First and foremost, I’d like to stress that I am no expert. I am not a doctor and or professional in the medical field. I am a French woman living in America who went through postpartum depletion, had to self-diagnose myself, eventually received a diagnosis from an actual doctor and here I am telling you about my journey. Take what can serve you, and leave the fluff. This really is the vibe and journey I want for you when you come and visit my blog!
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPLETION?
I’m going to keep this super simple: pre-k style and digestible. I’m going to narrow it down for you as it can get overwhelming.
So, Mama Bear cooks a baby in her belly and gives birth. Mama Bear uses up all of the resources that keep HERSELF healthy to create the most unimaginable gift of all: LIFE.
Mama Bear had just enough vitamins, minerals, decent hormone balance, and nutrients to keep HER BODY & MIND functioning at a normal capacity. Baby Bear over here came along, needed a large amount of these vital nutrients to create his own little being and come to the world. The nutrients need to make, incubate and birth a baby are enormous!
Mama Bear didn’t have enough of these nutrients for both HER and BABY. Now Baby Bear breastfeeds and needs another gigantic amount of her nutrients. Mama Bear experiences other natural stressors in becoming a mother, including sleep deprivation which affects her overall well-being, both physically and mentally.
Now, Mama Bear is DEPLETED. The body that is a machine needs all of these vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and hormone balance to function OPTIMALLY.
WHAT DOES POSTPARTUM DEPLETION REALLY DO TO YOU?
Think of your body like a balloon filled with water, that’s when you’d feel at your best.
Imagine little holes forming from the whole process of becoming a mother, such as: pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, stressors, eating poorly, isolation, etc… All of these form little holes in the balloon and eventually, the water pours out – for some this happens faster than others, and for some, it’s more severe than others. Eventually, your balloon is running on empty.
So, for lack of better words, you feel like shit. Literally. From acute exhaustion to depression, anxiety, to weight gain or loss, to not being able to reboot and repair your “balloon.”
This can cause an array of other issues such as low vitamin D (which is really the worst vitamin to be low on), inflammation (which is the key consequence of postpartum depletion, and inflammation begets inflammation), gut issues, thyroid issues (I was eventually diagnosed with hypothyroidism), exhausted adrenals, cortisol levels skyrocketing or not producing enough of, malabsorption, depression, anxiety, etc.
WHY IS AMERICA NOT EDUCATING WOMEN ABOUT THIS?
I don’t know to be honest, and my answer would not be digestible at the moment because it connects to so many other aspects of the American system that do not work:
- The health care system
- The societal pressures
- The pharmaceutical system
- The FDA that hasn’t been updated in years
- The huge lack of support and guidance postpartum women should receive but end up having to advocate for themselves.
What’s really interesting is learning what other cultures do; how they treat and take care of mothers on a deep emotional and physical level, which I invite you to research or read this book: The Postnatal Depletion Cure.
HOW DID I FIND OUT ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPLETION?
I came across Postpartum Depletion when having regular conversations with my fellow mom friends back in France, who were getting lots of different checkups, guidance, and mandatory pelvic floor visits right after birth, and so on. This condition is much more talked about in countries like Europe or Australia.
I was in disbelief. They had had their levels checked regularly (how your doctor reads those is also important in the American medical system, I slightly explain this in the section below), from vitamins to thyroid during pregnancy (without advocating or asking). If weight gain was a red flag, immediately they looked into thyroid or other underlying factors. They are sent right away to a pelvic floor specialist, through insurance, a non-negotiable step while here in the US. I didn’t even know about the pelvic floor nor I was told that I needed to “re-educate it” – you’ll only have access to that guidance in the naturopathic world, but certainly not in the medical field unless you have a really good doctor. While that’s one aspect of pregnancy, some cultures treat postpartum like a “fourth trimester” i.e. the most important phase of pregnancy – the mother needs healing! Major healing. In Western culture, the mother is forgotten, expected to perform, lose weight, pick herself up and carry on. It’s brutal!
So I basically found out about Postpartum Depletion when I realized something was not right with me within a few months after giving birth, and these conversations were a light bulb that I had been lacking care, support, and healing which could only lead to a snowball of issues. About 10 doctors later I found someone who took me seriously. I finally knew what it was and started feeling better through different trials and errors: Chinese medicine, supplements, healing foods, inulin, and medication.
POSTPARTUM DEPLETION ALSO STEMS FROM THE LACK OF HORMONE CONVOS IN AMERICA
The lack of hormone balance awareness and conversations in the USA baffles me.
I, once again, only realized the severity of what should be talked about only once I went through it. I mean, growing up in France, I’d always hear young people making fun of Americans for even having hormones added to their vegetables. Sadly, it’s true. The added hormones in everything in the USA is a crisis.
Hormones are taboo just from that alone, and then no one tells women to go get their hormone levels checked by 25 or so. I wish someone had! Hormones are life. Instead, we are told to eat healthy, work out, work hard, play hard, and if you’re not getting the results you “should be getting” – YOU’RE THE ONE doing something wrong. What a sad, harsh, self-destructive approach. Sometimes, it’s really not about what you’re not doing enough of, but more about what you don’t have enough of. Perhaps it’s a lack of a hormone or too much of it, like estrogen. So, GET YOUR HORMONES CHECKED.
WHAT I’M DOING THIS PREGNANCY TO MAINTAIN MY BODY & MIND NEEDS
This time around I’m taking CARE of myself and here’s how: