The post-natal state can come with conflicting emotions, including post-natal depression and the ‘post-baby blues’. But a new condition that makes new mums feel like a shadow of themselves, ‘post-natal depletion’ is one too few know about. Here’s what to expect- and what you can do about it- from functional medicine doctor Jasmina Dedic-Hagan,
After having children, a constant feeling of exhaustion and ‘fog’ becomes the new ‘normal’. And after a while living like this, it becomes harder for mums to remember that they ever felt differently. They barely remember that brighter version of themselves existed. Put simply, they are feeling depleted.
Often, a symptoms of ‘post-natal depletion’ starts even before giving birth. For many women, nutrition and lifestyle choices during pregnancy do not support our true needs. The food that we eat has much lower nutrient density than the food we used to produce a couple of generations ago. Consequently, even women with very good diets can enter pregnancy with significant vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Once pregnancy is under way, mother’s already low stores are depleted further to support the growing baby. Once a baby is born, in many Western cultures new mothers may feel pressure to be ‘up and running’, to be looking good and demonstrating that they can ‘do it all’.
In cases where Australian mothers enter pregnancy already nutrient deficient, and then receive little help or feel pressure to overdo it during their early motherhood, mums can feel they are running out of fuel. They enter a phase where their bodies are struggling to keep with every day demands, and sometimes their condition can lead to or impact the severity of a medical diagnosis with depression, Hashimoto’s disease, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic sinusitis or even just a feeling of persistent tiredness that does not go away.
How to recover and find a way back to that brighter and healthier version of yourself:
Look carefully at your nutritional status and address any deficiencies. Most common deficiencies are iron, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, selenium and iodine (in those who do not consume iodine fortified salt). It is also important to identify any food sensitivities and establish a diet that is rich in nutrient dense foods.
Address lifestyle factors that could be draining your energy. Science tells us that it not so much stressful life circumstances that affect us, as what we perceive to be stressful- and how we react to it. Training our minds becomes crucially important and yoga and meditation are some of the tools you could use. Learn how to use tailor exercise so that nurtures, rather than exhausts our bodies. Learn to sleep again and wake up refreshed.
After recovering our physical and emotional strength, it’s time to take a look at life and re-discover your purpose. For many of us, the meaning of life changes after we have had our children. Former goals and aspirations can look trite and meaningless. But, this also can be an amazing opportunity to re-build and pursue new dreams.
If you would like to find out more about Postnatal Depletion and how to find your way back to that sharper, brighter and happier version of yourself, functional medicine doctor Jasmina Dedic-Hagan and psychologist Kirstin Bouse are teaming up for a free Postnatal Depletion Webinar on the 10th of July. Sign up or find out details here.