Mastering Your Hormones Post Baby
Having a baby is a beautiful and joyous time in your life. You just received the best gift anyone could ever give you. From the moment you laid eyes on your beautiful bundle of joy, you were immediately in love. The love between a mother and child is unparalleled. So now, let’s fast forward a few months. You have started to get the hang of this whole new mom thing and finally feel like you’re keeping up. However, you are severely sleep deprived, you cry for no apparent reason, your hair seems to be falling out and oh yeah, those Instagram moms seem to have it all figured out! You might be experiencing some postpartum depression and may not really know what to do. You seem to eat whatever is in front of you because you don’t have time to make a fancy dinner or even think that far in advance. All you can think about is that beautiful bundle of joy, who now, can’t seem to stop crying no matter what you do! It can definitely feel overwhelming and if you haven’t already heard it, you are NOT alone. All new moms are going through this crazy time. Unfortunately, with social media, we only see the totally put together, happy, skinny, perfectly dressed moms, which is totally crushing our morale and making us feel less than.
Truth is, those Instagram moms are struggling too and once we realize this, it can totally change our perspective. They are just like us and they too are dealing with the aftershock of having a baby. Remember that emotional roller-coaster you experienced when you were pregnant? Well, after having a baby, your hormones are still on that crazy roller-coaster. But this time, most new moms are too busy taking care of their new baby to find time for their own health. We all know that women have been having children for centuries and somehow a lot of them bounce back just fine. But for a growing percentage of women, their hormones are just not bouncing back like they used to. In today’s society, women are experiencing radical changes in their hormones like never before. These changes are leading to the development of autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease, and even Lupus. It is also leading to hormonal imbalances that make you unable to lose the baby weight and feel totally exhausted no matter what you do.
As a naturopathic physician specializing in hormone health and fertility, I cannot tell you the number of women I have seen post-partum who went months to years without getting their hormones checked. These women have been feeling chronically fatigued and knew something was wrong but didn’t have the time, the money, the energy, or the resources to get help. If this sounds like you, have no fear, Dr. Zen is here. Today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for mastering your hormones post -baby. I also want to remind you that although you are totally capable of doing everything on your own, seeking professional help will help streamline the process and get you back to feeling like yourself sooner. At the end of the day, the only way you can be the best mom you can be is by getting the support you need to feel your best.
Tip #1) Give Yourself a Break.
Being a new mom can be such an adjustment. Even if this is your second, third or fourth baby, adding this new baby to your family can take some adjustment. Give yourself a break and just roll with it. Often, I see women feeling guilty for not losing the baby weight fast enough, when in reality, they aren’t sleeping, eating or moving in way that even allows this to happen. Give yourself some time to just be a mom and don’t stress yourself out about losing the baby weight. Just take it one day at a time.
Tip #2) Planning is Everything.
Just like your baby likely does best on a routine, you do too. Make a plan so you can prioritize your diet, exercise and sleep. This may mean saying no to certain commitments, tasks, events, friends and even family. Consider a meal subscription service like Green Chef or SunBasket to take the guessing out of grocery shopping and maximize your nutrition. For my local Scottsdale ladies, I really like Protein House, a meal prep service that can help you maximize your nutrition. Another important way to plan is to plan when you get have some much needed alone time and exercise. Ask for help. and get a sitter even for an hour if that means you can plug into your favorite podcast while you walk around the neighborhood.
Tip #3) Diet is Key
I always like to remind my patients that they have at least three chances per day to nurture or torture their body. So, give your body the nutrition it needs to keep up with life as a new mom. With today’s diet trends, there are a million different options, Paleo, Vegan, Keto, Plant- Based, Gluten- Free, Dairy -free and etc. It can feel overwhelming and somehow with all these different options you can feel like there is nothing you CAN eat. First off, breathe, let’s start simple. Start by eating at home more than you eat out. Eat whole-foods that are limited in processed ingredients and artificial sugar. Always shop on the outside edges of the grocery store as everything you need is on the parameter. It is when you start venturing into the aisles that you can be confronted with highly processed foods that provide no nutrition value. Keep it simple and start small.
Tip #4) Keep up with your Prenatal
Remember that pre-natals are supplements and they should do exactly that. They should supplement your good diet, lifestyle and sleep patterns. Don’t assume that your pre-natal will take the place of poor nutrition, lifestyle and lack of sleep. My favorite pre-natal is Pre-natal Pro by Designs for Health. These great packets allow you to get all the activated B vitamins and minerals as well as additional Omega-3 fatty acids that help combat inflammation and help you balance your hormones.
Tip #5) Simple Movement
We all know that you likely don’t have the time or the energy to go to your Instagram mom’s favorite HIIT class three days a week. Trust me, I don’t either but studies have shown that daily gentle movement is more effective in terms of losing weight than less frequent high intensity workouts. That said, start small. Start with a brisk walk for 10-15 minutes a day and gradually move up to 30 minutes a day. I also highly recommend joining a group fitness class to help keep you accountable. This allows you to have the adult connection you may been lacking since you are spending your whole day with your baby.
Tip #6) Get your Hormones Checked!
In my practice, I recommend patients get comprehensive blood work evaluated about two months after giving birth. This gives your body the natural time it needs to understand life after labor and allows your hormones to settle in with breast feeding. Some of the test I order include red and white blood cell count, electrolytes, kidney function, liver function, Iron panel, complete thyroid panel (which includes TSH, FT4, FT3 and thyroid antibodies), all forms of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol levels. I also evaluate for inflammatory markers and vitamin status. Remember, this is NOT typically what your traditional doctor will order for you during your annual labs, so make sure to communicate what you need or work with a functional medicine/ naturopathic doctor who routinely runs comprehensive panels.
Tip #7) Clean your Environment
Unfortunately, we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals every day. Many of these chemicals have been identified as carcinogenic (cancer- causing) as well as are known hormone disruptors. Obviously, we can’t live in a bubble, but we can do whatever it takes to lower our exposure. One of the easiest ways we can do this is by reducing our daily chemical exposure at home. Use apps like “Think Dirty” or “Healthy Living” to scan your current products and find cleaner alternatives. Limit your hormone disrupting chemicals by switching to clean natural skincare and beauty products. Avoid your exposure to harmful hormone disruptors like BPA by getting rid of all the plastic in your home and opting for glass storage containers and stainless-steel water bottles and straws.
Okay ladies, now it’s your turn. I want you to put these seven tips in a place you will see them every day. This can be on your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, or as your lock screen on your phone. Start with implementing one step at a time and move through the list. If you get stuck or can’t find what you are looking for click here to book a FREE 15 minute consultation to find out how I can uniquely help you and your health.
Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD
A licensed naturopathic physician specializing in Women's Hormones and Fertility providing integrative healthcare options that get to the root cause of your unique symptoms. She has been featured as an expert in publications including Shape, Elite Daily and Forbes.
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