PHOTOS BY MIKE HARRISON
ARE YOU DEPLETED?
One of my life dreams was to become a mother. Since I was a little girl, growing up with 3 brothers, I used to play with my mom pretending she would be the grandmother. These very vivid memories were reinforced with early play at the age of 6 or so.
Fast forward, at the age of 30, that dream became true. My heart smiles reminiscing on that first time when my husband and I met each and every one of our 4 children. They are a gift from above.
After the birth of our second baby, I remember talking to other health providers, friends and family members about some of the signs and symptoms I had and we all considered this as a part of being a mom with small children “thing”. Even though none of these symptoms were debilitating, I was not feeling like myself.
These symptoms improved for a while, but after the birth of our fourth child, they resurged and this time worse. I had a great support system, could enjoy life, people and events around me, but there were some other symptoms that triggered me to look further.
As a health care provider, I was well aware of the term Postnatal Depression, but did not know about Postnatal syndrome.
Dr. Oscar Serrallach, medical trained doctor in Australia practicing functional medicine with a special interest in postnatal well-being, believes that a key difference between Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Depletion is that with Postnatal depression there is an inability to drive pleasure from things that previously did bring joy and pleasure. He believes that for some women postnatal depression occurs at the severe end of the spectrum of the postnatal depletion syndrome.
According to Dr. Oscar Serrallach, Postnatal Depletion could be affecting about 50% of women with symptoms of poor concentration (baby brain), poor memory, often debilitating fatigued, disturbed or non-restful sleep, anxiety, decreased libido, guilt/shame, inability to cope, frustration, sense of isolation, sense of powerless/diminishment. He believes that this can be suffered for even a decade after given birth and the causes are multifactorial. Here are some of the factors he considers important.
First of all, pregnancy and postnatal periods could be physically, chemically and emotionally demanding for women (and partners as well). Starting with the formation of the placenta, which is mainly formed by the men’s sperm, has an important role to filter and transport nutrients, required for the development of the fetus. It will bring these nutrients from the food the mother eats, but also from her own body in case her foods are not nourishing enough. This fact could explain in part the postnatal depletion syndrome.
Secondly, our society is on continual stress, specially our Western world. We have not trained our generations that rest and relaxation are important, needed and essential. We need to turn off that switch from time to time to give our body time to feel, integrate, process different emotions, learn from it and recharge to improve. The intense stress and lack of rest, has a profound effect on hormones, immune function, brain structure, inflammation and gut health.
It is important to look at other cultures and recognized that mothers have a substantial different and enlarged support from immediate family, friends and overall community. They are also nourished with foods full of nutrients specially during the first weeks postpartum which help to replenish nutrients and decrease inflammation. In contrast, in our culture, we have a perceived notion that the mother has to be “everything,” causing many mothers to suffer in silence by not receiving the education, information, or support. In addition to that, here in U.S. a large percentage of our diet these days are from processed, nutrient-poor foods, which could cause even further inflammation in the mother’s bodies.
All this could be prevented if we start with healthier couples and an awareness of what we can do to prevent or correct postnatal depletion.
When we learn better, we can do better!
In his book tittled The Postnatal Depletion Cure, Dr. Serrallach considers that there are four pillars of health, which I have slightly modified to include alignment due to my own observations in my clinical practice. These are: sleep, purpose, activity/alignment and nutrition with the acronym SPAN.
Starting with Sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation an adult in average should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. But, did you know that in the first year of parenting the average sleep debt is 700 hours, according to research? Yes, that much lack of sleep. The brain cycles through sleep stages over ninety-minutes period, therefore disturbing the little sleep you manage to get (especially as a new parent) will not be restorative but instead leave you feeling drained like a zombie. Some of the tips to get into a deep, restorative sleep recommend the following:
1. Limit the exposure to blue light an hour before you go to sleep, this kind of light is found in electronic devices, TV’s, LED, fluorescent lights and others. The reason for this is that the pineal gland that produces melatonin, hormone responsible to regulate your rhythms of awake and sleep is very sensitive to blue light. The pineal gland may interpret the blue light coming from these devices as daytime giving the body information to stay awake and release cortisol for energy instead of melatonin to sleep.
2. These techniques may also help with relaxation: yoga, meditation, prayer, acupuncture, stretching, aromatherapy and massage.
In terms of Purpose: Following up with a psychologist, life coach, mentor may be necessary to help mothers to find a healthy balance between family life and personal growth and support.
Regarding Activity and Alignment: The best type of exercise is activity, and if it is fun and social, mothers are much more likely to participate often. We have to remember that structure also determines function, therefore, making sure that your spine and body is properly aligned, will help with the overall optimal function of the nervous system and chiropractic care may help with that.
Lastly, but not of less importance is Nutrition. Dr. Serrallach has found that an important factor to consider in the care of women with Postnatal Depletion is to help restore macro and micronutrients. Our cells and their functions are highly dependent on these.
In terms of micronutrients we should consume foods rich in copper, magnesium, iodine, selenium, manganese, iron, zinc and Vitamins B’s (all vitamin B’s are important), Vitamin C, and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K.
Amongst macronutrients he recommends to ensure consumption of DHA fats such as Omega-3 found in egg yolks, organ meats, ghee and butter. There are also alternative from plant-based sources such as flaxseed.
It is important to pay attention to the proper consumption of proteins and amino-acids, which are building blocks of muscles and collagen.
Dr. Serrallach also considers that it may be very beneficial to get important hormones checked such as the thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and cortisol.
I have personally and clinically have seen great changes in the overall health when these factors are addressed properly.
Disclaimer: This article nor the information it contains should be construed as a medical advice. It is important to consult with a health care provider before supplementing with any vitamins or minerals, due to the fact that some may interfere with some other medications or may not be appropriate for you to take if you have a particular condition. It is best to consult with your health care provider.
About the Author: Dr. Yasellyn Diaz-Vega is native of Puerto Rico but has reside in upstate NY since 2001. She has a doctorate degree in Chiropractic. She enjoys spending time with her family, going for walks, discovering beautiful places and reading. She specializes in Chiropractic care for women, prenatal and pediatric care.
This column has been created with the name of a VIP community group on Facebook with the same name with the intent to empower and support women in all stages of their lives. As women we share many common denominators, face similar circumstances and world views from a woman perspective. This column looks to provide a space where we can provide information and tips about health topics, mindset and others. Join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2441329862629586/