What is Post Natal Fatigue?
Fatigue is a word that new mums know well. Fresh new baby snuggles, deepened love, sleep deprivation and nutritional needs a plenty, we experience these things and so many more when we become parents.
During this transitional period, we truly need support around us, but these support structures are often lacking in our modern society. This can result in all too familiar fatigue, mood swings and depletion that many new mums face.
Today we are taking a deep dive into what this depletion is, the main symptoms to look out for, and some ways in which you can support yourself or another new mum in your life.
The term ‘Post Natal depletion’ was coined by Dr.Oscar Serrallach, and he states that it encompasses four key factors, which when combined together create post-natal depletion.
The four key factors are:
2. Social expectations
3. Inflammation and pre-existing health conditions
4. Environmental toxins
Before becoming mums, many modern women are already experiencing high stress loads. When you add on the role of creating a new human, birthing them, and feeding and caring for them, this level of physiological stress can tip a new mum over the edge. When you add in sleep deprivation, a lack of social support to help with household chores and no breaks from mothering, fatigue is very often the result. A lack of energy and enthusiasm often follows, and life can feel tough during this time.
Inflammation is a key hallmark of post-natal depletion and is also a consequence of it. This can cause any pre-existing medical conditions to worsen during this time, adding even more stress to the load.
Lastly, toxins are a big part of health. During the post-partum period we are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, those that come from our food and drinks, our skin and body care products, and the products we use to clean our environments.
The key symptoms of post-natal depletion.
When all the above factors are combined, they produce the following key symptoms:
- Baby brain – or the classic brain fog
- Poor memory and concentration
- Severe fatigue/ exhaustion
- Low sex drive, or very often none at all
- Anxiety or depression
- A sense of overwhelm
- Inability to cope with daily life
- Weight gain and inability to lose any weight
- Physical signs of ageing progress, wrinkles, hair loss etc
Can post-natal depletion be treated?
Thankfully the answer is a resounding yes! With the correct supports in place, symptoms of post-natal depletion can be resolved, and women can experience great wellbeing and joy again! The factors that need addressing to treat post-natal depletion include nutritional health, energy, sleep and emotional wellness.
Let’s start with getting the right nutrients in.
Nutrition is huge for new mums. When your body receives the correct foods and supplements it can create energy, balance hormones, handle stress easier, achieve a balanced body weight and a whole lot more.
Some super nourishing foods that you can include regularly in your diet include:
- Whole–grains. Particularly quinoa, buckwheat, millet and oats. Porridges are really good for new mums
- Eggs, however you like to have them. Baked, fried, scrambled etc.
- Smoothies with things like spinach, banana, seeds (chia, pumpkin, sunflower etc), frozen berries, avocado etc.
- Lots of slow cooked meals. Meats and veggies are very digestible when slow cooked.
- Soups and stews with homemade bone broth
- Beans and legumes
- Fresh fruit and veggies, as much as you like of these.
Sleep is really important for new parents, and I know some of you might feel like that is a joke due to babies not sleeping. It’s a big area to tackle, but luckily there are some simple things you can try that can give great results.
Start with limiting things like blue light and screens in the hour before bed, and making sure your bedroom is cool. Practicing relaxing activities like reading or meditation before bed instead of looking at screens can really help your body adjust to sleep time. You can work on sleep hygiene practices for your specific situation with your Naturopath. If the reason you’re not sleeping is because your baby isn’t sleeping, seek some assistance so that you can both get better rest.
Movement is one of the best ways to start building up more energy in your body. Gentle daily exercise after your first 6 weeks post-partum is a beautiful starting point.
Yoga, tai chi, walks in nature are all nourishing ways to begin moving. If you are severely fatigued and depleted, steer clear of all types of strenuous exercise and gym. Gentle nurturing movement will help both your body and soul.
The way a mum feels in herself is a huge factor in post-natal depletion and fatigue. Some mothers come to motherhood straight from high powered corporate roles or full-time employment, and this can cause them to feel that parenting their small babe is not adding any value to society in the way they are used to.
Self-worth can plummet during this time, and if you find yourself here, please seek some support. Counsellors, psychologist, life coaches or even a best friend who is good at listening can really help you. Reassessing your values and realigning to them can help you get back to a place of finding joy in the day to day of life.