Feed Your Maternal Mental Health
Hormone balance is essential for new mothers, and often seems difficult to find. Nobody intends to have postpartum depression, its just one of those things that takes over. What you can control though is your nutrition post baby. Yes, a proper diet can help deter those baby blues!
Prior to birth I started researching everything to eat after pregnancy. Of course there was a ton of information on lactation foods to boost milk supply, and healthy eating habits to lose the weight. but definitely minimal encouragement to eat for optimal hormone balance to ward off something so common as postpartum depression. The foods we eat can directly effect how we feel! You can balance your hormones naturally by the food choices you make daily.
Its crucial that you eat a variety of ALL THREE macronutrients- carbs, protein and fats.
Now is not the time to cut carbs! Get in those good ones though- like whole grains. Oatmeal is an excellent choice ! Its important to remember to get your energy from carbs, not sugar. Choose sweet potatoes over any other kind. Chickpeas can be added to salads, roasted to munch on or even mashed like raw cookie dough for a healthy treat!
Protein helps you rebuild. Continue to eat lean meats, eggs and nuts like almonds. Flaxseed is a great way to get in protein and also help with lactation at the same time!
Need some extra help jump starting your hormonal rollercoaster?
Beware Of Medications And Birth Control
Are you aware of your medications side effects? Some can disrupt your hormone balance, leading to side effects like fatigue, appetite changes, altered sleeping patterns, low libido, sadness and even depression.
Some medications that can mess with your hormone balance include corticosteroids, stimulants, statins, dopamine agonists, rexinoids and glucocorticoids. Beware of your medications, talk to your doctor about the side effects and research natural alternatives whenever possible.
Birth control is another medication that alters hormone levels. The pill is a type of hormone therapy that raises estrogen levels to levels that can cause many complications.
Studies show that the health risks of taking them, especially long term, may include issues like:
- Breakthrough bleeding between cycles
- Increased risk of uterine bleeding, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke
- Breast tenderness
Whats Happening On That Post
During pregnancy, our normal hormone balance shifts quite dramatically to create an ideal environment for your baby to thrive. Two of the most important reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, build steadily throughout pregnancy and are at their highest levels during labor.
Progesterone is produced by the placenta, so once the placenta is delivered after your baby makes his or her entrance, progesterone levels drop drastically and leave you in a state of imbalance. Add prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast milk, and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, into the mix, and things can feel pretty haywire. This relative estrogen dominance can lead to fatigue, headaches, irritability, weight gain, anxiety, depression, and even thyroid issues. Yes, a lot of this is normal, its not fun. The good news is theres actually a lot that you can do to support your bodys return back to pre-pregnancy hormone balance.
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Postpartum Hormone Changes Happen But Heres How To Rebalance Them Properly
If youve recently given birth, your body is going through natural hormonal fluctuations that might make you feel a little different . You may feel overwhelmed, sad, teary, and exhausted.
Rest assured that almost everyone that gives birth experiences postpartum hormone fluctuations and while its new, its normal. That said, you should know whats happening in your body and why, so we talked to two Parsley Health experts about what to expect from your hormones after you give birth, how long these changes will last, and how to promote postpartum hormone balance.
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The birth of your little one is one of the most exciting times in your life. You feel amazing, perhaps even an indescribable high, when you hold your baby in your arms for the very first time. You get home, and a few days later, you notice that the high has lessened, if not at the other end of the spectrum. Why?
Throughout pregnancy and during labour, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are key to creating the happy hormones dopamine and serotonin, are at an all-time high in your body. After birth, however, progesterone, dopamine, and serotonin surging hormones plummet rather quickly. Simultaneously, there is a surge in oestrogen, prolactin and oxytocin hormones that work towards creating an optimal environment for your little one. Besides that, when a mother becomes stressed out, her cortisol levels can increase, causing insulin hormone to be more resistant. This results in irregular blood glucose levels in the body.
The roller-coaster of hormones, understandably, is what causes postpartum hormonal imbalance in most new mothers. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance may include:
- Anxiety and depression
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, do not worry. Firstly, it is common to experience any of these symptoms postpartum. Secondly, there are plenty of ways to naturally get your hormones back on track.
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How To Evaluate Your Postpartum Hormone Levels
To better understand your postpartum hormones and recovery, I recommend regular visits with your OBGYN, PCP, or Naturopathic doctor, at least every three months for the first two years postpartum.
Doing so will help your doctor monitor and evaluate your progress. It will also allow your doctor to assess for various conditions, including thyroid diseases, like Hashimotos Thyroiditis, which often develops postpartum and diabetes, anemias, and nutrient deficiencies.
How To Balance Postpartum Hormones
Dont feel doomed, as there are ways you can help your body naturally manage these hormone fluctuations.
Talk to Your Doctor Let your doctor rule out other medical causes for any hormonal imbalances. You could have an issue with your thyroid or something more serious, that may need to be treated.
