Dietary Supplements Shown to Help Eliminate Postpartum Blues

Dietary Supplements Shown to Help Eliminate Postpartum Blues

Alexis Reid

This week I wanted to take some time to expand on the recent Facebook Live Video I did on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto’s study on Postpartum Blues. To read the study, please click here. I think this research is great in that brings to light simple interventions that new moms can do at home to help ease their transition after giving birth.

Postpartum Blues are quite common after giving birth, and usually start around 4-7 days postpartum. Postpartum Blues and Postpartum Depression are not the same thing, but when the blues get severe it significantly increases a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. Many women do not suffer depressive symptoms at all but are afflicted with a strong Postpartum Anxiety. Postpartum Blues are caused by a surge in the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down our “happy neurotransmitters” dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Having less dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine can lead to feelings of sadness and lack of motivation. An increase in monoamine oxidase is also observed in people who suffer from depression, so trying to reduce this surge soon after it starts is an essential component of successful treatment of Postpartum Blues. The typical peak for monoamine oxidase levels in women is 5 days postpartum.

The supplement that they used in this study contained 3 key ingredients

  • Tryptophan- Building block of serotonin
  • Tyrosine- Building block of dopamine
  • Blueberry Extract- Anti-inflammatory effects

 

The participants were given the supplements in the following manner

Night of Postpartum Day 3- Blueberry extract and Juice

Morning of Postpartum Day 4- Blueberry extract and Juice

Night of Postpartum Day 4- Blueberry extract and Juice and 2g L-tryptophan

Morning of Postpartum Day 5- Blueberry extract and Juice and 10g L-tyrosine

 

The levels given of L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine are higher than you would get from diet alone, but they were determined to be safe for breastfeeding.

Results: On postpartum day 5 the women underwent tests to assess their mood. One of the ways they were tested is via sad mood induction, which measured their ability to be resilient against sad events. The women read statements that expressed pessimism, dissatisfaction and lethargy, and listened to sad classical music.  Depressive symptoms were measured both before and after. There was a stark difference in the women who received the supplements and those who did not. The women who received the supplements did not experience any depressed mood, while the women who did not receive the supplements had an increase in depression scores.

These results are very impressive! Having worked with many postpartum moms in my practice, I know it is considered common place for moms to feel very down and out mood wise for the 4-10 days after giving birth. This simple intervention can help to stabilize mood in these moms which could help to smooth out their transition to mother hood and would make them more resilient to the challenges that early breast feeding can present.

This study is great example of how our moods can be so greatly impacted by the foods we eat.

Another well studied intervention for Postpartum Blues and Postpartum Depression is fish oil. Fish oil, specifically the DHA component of the oil can help to stabilize mom’s mood and helps with baby’s brain growth postpartum.

One great way to help a new mom is to feed them! Here is a recipe for a postpartum smoothie that is high in the nutrients necessary to help reduce the symptoms of Postpartum Blues

Postpartum Blues Smoothie

Serves 2

2 Cups Water

2 Cups Baby Spinach

1 ½ Cups Frozen Blueberries

3-4 Chunks Frozen Pineapple

1 Avocado

¼ Cup Cashews (soaked in water)

¼ Cup Hemp Seeds (soaked in water)

  • Combine Cashews, Hemp Seeds and Water and allow to soak for 10-20 min before blending. Blend until very smooth
  • Add in Baby Spinach, Frozen Blueberries, Frozen Pineapple, and Avocado. Blend again until smooth. Divide into glasses and enjoy!

 

Did you suffer from Postpartum Blues? Please share in the comments below

 

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata. To schedule your appointment, click here 

 

 

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Are Your Periods Much Worse Since Having a Baby?

Are Your Periods Much Worse Since Having a Baby?

Alexis Reid

Something that has come up A LOT in my office, is how much worse your post baby periods can be. I am not just talking about the first few cycles after you have a baby, but the changes in your periods that last for years! Whenever I come across something that I am seeing in a lot of patients, that is not talked about very much, I make it my mission to get the bottom of it. Today I am going to go over what causes your period to get worse after having a baby and share a few things that you can do to help get things back to being more manageable.

For starters, what is a normal period? Many of us have no idea that what we think is just “a little off” could actually be the sign of an underlying medical concern. While pain, heavy bleeding, terrible mood swings, headaches, bloating, cravings and breast tenderness are common, they are not NORMAL.

