Keeping mum full of energy
Prior to falling pregnant I followed you religiously as well as during my pregnancy, and I really ate very clean and looked after myself. I also managed to cure myPCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
I have an 11 month old, and I do not think I will get decent sleep any time soon. I have put on weight since the baby was born (I didn’t actually put on that much while I was pregnant). Any advice on what foods and supplements can give me the energy I need to get through this difficult period in my life? I want to give my baby the support she needs to help her learn to sleep gently and I want to keep breast-feeding. Thanks, Lou
Hi Lou. It can be physically and emotionally challenging to get back on your feet after a baby arrives, and this can be more difficult if there are additional young ones at home and if the mother is not well supported. Hormonally, nutritionally and emotionally, things can take time to restore.
In my experience, it is critical for a mumto work with a health professional experienced in this area, one who understands the way biochemistry, nutrition and emotions interplay. Typically, iron and zinc will be too low for the body to make the substances required for happiness and optimism, and these often need to be supplemented.
Testing these levels first is important. Other nutrients that may need focus include vitamin C, vitamin D and magnesium. The omega-3 fat DHA is an essential supplement for a depleted mum. This is vital for nervous system (including the brain) support, as well as hormonal balance. Oily fish supply DHA, and there are now some good-quality supplements derived from algae. Also, the body can convert another omega-3 fat found in plants (such as flaxseeds and chia seeds), known as EPA, into DHA; however, the efficiency of the body to do this seems highly individual. Some studies suggest this conversion is up-regulated during pregnancy but not lactation. The focus for the depleted mumneeds to be on easy, practical meals made from whole, real foods that are nutrient-dense.
Seeking support is also critical. If you feel as though you may be experiencing post-natal depletion, let a friend know and seek professional support, such as the help of a psychologist.
Restorative practices that activate the rest and repair arm of the nervous system are also a critical part of recovery from depletion. Restorative yoga, Stillness Through Movement, and acupuncture are all beautiful and highly effective. Email your questions for Dr Libby to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered.
I often suffer from cold sores, I’ve heard that Lysine is beneficial – is there any evidence behind this? Thanks, Rob.
Hi Rob. Several studies suggest that supplementing with the amino acid lysine may help reduce the number of recurring outbreaks of cold sores.
A few studies also suggest that lysine may help to shorten the length of an outbreak.
Taking lysine or obtaining more lysine in your diet, from foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, and potatoes, may assist recovery and reduce the chance of recurrent breakouts of this herpes infection.
It’s always best to consult a health professional before taking supplements, particularly if you take prescription medication or have any health conditions. I would also stress that zinc is supportive for the immune system and stress management techniques are also important – often cold sore outbreaks occur when the nervous system is overwhelmed.
If you feel as though you may be experiencing post-natal depletion, let a friend know and seek professional support, such as the help of a psychologist.