Having a baby is a beautiful and transformative experience, but we need to address a topic that often goes unnoticed: postnatal depletion. It is a silent struggle faced by countless new moms worldwide.
What is postnatal depletion?
According to Dr. Oscar Serralallach, author of The Postnatal Depletion Cure, postnatal depletion is a series of symptoms that begin in a mother's life after she gives birth. These symptoms can show up as:
- Feelings of fatigue
- Extreme exhaustion
- Brain fog
- Feeling emotionally unbalanced
These symptoms are the result of an imbalance of your nervous system, hormonal changes, disrupted sleep schedule, lack of proper nutrition, lack of support as well as the physical and emotional demands of caring for a new baby.
Postnatal depletion is a syndrome that can be viewed as a spectrum on a scale ranging from mild and moderate to severe. It is not to be confused with postnatal depression which should be treated by a trained mental health professional.
In today's fast-paced world, women are already stretched thin. Before birth, most women are already operating at max capacity of what they can handle. What does this mean for post-birth? Growing a baby, birthing a baby and feeding a baby requires an immense amount of internal resources and it is crucial that mothers adequately give back to themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
If you are pregnant, a new mom, planning to be a mom or someone who is supporting a new mom, this article is for you. We have done all the research so that you don’t have to.Here are practical and tangible tips to refocus, re-energize and get back on your feet from the program.
Step One: Repletion and Rebuilding:
This is the time to nurture your depleted micronutrients. We know about nutrition for pregnancy, but why don’t we focus more on it for postpartum?
In a perfect world, new moms are eating a diet with moderate to high levels of fat, moderate levels of protein and small amounts of carbohydrates. We are looking for quality in our calories, not quantity. There's no need to count calories or macros here, rather we want to eat based on how we feel and where our energy levels are at.
This is where finding a good quality postnatal can be key. A postnatal multivitamin, like Mama Recovery, helps provide the critical nutrients your body needs to replenish and recover.
Step One Tips:
- Test: If your time and support systems allows for it, start with a series of tests and assessments from a nutritional test to rule out any food sensitivities, hormone testing and an assessment to see in what areas you require more support.
- Supplement: Invest in a good quality postnatal supplement to help with filling in nutritional gaps. Blood tests can help to determine areas you specifically need to address in the form of supplementation.
- Diet: Try to consume a diet rich in antioxidant & anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is both the origin and consequence of postnatal depletion. Focusing on nutritionally rich foods and not on empty carbohydrates. This means sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store, buying foods that were once alive and eating the rainbow.
- Support: New moms, ask for and accept help! Or if you know a new mom, offer help. Help can come in the form of making freezer-friendly meals, keeping the fridge stocked with one-handed-easily eaten foods, watching the baby while mom naps or helping with cleaning. There is no such thing as too much support.
Step Two: Recovery
Dr. Oscar Serralallachs' program focuses on sleep, purpose, activity, and nutrition but places a much greater emphasis on recovery in step two. By this stage, new moms are in a more familiar rhythm and can start to focus more on recovering. This step is all about nourishing the body, mind and soul and reconnecting with your true self.
Step Two Tips:
- Sleep: Instead of focusing on getting more sleep (when you can’t seem to get any), focus on better sleep. You can improve the quality of your sleep by implementing a nighttime routine, being mindful of what you’re doing an hour leading up to bedtime. Dim the lights, drop the phone, and play some calming music. Your bedroom is your temple.
- Exercise: The best form of exercise is the kind that you can stick to and make a habit. It is even better if you can do it in a social setting. It should be fun and enjoyable, not a punishment. It could be a walk with a friend or a workout in the park while the babies nap in their strollers.
- Re-evaluate your purpose: Up until now you have been growing a baby, birthing a baby, and adapting to a new life with a baby. It is time to start looking at how to create a healthy balance between your new role as a mom and your own personal growth. Speak with a healthcare professional, a mentor, or a friend.
Step Three: The Journey to Self-Actualization
The final step of Dr. Oscar Serralallchs program is centered around re-establishing your relationship with yourself, your partner and those important to you. It is about recovering your life. Understanding who you are now, the journey you are on and the power of motherhood.
- Find your flow state: Find an activity that you are so engaged with, you lose track of time. This could be gardening, catching up on the phone with a friend or reading a book to the baby. Being in a flow state brings you back to and keeps you in the present moment. More flow = more happiness.
- Practice self-love: All roads lead back to the four pillars of health, and so does self love. Prioritizing yourself by prioritizing sleep, activity, purpose, and nutrition are at the forefront. Take the time (and the help) that you need to establish a healthy relationship with the four pillars. This may look like a weekly walk to the farmers market with baby to buy fresh produce, or sleeping in on Saturdays while your partner takes a turn to wake with the baby.
- Partner appreciation: Recovering your relationship with your partner is a crucial aspect of step thee. This involves learning how to communicate again, voicing what you need, recovering your libido and welcoming a new kind of sex. This could come in the form of scheduled time together, for example setting an alarm and waking up before the baby on Sunday to enjoy a coffee and chat together in bed.
The primary aim of this article is to provide information. Although it may include advice from physicians and medical practitioners, it is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is not recommended to rely on this article for specific medical advice.
Source: Serrallach, O. (2022). The postnatal depletion cure: A complete guide to rebuilding your health & reclaiming your energy: For mothers of newborns, toddlers, and young children. Goop Press.