The Leading Cause of the Postpartum Depression Epidemic and the Rise of Autoimmune Diseases
In the first part of this series, I shared how eating in postpartum is counter-intuitive to everything we’ve been told.
And the fact of the matter is, most of aren’t told at all.
Before I get to the good stuff, I’m going to derail for a minute and tell you about my personal story. (I promise, it’s good!)
When I was pregnant with my first, not a single person had shared with me about the importance of preparing postpartum meals in advance.
My first meal after birth was a bowl of ramen noodles (yes, the broke-college-student-meal type). Everyone was too tired to make better meal for me, and I certainly wasn’t getting up to do it myself.
Unfortunately, we all stayed tired and I never got a decent meal for a long while. This is one of the biggest factors in why I’ve experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. (Can you relate?)
In my second pregnancy, I set up a meal train. I was thrilled that people signed up on my behalf. We were going to be taken care of!
But postpartum came, and that meal train never happened. Few people delivered. And what was delivered didn’t always settle well. I felt guilty and worried that I wasn’t good enough.
Eventually, by the 4th pregnancy, I figured out that if I wanted to eat well in postpartum, I was going to have to take care of it myself.
Using recipes from Pinterest and Google turned up terrible postpartum advice like thick hard-to-digest casseroles, salads, and smoothies. I wanted filling meals (hello breastfeeding mama appetite).
But I also wanted foods that were healthy for postpartum and felt good. (And smoothies and salads aren’t it as I shared in the first part of the series!)
However, the only things that seemed available were eating for breastmilk production and eating well for weight loss and “getting your body back”.
Where is the focus on mother’s wellness?
After childbirth, most women are left nutrient deprived and in a state of deficiency. Foods that are easy to digest, easy to absorb, and that will provide tons of nutrition packed into a tasty meal are absolutely necessary.
The link between nutritional deficiencies and postpartum mood disorders are growing exponentially.
Because of this, it’s important to eat foods as I describe in the first two misconceptions.
In the next two biggest misconceptions on postpartum nutrition, I share with you some of the largest false claims I see in this industry.
Are you ready? Me too!
Let’s dive in.
1. It’s okay if you don’t want any food at all in postpartum
As a Postpartum Bliss Coach, I often run into a mama who just had a baby but has little to no appetite. If this is you, there is a problem at hand.
When breastfeeding, you require at least another 500 calories in your diet. For many mamas, this usually results in an insatiable appetite, especially after feeling so limited after third trimester.
Although most lack of appetite is related to postpartum depression, that’s not the only cause.
First and foremost, make sure that you are eating warm foods that are easy to digest. If you aren’t, this could cause a multitude of gut issues that can make food less than desirable (as explained in Part 1).
Sometimes if you’ve been eating a diet that doesn’t support your body’s needs for some time, including foods that you may be allergic or sensitive to and may not know about, your nutrition levels could already be suffering.
If you already have these issues, and then eat a diet that’s not supportive of postpartum healing, you enter a zone where thyroid issues become likely.
Another common issue for not wanting to eat in postpartum is to gain a certain level of control in the midst of chaos.
If you are someone who needs to feel in control all the time, postpartum can have often leave you feeling powerless.
Whether conscious or unconscious, moms will use food as a means to gain whatever control they feel they need.
Whatever the issue is, not eating in postpartum may be common but that doesn’t mean it’s okay in the least bit.
Make sure you are eating right, check for depression and the need to be in control, and get your thyroid checked if necessary.
(Note that most thyroid issues are related to nutritional deficiencies that cause major hormonal imbalance and dysfunction).
2. Breastfeeding will help you lose those pregnancy pounds, especially if you diet
This is just plain false and usually has the opposite effect.
If you aren’t following the warm food and nutrient dense protocol mentioned above, you aren’t getting enough nutrients into your body, and you’re likely feeling sluggish, exhausted, and like a hormonal hot mess.
It’s so easy to blame the fact that you have a newborn in your life who’s responsible four you feeling off. And to some degree, that’s certainly very true. However, you control much more than you think.
When your body is lacking nutrients, it lives in a state of stress.
Quite simply, eating a limited diet that doesn’t support a postpartum body will make your hold onto more because it’s afraid it won’t get enough.
To make it worse, when you aren’t getting the right nutrients, it becomes more difficult to sleep.
Nutrients and sleep are essential for hormone regulation.
Without balanced hormones, you have milk supply issues and problems regulating your weight.
As a side note, weight loss in postpartum should be the LAST thing on a mama’s agenda. Instead, focus on having a healthy body in which you can build a solid foundation.
Postpartum is a time when every layer of your being is shed. You have the power to heal your deepest wounds and traumas and reconnect with your truest being.
When you care and nourish yourself thoroughly, you have the power to walk away feeling stronger than you did before pregnancy.
Imagine rocking the best body you’ve ever had with a toddler on your hip. That starts here.
In part 3 of this blog series, I’ll be covering the harmful effects of veganism/vegetarianism, how vitamins can make deficiencies worse, and why you shouldn’t follow the recommended guidelines for dietary allowances in postpartum.