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What to Drink When You Give Up Coffee

What to Drink When You Give Up Coffee

Alexis Reid1 comment

See, I was telling you the truth. The picture with this blog post is of my weekend morning coffee. As I said in last week’s blog post: Coffee, Friend or Foe, there are 3 groups of people who should not be drinking coffee on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I fall into one of those groups. So why am I posting a picture of my coffee then? I took a 1 month total coffee vacation, and now have 1-2 cups/week on the weekend. I find that my body tolerates it much better, and it does not negatively impact my adrenal glands.

I know many of you are wanting to try reducing your coffee intake so that it becomes something you enjoy drinking, not a crutch to help get you through the day. Depending on how much coffee you are currently consuming, you may experience coffee withdrawal symptoms. Going through coffee withdrawal can happen from drinking as little as one cup/day, if that is what you have been drinking for a significant period of time, say 2-3 years. Withdrawal symptoms typically appear 1-3 days after having your last cup of coffee.

Coffee Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headache, especially behind they eyes. Magnesium can be helpful 
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Reduced concentration/brain fog
  • Fatigue

Withdrawal symptoms tend to last 2-3 days. I always suggest, to my patients who are at risk of suffering from coffee withdrawals, to stop their coffee drinking habit on a Wednesday, so that they can go through the withdrawal symptoms over the weekend.

As an aside, you should not need to have a coffee to have a bowel movement! This sounds like a great topic to cover in a future blog post!

Eating/drinking foods that your “Liver Loves” can be helpful at reducing the withdrawal symptoms. These foods include

  • Lemon/lemon water
  • Beets
  • Leafy Greens
  • Onions
  • Garlic

It is very important to stay well hydrated after stopping coffee. Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water or herbal tea/day.

Now on to the fun stuff, my favorite coffee substitutes. There are lots of options out there, but these are the 3 alternatives that I have had the best results with for my patients. They all work a little differently to help fill the void from coffee. You can pick and choose between the 3, or you can incorporate all 3 into your daily routine.

My Top 3 Coffee Alternative

  • Dandy Blend – Dandy Blend is an herbal coffee substitute that is designed to have a coffee taste. It works well for people who really like the taste of coffee and miss it when they give it up. It does not provide the “energy boost” of coffee, however. I find, in order for it to be strong enough to taste like coffee, you need to add 1 TBSP of the powder to 1 cup of water as opposed to the 1 tsp they suggest on the label
  • Matcha Green Tea – A super concentrated form of green tea. 1 serving of matcha is the equivalent of 10 cups of green tea. It is very high in antioxidants, which can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Most people do experience a similar energy and concentration boost from matcha as they get from coffee. To make a matcha tea, you add ½ tsp of matcha powder to hot water and stir. Matcha can also be made into a latte. I don’t use a bamboo whisk, you can just use a teaspoon.
  • Nettle Infusion- This is my favorite for energy. It provides steady, sustained energy over the course of the day, and gets great results for my patients. Nettle is good source of iron, calcium, silica and phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin K. It is helpful for supporting both the adrenal glands, and the thyroid. It is one of my favorite tonics for postpartum moms! An infusion is a strong tea. To make a nettle infusion: add 1 cup of dried nettle to a 1L container, a 1L mason jar works well. Pour boiling water over the nettle and allow it to steep on the counter overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture and you are left with 700-800 ml of nettle infusion that can be drank over 2 days. Nettle is an acquired taste, but it is best not to add any sweeteners to it.

 

In my experience, most people find that either the nettle infusion or match green tea helps replace the energy boost they used to get from coffee, and the dandy blend can provide the comfort/similarity they are used to from coffee

Have you quit coffee? What was your favorite coffee alternative? Please post in the comments below

 Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

 

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Are You A New Mom Who Is Exhausted, Anxious, Depressed, Struggling With Low Milk Supply And Losing Your Hair? It Could Be Your Thyroid

Are You A New Mom Who Is Exhausted, Anxious, Depressed, Struggling With Low Milk Supply And Losing Your Hair? It Could Be Your Thyroid

Alexis Reid

Thyroid dysfunction is commonly missed or overlooked in new moms. It’s easy to see why. Having a baby is exhausting, can cause changes in mood, and challenges with breastfeeding are all too common. How do you know when it is going beyond just normal postpartum exhaustion and into the realm of “there could be something wrong with my thyroid”? That is the question we are going to answer in today’s blog post.

