According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, women who have just given birth are supposed to stay in bed, be waited on hand and foot and given lots of massages. They are also supposed to eat lots of hot soups and stews because they are nutrient dense and easy to digest.
Hand on heart, I don’t know of a single new mother who had that kind of care nor looked after herself the way we might care for our health when we were pregnant. We just grab whatever we can in order to stay upright while we feed our baby and stumble through the day and night. We agonise over decisions during pregnancy, but very little thought is spent on the months following birth.
Pregnancy is incredibly nutrient demanding and if women go into pregnancy already nutrient deficient that is eventually going to lead to various health issues that could have been avoided.
However, once we get through pregnancy and birth most women stop caring for themselves and the focus is on the baby and getting back to ‘normality’ again. Post-partum nutrition and health is not talked about much. But this is where extra care needs to be taken since recovery is of the utmost importance for the future health of a woman, especially if having more children is planned.
So many health issues are directly linked to pregnancy and birth, not only the typical ‘baby weight’ being hard to shake. Many women that I see in clinic have health issues that are directly linked to giving birth and the post-partum period several years earlier, and that is mainly down to depleting themselves and their nutrients stores.
The most common nutritional deficiency in women before conception is zinc and magnesium. Low zinc cause depression and other mental illnesses. In addition, years of hormonal contraceptive use before pregnancy increase mineral deficiencies which must be contributing to the extremely high incidence of women suffering from post-depression – typically affecting between 8-15%. Animals eat their placenta, women do not, ‘therefore this excellent source of zinc, copper, iron and essential fatty acids is not utilized for lactation when the need for a high zinc intake…is the greatest’. (1). Not only linked to depression and low moods, deficiency in zinc and magnesium can also cause unexplained infertility and recurrent miscarriages.
Loss of bone mass is also common unless the woman has excellent stores of calcium before conception. This also includes the health of the teeth. Pregnancy and subsequent breast feeding put huge demands on a woman’s calcium stores. It is very common to report cavities and other health problems in the years following the birth of a child. (2)
Less known but not at all uncommon is the frequency of post-partum thyroiditis – the development of hypothyroidism following pregnancy and birth. For most women who develop postpartum thyroiditis, thyroid function returns to normal within 12 to 18 months of the start of symptoms. However, some women who experience postpartum thyroiditis develop permanent complications if they don’t get adequate nutrients, have an underlying immune condition and if they carry on being stressed and sleep deprived. (3)
The thyroid, a butterfly gland that sits low on the front of the neck, regulates our metabolic rate and is associated to changes in body weight and energy levels.
Hands up who felt exhausted and struggled to lose weight post pregnancy?
Nourishing yourself post pregnancy with the right foods and drinks will make the recovery process easier and put you on the right path to being a strong parent right away. The first six months of post pregnancy is not called the Fourth Trimester for nothing as it’s so closely linked to birth.
I love showing women about how to re-build their energy, enrich their breastmilk, balance the hormones and moods and support the digestive tract and how to nourish themselves throughout this precious time of their life and support their health beyond the six months.
1, Operative delivery and postnatal depression: a cohort study BMJ, (Published 14 April 2005) Ellen C G Grant
2. Calcium Metabolism during Pregnancy and Lactation Christopher S Kovacs, MD Faculty of Medicine – Endocrinology, Health Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 300 Prince Philip Drive, St. John’s, Newfoundland, A1B 3V6, Canada. Last Update: March 10, 2015.
3. Postpartum Thyroiditis: Not Just a Worn Out Mom
4. Katherine Pereira; Ann J. Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2008;4(3):175-182.