The postpartum period can be overwhelming, and often times you can become exhausted or suffer from nutrient depletion. This is a serious issue, so it's imperative that you pay close attention to your nutrition during this time. Many women experience weight loss, energy loss, mood swings and feeling depleted often around 3 to 6 months [or longer] after childbirth. The depletion is due to low levels of key vitamins, minerals and amino acids. With the prevalence in women seeking help and remedies to enhance their fertility, it has become an increasing concern. We'll discuss nutrient depletion in a nutshell, then go over ways to reduce the risk of depletion and to help you recoup your lost nutrients after child birth.
During pregnancy the growing foetus/ then baby uses you as a source of nutrition. Everything you eat, they eat. While aiming to eat the best you can, sometimes the needs of a growing baby can be so great you have to dip into your personal nutrient reserves to properly nourish them. Vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, choline, fatty acids and folate are needed throughout the pregnancy. In the last trimester typically large transfers of iron and vitamin D are provided for your baby. This can often leave new mothers with less than optimal levels, feeling fatigued.
While in this state, it is an essential time to focus on your nutrition. If you choose to breastfeed, this depletion can worsen. Postpartum is an opportune time for disease, such as depression of hypothyroidism to set it. Nourishing yourself with nutrient dense wholefood should be a top priority. A focus on wholefoods is absolutely necessary. If nutrient deficiencies exist, they need to be addressed. There is so many great resources out there for pregnancy and post-partum. Lily Nichols book 'Real Food for Pregnancy' has excellent recommendations for such a time.
Nutrients to focus on post-partum:
Now, considering two of these are common deficiencies in all women, I would highly suggest asking for blood testing before, during and after pregnancy. Why? Iron, choline and vitamin D are all essential nutrients needed for brain development. B12 and omega 3's are necessary for memory, nerve function and growth. Not only for your child, but for you. Deficiency in iron can appear as anxiety, fatigue, trouble sleeping, hair loss, thyroid dysfunction, and poor memory. Vitamin D and Omega 3's are so important for reducing the risk of postpartum depression.
Herbally, to nourish and rebuild from an intense period of growth there is much we can do.
Nettle to support iron levels
Withania to provide deep nervous system nourishment
Siberian Ginseng to gently stimulate energy
Oats to nourish the nerves
Fennel to build milk supply
Bare in mind that all these herbs should be used only under the direction of a qualified practitioner (such as our naturopaths) to ensure the correct dose and formula.
Now that you know a little more about the demands of pregnancy and the postpartum risk of depletion, you can begin putting steps in place to reduce the risk.
Meal prepping and freezing, ordering ahead of time, having a support network to help with household chores and care, and allowing for true rest. These are all positive steps to preventing disease postpartum and ensuring you have a positive experience.
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