Avoid Processed Foods Most processed foods are made up of simple carbohydrates that are stored as fats. These can cause blood sugar dysregulation and affect your hormones.
Eat Proteins Proteins are necessary for your body to produce and regulate hormones. Try including more proteins and lean meats.
Eat Fiber Your body releases estrogen through bowel movements, so constipation can cause excess estrogen to be absorbed back into the bloodstream. Eat enough fiber to help you go.
Get Enough Iron Low iron levels can make postpartum depression symptoms worse. Eat iron-rich foods such as beans, egg yolks, and leafy greens to fight against anemia and fatigue.
Eat Healthy Fats Healthyfats are essential for proper hormone regulation because they help them work and move properly through the body. Try eating avocado, almonds, seeds, and wild-caught salmon.
Eat Nutrient Rich Foods Nutrients increase immunity as well as help your body function properly. Vegetables and fruits contain vitamins and minerals that will help your body regulate itself.
Exercise Exercise promotes stress relief and hormonal balance. Endorphins released with exercise will help your mood stabilize as well.
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Lean On Your Support System
If theres ever a time to call in the support system, its right after youve given birth. Talking to friends or joining a postpartum or breastfeeding support group can normalize experiences postpartum. Peer-to-peer counseling has been proven very effective in the prevention of postpartum depression and anxiety, said Dr. Milbank. In addition, many women find working with a postpartum doula or baby nurse for professional support or leaning on friends and family allows them more time to focus on their recovery and the baby.
Thyroid Hyper And Hypofunction
Thyroid hormone levels can change after giving birth, and there are several possible causes.
The thyroid might react to bouts of inflammation by releasing extra hormones and presenting the following symptoms:
- Slow heart rate
- Difficulty breathing on exertion
Postpartum thyroiditis can last up to 18 months, so its a good idea to consult with your health care provider if you spot any of these symptoms.
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Signs Of Postpartum Hormone Imbalance
Taking a look at what your hormones are doing in the postpartum period as well as some of the signs of hormonal imbalance after giving birth.
There’s nothing quite like the emotional rollercoaster of bringing a new life into the world. But getting to this stage doesn’t mean the wild ride is over just yet. Your hormones are still hard at work in the aftermath of birth and they wonât return to your baseline levels for a while yet.
In this article we’ll take a look at what your hormones are doing in the postpartum period, when they will level out and what impact breastfeeding has. Weâll also take a look at some of the signs of hormonal imbalance and give you some suggestions if youâre worried about your postpartum hormonal health.
Take Care Of Your Health
It would help if you also took care of your wellness when you are experiencing any symptoms of depression. This means taking the time to eat, sleep, address your hygiene, and relax. These things are important and can help you feel better overall.
If you dont feel like these things are helping or are possible, you may want to talk to your doctor to ensure that there isnt an underlying physical condition you are experiencing.
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How Can Hormonal Imbalance Lead To Postpartum Depression Syndrome
Postpartum depression is a result of the hormonal fluctuations occurring post childbirth. It occurs in around 10-20% of new mothers. It can begin at any time post delivery and can last up to one year. The symptoms of PDS include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and change in appetite among others.
However, clinical diagnosis of PDS followed by the right antidepressant medication can help alleviate the disorder. Moreover, counseling and follow-ups with a therapist can be effective in helping you get out of depression. Apart from medication, good food, regular exercises, yoga, and meditation can also help in recovery.
Postpartum Hormones: How To Naturally Restore Hormonal Balance In The 4th Trimester
Naturally restoring hormonal balance in the 4th trimester and getting back to your baseline mentally, emotionally, and hormonally is possible. Let’s face it momma, the 4th trimester can be exhausting. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed in the first few weeks caring for your newborn baby while experiencing so many mixed emotions. Your emotions can be all over the place – one minute you’re crying and the next minute you’re raging mad and you don’t know why, you may be unable to concentrate, and most often you’re dealing with all of these emotions compounded with the stress being sleep deprived. While your hormones are trying to regulate after pregnancy and childbirth, typically the “baby blues” only last a few weeks for most women, but getting back to normal doesn’t come soon enough for some mommas, and the time it takes it will depend on your liver’s ability to restore normal levels.
There will be different remedies depending on your postpartum symptoms, as in weepiness, depression, irritability, anxiety, sleep difficulties, anger, and so on. The following herbs can be used in capsules, tinctures, or even teas. Let’s take a look!
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Protect Your Gut Health
So much happens in the gut. It is not just digestion that goes on there. Gut bacteria produce 90% of our serotonin, the happiness neurotransmitter research shows and this enables a healthy gut-brain communication, an essential part of mental health.
Gut bacteria produce certain vitamins such as B 12 and keep the bad bacterias in check. Additionally gut health issues such as leaky gut, according to article in Max Living, can lead to disruption of gut bacteria that metabolizes estrogen and escalate hormonal imbalance.
Even worse, gut bacteria causes inflammation and leads to immune diseases that may interfere with your physical and immune health. They can even influence behavior and cravings studies have found.
