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