Guest post by Kate Harrison, Naturopath Postpartum Doula

If you have never quite felt the same since giving birth then you are not alone. Millions of women are feeling the effects of the modern phenomena known as ‘Post Natal Depletion’ which results from the physical demands of carrying, birthing and nurturing our children. Typical symptoms include chronic pain such as headaches, sore muscles and joints, exhaustion, depression, and anxiety which are all related to multiple nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances that can develop during the pregnancy and postpartum period.

Pregnancy takes a huge toll on a woman’s body with nutritional requirements increasing to support the needs of her growing baby. In particular, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are in demand during the final trimester for optimal brain health. Omega 3 is an important fat for hormonal health and for reducing inflammation. Therefore if the mother has an inadequate dietary intake of these essential fatty acids then she is at risk of deficiency herself and more likely to end up developing conditions post birth that relates to chronic inflammation such as muscular and joint pain, headaches and mood disorders such as depression.

During childbirth, the mother also loses nutrients through the loss of blood and body fluids and then through the six-week postpartum period where blood loss known as lochia continues. Not only is their higher nutritional needs postpartum for healing and recovery but also if the mother is breastfeeding then she will have additional higher needs for certain nutrients. Add the return of the woman’s menstrual cycle and daily stressors of modern living to the mix and no wonder so many mothers are feeling exhausted!

If the mother does not fulfill her nutritional requirements during pregnancy and postpartum then she can become depleted, which if not addressed can last many many years postpartum. It is not uncommon for women to note that they are still feeling depleted even ten years after childbirth!

The most common nutritional deficiencies in mothers of young children include:

  1. Iron
  2. B12
  3. Magnesium
  4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  5. Zinc

If you are experiencing chronic pain symptoms including headaches or migraines, muscular and joint aches and pains, period pain or fibromyalgia then there is a good chance that you are experiencing nutritional deficiencies. Magnesium, in particular, is important for muscular and neurotransmitter function. Magnesium is helpful for preventing and treating cramping and spasms and returning normal muscular and tissue function. Chronic inflammation also comes into play here which can not only cause pain but make symptoms worse. Important nutrients for reducing inflammation include Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are commonly deficient in mothers as well as other anti-inflammatory nutrients such as Vitamin A, C, E, and Zinc, otherwise known as our antioxidant nutrients.

If you are experiencing chronic pain and think it may be due to Post Natal Depletion then taking a holistic approach to healing can significantly help.

You want to not only be treating the symptoms but treating the root cause as well so it’s important that you seek a healthcare provider that practices functional medicine and can test to see which nutritional deficiencies are occurring and then supplement with high-quality products accordingly.

For pain management, ensuring that you are getting remedial treatment from a qualified practitioner that can help ease your pain with bodywork to relieve tension, promote lymphatic flow, increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation is also essential.

With a targetted approach to restoring your vitality, the combination of nutritional therapy and remedial therapy can help to heal chronic pain issues and get you back on track to recover from the effects of postnatal depletion.

For more information on postpartum recovery, you can download my free ‘Post Partum Healing’ toolkit here.

Kate Harrison, Naturopath & Post Partum Doula