By Rhian Stephenson, Nutritionist, Naturopath and founder of Artah Health.
I had a difficult journey to becoming a mother, so I’m incredibly thankful to have two, gorgeous healthy girls right now. But to be totally honest, I wasn’t quite prepared for the physical and emotional toll it has taken on my body. My post-partum recovery after my first daughter was tough; I had constant mastitis, I was incredibly fatigued, and I felt quite anxious (no doubt, in relation to the pain and fatigue). I had an emergency c-section, which meant that exercise – what I usually rely on to help keep my mind clear and mood high – was out of the question, which also had an enormous impact on me.
Here’s the ironic part. I didn’t take any supplements, despite the fact that I’ve counselled women for over a decade on how to optimise postpartum health. We were in full blown lockdown, I was trying to run a (different) business, and Maisie had terrible reflux, which was so all consuming that I didn’t spend any time focusing on my own health. So, when it came to my second recovery, I was determined to support myself in a better way to ensure my postpartum experience was more positive, and that I could get back to the level of health I love to have. Lola is now 8 months old, and my recovery has been night and day. I haven’t had mastitis, despite the fact that Lola was so little that she cluster fed for months, my mood is far better, and my energy is great all things considered.
Here’s what I did to optimise my post-partum recovery:
- OMEGAS: I doubled down on fatty-acid support and took both Essential GLA, has been shown to help with breast pain and inflammation, and Essential Omegas, which are important for both mama and baby. EPA and DHA are important for cognitive development, and also reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders.
- CELLULAR HYDRATION: When we’re pregnant, we have an increased need for electrolytes, and when we’re breastfeeding, that requirement only increases. Cellular Hydration was a game changer for my energy and mood (especially when coffee is a no-go). It also contains Maca, which is a botanical adaptogen that’s traditionally been used to support pregnancy, postpartum recovery and breastfeeding.
Related content: Do I need extra vitamins when I am pregnant?
During my first recovery, I was so fatigued that I found myself reaching for quick (carby) energy fixes, even though I knew this wouldn’t help long term, so I’ve been more diligent with my nutrition this time around and it’s really helped keep my energy and mood high. Before I go on, I want to acknowledge how hard it can feel to focus on nutrition when you’re in the postpartum haze, but I promise you, eating for energy, balanced blood sugar, and mood makes an enormous difference.
Personally, I’ve had great success eating high protein, very high fat, tons of veggies, and lots of low sugar fruit throughout this recovery. I obtain most of my carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and brown rice because I have noticed that when I am not able to exercise (like after a c-section!) and am over-tired from lack of sleep, I don’t respond to grains very well. They cause a noticeable disruption in my blood sugar, namely, I’m usually starving within 90 minutes of eating them, which is a tell-tale sign they are causing a spike and subsequent plummet in blood sugar. It takes a bit of trial and error to figure these things out, but the first step is just to notice it and then you’ll be able to cultivate an awareness of how you respond differently to different foods.
Avoiding exercise was the hardest thing for me and really forced me to pay more attention to my nutrition and supplements. I had another c-section with Lola, so strenuous exercise was off the table for 3 months. I started pelvic floor work early and once my incision started to feel less tender, I started incorporating isometric exercises to help activate the muscles and build stability. Once I had the all clear, I was able to return to normal quite quickly, which I attribute mainly to the fact that I stayed active throughout my entire pregnancy. I brought strength/weights back in first to help with blood sugar balance and slowly upped my cardio as my healing progressed.
“Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. For The Creators has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.”
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