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 the condition, what it is, or how to heal it.
Imagine — It’s early morning. You pour yourself a hot cup of tea and head outside to the backyard. You stand there, contently scanning the yard and drinking your tea when you notice something odd. You walk over and see a gaping four-foot hole in the middle of your lawn. You call your gardener to fix it. He comes over and pours in one shovel full of dirt. He walks over to you and says, “That’s all I have time for today. I’ll be back tomorrow.” You’re perplexed, but say "Okay."
The next day, the gardener returns and pours in another shovel of dirt, plants a few flowers near the hole. After a week of this, the hole has still only been filled a few scoops and the grass and flowers around the hole have started dying. Frustrated, you call your gardener and say that he needs to fill the hole first before he can fix anything else.
Can you see where we’re going with this? It’s a bit silly, but the hole scenario represents our bodies after giving birth. Right after we give birth to our beautiful child, we are enthralled. We become hyper-focused on our little one and do everything we can to provide for our baby. The problem with this is that we neglect our bodies. We are left with a “hole” that we forget to fill. After running on empty for so much time, our bodies suffer and we heal at a much slower pace because the original hole was never filled. This metaphorical hole is what we call postnatal depletion. What is that exactly? In the next sections, we’ll cover what postnatal depletion is and how to reverse and heal its effects.
Postnatal depletion first occurs as result of having a baby. Dr. Oscar Serrallach, family practitioner and inventor of the term postnatal depletion says, “On average, a mom’s brain shrinks 5 percent in the prenatal period, as it supports the growth of the baby (much of the brain is fat) and is re-engineered for parenthood…It supports the creation of ‘baby radar,’ where mothers become intuitively aware of their child’s needs, if they are cold or hungry, or if they cry at night.”
Postnatal depletion symptoms are expressed as fatigue or exhaustion, unintentionally falling asleep, emotional exhaustion, volatile mood swings, physical exhaustion, brain fog, and feelings of guilt, shame, or the inability to fulfill their role as a mother.
Symptoms of postnatal depletion can occur during pregnancy and symptoms can linger for up to a decade after giving birth (yes, a DECADE).
Although postnatal depletion often first occurs as a result of having a baby, there are many different factors that can contribute to postnatal depletion. Here are the top three reasons:
Societal Pressure: Mothers are described as professional jugglers of careers, motherhood, chauffeuring, teaching, disciplining…the list goes on an on. We are expected to be ALL things, and if we aren’t able to balance the ever-growing list of responsibilities, we are afraid we will be viewed as incapable or unfit to be a mother.
Lack of Sleep: It’s no surprise that with a newborn comes a lack of sleep. Your sleep schedule changes as you try to decipher your baby's crying and adjust your routine to meet the feeding patterns of your newborn.
Poor Nutrition: Your health is impacted by the foods you eat. Poor nutrition can not only come from poor food decisions, but also from a lack of knowledge of the type of nutrition your body needs. This is especially important when it comes to satisfying nutritional needs of postpartum mothers.
Approximately 50% of mothers will are believed to have postnatal depletion. If postnatal depletion isn’t tended to, there is a chance the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms can increase in severity and develop into postpartum depression.
So, how can you fight postnatal depletion? There are a few key factors you should focus on, including:
In order to rebuild our strength and kickstart the recovery process, we need to fuel our bodies with the right nutrition. If you can, see a health practitioner or a nutritionist to get a proper assessment of your current health and what vitamins and nutrients you need to restore your health.
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 that focuses on the restoration of postpartum mothers. A protein powder, like Majka’s Nourishing Protein Powder, will infuse your body with nutrients and vitamins, which stem from whole foods that can promote lactation!
The body and mind are interconnected, so it's important to consider both the physical and the mental aspects of restoration. 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. Calming colors and ambient noise will help train your mind to view the bedroom as a sleep haven.
Learn to relax. You may think sitting on the couch watching television is relaxing, but too often, when we think we’re relaxing, our mind is still busy humming with things we need to do. Learning relaxation techniques through yoga or mediation is a great way to clear the mind and mentally replenish the body.
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.
Postnatal depletion affects so many and although we try our hardest to push through the physical and mental exhaustion, the best thing we can do is take the first step in allowing ourselves to be selfish. Being selfish is not only okay, but is necessary for the healing of your body.
By focusing on yourself first, you will have more energy to also 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 Lactation Bites, were designed to fill in the nutritional gaps experienced by many moms during the postnatal period. They’re the perfect way to supplement a healthy diet in order to feel your very best, from the inside out!
Blandford, Megan. “Postnatal Depletion: what is it and how can we recover?” Essential Baby, http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/just-for-you/mind-body-fitness/postnatal-depletion-what-is-it-and-how-can-we-recover-20170523-gwb75f.
McCulloch-Dip, Sam. “Postnatal Depletion—What is it and How to Recover.” Belly Belly, 25 April 2018, https://www.bellybelly.com.au/post-natal/postnatal-depletion-what-it-is-and-how-to-recover/.
Serrallach, Oscar. “Postnatal Depletion—Even 10 Years Later.” Goop, https://goop.com/wellness/health/postnatal-depletion-even-10-years-later/.
Serrallach, Oscar. “The Postnatal Depletion Cure.” Goop, https://goop.com/wellness/health/the-postnatal-depletion-cure/.
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