Many thyroid conditions are caused by autoimmunity. Both Hashimoto’s, when you thyroid is underactive, and Grave’s Disease, when your thyroid is over active are autoimmune in nature. There is a spike in autoimmune conditions after giving birth because your body has been having to work overtime for the last 9 months to keep itself from attacking the baby as a foreign object. After birth, there sometimes can be some crossed wires in the body adjusting back to only having to look after itself and not having to protect baby. Autoimmune thyroid conditions tend to occur within the first 12 months after giving birth. Your chance of developing a thyroid problem postpartum is higher if you already have an autoimmune condition.

Similarly, if you had problems with your thyroid after a previous birth, you have an almost 50% chance of developing thyroid problems with your subsequent births.

So why are so many thyroid problems being missed?  Many women become hyperthyroid first and then transition to hypothyroid. If the woman’s thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is tested at her 6 week check up, it is highly likely that her thyroid problems haven’t started yet or are just beginning to start. Similarly, if TSH is tested 3-6 months postpartum, when most women start to experience hair loss, there is a good chance the woman is transitioning from hyperthyroid to hypothyroid and therefore her TSH will come back as normal.

The other reason many of these cases are missed, in Canada in particular, is most often TSH is the only marker tested. I will talk more about proper testing a little further down.

Stats on Postpartum Thyroid Problems

  • Approximately 25% of women become hyperthyroid 1-4 months postpartum
  • 25% of women stay hyperthyroid for 2 weeks- 6 months, then go hypothyroid
  • 40-50% of women just become hypothyroid 2-6 months postpartum

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations (Irregular Heartbeat)
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Heat Intolerance

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Decreased Milk Supply
  • Depression
  • Hair Loss
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Constipation
  • Joint Pain

Testing For Your Thyroid

As I mentioned above, in Canada, most doctors only test TSH. TSH is the signal from your brain to your thyroid to release thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone that gets released is T4. T4 is the less active (utilized) form of thyroid hormone. The body needs to be able to convert T4 to T3, which is 5x more active.

  • TSH- will come back low in women with hyperthyroidism and high in women with hypothyroidism. Many practitioners in Canada only treat when TSH is higher than 5 mU/L. The optimal level is between 1-2 mU/L.
  • Free T4- High in hyperthyroidism
  • Free T3- may be low or normal in hypothyroidism
  • Anti TPO (antithyroid peroxidase antibodies)- This is the test that tells you if your thyroid problem is autoimmune. If autoimmune, your levels will be elevated.

Natural Treatment Options

  • Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions- Gluten is a known trigger for autoimmune thyroid problems. If you are suffering from an autoimmune thyroid problem, you need to do a 100% elimination of gluten. Reducing inflammation is also critical in autoimmune conditions. Two ways you can do this safely while breastfeeding is by taking a good quality fish oil that contains 1000 mg DHA. DHA also helps reduce the risk of postpartum depression and helps with baby’s brain development. Adding Turmeric to foods or drinking golden milk is also very anti-inflammatory. Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory
  • Stay on Your Prenatal Vitamin- There are 10 key nutrients that your thyroid needs to function properly. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to make sure you are getting enough. The 10 nutrients are:
    1. Iodine
    2. Zinc
    3. Selenium
    4. Magnesium
    5. Vitamin B12
    6. Vitamin B2
    7. Vitamin C
    8. Vitamin D
    9. Vitamin A
    10. Tyrosine
  • Nettle Tea- is particularly helpful for those with hypothyroidism, as it helps to prevent iodine deficiency. It is also a good tonic for the adrenal glands
  • Vitamin D- Helpful for mood for everyone. Tends to be low in autoimmune conditions
  • Uncooked Brassicas- The brassicas which include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Collards, can reduce thyroid function if eaten raw. They are perfectly healthy to eat cooked

Most women can recover from postpartum thyroid problems within 6-12 months postpartum

If your thyroid problems are often the root cause of postpartum anxiety, depression, fatigue and low milk supply. If thyroid problems are properly treated, the above mentioned symptoms usually improve on their own.

What Should Be Your Next Step?

Make an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor. They can order TSH, T4, T3 and Anti-TPO and get to the bottom of what is going on. Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is What You Are Eating Not Agreeing With Your Breastfed Baby?

Is What You Are Eating Not Agreeing With Your Breastfed Baby?

