Jacob is now 3 1/2 months old. See how adorable he is?! (You can’t see it, but Bekah is off to the right, playing with him, which is why he is looking that way. He is about to smile but the pictures of that are too blurry to share, unfortunately! He won’t quit using his abs to sit himself forward like that…if he weren’t strapped in he’d tip himself right out!)
That means I’m totally recovered from pregnancy now, right? Well…yes and no. As far as the way most people talk about “recovery,” yes. (No more soreness, bleeding, other obvious postpartum issues.) That stuff was all done weeks ago. It takes most women about 6 weeks to “recover” from that standpoint.
Truthfully, though, recovery — true recovery — actually begins at that point. Your body is physically healed, you’re probably getting a bit more sleep, and you’re feeling mostly like yourself again. You’ve adjusted to being a mom (again). Now, however, comes the really important part: re-balancing your hormones.
The Phases of Hormones
I went through some really interesting phases during my recovery this time, that I noticed because I now know what to look for. There was a phase where I had a bit of insomnia. There was a phase where I craved every bit of butter, olive oil, and beef stock I could get my hands on. There was even the (sorry for TMI) phase where I suffered from annoying constipation, and I craved chocolate.
Here’s what I figured out:
- My adrenals were out of wack for awhile (insomnia)
- I was low on magnesium (chocolate cravings)
If you’re not paying attention this all seems like minor stuff, no big deal. But especially if you’re hoping to get pregnant again in the future, it is a big deal. I’m thankfully past these stages now, and on my way to being “normal,” but I know I have a while to go yet.
It’s important to note that if your hormones are really out of balance, this can affect your success with breastfeeding. I’m addressing that topic in an upcoming book!
It’s no surprise that your hormones are out of balance post-pregnancy. They have to totally change in order to sustain a pregnancy. And of course, they’re likely still sustaining baby via breastfeeding after birth. What can you do?
- Lots of high-quality sea salt — this will provide trace minerals needed to help restore adrenal function
- Cut the sugar — Sugar is an anti-nutrient and it saps energy and messes with your insulin and cortisol production (which can lead to low blood sugar and insomnia)
- Consume lots of fat — You need it in order to breastfeed, but fat also helps to regulate your hormones, especially serotonin and other mood hormones. Serotonin makes you happy, which reduces cortisol levels (the “stress” hormone) which helps adrenal function
- Rest and relax — You know the saying: sleep when the baby sleeps! If you can’t (because you have three children, like me), at least sit down. I spend half my day just sitting and holding the baby sometimes.
- Get some exercise — When you do get moving, make it positive. Walk briskly or do something else to get your heart rate up now and then.
- Probiotics — Consume tons of probiotic foods, because your gut flora always needs it! Probiotics don’t stay in your system; they get in, do their work, and are excreted. A constant supply via food is necessary.
- Have some grain — Yes, really!! Make sure they’re properly prepared (more on that next week, I promise!). Grains are high in magnesium (so are nuts, if you really can’t do grains), and your magnesium needs are huge right now!
- Sip some tea — Talk to your midwife about which herbal preparations are right for you, but nettles and oatstraw are very good. I like to use rooibos to help me relax if I can’t sleep; chamomile is good for that too.
- Eat what you crave (unless it’s all sugar, in which case eat protein) — Your body will let you know what it needs. I craved butter, olive oil, and beef stock like crazy. I made meat with gravy and mashed potatoes with tons of butter almost every other day! You need it. Eat.
- EAT — New moms are busy. Sometimes you don’t take care of yourself. Plus, some new moms are under the impression that if they cut calories, they’ll lose the baby weight. WRONG. You’ll hold onto the weight so your body can produce milk for your baby, and because your hormones being out of balance (a situation which will not improve if you starve yourself and especially if you cut the fat) will cause you to keep the weight and possibly store more as fat. Yes, weight gain is largely a hormonal issue. You may have to eat 3000 calories a day with 50% coming from fat. I’m convinced I need to eat a whole lot more in order to lose weight, because I definitely still have 10 lbs. or so to lose.
- Do something nice for yourself — Get a hair cut. Buy a new pair of jeans (I’m buying some soon at Good Will). Go out for dinner with friends. It will make you happy and lower your stress levels, which will help you recover. Speaking of which…who’d like to join me for a cup of tea some night? 🙂
I’m still exploring this topic, as I research and experience different things. I know it’s so important that I eat a nutrient-dense diet now, to help myself get back to where I “should” be. I also hope to start a little bit of exercise, probably in the new year (I wouldn’t feel right leaving Jacob anywhere until he’s crawling and goes a bit longer between feedings, even in a gym daycare for an hour).
I’ll share with you my progress and research as I learn more. But just be aware, for now, that you’re not recovered at 6 weeks postpartum! And always remember to take care of yourself — mommies need to be strong to care for everyone else, so they need to make sure they are healthy and strong enough to handle it!