It’s something I did not understand until it happened to me–the inexplicable exhaustion, the overwhelming love paired with an aching body showered in pure bliss. The identity shift of becoming a new parent is very real, yet seldom talked about. From my own personal experience, it is maddening and tragic the lack of care most mothers receive during the postpartum period. I am blessed to have access to incredible health insurance and providers, yet, the transition into motherhood was quite difficult for me. I had my first child in the height of the pandemic, and was left feeling afraid and unsure of how to be a mother. I had one check-up from my provider at 6 weeks postpartum, as is the normal protocol for a woman after delivering a child, and that was it. In fact, the only medical provider who ever asked how I was feeling mentally, was my son’s pediatrician. We need to do better, because all new parents deserve better.
Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) is more common than you might think. I have spoken to many individuals who have experienced scary, intrusive thoughts but are too worried to speak up about them, thus continue to experience this alone. Many parents might experience worsening anxiety and tearfulness as the evening approaches, reclusiveness, having a short fuse with others, or finding themselves not performing basic personal hygiene. If you have had a child, and if you have had a provider accurately assess and educate you on PPD/PPA, then good on them. But I ask you, did they mention anything about nutritionally correcting and supporting this? As a conventionally trained and practicing nurse, I highly value the use of pharmaceuticals for some situations, especially when managing the delicate, intricate needs of a mother suffering from severe PPD/PPA. Simultaneously, I highly value the concurrent treatment of PPD/PPA holistically, and truly taking care of the mother as a whole.
In my opinion, the postpartum period is unlike any other time in your life. It can be incredibly wholesome, rewarding, beautiful, and fulfilling… but it can also be a time which is overshadowed by severe anxiety, angst, sadness, and fear. Fueling your body with the proper nutrition postpartum is essential to the well-being and health of the mother. The physical process of giving birth, whether vaginal or cesarean, coupled with the dramatic hormonal shifts screams for nutrient-dense foods to promote healing. The Wahls Protocol is a powerful tool that can help aid a mother with what she needs to regain her strength, but also to find her new identity. How can we expect a woman to make this incredibly massive change in her life, without considering the nutritional ways to support this new body of hers? In my Master’s Degree studies, I specialized in the management of PPD through nutritional and lifestyle changes. While the Wahls Protocol is not intended to replace medical care for any mood disorders, it can significantly help adjunctively manage an individual’s PPD/PPA.
Postpartum Support International 1800-944-4773
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline (US Only) 1833-943-5746
National Suicide Prevention Lifetime call 988