Alexis Reid

 

Something that I have been seeing in my practice a lot lately, that is not as well-known as I think it should be is the foods you eat while you are breastfeeding can cause food sensitivity reactions in your baby. Before I dive into this topic, I want to start by saying that obviously breast milk is the optimal food for babies, but what you eat does impact the quality and nutritional content of your milk.

When most mom’s think of a food they are eating causing irritation to their baby the first thing that comes to mind is colic. Colic is defined as repeated bouts of excessive crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy. Colic is very common with 28% of infants between the ages of 0-4 months experiencing it. Just because it is common, does not mean it is normal. The exact cause of colic is unknown at this point in time, but many people hypothesize that it could be related to food sensitivities. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics from 2005 showed that mom eating a low allergen diet, one that excluded diary, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish resulted in a “reduction in distressed behavior among breastfed infants with colic presenting in the first 6 weeks of life”. In addition to removing allergenic foods from your diet, a study from the Journal of Family Medicine in 2011 showed that supplementing baby with probiotics, specifically the strain Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced daily crying time in infants with colic.

However, colic is not the only sign that your baby maybe reacting to something that you are eating

4 Signs Your Breastfed Baby May Be Reacting To a Food You Are Eating

  • Reflux- Some amount of “spitting up” is normal (1/2 of all 3 month old babies spit up once a day) and it usually occurs right after eating. If spitting up is more frequent it can be a sign of a food sensitivity. The most common offender is dairy
  • Constipation- This is usually seen once the baby starts solids and can be an indication that they are sensitive to a food that they have been given
  • Diaper Rash- Persistent diaper rash is a common sign of a food sensitivity. Common offenders are: dairy, eggs, tomatoes and citrus
  • Eczema- Common symptom of a food sensitivity in both babies and older children. Usually caused by: dairy, eggs or gluten

Most Common Foods Known to Cause Food Sensitivities in Infants

  • Dairy- This means all dairy: milk, cheese, and yogurt. Buying lactose-free does not make a difference as the sensitivity is to the proteins whey and casein.
  • Soy- Many people who are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy
  • Eggs- Can be an inflammatory food, usually presents as skin reactions (eczema and diaper rash)

Foods That Can Cause Gas in Infants

  • Chocolate- usually OK in small amounts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Garlic

In addition to removing the offending foods from your diet and giving your baby probiotics, you can drink a tea with herbs that help to reduce gas like ginger and fennel. A tummy massage can be helpful to keep things moving along in the intestines. To do a tummy massage on your baby stand at baby’s feet and rub a penny sized amount of castor oil in the clockwise direction on the tummy.

Did your baby suffer from colic?

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book an appointment, click here.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits.

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Resources to Help You Thrive During Postpartum

Resources to Help You Thrive During Postpartum

Alexis Reid

Being a new parent is very overwhelming! There is so much that people do not tell you/you are not prepared for. While most moms feel very happy and joyful the first few days, these feeling often change into overwhelm, anxiety and sadness. A big part of the emotional shift is due to the rapidly changing levels of hormones that occur in the first 6 weeks postpartum.

Another reason that many new moms are suffering, often in silence, is lack of family and community support in our modern culture. In generations gone by, it was common place for the new mom’s mother, aunts and sisters to live close by and be available to help look after and support the new mom on the roller coaster ride of parenthood. The role of the other women was to take care of the new mom and the day to day workings of the house (laundry, cooking, grocery shopping) so that mom and baby can learn baby’s cues and bond. Today it is common for new parents to come home with little to no help or support and find themselves having to do all of the regular day to day household chores, while mom tries to recover and bond with baby. To make matter worse, dad or mom’s partner, usually doesn’t get much time off before they have to go back to work, leaving mom home to understandable get overwhelmed and anxious.

Today I want to cover ways to break this cycle and how to set new moms up to thrive by providing them with the resources that they need

