This month’s article has been kindly provided by my friend, Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Pearl Arjomand. Welcome Pearl!
Did you just have a baby and are struggling to stay awake? Having a baby includes a lot of change − to your body, to your family, to every aspect of your life! This change can be particularly challenging if it’s your first time, but whether you’re a first time mama or not, you might still be looking for ways you can feel your best so that you can enjoy this precious time with your little chickpea. Here are a few factors that might be affecting your energy levels.
The first few months after childbirth can be a period of extreme fatigue for new moms. Many factors contribute to this feeling of exhaustion – from physical nutrient depletion to lack of sleep and mental stress for caring after a newborn. Special consideration needs to be taken to ensure that there is proper support to help your body throughout this time of transition. Here are a few tips for post natal care to help with energy.
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common conditions that women experience throughout pregnancy. The body’s iron requirements increase as the fetus is developing in the womb. The increased blood supply that is required for baby’s development puts stress on the mother’s body. Women often need more iron than what is provided in your average prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy. This deficiency usually continues post-natal if it was never identified or corrected. Making sure your hemoglobin and ferritin levels are adequate is an important part of investigation whenever there are signs of fatigue. Some high iron containing foods are animal products, soy, lentils, quinoa, black strap molasses and amaranth.
Apart from low iron, many women loose a lot of nutrition through their breast milk. The body prioritizes the essential nutrients and minerals to be provided to the baby so it’s extremely important that mom makes sure she is eating a well balanced diet together with her prenatal supplements as long as she is breastfeeding to replenish her own stores. One of the most important food groups that is essential in energy and mental alertness is adequate protein intake. Protein intake especially in the morning correlates to better energy throughout the day. Ensuring 15-25g of protein intake for breakfast really helps with blood sugar regulation, proper neurotransmitter function and hormone production. Other essential food groups to be conscious of to incorporate with every meal that aids in energy production are healthy fats and fibre.
Our adrenal glands are little glands that sit on top of our kidneys and produce hormones that are important in our stress response, blood pressure regulation and blood sugar regulation. During stressful periods these glands produce adrenalin hormones and a powerful chronic stress hormone called cortisol to help our bodies adapt and overcome the stress. Naturally, before and after childbirth there are periods of ongoing stress that the body is constantly dealing with. Stress can come in many forms − emotional, psychological, physical etc.
Regardless of the shape it takes, the response of the body always remains the same − it releases the same hormones to help the body adapt. As a result, these glands can become fatigued. Once these glands are fatigued one can feel irritable very easily, anxious, exhausted (especially in the morning), experience hair loss, low mood, and overreactions to normally small stressors. In cases of high stress, supporting the body with building blocks that help these glands function optimally can be a huge help. B-vitamins and vitamin C are two examples of essential nutrients for the production of many of these hormones. There are also various herbs that are used to help support the stress response and improve energy. Consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor can help identify which vitamin, mineral or herb would be appropriate for you. A Naturopathic Doctor can further advise which supplement would be safe during lactation or pregnancy as well.
Fatigue for new moms is a very common and overlooked symptom. Individualized assessment and care will hep ensure that your body is getting optimal support. Proper diet and nutrition are essential building blocks and the foundation for every function. Further, correcting deficiencies and supporting the adrenals can significantly improve energy.
Here’s a recipe for my Iron-Loaded Gingerbread Smoothie − a great snack for the fall.
Dr. Pearl Arjomand is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic in Markham. Her practice focuses on Women’s Health with a special interest in hormone balance. Dr. Arjomand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions or to book an appointment please call 905-940-2721.