Postnatal depletion by Meredith East-Powell
What is Postnatal Depletion?
Postnatal Depletion is where women struggle to recover physically, mentally and emotionally after having a baby. This doesn’t just occur after the first few weeks after birth, it can happen months or years after giving birth.
Unfortunately, post-natal depletion is common, as these days many mothers to-be are already depleted before conception and throughout pregnancy. Many mums can feel like they are running on empty.
When bub is in utero its development is prioritised and will take whatever nutrients it needs from Mum.
When women enter their pregnancy depleted, spend 9 months growing a baby which depletes them further, then enter motherhood and then become even more depleted from a lack of sleep and the demands of being a Mum, then many women are returning to work which places even more demands mentally, emotionally and physically.
How to know if you’re depleted:
Symptoms may include:
There are a range of issues:
The constant demands to be ‘on’, working long hours and living in a state of chronic stress. We don’t know how to switch off anymore which has a huge impact on our hormones, immune health, gut health and our brain.
We don’t always have the support systems in place, many women are parenting with very little support and juggling careers at the same time.
Processed and nutrient poor foods.
Having children later in life.
There is also an increase in a range of chronic health conditions such as allergies and autoimmune diseases, there isn’t a complete explanation as to why this is occurring but this is an additional health burden many are dealing with.
Recovering from postnatal depletion
Support is a must. Seek support from support groups, friends, family and your health care team. Both emotional and practical support will help.
Address nutrition, remove refined carbohydrates and processed foods, start consuming nutrient dense foods and address any nutrient deficiencies.
Improve your sleep by implementing sleep hygiene which can include turning off devices, turning down lights and relaxing before bed time. Start activities that activate the relaxation response. Think yoga, meditation, epsom salt baths, spending time in nature.
Exercise is key to regaining overall health, building muscle mass will help fight fatigue and supports bone density. It’s best to work with an accredited exercise physiologist.
If sleep, diet, nutrition deficiencies and lifestyle are addressed, often symptoms will improve. If not, there may be another contributing factor, therefore thyroid function and hormones such as DHEA and cortisol may need to be assessed.
Postnatal depletion can be prevented and ideally starts with preconception, ensuring that your nutritional reserves are at optimal levels. However, if you are 6 weeks postpartum or gave birth two years ago, it’s not too late to start. Work with a qualified nutritionist to plan nutrient dense meals, tailored supplements and lifestyle changes to reverse your depletion and restore your vitality.
Meredith East-Powell is a Clinical Nutritionist (BHSc) with a passion for women’s health; you can find her at Pear Exercise Physiology every Friday. You can book with her directly through Pear or read more about Meredith at her website
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that persists beyond the expected healing time of an injury. It differs to acute pain, that is caused by tissue damage, as chronic pain is less about the structural damage and more about the sensitivity of the nervous system.
When pain is chronic, both the mind and body play important roles in winding down the nervous system and modifying the brains interpretation of danger.
The best approach to treating chronic pain is a holistic and broad perspective that reviews and considers:
Taking this whole person approach retrains the nervous system and restores tissue health.
Exercise as medicine
Getting moving again at comfortable levels, from the brains perspective, allows the body and brain to move without fear or danger signals and gradually restores the bodies tissues.
It is important to pace the activity levels, finding the right balance, and to gradually build activity, to overcome the fear that there may be something dangerous and structurally wrong with the body.
Learning to “reprogram” activity is an important part of the overall brain retraining strategy. Regular activity also reverses the downward cycle of the condition of the body and tissues which contributes to worsening pain overtime.
Want to know more? Here is some more information around the management of chronic pain.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Pear Exercise Physiology and discuss any further questions you have around the treatment of chronic pain.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and/or the cervix and is used to treat several conditions, therefore the recovery from the surgery depends heavily on the type of procedure performed.
Risk of prolapse
Following a hysterectomy some women develop pelvic organ prolapse. Before a hysterectomy the bladder, urethra, vagina and uterus are all attached to the pelvic walls by a system of connective tissue, fascia and ligaments. When the uterus is removed an element of this supportive structure is also removed which can cause some women to experience a pelvic organ prolapse.
Symptoms of a prolapse
A prolapse is where one or more of the pelvic organs, or the vagina itself falls into the vaginal opening. Common signs and symptoms of a prolapse can include:
A strong pelvic floor is key to avoiding a prolapse. As a start try these two exercises that are gentle on the pelvis post hysterectomy.
It is also important to support your pelvic floor in your everyday activities following a hysterectomy. Using your core breath always exhale on effort, no matter the activity, to protect and stabilise the pelvic floor and abdominal walls.