  • Postpartum Doula- Many people have heard of a birth doula, but many do not know what a postpartum doula has to offer. A postpartum doula is trained to understand what new babies and new moms truly need. They provide emotional support for mom, can help with chores around the house, are experienced at soothing babies, breast and bottle support and can help reassure mom and dad about newborn behaviors. Having a doula can help to reduce anxiety for mom and help her to get more sleep.
  • Lactation Consultant- Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! It is a different experience for every mom and baby duo and many moms experience difficulties with their second baby even if things were smooth sailing with the first. It is important to see a qualified lactation consultant to get assessed if you are having pain or difficulty with breastfeeding. Causes of pain/difficulty include a tongue or lip tie, improper/inefficient latch and candida.
  • Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy- Many women will experience pain, urinary incontinence or organ prolapse after giving birth. A common misconception is that if a woman had a caesarean section that her pelvic floor should be in tip top shape. Adhesions from the birth can cause problems for the pelvic floor. All women should be assessed at 6-8 weeks postpartum and receive appropriate treatment. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can also assess for diastasis recti and can help to rehab these muscles.
  • Massage- Massage can help speed postpartum recovery. It is a good way to help reduce anxiety, stress, swelling, and pain from sitting in awkward positions feeding and carrying baby. Studies have shown it can help with hormone regulation resulting in better success with breastfeeding and better sleep. Most massage therapists who focus on postpartum are totally ok with baby coming along for the visit. A postpartum massage definitely makes a great gift for a new mom.
  • Meal Preparation- Being a new parent is exhausting. Having proper nutrition can help reduce mom’s stress levels, help with breast milk production, and facilitate better sleep and energy. Preparing healthy, easy to digest meals before baby is born is one simple way to ease the load once baby arrives.
  • Naturopathic Doctor- A Naturopathic Doctor can help the new mom for problems with their thyroid, nutrient deficiencies, anxiety, stress and helping the body to recover. Your ND can run lab tests to check on thyroid, iron and B12 to name a few. They are a great resource for which nutrients and herbs you should be taking to optimize your recovery and will make sure anything you are taking is safe while breastfeeding.  

List of Resources for New Parents both global and Local (I am located in Ottawa)

Postpartum Doulas- Dona, National Capital Doulas, Bell’s Babies, Ottawa Bliss Doula, Ottawa Postpartum Doulas, Ottawa Family Doula

Lactation Consultants- Newman Breastfeeding Clinic, City of Ottawa Breastfeeding Supports, Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants, Milkface, Mothercraft, Robin’s Nest Family Care

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy- Core Connections, Lisa Flanders, Andrea Plitz, Pelvienne Wellness

Massage- Anna Belanger and Associates, Kneaded Touch

Meal Preparation- Healthy Freezer Meals, Slow Cooker Freezer Meals, Supperworks

Naturopathic Doctors-  Dr Alexis Reid,  Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors 

 

I hope you found this blog to be helpful for feeling your best postpartum!

What did you find the most helpful for recovering after baby?

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits. 

 

               

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Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Alexis Reid

You made it! You got through pregnancy, labour, birth and now you are in the “postpartum period.” Many women find that this is the time that they have a knowledge gap. You did a lot of reading during your pregnancy on what to expect at each stage, what steps you could take to optimize your health, what foods and drinks you needed and needed to avoid, what vitamins and minerals you needed more of. You get the picture. Same thing when it comes to labour and delivery. You most likely took a pre-natal class where you learned what to expect during labour, different options for your birth and how to care for a newborn. But who here took a postpartum class? My guess is no one. No one prepares you for what to expect for yourself postpartum. The focus is all on the pregnancy and birth with the assumption that things will just go back to normal once the baby is born. This thought process couldn’t be further from the truth. Many women are shocked at just how exhausted they are postpartum. You may encounter issues with your thyroid gland, or be left with low levels of iron after delivery. You may not realize how much you need to rest and are pushing yourself too hard. In today’s blog post I am going to go over some simple steps you can take to help your body function optimally during the postpartum period.

