The female body is incredible— it can sustain, grow and nourish another human life, how amazing is that? It really isn’t surprising that this extraordinary nine month process takes a huge toll on a mother's health, and it can take quite a while to feel ‘yourself’ again after birth.
Postpartum hormone changes, sleep deprivation, nutrient deficiencies and the stress of a new little one can all create the perfect storm for our hormones to go a bit ‘out of whack.’
In this blog, we’ll explain the hormonal changes that take place during and after pregnancy, and the key ways to support your body in finding its balance again.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY HORMONES DURING & AFTER PREGNANCY?
The process of creating life and growing a tiny human causes our hormone levels to change significantly.
Firstly, when conception occurs progesterone rises to keep the uterus lining intact, thicken it for the embryo, and help establish the placenta. Towards the end of the first trimester the placenta takes over the majority of the progesterone production, and does so for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Oestrogen levels also rise during pregnancy. Oestrogen plays many roles in a healthy pregnancy; including helping the uterus grow, developing your milk-making breast mechanics, triggering the development of your baby’s organs and regulating its bone density.
Pregnancy sees both of these hormones climb to the highest levels they will ever be in a woman’s lifetime. As many mums and mums-to-be will tell you, this can affect the body in a range of quirky and unexpected ways, including joints, body temperature, digestion and even the brain—yes baby brain is a thing!
After the birth and once the placenta has been delivered, progesterone and oestrogen levels fall dramatically, and reestablish balance at lower levels that support breastfeeding and suppress ovulation (in most women).
Generally speaking, our hormones should naturally find a healthy balance after pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, if a few key wellness factors are out of alignment it can take a lot longer than ‘normal’ to rebalance.
Here are a few ways you can support your body in this process.
1. REPLENISH DEPLETED NUTRIENT STORES
Babies growing in the tum have no regard for the health of their mother and will take whatever nutrients they need to grow and develop, which often leaves new mums massively depleted postpartum—also known as ‘postnatal depletion’.
Key nutrients that are used in during pregnancy include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA
- Specific amino acids
These key nutrients aren’t only essential for supporting pregnancy, they also play an important role in hormone production, detoxification, energy, metabolism and producing the neurotransmitters we need to support our moods & mental health.
For optimal health and hormonal balance, we want to get these nutrients back to good levels as soon as possible.
In an ideal world, we would be able to replenish all the nutrients we are lacking through food alone. However, in the current world we live in, this is almost impossible. Due to modern farming techniques and depleted soils, our food of today is just not as nutrient-dense as it used to be.
The best way to replenish nutrient stores quickly is to combine a nutrient dense wholefood diet with a quality, bioavailable multivitamin. We recommend BePure One as a daily multivitamin, and BePure Prenatal Nurture for both new mums, and women who are pregnant, or hoping to conceive anytime soon.
It’s also worth noting that when it comes to postnatal nutrient depletion, a little prevention also goes a long way. Supplementing a few months prior to conception and throughout pregnancy (under the guidance of a health practitioner) can help to minimise depletion postpartum.
2. SLEEP AND REST (WHEN YOU CAN)
Sleep is a basic biological necessity and is essential for hormonal health. Long term sleep deprivation negatively affects our mood, immunity, energy, mental and physical ability, and has even been linked to influencing the foods we eat and how our body responds to it.
As a general rule, adults should aim for around 8 hours of sleep each night to give your mind and body the best chance to repair and recover from the incredible journey it has been on.
Understandably, with a new baby in the house, this recommendation is possibly somewhat offensive—we get it. Young babies wake up all the time, which they have to, they need to eat. The good news is though, this isn’t forever.
At this stage in your life, the best thing you can do is (try) not to stress about your lack of sleep, and focus on creating a sound night time and sleep routines for the future
If it’s an option for you, consider taking a nap during the day while the baby does. The housework can always wait.
3. BE KIND TO YOURSELF & TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
The amount of time considered to be the ‘postnatal phase’ is a lot longer than you may think. In some cases it can take years to fully bounce back after growing and feeding an infant, and that is totally okay.
The most important thing during this time is to be kind to yourself - take a step back and acknowledge the incredible process you and your body have gone through, and appreciate what you have brought into this world. You have a small human that is half you and that is pretty freaking amazing.
Too often women put huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be the perfect mother, run a flawless household and ‘bounce back’ to their pre-baby body. Our advice in this time is instead to show yourself self love and compassion, and trust the process.
When our thoughts come from a place of genuine love, care and kindness for our entire selves, our minds quieten and stress levels drop—both of which are highly beneficial for restoring hormonal health.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking a little time out to focus on yourself and recharge your energy. Many mum’s will agree, a happy and relaxed parent makes for a happy and relaxed child. This could be as simple as meeting up with a friend, getting some fresh air or going along to a fitness class. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health in the journey to hormone balance.
IS HORMONE TESTING A GOOD IDEA FOR NEW MAMAS?
Testing your hormones with Eve provides you with valuable insights into where you are at now, and how you can support your unique hormone picture in finding its natural balance.
For new mums, we recommend giving your body time to reestablish a menstrual cycle before testing—the timing of which is different from woman to woman, but often happens around the time you finish breastfeeding.
This gives your body a chance to establish its own version of ‘normal’ first, which we can then analyse and support through tailored diet, lifestyle and nutritional changes recommendations.
You can also book in for a FREE free 15 minute hormone health consultation with a trained member of the Eve team, to talk about your hormonal concerns, ask any questions you may have, and receive guidance around how to move forward in your hormone journey; whether that be one of our tests, or not.