The Baby Blues in New Mums
Depression, Anxiety & New Mums
In my osteopathy and naturopathic clinic in West Sussex, I very often have women consult me for anxiety issues that have progressed on to taking anti-depression medications. I want to describe a very common pattern I have noticed and you can see if it applies to you. If it does there may be some nutritional advice you can take on board to help you feel better.
What I have noticed is that women can trace their deterioration in health back to around the time they had a baby (or second or third). I specialise in treating babies in my clinic and speak to many mums each week so I know that new mums eat very poorly. They are too busy and tired putting their new child first and not feeding themselves well.
Other problems they mention are:
- Constantly tired and sluggish
- Unable lose the baby weight they’ve gained or be able to get their “old” body back
- Hormone swings
- Thyroid problems
- Joint pain
- Digestive problems
- Hair falling out
When mums are pregnant their body is so clever that it will strip nutrition from them to supply their growing baby. Basically, sacrificing the mum for the baby. This is the first factor. If a pregnant mum isn’t eating optimally then their baby will pull the nutrition out of them for their baby to be healthy.
The second factor is not eating well once their baby is born. I have spoken to mums at length about this. This is what a new mum will very commonly eat: Cereal with milk, toast, cheese sandwich, pasta, toast….?
A few mums have even laughed and said they eat cereal 3 times a day. If I could summarise how mums eat it would be “not like they usually would eat” as I frequently get told. Does this ring any bells with you? Mums really over-do certain foods. They pick a food they can make with one arm holding their new baby and eat that all the time. This could be chocolate, toast, cereals or anything else that’s a quick and easy snack but this doesn’t translate into the best fuel for mum!
I recently asked 40 of my new mums for their diet diaries and looked at what they ate. Here is a summary of what I found:
- Lacking Protein foods
- Ate a high sugar and refined carbohydrate diet (pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits)
- Generally deficient in Vitamin D3
- Generally low in omega-3 fat consumption (this is essential for brain function and hormone balance!)
- Ate irregularly and had poor blood sugar balance
- Ate a calorie restricted diet as many were dieting
- Ate low amounts of fresh fruit & veg
Things like vitamin deficiencies and omega-3 healthy fat deficiency are known contributors to depression and have also been found to be beneficial when added back into the diet.
A women’s hormone balance can also effect mood. What’s not known is that female hormones and vitamin D are made out of good cholesterol (HDL). Cholesterol is found in good levels in meats, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and wild salmon. Many mums are consuming carbohydrate for quick energy rather than meat and therefore may not be providing themselves with the ingredients to get their hormones back in balance. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or take much time to prepare! Here are some quick & healthy alternatives to try:
- 100% Rye toast with smashed avocado or smoked wild salmon & cream cheese
- Plain yogurt/kefir with berries, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon
- Snack on olives or raw nuts
- Hard boiled free range eggs or egg yolks
I personally believe that many of the illnesses a mum has are closely related to the time AFTER they’ve had a baby is down to a period of nutritional deficiency. Stress, lack of sleep and exercise after having a new baby can contribute to anxiety and depression. By simple changes to eating habits, supplementing with a high- quality multivitamin and probiotic a mum can get back on track and start to feel better.
I have written 3 e-books to help mums improve their health after having a baby.