INFORMATION EVERY MOTHER SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
NUTRITIONAL, HORMONAL AND NEUROCHEMICAL BALANCE
AS IT RELATES TO POSTPARTUM
1) NUTRITION: The structure and function of every organ, gland, muscle and bone in our bodies are dependent upon adequate nutrition. Most physicians are ill informed about the mysteries of biochemical nutrition - the study of nutritional building blocks as they relate to the form and function of the body. You can test MicroNutrients in a blood test or you can do MicroNutrient testing to assess your vitamin, mineral and antioxidant deficiencies on the cellular level.
2) TESTING: Every person's nutrient needs and hormonal or neurochemical balance are different. Some might require higher levels of a certain nutrient than others, and what may be a very minor, nonproblematic nutrient, hormonal or neurochemical deficiency in one person can cause significant symptoms in another. Lab tests (blood tests, urine tests, saliva tests, stool tests and /or hair analysis) can be used to find the root of the imbalance. The science of laboratory testing becomes an art are when it comes time to interpret the results. (see Testing 101)
3) PREGNANCY: A baby's body is built entirely from the nutrient reserves of its mother. If a developing baby is in need of key nutrients when there are not enough to go around, the baby's needs always come first. The mother goes without and any nutritional deficiencies affect the mother unless there is severe nutrient deficiencies which can also affect baby's development and health. While most prenatal vitamins have enough of the basic vitamins and minerals to fulfill the needs of the growing baby, they fall short of supplying adequate amounts for both baby and mother. In addition, some of the most crucial nutrient building blocks for the baby's body are completely missing. (See Supplements 101)
4) A MOTHER'S BODY: A new mom's body is in constant overdrive. Functioning on little sleep with a body that has been through great challenge mom's face the task of caring for a baby. The resources for accomplishing this stressful transition come from the nutrients that make up our tissues and enter our body in the form of food or whole food supplements. Breastfeeding is a continuous drain on the protein, fat and mineral reserves of the mother's body. Every time a mom breastfeeds it's like running 5 miles - nutrition must be impeccible. Stress uses up more of all the nutrients needed to keep the body working smoothly and a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars and unhealthy fats such as those in fried foods will actually rob a mother's body of vital nutrients especially if a mom has lost a significant amount of blood during delivery or had to have an emergency C-section.
5) HORMONE BALANCE: Hormones are so delicately balanced in pregnancy that a variation of only a few miligrams of hormone can prevent or interrupt a pregnancy or cause prematre or late delivery. When it comes to pregnancy, birth and postpartum months, there is really no such thing as "normal". Each woman requires individualized attention. Hormones can shift into an unbalanced state leading to anxiety, depression and other psychological and physical problems. This state of imbalance will differ from woman to woman - not only because of large differences in hormone levels, but also because each woman's body is unique in the way it responds to those hormones. A new mom's estrogen levels (our natural anti-depressant) plummet by 90 to 95 percent and progesterone levels (which makes us relaxed) fall to nearly zero within forty-eight hours of giving birth. This huge shift in hormone levels can have powerful emotional repercussions, including anxiety, depression and moodiness. Estrogen and progesterone stay low for some time, usually until the mother begins to supplement her baby's diet with solids or formula. While reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone are the primary hormones of pregnancy, other hormones also have an important effect on the health and well-being of Mama and Baby, especially postpartum. These include hormones produced by the adrenal glands, thyroid gland, pancreas and pituitary gland.
6) HORMONE TESTING: To find out if hormones are out of balance a new mom needs to test her hormone levels. Most of the usual tests used in physicians' offices cannot pick up on your levels of "free," or bioavailable, hormones. The exception to this rule are the thyroid hormone test and the glucose tolerance test for insulin activity. Estrogens, progesterone, and DHEA must be measured with either the saliva hormone radioimmunoassay (RIA) which measures the levels of those hormones in saliva) or a twenty-four hour urine hormone test, rather than blood tests. The saliva and urine tests give a more accurate measure of whether a deficiency of those hormones merits further nutritional support or natural hormone supplementation. This is because blood tests measure protein-bound, in-active hormone, while the saliva and urine tests measure unbound, free, active hormones. ZRT Labs provide separate test kits for specific hormone profiles. The test kits contain step by step instructions and specimin tubes which can be sent back to labs via regular mail. New Mom's will benefit greatly from a Baseline Hormone and Adrenal Profil which tests estrone, estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S and cortisol. (Source: ZRT Labs)
7) SLEEP: For postpartum mom's sleep is vital for optimal brain function. During REM, the brain replenishes glycogen and rebuilds the brain's cache of neurotransmitters, neural growth factors and cell building proteins depleted in waking hours. Chemicals important to the immune system are also secreted by the brain during sleep. Sleep deprivation sends the brain in a tailspin and profoundly affects the amygdala involved in emotion related processes and instrumental in calming down the fight or flight reflex. Inadequate rest results in temporary depression and anxiety. Two or 3 good nights sleep can restore brain function. And 7 deep breaths sweeps fresh oxygen to the brain making mom's feel more relaxed and clear minded. (Source: The Winner's Brain, Brown, Jeffrey)
.(more to come)