Australian Doctor Oscar Serrallach recently shared his learnings about Postnatal Depletion on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop blog, detailing the long lasting physical toll taken on a mother after bringing a child into the world. His title of postnatal depletion is startlingly accurate and has struck a chord (big time) with women worldwide. His findings are one of the best pieces I have read in this field of work.
With up to 50% of women believed to be affected, and up to seven years after birth (yep…seven!), it’s great to see this issue take centre stage. Best of all, it’s taking stage with credvia a biochemical approach, with a focus on the physiological impacts of the role of the placenta.
Here’s what I know about postnatal depletion:
1. It feels good to give it a name
Phew! So I’m not just dreaming this up? This is a real thing? Awesome! Continual exhaustion, feeling at the end of your tether regularly, thinning hair and a range of other pesky physical symptoms can easily get lost in the martyrdom of motherhood. All of this can lead to a very disconcerting feeling of being more than a little disconnected with yourself. Giving all of this a name authenticates that these feelings are not only real, they are normal and they are common. There’s a big sense of relief that comes with this.
2. Having a scientific definition validates the feeling that ‘this mothering gig is hard’
Mothering is way more demanding than I ever anticipated. The most complex of relationships and a gig that challenges you in ways you never imagined. Knowing the biochemistry behind this phase of life helps puts things into perspective. Knowledge of how the miraculous placenta which gives so much life to your baby is also draining so much life from you as the mother, makes sense. Scientific knowledge of the depletion of the maternal body highlights our need for replenishment. Replenishment that many modern societies aren’t addressing or acknowledging.
3. You’re not alone
If you’ve got even an inkling that you are, or have been, affected by postnatal depletion, you are not alone mama. Having three babies in four years, I’ve definitely felt it in each of my energy bodies – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Every mama client I work with presents with it, whether they are three months into this mothering gig, or three years. Being open about this and creating greater societal acknowledgement will allow us all to feel more supported.
4. It’s best not to ignore it
Ever had a health issue and thought ‘it’ll get better in time’ or ‘everyone feels like this, it’s normal’? If you had, you wouldn’t be alone. As nature intended, a mothers focus is on the care of her baby. Detrimentally putting her own needs secondary to the babies, a mother is at risk of neglecting simple measures that could in fact avoid this depletive state.
There is actually loads a mother can do to promote healing hormonally, nutritionally and emotionally. Learning to replenish vitamins and minerals adequately through healthy eating and supplementation, learning to self-nurture (guilt free) and practise effective relaxation techniques. Focusing on optimising sleep, physical activity and lifestyle factors and importantly (but least commonly done) gaining support from professionals (counsellors, life coaches, energy healers) to assist with these lifestyle changes and emotional challenges.
5. The modern world can learn from this (it could be time to go a little ‘old school’)
The modern ‘supermum’ who returns to work, fitness and socialising, all at lightning speed, looking pretty cute and with a huge smile on her face is mighty impressive (and let’s face it, it feels pretty damn good for a brief moment). But this model of motherhood does nothing for societies understanding of the nurturing required of mothers with young babies.
Ancient cultures ritualised the first 40 days of motherhood with nurturing, replenishment and the support of ‘the village’. Perhaps this new title and awareness of postnatal depletion will open all of our eyes to the need to create modern rituals and a new acceptance of what it takes to properly nourish and nurture mothers. After all, the mother is the greatest energetic influencer of the child, so we have so much to gain from better care of mothers.
Written by, guest Fiona Trewhitt, a Melbourne based Maternal Wellbeing Specialist, International Holistic Life and Wellness Coach, founder of Mumafit, creator of the popular Mumafit app, and most importantly, devoted mum to three young children (birthed within four years…yikes!). www.mumafit.com.au/