PERSONAL TRAINER & NUTRITIONIST | MORDIALLOC, VIC
As a Trainer and Nutritionist that works with parents, I see that the effects of postnatal depletion are felt by many, but often aren’t openly discussed as they should be. The negative physical and mental effects felt after giving birth (like fatigue, brain fog and at times, sadness), should make us connect with others, rather than make us feel isolated.
As parents, we’re often busy worrying about a list of other people before ourselves, so we’ll push the symptoms and conversations to the side hoping that they’ll subside on their own. There can be ways that we can work through it, and knowing that there are people willing to listen and have the conversation is a good start.
WHAT IS POSTNATAL DEPLETION?
Postnatal depletion is a term used to refer to the physiological, emotional and mental depletion often experienced post-birth that can eventually lead to more serious mental health conditions like postnatal anxiety or postnatal depression.
We’re most susceptible to it when we:
- Prematurely stop taking prenatal vitamins (therefore nutritional needs aren’t being met)
- Are unable to consume nutritious meals to recover from birth (particularly when there are other children to care for)
- Experience severe lack of restorative sleep and rest
- Experience traumatic birthing experiences
- Lack a support network
Birth is an exhaustive physical experience where your body is going through so many hormonal changes. It requires support from the foundations of health to heal and recover; this includes rest from physical activity, minimising stress and of course optimising your nutrition.
We know by now that nutrition isn’t just vital in ensuring our physical health is performing at it’s best, but it’s also important when maintaining good mental health. Some nutrients are key in the production of mood regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND WHAT ARE THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS?
Symptoms of postnatal depletion include:
- Brain fog
- Cognitive issues
- Hair loss
- Feelings of anxiety and sadness
These symptoms may sound familiar and they’re often ones that society has accepted as the norm for new mothers, but really these things need to and can be addressed with some lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of other conditions such as postnatal anxiety and depression.
Many nutritional deficiencies can be a contributing factor to a decline in the mental well-being of the mother whether this be postnatal depletion, anxiety or depression the conditions are both very prevalent but can be managed. Nutrients of note here are all of the:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
Most of the above nutrients are easily consumed by eating a varied whole foods based diet but the inclusion of a prenatal vitamin post birth is almost always recommended to help meet the demands of breast feeding. It’s important to get a blood test 6 weeks post birth to check your levels, vitamin D is important to be aware of particularly during the winter months.
Often brushed off as the baby blues and an accepted part of becoming a mother, postnatal depletion is serious and can affect everyone to varying extents. This is why it’s so important for women to be aware of their nutritional status and mental wellbeing moving into the postpartum period.
Having a strong support network is helpful (we love our babyfitter community and we hope that as relationships grow we can lean on each other), as is speaking to a professional. If any of the above hits close to home with you and you’d like nutritional guidance, please feel free to reach out to me directly (@nakedelements on Instagram, or via the babyfitter Contact page where your enquiry will be forwarded to me).