Postnatal depletion is a condition that over 50% of women struggle with after giving birth. However, many women aren't aware of their susceptibility to postnatal depletion, what it is, or how to heal it.
In the next sections, we’ll cover what postnatal depletion is, along with how to reverse and heal its effects.
What Is Postnatal Depletion?
Postnatal depletion can occur after giving birth and while breastfeeding. According to Dr. Oscar Serrallach, family practitioner and inventor of the term postnatal depletion, a mom’s body gives up her own nutrients in order to support the growth of her baby. When these nutrients aren’t replaced, postnatal depletion may occur.
Did you know? A mom’s brain shrinks 5 percent in the prenatal period, on average.
What Are The Causes Of Postnatal Depletion?
Although postnatal depletion occurs as a result of having a baby, there are many different factors that can prolong the postnatal depletion period.
The foods you eat impact your postpartum recovery and health. When your body isn’t getting the nutrients/ vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive, postpartum mothers may begin to suffer.
Lack of Sleep
It’s no surprise that your sleep schedule may shift with a newborn baby in the house. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired and depleted.
Moms juggle everything. The expectation to be a perfect mother can build up, leaving us feeling exhausted.
Who Is Most Likely To Experience Postnatal Depletion?
- Mothers who have 2+ children
- Moms who have children less than 3 years apart (it typically takes the body 2-3 years to recover between pregnancies)
- Mothers who have restricted access to nutritious food
In today’s world, almost every woman will experience postpartum depletion to some extent.
What Are The Signs Of Postnatal Depletion?
- Unintentionally falling asleep
- Emotional exhaustion
- Mood swings
- Brain fog or “baby brain”
- Feelings of guilt or shame
How Can I Fight Postnatal Depletion?
Approximately over half of mothers experience postnatal depletion. If postnatal depletion isn’t tended to, moms can experience physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, including postpartum depression.
So, how can you fight postnatal depletion?
Focus On Your Nutrition And Postnatal Vitamins
A lack of nutrients is the primary factor in postnatal depletion. So, eating well, staying hydrated, and eating essential postnatal vitamins is key to recovery. In order to rebuild our strength and kickstart the recovery process, we must fuel our bodies with the right nutrition.
According to Dr. Serrallach, mothers are often deficient in or lacking iron, vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and copper.
One way to get your body and nutrition on track is to incorporate a natural supplement or postnatal vitamin that focuses on the restoration of postpartum mothers. A protein powder, like Majka’s Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder, will infuse your body with nutrients and postnatal vitamins, which stem from whole foods that can also promote lactation!
You can use this powder in a smoothie for a nutrient-dense meal. Here are some of our favorite and simple smoothie recipes for moms:
Restore Your Body Physically And Mentally
The body and mind are interconnected. Here are some tips to best recover your body and mind post-birth:
Get enough sleep. While you will inevitably wake up during the middle of the night to tend to a crying little one, when you are able to sleep, do what you can to make the environment fitting to have a good rest. Fill your room with calming colors and ambient noise. This will help train your mind to view the bedroom as a sleep haven.
You may even consider taking an extra nap throughout the day, hiring a babysitter so you can sleep, or even trading time looking after another mom’s kids so that you can both have the downtime you need.
Learn to relax. You may think sitting on the couch watching television is relaxing, but while we do this, our minds are still busy humming with thoughts. Learning to relax through techniques like yoga or meditation will help clear your mind and replenish your body.
Rally A Support System
Asking for help when you need it (or hiring it!) is essential to give yourself a sustainable balance. Whether you find a babysitter for the night, call on grandma for help, or meet up with a group of new mothers every month, make sure you find people who can help provide a web of support. Taking a night to reconnect with your hubby, socialize with friends, or even spend time alone can give your body the emotional and physical refresh it needs to fill your own cup.
In addition, becoming a mother is a huge transition — whether it’s your first time or not. Seeking professional help to keep your mental wellbeing is a great option. If you’re not feeling yourself seeking an outside opinion can give you the tools you need while you are replenishing your body.
You’ve Got This Mama
Postnatal depletion affects so many women — and it looks different for everyone. Your body built a human over 9+ months and recovery will be a slow but steady process to regain your full vibrancy and energy, especially since you are feeding that tiny human too! Although we try our hardest to push through the physical and mental exhaustion that comes postpartum, we don’t have to act so tough. The best thing we can do for ourselves is focus on healing our bodies after birth.
By putting yourself first, you will have more energy to take care of the ones you love the most, which is exactly why we created Majka!
Our products, including our Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder and Nourishing Lactation Bites, were designed to fill in the nutritional gaps experienced by many moms. Majka products are the perfect way to supplement a healthy diet with postnatal vitamins so you can feel your very best from the inside out!
Be sure to consult with your provider if you have concerns about your health, lactation, or supplements.
Frequently asked questions about Postnatal Depletion:
1. Does Postnatal Depletion cause Postpartum Depression?
Postnatal Depletion can have a hand in Postpartum Depression. While PPD, can happen to anyone no matter if they are depleted or not, feeling emotionally and nutritionally depleted can up your chances of experiencing PPD. If you feel like you may have some of these symptoms, we recommend reading this book.
2. What can I eat to prevent postnatal depletion?
Focusing on eating nutrient dense foods, can help to prevent postnatal depletion. Foods like; leafy greens, lean proteins, and even using vitamin supplements can help. We love coming up with quick and easy recipes for mamas to help nourish their bodies, check out some of our recipes here!
3. How to know if I am struggling with postnatal depletion?
As mentioned in the post above, there are definitely tell-tale signs to postnatal depletion. Those signs include; fatigue, unintentionally falling asleep, emotional exhaustion, mood swings, brain fog or “baby brain”, feelings of guilt or shame. If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, we highly recommend making an appointment and speaking with your doctor.
4. Does my postnatal depletion affect my child?
No, your child is still going to be getting the nutrients they need, but if you’re feeling depleted, your breast milk may not be the best quality that it could be. Eating nutrient dense foods can help boost your nutrition, but also help boost the quality of your breast milk by adding in even more nutrients that your baby could benefit from.
5. If I wasn’t breastfeeding, would I still be experiencing postnatal depletion?
While breastfeeding does take a lot of a new mamas nutrients, breastfeeding isn’t the main cause of postnatal depletion. You can be a mama who doesn’t nurse and still experience postnatal depletion. Your body just went through a pretty traumatic experience and it’s losing a lot of nutrients trying to repair itself. Nourishing your body with nutrient dense food and focusing on eating a well-balanced diet will help give your body that boost in nutrition it needs to feel its best and help you to recover more quickly.