The Energy Series: Part 3: Vital Nutrients



Please do check out parts 1 and 2 of The Energy Series if you haven't done so already!


In the months and years after having a baby, the body has a lot of replenishing to do. Growing, birthing and feeding babies requires A LOT of nutrients and energy. It is important that we replenish our nutrient stores to enable us to feel energised, as well as give our bodies the tools needed to carry out its thousands of functions optimally.


In addition to nutrients, self-love (is your internal dialogue full of praise or criticism?), self-care (some days it’s easier than others), and community (it takes a village to raise a child) are crucial. Truly believe that you are doing an amazing job as a mum and give yourself all the love and encouragement you would give a dear friend.


From a nutritional perspective, if a woman goes in to pregnancy with sub-optimal nutrient levels, and isn’t sufficiently nourished during pregnancy or during the postpartum period, then the consequences of the enormous nutrient requirements during these times will be even greater. Generally, baby will take what it needs from its mother so it’s the mum that bares the brunt of low nutrient levels.


It doesn’t matter whether you are weeks, months or years postpartum, focusing on getting some key nutrients in to your diet will really support your body on its road to recovery and its ability to make energy and transport oxygen:


B12

Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, as well as nutritional yeast. Vegans will likely struggle to get enough B12 without supplementing.


Folate

Folate (often known as folic acid which is the synthetic version) is predominantly found in spinach and other leafy greens, beef liver, black-eyed peas, broccoli, and avocado.

Iron

Iron is found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, lentils, chickpeas, beans, soy and dark chocolate.


Eating iron alongside vitamin C aids absorption, so pair with citrus fruits, and vegetables like peppers, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Vitamin D

Our main source of Vitamin D is through skin exposure to the sun. Trace amounts can be found in some food sources such as eggs and oily fish.


A vitamin D3 supplement is recommended throughout the winter months, as well as for all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.


Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in a wide variety of foods however due to soil depletion, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get sufficient amounts in diet alone. A stressed state also requires more magnesium.

Food sources include dark green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, brown rice, avocado and dark chocolate.



There are other nutrients involved too, but focusing on these is a great place to start. Packing out your diet with as much ‘whole foods’ as possible will help you to reach your nutrient requirements. Fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, quality meat, fish and dairy.


In addition to the nutrients listed above, fermented foods like kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut are great for nurturing gut health, which plays an important role in every aspect of health, including energy production.


Sure, parenting is hard and you’re going to get worn out from time to time, especially during phases where your sleep is so broken. At the time of writing this, I have a toddler who sometimes wakes multiple times a night – I totally feel it!


However, if you’re often experiencing or feeling;

· exhausted

· tired all the time

· constant energy slumps

· emotionally drained

· helpless or desperate

· tearful and moody

· brain fog

· poor memory

· lost confidence and self esteem

· difficulties losing pregnancy weight

· dryer skin, thinning hair


it may well be time to consider if you are depleted of essential nutrients.


Other contributing factors can be physical or emotional stress, lack of support, environmental factors such as toxin exposure, and also underlying undiagnosed conditions.


What can be done about it?

The first step is to identify any nutrient insufficiencies. Then we can look to nourish and restore your body with the right nutrition.


Your GP can carry out blood tests to look at some nutrient levels such as iron, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. However, testing on the NHS isn’t always available, so it may be worth seeking the advice and guidance of a registered nutritional therapist to choose and interpret tests based on your particular symptoms.


Wherever you are at on your postnatal journey; 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years or more, please don’t suffer in silence or feel that you just have to live with your fatigue or lost confidence. Speak to someone who will really listen to you, get where you are coming from, and work alongside you to make things feel easier.





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