Top 10 Tips to Feel Your Best in the First 6 weeks Postpartum

  • Easily Digestible Foods- Nutrient rich foods that do not make the digestive system work over time are your friend. Reach for soups, stews and bone broth (high in iodine, magnesium and calcium).
  • Ditch The Coffee- Before you throw something at me, hear me out. Coffee (and other higher sources of caffeine) can put a strain on your adrenal glands, cause blood sugar spikes, jitters, increase irritability and negatively impact the little sleep you may be getting. Coffee can also be irritating to baby’s digestion. Alternative to try include: green tea, nettle tea, red raspberry and mother’s milk tea if supply is an issue.
  • Fluids- Staying hydrated is important for breast milk production and your recovery. Drinking plenty of water is helpful (6-8 glasses/day). It is also a good idea to add some lemon to water and/or drink cranberry juice in water as it helps to alkalinize the urine and reduce the risk of UTI’s.
  • Keep Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins- Your body has just gone through a hugely stressful event. If you are also breastfeeding, your nutrient demand is way up. Continuing on your prenatal vitamins helps to ensure you have your bases covered.
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3’s- Can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. They are also a great anti-inflammatory and can help support your thyroid postpartum.
  • Probiotics- Are helping for regulating your digestion and immune system postpartum. Newer research is linking a lack of bacterial diversity in the intestines to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Vitamin C- Vital for tissue healing and maintaining your immune system. This can be taken as a supplement, or obtained via foods. Foods that are high in vitamin C are: oranges, red pepper, kale, strawberries and raspberries. Smoothies can be a great way to get these foods into your diet and makes them easier to digest
  • Iron- If you had a lot of blood loss with your delivery, it could have impacted your iron levels. If you are feeling very tired (more than you think you should be) it is a good idea to get your ion, vitamin B12 and thyroid levels checked. A Naturopathic Doctor can do this for you.
  • Prunes- Yes you read that right! Prunes are your friend the first 6 weeks postpartum. Your first bowel movement post birth is something everyone dreads. Eating 1-2 prunes/day along with inulin fibre, will make it smooth sailing
  • Sitz Bath Soak- Although not mainstream yet, you definitely want to get your hands on one. A Sitz Bath Soak is a blend of herbs that you steep and add either to a sitz bath or to your bath tub. They are designed to help tissues heal faster, reduce inflammation, and help ease discomfort.

So there you have it! How were your first 6 weeks postpartum? Was it what you were expecting? Please leave a comment below.

Talk Soon!

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book your appointment, click here. 

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits.

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How To Feel Your Best Postpartum

How To Feel Your Best Postpartum

Alexis Reid

postpartum tired mom

It seems that today in our society all of the focus is on pregnancy, and the time immediately following the birth of the baby. It is part of our culture to plan baby showers weeks in advance and plan a visit to come see the baby as soon as he or she is born. But what happens after a few weeks? All too often now, after a few days to weeks the partner has to go back to work and mom is left on her own with the new addition. All those people who were at her baby shower are nowhere to be seen! Not so long ago, people tended to stay in the community they grew up in, and grandmas, aunts and sisters were available to drop by and help mom out.  This is an area where a postpartum doula can be very helpful. Postpartum doulas help to care for mom and baby, cooking, running errands, light housekeeping and much more. Here is a link to a good FAQ on what postpartum doulas do. There also seems to have been a shift in society to be able to be “super mom” and do it all. Not only is this not possible (I can hear you all breathing a sigh of relief… you are normal!), it’s not healthy for mom and baby.

 

 

While it is important to get mobile again after giving birth, it is also important to not try and overdo it. The first three months of the baby’s life can be thought of as the 4th trimester, a lot of growth and development happens in this time period. There are also a lot of changes for mom. This is the time to have a “baby moon”. A Baby moon is time for mom and baby to get plenty of rest, the partner to be very involved, and both parents to get in tune with their baby’s cues. This can reduce the risk of postpartum depression and help to reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted which are super common in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

In the final stages of your pregnancy it is a good idea to get your house prepared for the new arrival. Healthy and easy to digest freezer meals are a great gift to give a new mom. Having the stress of meals and housekeeping duties reduced is essential in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

Top 10 Tips For Postpartum Recovery

 

 

1) Rest and sleep are very important. Make these your number 1 priority.

 

 

2) Drink plenty of water. It is necessary for your breast milk supply, to help keep urine flowing to reduce the risk of infection, and help to keep stools soft.

 

 

3) Eat whole foods that are nourishing and easily digestible such as fish, cooked vegetables, oatmeal, and chicken soup/broth

 

 

4) Avoiding constipation is important Include fiber in the diet. Eating 1-2 prunes a day can help to reduce the risk of constipation.

 

 

5) Make a nutritive tea. Combine equal parts nettle, red raspberry and oat straw.  Steep 1 tsp in 1 cup of water, have 3 times a day. This tea is safe and helpful for breastfeeding.

 

 

6) Use a Sitz Bath Soak to help aid in the healing of tears. This blend of herbs can also be used in a peri bottle. Keep the peri bottle on the back of the toilet for use after urination.

