Being a naturopathic clinic that works with women's health, we frequently support a large number of women through their postpartum journey. We also consistently have clients book in their initial postpartum consult with us, because they “just don’t feel like themselves anymore”.
We are here to tell you, that this is so common, that you’re not alone, and you are also not crazy. A lot of women think that this feeling is just another side of being a mother, and having a family. I'm here to tell you that you don’t need to feel this way! Many aspects are contributing to this feeling, such as your nutritional demands, and thyroid and adrenal glands.
Here are some reasons as to why your postpartum fatigue just won't budge.
First and foremost, we need to congratulate you. You grew & birthed and possibly breastfed a beautiful baby. This is a huge thing, and cannot go unnoticed. For 9+ months, everything you nourished your body with was sent to your baby first and this may have left you with nutritional deficiencies. Common deficiencies include iron, vitamin D, B12, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, Iodine, and folate. All of these nutrients have an important role in the body's function, from energy, immune health, cognitive function, hormones, and thyroid health.
To reduce the impact of nutritional deficiencies we recommend firstly continuing your prenatal vitamins, as they are formulated with all the nutritional needs you need through pregnancy and postpartum. Secondly, prioritise your diet. We commonly see parents forgetting to eat or just eating the leftovers of their children’s meals. But if you wouldn't allow your child to skip meals, then the same should go for you. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, protein-rich foods and hydration.
In our clinic, we see a lot of women who experience postpartum thyroiditis, which is where the thyroid gland becomes inflamed after giving birth, therefore leading to an imbalance of thyroid hormones. This is because, throughout pregnancy, the thyroid gland may enlarge as it produces more hormones to support the increased metabolic needs of you and your baby (yes, the body is that amazing). Some symptoms of thyroid dysfunction may be fatigue, irritability, weight changes, and mood swings. Sound like you?
If it does, we first need to stress how important it is to get proper testing! We do a lot of thyroid functional testing in our clinic, and this is because on normal blood tests so often thyroid markers get missed, and you only get a small picture of what is happening. The thyroid is very complex, so it is essential to test and receive the specific support you need.
To give your thyroid some general support and to reduce the risk of thyroid complications, you can focus on diet. Including foods rich in Iodine (seaweed, iodised salt, and seafood), Selenium (brazil nuts, fish, and eggs), Zinc (nuts, seeds, and legumes), and Iron (leafy greens, red meats, and legumes). Other ways you can support your thyroid are to limit exposure to environmental toxins, stress management, exercise, and adequate sleep.
Lastly, another factor we often see in postpartum fatigue is your adrenal function. Postpartum fatigue can largely be influenced by the adrenals as there is a lot of physical, and emotional stress associated with childbirth. Much the same as the thyroid the adrenals, adapt to support the stressors of pregnancy and childbirth, but especially in the postpartum period. During postpartum you are tired and stressed, and your hormones are also fluctuating including cortisol. This is because the adrenals respond to this stress by releasing cortisol, however, prolonged stress can potentially lead to dysregulation or cortisol, which leaves you feeling fatigued and exhausted.
Reducing the impact of stress on your adrenal glands is first and foremost to manage your stress. Now we know being a parent is stressful in its own right, but not feeling like yourself probably means you have stopped doing things for yourself too. We encourage you to start doing something small for yourself either each day or every couple of days, that supports your stress. Also consume a well-rounded diet rich in proteins, healthy fats, carbs, and vitamin C. There are also a lot of beautiful naturopathic herbs for adrenal support, including licorice, Rehmannia, withania, and Siberian ginseng.
You have given so much of your time and energy to your family & that isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so be sure to support yourself! If you are interested in functional testing for your postpartum fatigue, please book in a consultation with one of our expert naturopaths.