of the inhaled anesthesia gases remain in your fatty tissues for several weeks afterwards, they occasionally re-enter the brain in small amounts and cause these effects. It’s just a theory, though, and these phenomena may also be due to the aftereffects of artificial respiration.

* Abdominal surgery will leave you temporarily with no working abdominal musculature to speak of. Therefore, if you walk upright and go about your business too briskly, your back is going to be very sore, and in the worst case scenario, you may put your back out as a result. The same observation is correct for the immediate postpartum period – even after a vaginal birth, your abs have been stretched beyond recognition and need to re-condition. Pace yourself in both cases, and don’t lift anything too heavy.

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2 Responses

  1. The bit about side-effects from your milk coming in sounds like it could possibly be something called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.


  2. Wow, I’d never heard of that one before! Thanks!

    But the issues I encounter (at least if I understand the women) and have experienced personally are physical, not emotional, sensations; cold sweat, shaking chills, etc. Like going septic, only it goes away in a few minutes. Scary as all hell while it lasts if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, though.

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