Nutrition is the study of food and how it affects the body. Nutrition combined with exercise is a powerful way to improve your health and wellbeing. Smart food choices can help prevent disease, can optimise physical and mental performance and can also help your body cope better with illness.
What is a Nutritionist?
A clinical nutritionist provides tailored advice around food in order to maximise your health and quality of life. Using evidence-informed nutrition practises incorporating natural whole foods, a nutritionist will advise you on how to meet the nutritional needs of your body so you can thrive!
If you’re seeking to improve your health, manage ongoing health conditions such as chronic illness or disease, or achieve a specific goal such as weight loss or gain, a clinical nutritionist can help.
What to expect in a first nutrition appointment?
Initial nutrition consultations go for 75 minutes and appointments are held at the clinic or online. The first appointment is longer so your full health history can be taken. Here’s what you can expect from the consultation:
· A full health and dietary evaluation.
· A nutrition plan developed based on your health goals and tailored to your individual needs.
· Education and key steps to be taken to achieve better health, including knowledge of how to incorporate changes with ease.
· Recommendations as needed for nutrition supplementation.
· Testing where necessary, such as general blood tests, allergy tests, hormonal testing and stool analysis for identifying parasites, yeast and bacterial composition (testing is at an additional cost).
· Unwavering support.
Meet our Nutritionist
Every pregnant woman will gain weight and it is important you understand why the scales are going up.
What is an expected weight gain in pregnancy?
There are a range of guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, the following are the general numbers.
There are variables to these guidelines. Some overweight women may lose weight during pregnancy, and that is okay too as long as it is supervised. We can track and explain your expected pregnancy weight gain over the trimesters as part of your initial consultation at Pear.
Average weights at birth to keep in mind
Everything will grow, not just your baby – here are some averages to get you thinking:
Pear's Top Tips To Manage Pregnancy Weight Gain
1. Don't eat for two
Instead make what you eat count for twice as much! While pregnant, you need an extra 150 calories a day in the first few months and an extra 300 calories a day for the remainder of your pregnancy. This equates to an additional apple a day or serving of yoghurt and fruit.
I also advise you eat real food when pregnant and try to avoid sugar binges and ‘junk foods’. While pregnant you have a natural insulin resistance, to provide glucose as energy to your growing baby, so large blood sugar spikes may not be as well controlled.
Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body and help grow a healthy baby. Eat fibre-rich foods and plenty of protein and healthy mono and saturated fats like coconut oil and avocado every few hours to prevent hunger pains that cause you to crave high-calorie snacks.
2. Invest in some supportive and flattering pregnancy bras & clothing
I would highly recommend investing in a supportive sports bra and day bra for your growing bust. This will help with your posture and self-confidence.
I also suggest, if you want to incorporate walking and jogging into your pre and post-natal exercise routine, a well fitting pair of trainers or runners. As your feet will swell during pregnancy, and may remain a size or a half larger after the birth, having a supportive pair of trainers is so important. Your ligaments are also much more supple and prone to injury.
3. Get some sleep
Whilst this is easier said than done if you are already a mum to other kids or waking up every hour with restless leg syndrome or pregnancy aches and pains. But not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain by slowing down your metabolism, and can really influence your mood and levels of fatigue.
If possible make up for interrupted sleep by going to bed earlier, or napping during the day. Completing some moderate intensity physical activity during the day can also help you with quality sleep at night.
4. Keep exercising!
If you were exercising before your pregnancy, it's safe exercise while pregnant, but make sure to check in with your GP / obstetrician to get the all clear. Exercise can help you with healthy weight gain, during pregnancy and to stay within the recommended weight gain guidelines. Regular to moderate intensity exercise during your pregnancy can also help you maintain fitness and coordination, ease musculoskeletal pain, manage stress, improve your feeling of wellbeing, prepare you for the physical demands of labour and assist you to achieve your pre-pregnancy fitness levels after birth.
If you want some guidance with your exercise during pregnancy then our accredited exercise physiologist at Pear Exercise Physiology can set you up with a safe exercise plan or you can join one of our small group classes designed especially for pregnant mums.
As well as tracking and explaining your expected pregnancy weight gain over the trimesters as part of your initial consultation, Pear can guide you through your entire pregnancy journey, including the often overlooked postnatal return to fitness.
To book an appointment with Pear Exercise Physiology please proceed to our online booking portal via the button below or if you aren't sure which of our services suits you the best send us a message by clicking here.