Written by Valerie Griffith, CLD
What is postnatal depletion?
Postnatal depletion is a compilation of stressful events in a short period of time that leads to decreased wellbeing in a woman. She has experienced suboptimal nurturing and self-care in many ways, including her nutritional, sleep, and psychological needs. Due to this deprivation, her levels become insufficient and depleted.
What are the physical symptoms of postnatal depletion?
· debilitating fatigue
· insomnia or non-restful sleep
· sensitivity to light and sound
· brain fog
· dry skin, soft nails, thin hair, reduced gums,& easy bruising
What are the emotional symptoms of postnatal depletion?
· decreased libido
· loss of confidence
· sense of isolation
· sense of powerlessness
What leads to postnatal depletion?
1) Stress- Having an unsupportive job or short maternal leave, financial challenges, sleep deprivation, adapting to baby’s ongoing needs, and the physical stressors of parenthood all are taxing on the maternal body.
2) Social impacts- There are unfortunately many implied judgements or shaming felt by new parents from their social circle, however well-intentioned. It is likely that from this same group of friends and family that there will be more social emphasis on the care and support towards baby over the needs of the mother. Additionally, competitiveness between new parents, a lack of maternal support, and parenting choice-overload can be a huge burden for any parent to manage.
3) Predisposing physical factors- How well you are able to ward off postnatal depletion is impacted by your age, health status, level of inflammation already present in your body, and the robustness (or lack there of) of the microbiome in your gut.
4) Environment- If we bombard our body’s detoxification system to overload, it can take quite a while to clear out of the body. Also, overwhelming toxin exposures lead to inflammation and chronic illnesses. Symptoms of this happening include lethargy, sugar cravings, brain fog, muscle soreness, and sleep problems.
What is needed to prevent postnatal depletion?
1) Sleep- Adequate sleep allows for the body to reset, relax, and de-stress. When appropriate amounts of sleep is lacking it is common to feel negative emotions, sadness, anger, negative self talk, reduced self esteem, and decreased marital satisfaction
2) Purpose- Having a personal mission statement and a sense you are actively working towards it is an important contributor to vitality. This sense of “why” provides personal peace and happiness.
3) Activity- Movement is good for physical and emotional health. It may also bring enjoyment and variation to your days.
4) Nutrition- The quality of your nutritional intake determines how much energy, focus, and sleep you are able to obtain. Nutritional health includes what, how, and when you eat. Replenishment of nutritional needs first impacts organs, then hormones, and then emotional state- eventual improvement to all parts of the internal environment.
Why is postnatal depletion so common?
· Western societies have lost the standard of care more traditional societies possess such as rituals and ceremonies. Many of those cultures provide intentional practices, protection, support, respect, & privacy that contribute to nurturing vitality for both mother and child up to a year postpartum. Imagine how much of a blessing that would be to mothers living in western culture, too!
With Postnatal depletion a mother may feel dreadful, much like with postpartum depression, but life at its essence still feels good, and experiencing pleasure is still possible.
This is not the case in clinical postpartum depression that is much deeper and pervasive with much joylessness.
If you or a loved one show signs of either condition you should consider being medically evaluated and both your hormones and micronutrient levels checked. Additionally, doula care and support will help nurture all areas postpartum wellness requires. Book with Blessed Mama Birth Care today and we will work together customize your postpartum doula support to your individual needs!