 

 

7) Get outside. While it is important to be resting, there are many benefits to mood from spending 20-30 minutes outside/day. Gentle walks should be ok for most women in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

8) Continue taking your prenatal supplement. Your body still needs increased nutrients in the postpartum period

 

 

9) Fish oil, with at least 750 mg EPA, can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression

 

 

10) Probiotics, Vitamin B12, Iron and Vitamin C may also be required. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to help determine your individual needs

 

 

Postpartum depression/anxiety are also quite common after birth and are nothing to be ashamed of. Common symptoms can be rapid mood changes, anxiety regarding how to care for baby, feeling very overwhelmed, and having “muddled” thinking. It is thought to be due to a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in prolactin (the hormone that facilitates breast feeding). There are many ways to naturally manage postpartum anxiety with foods, vitamins and herbs. Mom should be seen by her family and/or naturopathic doctor if she is experiencing any of these symptoms.

 

 

The best medicine is always prevention. Be sure to work with your naturopathic doctor during your pregnancy to help set yourself up for an optimal delivery and speedy recovery in the postpartum period.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre. Call 613.836.7901 to schedule your appointment.

 

 

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How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

Alexis Reid

 

It comes as no surprise that in the 6-12 months (if you are lucky!) after having a baby, mom’s amount of sleep is GREATLY reduced. There isn’t a tonne that can be done about the amount of sleep you get in the early days beyond making sure that you are taking advantage of every opportunity to sleep. What can be helped is the quality of your sleep. It typically takes 90 min after falling asleep to enter into the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle. The first REM cycle is short and they become progressively longer over the night, which is one of the reasons that it is advantageous to sleep uninterrupted for longer periods of time. It is during REM sleep that the brain and body get a chance to heal from the day and stay healthy. If you do not have dreams while you are sleeping it can be an indication that you are not getting into REM sleep. For many new mom’s it is not possible to sleep for long periods of time, as baby is still frequently waking. In the blog post I will focus on how you can get the best quality of sleep even if it is for a limited amount of time.

Negative Effects of Not Getting Good Quality Sleep

  • Increased Food Cravings- For high fat and calorie/sugar foods. Lack of sleep reduces the hormone leptin, which helps suppress appetite and increases ghrelin which stimulates hunger. It’s not your willpower…it’s your hormones! Speaking of hormones…
  • Increased Cortisol- Lack of sleep puts stress on your body making it release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol make it harder to fall asleep, increase anxiety and increase food cravings.
  • Lack of Energy- Our bodies need sleep to repair and regenerate. Without this rest period you can be left feeling like you are always running on empty.

How to Make the Most of Your Sleep

Diet

  • Avoid caffeine After 12 noon- Caffeine has a half-life of 12-18 depending on how fast you can metabolize it. If you are having a coffee at 3-4 pm it can definitely be keeping you awake at 2 am.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation- People who wake up between 1-3 am can be experiencing a blood sugar crash. One way to correct this problem is to have a small protein filled snack before bed. Good options include: handful of nuts and seeds, a small piece of meat or a hard boiled egg
  • Stop the Pop- Between the sugar and the caffeine it is a recipe for disaster, and I know what you are thinking but diet pop is no better. Diet pop leaves your body craving the sugar it expected to receive from the sweet taste, and leads to over eating.

Exercise/Lifestyle

  • No Strenuous Exercise 3 Hours Before Bed- Exercise is a great thing, but timing is important. Intense exercise can raise cortisol levels (which is ok as long as you do not have adrenal fatigue). Naturally our cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and falling at night. Nighttime strenuous exercise disrupts your body’s natural rhythms.
  • Yoga- A relaxing flow or yin yoga before bed can help shift the body into the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Deep Breathing- Breathing deeply where the abdomen goes out instead of the chest has been shown to reduce cortisol. Try 10 deep breaths before bed.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Room Temperature- The room you sleep in should be kept cool (under 20°C). This helps the body enter into REM sleep and to produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone).
  • Darkness- Even small amounts of light disrupt the body’s sleep cycles. Use blackout curtains, no night lights or alarm clock screens.
  • Avoid Screens ½ Hour Before Bed- The light emitted from screens tricks the brain into thinking it is day time, which is not conducive to sleep. Try reading for a ½ hour before bed instead. Ereaders can be used in bed if they are set to look like the page of a book. Reading off of a bright tablet counts as screen time.