To protect your gut, eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt , kombucha and bone broth.
Eat whole natural foods such as broccoli, blueberries, sunflower seeds that contain prebiotics and probiotics and vitamins such as vitamin C, A, and minerals
Your Postpartum Hormones: Six Months And Beyond
At six months postpartum, many women will experience a decrease in prolactin production, reducing breast milk production.
Even if you breastfeed past the six-month mark, your childs demand for milk has significantly decreased as you begin to introduce solid foods and have passed significant early growth spurts. This decrease in prolactin also causes your breastmilk composition to change and is more suited for your growing baby.
Once your child stops breastfeeding, prolactin levels will return to pre-baby levels. The decrease in prolactin will cause you to stop lactating and help stimulate your natural menstrual cycle.
Learn more in our Postpartum Hormone Handbook.
Most women report getting their period back within one to three months of discontinuing breastfeeding, although this is not the case for everyone.
You may also experience that your period may be irregular for the first few months. Although hormonal changes are normal postpartum, contact your doctor if you are experiencing any new or persistent symptoms.
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Common Symptoms At Three Months Postpartum
The hormone shift mentioned above can also explain why many new moms experience postpartum hair loss around two to three months postpartum.
During pregnancy, elevated estrogen levels slow down the natural cycle of hair follicle shedding. As a result, many women experience long, beautiful hair during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, during postpartum, women will experience a decrease in estrogen levels leading to an increase in their hairs natural cycle of hair follicle shedding. This decrease in estrogen leads to what is known as postpartum hair loss.
Postpartum hair loss is temporary but may last between three and six months for most women. There are some helpful things you can do to encouragepostpartum hair regrowth.
We also notice sleep disturbances such as postpartum insomnia during this time, which often decreases melatonin and causes an elevation in cortisol. Cortisol is your bodys primary way of responding to stress.
Many of you know that many new stressors develop when you have a young baby.
Adjusting Your Hormones Postpartum
Your body is miraculous. Its gone through physical and hormonal changes to bring life into the world and will continue to provide for your baby. While postpartum hormone changes are normal and expected, sometimes they can cause unwanted symptoms such as the baby blues or postpartum depression. Luckily, there are ways that you can help your body adjust your hormones back to more stable levels.
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Types Of Birth Control
I wanted to share this information with you so that you can see how these birth control methods directly affect hormones and the entire natural menstrual cycle. Progestin and estrogen contained in birth control are chemically created in a lab to imitate our natural progesterone and estrogen. When we use these birth control methods, they are releasing hormones in our bodies at times they naturally would not, disrupting the menstrual cycle and preventing pregnancy.
Some estrogens are made from pregnant mareâs urine, but is more often used for hormone replacement therapy in older women. Continued use of progestin has been linked to thinning of the bones when it is being used it is important to talk to you doctor about this serious risk.
Which Exercise Is Best For Hormonal Imbalance
There are a variety of exercises that can help restore hormonal balance after pregnancy, including yoga and Pilates. It is important to consult with a health professional before beginning an exercise program if you have any doubts or concerns about your health.
Here is a video from Yoga with Kassandra on how to balance hormones after pregnancy with Yoga:
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How To Take Care Of Your Hormonal Health In Postpartum And As You Age
The postpartum period is a really great time to get in touch with how your hormones impact you physically and emotionally. As women, our hormones play a critical role in how we function and think, and whilst the impact of these hormones may be more noticeable during postpartum, hormonal changes will impact you at every age and every stage.
Tracking these physical and emotional symptoms as part of your daily life can help you better understand your body, your triggers, and what helps you feel your best.
Thats where our sister app MBODY comes in. MBODY is a woman’s guide to healthy hormones and a happier, more vibrant life and is for all women who want to understand their hormones and optimize their wellness in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Here’s what you can expect from MBODY:
Daily tips to helpunderstand your hormone fluctuations as you age
A smart symptom tracker to help you identify how your hormones might be out of balance
Your top 5 recommended activities every day, in line with your wellness goals
100s of hormone healthy recipes, energizing workouts, and stressreducing tools
Cycle tracking and integrated calendar view to monitor trends in how youre feeling
Find out more here & check out our this week where MBODY is taking over to share everything you need to know about your hormones at every age and every stage. Even if youre not ready for MBODY right now we bet someone you know is and could benefit massively from the personalized support that MBODY provides.
Foods That Balance Hormones After Pregnancy
These are the recommended foods to eat to balance postpartum hormones:
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Foods that are high in fiber
Foods that are high in iron
Foods that are high in calcium
Foods that are high in magnesium
Foods that are high in vitamin D
Other important things to remember are:
Avoid processed foods that contain simple carbohydrates that are stored as fats
Eat proteins to help with hormone regulation
Eat fiber to help with bowel movements and constipation, and enough to fight against anemia and fatigue
Eat healthy fats such as avocado, almonds, seeds, salmon, etc
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