The Postpartum Hormone ShiftOnly a week after delivery, estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically. These hormones sustained and nourished the pregnancy, but now, the body reels from the shocking change in its hormonal landscape. This can leave moms feeling sad, emotional, moody, or anxious, all of which can be normal postnatal emotions. Postpartum depression, which is more serious, usually kicks in 2-4 weeks after birth, and comes with these same symptoms, along with more serious ones like feelings of anger, severe mood swings, and thoughts of self harm or harm toward the baby. These are also the result of dramatic hormone changes but should never be overlooked or downplayed just because they're due to hormones. It's important to keep lines of communication open with your partner and other caregivers in the days and weeks after birth in order to receive the help and support that you need.
How Can Women Avoid The Baby Blues?While it's not entirely possible for any woman to predict how her hormones will respond, supporting the right nutritional pathways in the body can help to lessen severity. Changing hormone levels involve many organs, most notably the liver, which is responsible for breaking down the hormones that your body is done with. New moms should consider eating liver-friendly foods to support this process, as well as nutrients to support neurotransmitters and the nervous system to lessen the severity of symptoms. These foods include:
- Green leafy veggies
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Salmon, sardine, and cod
- Coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
Other ways ways that new moms can help to avoid postpartum blues include the following: Dietary triggers: Avoid consuming gluten, dairy, or sugar in the 4-6 weeks after delivery (or permanently!) as these can cause digestive issues, which can lead to inflammation or impair the body's ability to absorb nutrients. Remember that micronutrient deficiencies can lead to postpartum blues. Alternative therapy: Consider acupuncture or therapeutic massage to help restore hormone balance to the body and to support the physical recovery in the first weeks and months after birth.This can also be helpful for moms who are struggling to sleep or rest well when they do have time for shuteye. Exercise: Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are all forms of exercise that can help to center the mind and produce calm, which can be effective at combating depression or the blues. Even doing them for 10 minutes a day can be therapeutic. Sunshine: This one stands in a category all on its own, but time in the sun has been shown to be effective at combating depressive feelings. Postpartum depression can be more common in the winter in locations that aren't sunny, and in this case, light therapy or Vitamin D therapy can be helpful.
Writer Aimee McNew has a Master's in Holistic Nutrition Therapy (MNT) and is also a Certified Practitioner of Nutrition Therapy (CNTP). Read her posts on nutrition and wellness at https://www.aimeemcnew.com/.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.