Although research into postnatal depletion is steadily gaining traction, currently, it's a topic that few mamas are aware of.
While we're pregnant, we have blood tests to check our nutrient levels and take supplements to combat any deficiencies. But then, when our little ones arrive, we tend to forget about our health and wellness and instead focus entirely on our new arrivals.
But in most cases, women who have just given birth will become depleted in many nutrients. And that's why the postnatal period is a vital time for replenishment.
What is Postnatal Depletion: Postnatal Depletion is a physical and mental deterioration caused by giving birth and breastfeeding, as well as the stresses and strains of modern parenthood. Depletion in new mothers can lead to suppressed immune function and gut health issues for years after birth.
The depletion begins during pregnancy. While your little one is in your tummy, they're very good at getting what they need. If there's a particular nutrient you're not eating enough of, the growing baby will take what they need from your stores. The placenta passes on many vital nutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B9, iodine, selenium, and omega-three fatty acids. So regular blood tests during pregnancy to check your nutrient levels are necessary.
Once your baby is born, they continue to consume essential nutrients through your breastmilk so it is important to nourish and replenish yourself.
Symptoms of Postnatal Depletion
Signs and symptoms of postnatal depletion include:
Falling asleep unwillingly
Worsening of pre-existing medical conditions
As a new mum, you expect to be tired. Your friends and family who have had kids before you have explained the sleepless nights and long days. It's a notion that's drummed into us 'mothers are exhausted' and 'raising children is exhausting'.
So how can you tell the difference between the tiredness that comes with motherhood and the tiredness that comes from postnatal depletion? Women who are suffering from postnatal depletion often feel persistent and deep fatigue. A tiredness that doesn't go away, even when having some downtime or after an okay sleep. They also often report a sense of feeling unlike their old selves or feeling 'lost'. And a lot of women who are experiencing postnatal depletion often don't enjoy motherhood as much as they expected they would, which sadly can result in feelings of guilt and shame.
Postnatal Depletion Cure
The good news, it’s absolutely possible to fully recover from postnatal depletion. It just takes time, a little patience and effort. How long it will be to restore your nutrition profile will depend on how severe your depletion is and the steps you take to correct it. If you’re concerned that you might be suffering from nutritional depletion, follow the steps below: .
Start by having your nutrient and hormone levels assessed. Your healthcare professional will know what to test for and will be able to determine the severity of your deficiencies.
Focus on your diet – up your intake of good fats like salmon, avocado and nuts. And increase your protein too - foods like eggs, lean good quality meat, tofu and legumes. Also incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Limit your intake of processed foods like chips, chocolate, fast food, lollies and soft drink.
Incorporate a gentle exercise routine into your life. Things like walking around the block, an online yoga or Pilates class or maybe a swim. Exercise releases endorphins which are hormones that are great for your energy and mood.
Rest as much as you can. We know this is a tricky one; you’ve got a newborn! But if you can arrange some downtime just for yourself over the weekend or go to bed a little earlier, it will make a world of difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Mothers tend to push themselves to breaking point, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you have people in your support circle who can come over and do some household chores or babysit while you have a nap or movie afternoon, ask. You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help; they just might not think to offer.
The In Shape Mummy Health Shakehelps you meet your increased nutritional needs and replenish you during this important time of life. It is enhanced with over 25 essential vitamins and minerals and a good source of protein and probiotics.
Having a shake in the morning is a great way to ensure you’re starting the day on the right foot and getting those essential vitamins and minerals in, even when you’re too busy to prepare food. The quick and easy In Shape Mummy Health Shakewill be your best friend in helping you through this challenging time.
Remember to Take It Easy On Yourself
There are massive expectations for women when they become mothers. For example, women often face judgement if they choose to return to work, and they’re judged if they decide not to go back to work. Women’s parenting choices and discipline measures undergo scrutiny. And women are judged by what they feed their little ones, let them watch on tv, or even what time they go to bed. This judgment can weigh down on mothers and lead to postnatal mental and physical health issues.
So, this is just a reminder that you’re doing a fantastic job. Take care of yourself, your little one and your family, and ignore negativity.
Are you thinking of having another baby?
If you are thinking about having another baby, follow these steps to help prevent postnatal depletion.
1. Start with Preconception Care
Focusing on what you’re eating preconception is a great way to ensure your vitamin and nutrient levels are at a good level before the demands of pregnancy. Foods to eat when thinking about conceiving include:
Good quality olive oil
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Also, speak to your doctor about prenatal vitamins and when you should introduce one into your daily supplement routine. And, ask your healthcare professional about blood tests that will check your vitamin and nutrient levels. This will provide a base of knowledge that will enable you to monitor any changes that come with pregnancy. And will also highlight if any supplements are required before you start planning to conceive.
2. Focus on Pregnancy Care
Firstly, you should continue with your prenatal/pregnancy vitamin. This will ensure you’re getting the essential vitamins you need during pregnancy, like folic acid. Secondly, focus on your diet and eating as much good quality produce as possible.
3. Prepare for the Birth
Preparing meals for once the baby has arrived is one of the best things you can do to avoid postnatal depletion. We promise you; that you’ll be thanking your self for every meal you find stocked in the freezer. Our tip is to make meals and divide them into individual portions before freezing. When you have your bub home, you can simply take your healthy frozen meal out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave.
4. Don’t Neglect Yourself
Once your beautiful bundle of joy has arrived make sure there’s still some love and care for yourself. Try to ensure you still eat three nutritious meals and snacks each day. The In Shape Mummy Health Shake can be a life saver when you don't have time to prepare nutritious food!
And remember, bringing another life into the world is an amazing feat and something to be extremely proud of. You're doing an amazing job mama!
Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.
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