First and foremost, I’d like to stress that I am no expert. I am not a doctor and I am not a professional in the medical field. I am a French woman living in America who went through postpartum depletion, had to self diagnose myself, eventually receive diagnosis from an actual doctor and here I am telling you my journey. Take what can serve you, in hopes it may, and leave the fluff. Which 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 type and digestible. I’m going to narrow it down for you as it can get overwhelming.
So, Mama bear cooks baby in her belly and labors baby. Mama bear used all of her resources that keeps HER 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 given over to making, incubating and birthing the baby are enormous!
Mama bear didn’t have enough of these nutrients for HER and BABY. Now baby bear breastfeeds and needs another gigantic amount of nutrients. Now, mama bear experiences other natural stressors in becoming a mother & sleep deprivation which affects overall well being, physical and mental.
Now, mama bear is DEPLETED. The body that is a machine needs all of these vitamins, nutrients and minerals and hormone balance to function OPTIMALLY.
WHAT DOES POSTPARTUM DEPLETION REALLY DO TO YOU?
Think of your body has a balloon filled of water, that’s when you’d feel at your best.
Imagine little holes forming from the whole process of pregnancy and afterwards 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- some faster than others- some more severe than others- and your balloon is running on empty eventually (most severe cases).
So, in lack of better words, you feel like shit. Literally. From acute exhaustion to depression, anxiety, to weight gain/weight loss to not being able to reboot and heal your “balloon.”
This can cause an array of other issues like, low vitamin D (which is really the worst vitamin to be low on), inflammation which is the key and consequence of postpartum depletion (and inflammation begets inflammation), gut issues (second brain) where inflammation is usually found in, thyroid issues (I was eventually diagnosed with hypothyroidism), exhausted adrenals, cortisol levels going high/low 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 doesn’t work- From the health care system, to the societal pressures, the pharmaceutical system, FDA that hasn’t been updated in years, the huge lack of support and guidance postpartum women don’t receive and find having to advocate for themselves.
What’s really interesting is learning what other cultures do; How they treat and take care of the mother on a deep emotional and physical level which I truly invite you to research or read this book -click here-.
HOW I FOUND OUT ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPLETION?
I came across finding out about P.depletion, (which is much more talked about in other countries like Europe or Australia) when having regular conversations with my mom friends back in France, who were getting lots of different check ups and guidance and mandatory pelvic floor visits right after birth and so on.
I was in disbelief. – they 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 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 through pregnancy, some cultures are also treating postpartum “fourth trimester” like one of the most important phases 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 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 of care, support and healing which could only lead to a snowball of issues and about 10 doctors later who took me seriously, I finally knew what it was and started feeling better through different trials/ 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 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 in their vegetables. Sadly, it’s true. The added hormones in USA in everything is a crisis.
Hormones are taboo just from that standing 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, eat healthy, workout, 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; but more of what you don’t have enough of: Perhaps it’s a hormone or too much of it like estrogen etc….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:
- I get routinely checked by an endocrinologist who READS MY LEVELS PER PATIENTS/RANGE AND OPTIMAL LEVELS- what does this mean in simple words? She doesn’t just refer in reading my results to what she learned in school and stats. (this is another deep convo that I will write about or you can ask me about)
- I go to an acupuncturist & herbalist to maintain my nutrients through safe pregnancy herbs.
- I take thyroid medication for my hypothyroidism & vitamin D
- I self do lymphatic drainage on my legs and arms (which are prescribed in Brazil for pregnant women)
- I eat healthy as much as I can when I can.
- I take inulin pure fibre from France – click here–
- I walk & do low impact workouts when I can
- I am focusing and making sure my postpartum journey is healing & supported with a doula, night nurse, belly Ayurvedic wraps and medicinal broths and recipes to replenish after birth and breastfeeding. This care is expensive, sadly not taken under insurance in America and I don’t have any family that can help me. My last postpartum experience was traumatic. I am making the decision to do what I can through savings and organization to provide myself with that help because I need it.
You can also find me talk about this a little more on this beautiful mama’s podcast Leyla:
Present Not perfect -ep 28 –click here to listen
I could go on and on and if you’ve followed me, you’ve heard me talk about this or seen me go through it for the past three years. I’ve pulled my hair, beated myself up, thought I was the problem, lost identity and lost hope that I’ll never feel like myself again….Eventually I did and I’m still going through it but it’s safe to say that this pregnancy feels a lot different already in a much better way (extreme morning sickness the 5 first months aside lol)
I am sharing this because it’s therapeutic, it’s awareness that I think needs to be put out there, if I can help even one person than I didn’t go through this for nothing!
Let’s talk if you need help or have questions!