Yes, it sure is. And if you’ve had a baby in the last few years (or even the past decade) and are asking yourself whether you will ever feel energised and vital again, you may well be suffering from this under-recognised syndrome.
Postnatal depletion is a collection of symptoms that encompass not only the physical but the psychological and emotional. Set in motion by the huge amounts of nutrients required to carry, birth and then potentially breastfeed a baby; then compounded by chronic sleep deprivation and the stress of motherhood, postnatal depletion can really take the joy out of being a parent if left unchecked.
With so much focus placed on the pregnancy and birth of the child, many parents feel that post-birth they are left to struggle through on their own, often with minimal physical or emotional support. Over time, this can lead to the onset of symptoms including brain fog, fatigue (often extreme), headaches, heightened sensitivity to light/sound/smells, and other not-so-fun stuff like hair loss, dry skin and brittle nails, and receding gums.
Emotionally there are also big shifts that take place. During pregnancy, the brain physically changes to develop the areas that will make it more attuned to the needs of her child. This, combined with major hormonal changes, disrupted circadian rhythm, and the inevitable social and psychological pressures that come with being a new parent, can be a recipe for a barrage of unwanted emotions. These may include fear and hyper-vigilance, anxiety, anger, guilt, overwhelm, and feelings of isolation and insignificance.
These symptoms may persist for years, and with the birth of subsequent children may even continue to worsen. Hence the importance of starting to address some of these issues sooner rather than later. Many mothers lack key micronutrients such as iron and zinc; correcting these deficiencies alone can make a real difference to energy levels and mood.
Macronutrients need to be rebuilt as well and this involves implementing a whole-food diet with appropriate levels of fats, protein and carbohydrates. Whilst this may seem like mission impossible for weary and time-poor new parents, it is highly achievable with the correct guidance and support.
Similarly, the hormone dysregulation present in postnatal depletion can be addressed through appropriate diet and lifestyle changes, and the addition of herbal medicine is a major component here, with a wide range of herbs available to support the restoration and revitalisation of the mind and body.
Postnatal depletion can make every day feel like a struggle, but with the correct treatment, it can quickly be forgotten, to let you get on with the important task of enjoying parenthood.
As we help our patients through their fertility journeys, we always encourage all our parents to be to focus on preparing for their postpartum period. However, it's never too late to address the physical and emotional stresses of becoming a parent. Please speak to one of our naturopaths today if you need help. Book your appointment online here