      Supplements

  • Magnesium Glycinate- Magnesium calms the nervous system, promotes relaxation, decreases cravings (especially for chocolate), increases insulin sensitivity, reduces muscle cramps, relieves constipation and helps to lower cortisol. Dosage: 200-800 mg ½ hour before bed. Start at 200 mg and keep increasing dosage until you reach bowel tolerance (ie. develop loose stools). It is safe for use during breastfeeding at a dosage of 350 mg/day or less.
  • Chamomile Tea- Helps to calm the nervous system and promote sleep. A cup 60-90 min before bed can result in a more restful sleep. This tea is safe for use while breastfeeding.
  • B Vitamins- Help the body to regulate stress and can help give you more energy during the day. Dosage: 100 mg of each of the B Vitamins. Take in the morning, as it can help to increase energy. This is also safe for use during breastfeeding.

Use these tips to establish a healthy routine that will help you sleep better, even if you are getting less sleep than you used to now that your little one has arrived.

I hope you implement at least a few of these tips into your daily routine and start feeling more rested!

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre. Call 613.836.7901 to book your appointment.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits 

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What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

Alexis Reid

 

First off, I want to start by saying your body has just done something truly remarkable! Let’s take a second to think about and acknowledge what you have managed to do in the last 9 months….grow a human! Think about how much energy that took, how many nutrients the little guy or girl drained from you, and how much harder your body had to work for the last 9 months.

New moms are constantly bombarded with the idea of “bouncing back” and how long that is going to take, all while being given the message, the sooner the better by the media. But the truth of the matter is it took 40 weeks for your body to adjust to your pregnancy, and it takes at least that long for your body to recover. Also, there shouldn’t be the assumption that your body will ever go back to the way it was before. It is not assumed that your body will be the same when you are 60 as it was when you were 20! Similarly, after having a baby, your body has gone through a huge life change and may not return exactly to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women’s ribcages expand, their feet grow, or their hair changes texture and these are all normal.

With that being said, there is still a tonne that can be done to help you feel your best postpartum! One of the biggest barriers to feeling like yourself is lack of sleep. Take a minute to think about how you felt when you didn’t get enough sleep pre-baby. Maybe you were up late studying for exams or getting work done. Chances are that you didn’t feel so great! That was only one of the challenges you are facing now, so don’t be so hard on yourself.

How to get Better Quality Sleep

1) Sleep in a cool and 100% dark room

2) Avoid Screens for ½ hour before bed. Screens stimulate your body to make              cortisol, which hinders sleep and can increase the risk of postpartum depression

3) An Epsom salt bath can help you feel more relaxed, by allowing your body absorbing magnesium, which helps with sleep

4) Have the baby sleep wherever you get the best rest, be it in your bed (safely), beside your bed or in another room (if they are old enough)

5) Go to bed when you are tired. Do not try to “push through” and get things done in the evening as often this leads to a second wind which keeps you awake.

 

How to Have More Energy and Get Back to Feeling Like Yourself

1) Seek Help! Don’t try to do it all yourself. A great shower gift for a new mom is some prepared meals, or help with cleaning. Looking after a new baby is a full time job.

2) Drink Plenty of Water. This will help you feel better and also helps with breast milk supply.

3) Bone Broth is your friend. Bone broth contains an abundance of minerals and is easily digestible. Check out one of my favorite easy ways to make bone broth here. The beef bones can be easily substituted for chicken. 

4) Eat Whole, Easily Digestible Foods. Soups, stews, and cooked veggies are great in helping with recovery and helping to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

5) Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body needs those extra nutrients for at least the first 3 months. After 3 months you should be assess by your health care provider to see if you should continue with single supplements (iron, B12, fish oil are commonly needed).

6) Enjoy a Nutritive Tea. This nutritive tea is high in calcium, iron, selenium, chlorophyll and helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state. It is safe with breastfeeding and you can have up to 3 cups a day. To make this tea mix together equal parts: Alfalfa (helps promote breastmilk production), Nettle (high in iron), Red Raspberry (helps tone the uterus) and Oatstraw (high in minerals). Take 1 tsp of the blend and steep it in 1 cup of water for at least 10 min. Strain and enjoy.

7) Deep Belly Breathing. Taking deep breaths, where your stomach goes out, not your chest, can help to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lowering cortisol helps you to get better sleep, reduce the risk of postpartum depression and encourages breastmilk production.

 

This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on all things postpartum. I hope you found this informative and have left with some tips that are easy for you to implement.

 

If there is anything relating to postpartum that you would like me to write about in a future post, please leave a comment below.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.  

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