Nutrition Seminar for Pregnant & Postpartum Moms
By: Lindsay Guthrie (@lindsayguthrierhn)
Hey there, mamas! My name is Lindsay Guthrie, and I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. I help women who are pregnant or recently postpartum regain their health and vitality so they can get back to feeling like themselves and start enjoying this really special time with their family.
After the birth of my daughter, I was completely taken off guard with just how difficult the postpartum period is. I had spent so much time planning for the birth and arrival of my baby – decorating the nursery, buying baby clothes, attending birth classes - but neglected to prepare myself for the most difficult transition of my life.
Then suddenly, here I was at home with my beautiful daughter. But I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and so, so emotional. The realization that I was responsible for this tiny human who depended on me for all of her needs was absolutely terrifying.
Not only was I adapting to my new role and all the stress that comes with caring for a newborn, but my body was trying to heal from the most intense experience I’ve ever been through. My hormones were rebalancing, my organs were shifting back to their original location, tissues that had been torn were healing, and my breastmilk was coming in. I definitely didn’t feel like myself, nor did I recognize my own body. My clothes didn’t fit right, my breasts were different sizes, and my skin was much looser. Learning to accept this new body that gave my daughter life and continued to provide for her was a healing journey on its own.
The postpartum period is uniquely challenging as we have very little time to take care of our basic human needs. Things like eating, sleeping, and showering feel impossible. Even trying to fit in time to go to the bathroom is tricky with a newborn. And at a time when we are at our most vulnerable, we often lack the support and guidance on what to expect, how to heal, and what’s normal. We feel isolated and alone, like we’re the only one going through it. And instead of enjoying the slow pace of the postpartum period, we feel an immense amount of pressure to bounce back and to return to our pre-pregnancy body, to get back to work, and our regular routine. I truly believe that these unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves, along with the lack of support, sleep deprivation, and lack of time to tend to our basic human needs is what is contributing to the rise in postpartum mood disorders (PMDs)
What are postpartum mood disorders?
Many women, ~80%, will experience significant mood changes following birth, including emotional instability, weeping, mood swings, sadness, and feelings of being overwhelmed. This is commonly referred to as the baby blues and may be related to fluctuating hormone levels in combination with the major life changes associated with becoming a mother. However, for 1 in 5 women, these mood changes are much more severe and longer lasting than the 2-week baby blues. PMDs are the most common complication of childbirth. In fact, women are more likely to develop a mood disorder during the first year after childbirth than at any other time in her life. PMDs warrant special attention as they not only affect the mother’s well-being and quality and life, but they might also have repercussions on her baby’s growth and development by affecting the mother-baby bond.
We often think of depression when discussing PMDs, but they also include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
What contributes to postpartum mood disorders?
There is not one single factor that determines whether or not a woman will develop a PMD. Rather, it is the combination of many different factors including:
- A family history of mental health disorders
- A previous history of mental health disorders
- A difficult or traumatic birth experience
- Unrealistic expectations surrounding the postpartum period
- Lack of support
- Sleep deprivation
- Nutritional deficiencies
How does nutrition affect mental health?
Though it may seem that we have very little control over our mental health, there are a number of things we can do to nurture our mental health and decrease our risk of developing a PMD. One of those things is fueling our body with whole, nutrient-dense foods. Our diet plays a critical role in how we feel, how we respond to our environment, whether or not we have the energy and motivation to tackle our day, and so much more. Our brain requires specific nutrients in order to effectively regulate our mood and emotions and these specific nutrients come directly from the foods we eat. Pregnancy and labour are both nutritionally demanding and as a result, many women enter the postpartum period deficient in a number of nutrients, especially those that are needed to regulate mood and emotions. This means that nutrient needs are at an all-time high during the postpartum period in order to replenish depleted stores, help the body recover from pregnancy and labour, and to provide the body with the resources it needs to cope with the stress and relentless demands of motherhood. Unfortunately, the demands and responsibilities that come along with caring for a newborn often mean that our nutrition takes a backseat. It’s important to remember that nourishing yourself should be a priority, not something you do when you get around to it.
Where can you learn more?
Join me at Wild Child Coffee Project on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 as I dive deeper into the relationship between diet and PMDs. I’ll discuss the unique challenges women face when trying to eat well in the postpartum period and educate you on which nutrients and foods to include in your diet in order to take care of your mental health and well-being.
And if you’re looking for more guidance and support throughout your pregnancy or postpartum journey, be sure to check out my website: www.lindsayguthrierhn.com and follow me on Instagram and Facebook @lindsayguthrierhn.