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June 13, 2023 4 min read

I remember after I had my second son, I felt this exhaustion, deep in my bones, straight to my core. I had a very active and strong willed two-year-old and a newborn who didn’t sleep much, but it was deeper than that. I searched unsuccessfully for a word to describe what I was experiencing, and now I can pinpoint that it was postnatal depletion.

 

postnatal-depletion-what-is-it

 

The phrase was coined by Dr. Oscar Serrallach who described postnatal depletion as;

The physical, mental, hormonal, and emotional deterioration caused by pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, lack of sleep and the stresses of motherhood.

 

Postnatal depletion has become a bit of a hot topic, and for good reason; research shows that 50% of mothers are experiencing this. Sadly, our culture accepts this as normal and many new mothers go through motherhood feeling alone and constantly depleted. 

 

postnatal-depletion-about

 

Symptoms of Postnatal Depletion

The clinical symptoms include extreme fatigue, mum rage, overwhelm, brain fog, mood swings, self-doubt, etc. It feels like being so exhausted that your eyes burn and you feel chronically exhausted. Baby brain doesn’t go away and you find yourself forgetting things constantly. Small tasks feel like big ones and overwhelm is a constant, nagging feeling. You question yourself and feel a strong sense of self-doubt. Your brain feels foggy and you struggle to focus and complete a task.  Your emotions feel like a roller-coaster, as you experience so much love and so much frustration at the same time.

As I went through these feelings, I was quick to dismiss them because I had only heard of postnatal depression and I didn’t really fit in that box. There is some overlap between the two but postnatal depression is hallmarked by deeper and more constant feelings of depression and anxiety, and a lack of joy. Because I thought what I was experiencing was the normal challenges of motherhood, I didn’t seek help. Looking back now, there were so many things I could have done to take care of myself better, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Even though postnatal depletion is relatively easy to treat, Dr Serrallach found that;

The ramifications of not treating postnatal depletion could affect women for up to ten years post birth.

 

This tells me that it is definitely not something to ignore or mask. If you are reading this and it is resonating with you, please learn from my mistakes. The way you feel and your health matters, more than you realise. Nourishing and replenishing your body, soul, and mind will help you recover from postnatal depletion.

 

overcome-postnatal-depletion

Your Body

Growing a baby, birthing it, and nourishing it is a magical but incredibly draining task. Our bodies are amazing how they know to give nutrients to our babies through pregnancy and breastfeeding, but as a result, many women can become deficient in essential nutrients like iron, zinc, B12, vitamin D and B-vitamins during this time. These are crucial in creating energy and positive mood. 

I didn’t see it at the time, but seeing a naturopath or doctor would have been worth the time and money that it took. Getting your levels checked and the right supplements to support you can make a massive difference. Make that appointment— the very best gift we can give our children is a healthy and happy mama!

Getting outside and moving your body is one of the first things that goes out the window after a new baby. When you’re exhausted, the last thing you feel like doing is moving but it is one of the best ways to release endorphins. Start small and listen to your body; just a little walk can work wonders!

Nourishing your body is probably one of the last things on your mind when you’re just making it through the day in that newborn haze. I remember living off peanut butter filled pretzels during the day at one point! If you can, spend a little time on a Sunday arvo prepping some nutritious snacks for the week. Or even a simple, whole food delivery service can ensure that you have easy meal options. Drinking enough water was something I often forgot to do so investing in a good water bottle can be a game changer (I love my Yeti!)

I kind of hate the phrase “sleep when the baby is sleeping” but when you have an opportunity, choose rest. Your body needs it and that doesn’t make you lazy.

 

postnatal-depletion-recovery

Your Soul

Being aware of how you’re feeling emotionally is the first step to make sure you’re not getting depleted emotionally. Being honest with someone you trust with how you are really feeling is so liberating.

Motherhood shouldn’t be done alone. Finding a mother’s group or other mums in the same season will help with those feelings of emotional depletion. Solidarity is a powerful feeling and knowing you’re not alone changes everything.

Accept help with it’s offered. Don’t try to do it alone; allow your village to surround you and support you.

Your Mind

Being home doing the mum thing every day can be a bit mind numbing. Making sure that your mind is stimulated is key in not becoming depleted. Whether this means a night out chatting with girlfriends or losing yourself in a good book, prioritize yourself, mentally.

Nature is scientifically proven to boost serotonin. Get outside and feel that sun on your face, you’ll feel better for it!

 

 

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