Nutritional support through the post-partum phase
Isn’t it funny how when you’re waiting to have your beautiful baby everyone always talks about the newborn bubble, how nothing smells as wonderful as a newborn and that you’ll never be as in love in your life? Totally true and definitely worth highlighting, but when I became a mother, I definitely could have used someone talking about what to expect from postpartum symptoms and even more so how could I naturally support myself through them.
For most new mums, post-partum in all its glory consists of symptoms such as hair loss, skin breakouts, hot sweats, constipation, depression, anxiety, hormonal shifts, physical soreness and fluid retention to name a few. While these symptoms are “nature doing its thing” there’s no reason to sit back and suffer when you could naturally support your body through this transition. Here’s a few natural and easy things to consider implementing once your bundle of joy has arrived to help you feel yourself again a little quicker.
First things first – hormonal shifts, also responsible for just about every symptom above. A quick rundown of this; as soon as the baby is born progesterone and estrogen decrease while prolactin and oxytocin increase. For most women it takes around 6 months for these hormone levels to finally return to normal, usually when women have their first postpartum period. As females our body requires adequate and balanced levels of estrogen and progesterone to maintain healthy hair and skin, avoid fluid retention and facilitate a stable body temperature. As these levels are depleted during early postpartum, it makes sense that our usual quality of skin, hair thickness and regulation of fluid and temperature would also be thrown off balance. Additionally, elevated levels of prolactin can affect your dopamine levels (feel good hormone) resulting in feelings of depression, anxiety, moodiness, reduced energy and inability to feel happy.
Studies on Inositol or vitamin B8 suggest its ability to help counteract hormone related symptoms. Inositol is naturally occurring in breastmilk but also found in food sources such as fruit, beans, grains and nuts and can be produced from dietary intake of carbohydrates. Supplementation of inositol has been associated with reduced anxiety and depression due to balancing neurotransmitter levels such as dopamine and serotonin. It is suggested that it may also improve the endocrine profile and therefore help against skin/hair/nails related symptoms. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties attributed to inositol may also help with reduction of physical pain and fluid retention.
Another game changer for post-partum symptoms are probiotics, naturally occurring good bacteria found in foods and available in supplement form that helps to balance your GIT’s microbiota (bacterial ecosystem in your tummy). Recent studies have shown that during pregnancy a women’s microbiome (bacterial environment) undergoes several changes and can become unbalanced. Stomach upsets such as bloating, cramping and constipation are all symptoms of an imbalance in the stomach (usually not enough good bacteria, or too much bad bacteria), balancing the bacterial environment can help to reduce the inflammation causing these symptoms. A link between depression and unbalanced microbiome has been found through several studies, highlighting the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation on improving mental health. Mood swings and feeling low are very common among new mums, a study on women experiencing post-partum depression experienced improved symptoms after probiotic supplementation.
Another great all-rounder supplement to consider are collagen supplements as they can help with various aspects of postpartum symptoms. As the body’s collagen and elastin breakdown after birth, supplementation can be used to rebuild tissues supporting healing of the pelvic floor, uterus and abdominal muscles. Studies have highlighted collagen’s ability of improving sleep quality, helping to improve fatigue and support women through those sleep deprived first 6 weeks. It also shows great effectiveness at repairing damaged hair, skin and nails and supporting a healthy metabolism by regulating blood sugar levels.
Lastly but certainly not least, dietary intervention is your best chance at supporting yourself through such a transitional phase of life. Making sure you drink adequate amounts of water (min. 2L/day) will help you to feel less puffy, take away that fluid retention, support bowel regularity, help you look more refreshed and give you the energy you need to nurture the new little life you created. Eating a balanced diet full of coloured fruit and vegetables, high protein, good fats and wholegrains will nourish your body and provide you with energy, immune support, mental and emotional function that your body needs to heal after birth and cope with your new phase of life.
Hopefully after reading this you feel a little more prepared at how to support yourself through such a beautiful but challenging transition of life. There are some great supplements and recipes available that are perfect for supporting a new mother through the journey of post-partum that I would highly recommend looking into and if you are currently expecting or a new mother yourself; I wish you all the best on your new adventure. Just remember a healthy mother is just as important as a healthy baby!
Rachelle is a qualified nutritionist who gained a passion for women’s health through her career as a personal trainer and dance teacher. After becoming a mother herself, she and her business partner Darcy created Lumila, a women’s multivitamin and probiotic drink supplement, designed to help women feel their best and support their busy lifestyles. Lumila is a feel good matrix of probiotics, electrolytes, collagen building blocks, immune boosting, hormone balancing and energy supporting vitamins and minerals in a delicious drink.
You can find Rachelle and her company LUMILA here: