It’s no secret that during pregnancy and after birth, your hormones go on a crazy rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows. While it’s normal to feel tired and anxious about being a new mom, there are many postpartum issues that can be attributed to hormonal changes and imbalances. It’s easy to dismiss new symptoms and challenges as part of the postpartum process, but it’s important to understand that hormones play a significant role in our physical and mental well-being. Let’s take a closer look at how hormones affect your body after birth and how you can take steps to restore hormonal imbalances.
What causes hormonal imbalance after birth?
The postpartum hormone drop that occurs in the first 48 hours after birth is the single largest hormonal change over the shortest time period that a woman experiences in her life. During pregnancy, the placenta produces progesterone levels that are 70 fold normal levels (1). Once the placenta is delivered, these levels fall to a baseline of zero by 2 days postpartum. Estrogen levels also plummet 90-95% after delivery. This sudden hormonal change is one of the reasons for the common “baby blues” that new mothers experience, which manifests as moodiness, depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues.
What does hormonal imbalance look like?
Irregular, painful, or heavy menstrual cramps
Fatigue and lethargy
If the progesterone and estrogen levels do not normalize and remain imbalanced, it can have a cascading effect on other hormones as well. The following conditions can occur:
Hypothyroidism – estrogen dominance can interfere with thyroid function by limiting the availability of the thyroid hormone in the blood, which means they can’t be used as energy for the body. The thyroid plays a role in metabolism, temperature regulation, and weight management. Symptoms include loss of energy, fatigue, difficulty losing weight, cold intolerance, dry skin, hair loss, poor memory, slow wound repair, constipation, loss of libido, and depression (2,3).
Adrenal fatigue – Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in high numbers during pregnancy and birth, which can often deplete the nutrient stores that required to make the hormone. The adrenal glands are unable to keep up with the body’s demands and become worn out, leading to symptoms including severe fatigue, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, decreased immunity, headaches, mood swings, and irregular cycles.
Regaining hormonal balance
Prolonged stress and exhaustion can become especially challenging in the postpartum period, so restoring your body’s hormonal balance is important to improve your physical and mental well-being. In order to regain hormonal balance and function, it is important to nourish your body with the necessary nutrients and optimize your health through lifestyle changes. The following can help promote balanced hormone levels:
Incorporate healthy fats into your diet – A variety of fats are essential for the production of hormones, so eating anti-inflammatory, healthy fats like avocado, fatty fish, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, nuts, and seeds can help keep your hormones in check while providing other benefits.
Other beneficial nutrients for hormonal balance include selenium (brazil nuts, tuna, liver), zinc (oysters, liver, nuts, seeds), vitamin A (liver, butter, egg yolk, sweet potatoes, carrots), vitamin D (fatty fish, liver, butter, egg yolk), essential fatty acids (fish oil, flax seeds, walnuts, primrose and borage oil), and protein (cold water fish, grass-fed beef and poultry), B-vitamins (liver, organ meats, nutritional yeast), and probiotic-containing foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha) (3).
Reduce inflammatory foods – refined carbohydrates, added sugars, trans fats, casein (dairy), gluten, and vegetable oils.
Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
Drink enough liquids – breastfeeding women can require up to 13 cups a day. Try to drink mostly filtered water, sip on bone broth and tea, consume soups, smoothies and other healing drinks like golden milk to help you reach this goal. Mother Nutrient offers an amazing golden milk powder with grass-fed collagen especially designed for postpartum mothers. It contains a highly absorbable form of turmeric (anti-inflammatory), fenugreek to aid in milk production, superfood moringa, cinnamon bark for better blood sugar regulation and a few other healing herbs. Check it out here.
Try Ashwagandha, an adaptogen herb – Research has shown that adaptogen herbs can help improve thyroid function (4), support adrenal function (5), stabilize blood sugar levels (6), and reduce depression and anxiety. It can also help boost your milk supply (7). Read about the Organic Ashwagandha extract that we offer!
Reduce stress through regular exercise, more sleep, meditation or mindfulness exercises, skin-to-skin contact with your baby, and reaching out for help and support from friends and family.
Taking a postnatal multivitamin complex with DHA is a good way to ensure you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs to support healthy hormone production. We designed a postnatal supplement with both DHA and EPA, and high doses of nutrients for improved healing.
It can be overwhelming to feel like your body is out of sync and stressed, but you are not alone! The first step is to recognize any symptoms you may be having and reach out for help. Your doctor can help check your hormone levels through simple tests.
Mother Nutrient knows that it’s challenging to take care of yourself when you are already taking care of a baby (or more children), so our goal is to help restore physical, emotional, and mental well-being through holistic nutrition.
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Content found on this website is not considered medical advice. Please consult with a physician before making any medical or lifestyle changes.
1. Tulchinsky D, Hobel C, Yeager E, Marshall J. Plasma estrone, estradiol, estriol, progesterone, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone in human pregnancy. I. Normal pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1972;112:1095-100.
2. Hendrick V, Altshuler L, Suri R. Hormonal Changes in the Postpartum and Implications for Postpartum Depression. Psychosomatics. 1998;39:93-101.
3. Bauman E, Friedlander J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College; 2015.
4. Kalani A, Bahtiyar G, Sacerdote A. Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. Case Reports. 2012;2012:bcr2012006989-bcr2012006989.
5. Panda S, Kar A. Changes in Thyroid Hormone Concentrations after Administration of Ashwagandha Root Extract to Adult Male Mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 1998;50:1065-1068.
6. Najmi A, Mohd A, Mohd A, Mohd M, Pillai K, Khan V. A pharmacological appraisal of medicinal plants with antidiabetic potential. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2012;4:27.
7. Simpson A. Boost Your Breast Milk: An All-In-One Guide For Nursing Mothers To Build A Healthy Milk Supply. New York: The Experiment; 2017.