So here’s the thing.
Mothers do not have a monopoly on post-natal depletion. Exhaustion, anxiety, brain fog, depressed immunity, mood swings and even post-natal depression – all these symptoms and more affect new dads too.
And if we thought Hong Kong maternity leave was pathetic at 10 weeks, paternity leave is derisory at 3 days. So dads trudge into their full-time, demanding career, bleary-eyed and pumped full of caffeine after a night of no sleep because they’ve been pacing the halls since 4am trying to get their baby to burp and sleep after the night feed.
Employers have yet to come to terms with the inconvenient truth that having a baby affects both mother and father in today’s modern world.
Fathers want to be present, contribute, nurture and support the family in all ways. But outdated legacies from a paleo past continue to dominate both the corporate culture and societal norms.
Let’s face it, the horrible truth is that dads are not allowed to complain about their post-natal depletion because they haven’t pushed the child out of their genitals or nursed the baby with their man boobs.
I know hands down the first time my husband tried to open up about his exhaustion I shot him down whilst putting myself on that holier-than-thou pedestal engraved with the words: “HOW DARE YOU…WHEN I…?” followed by “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!”
Here are some interesting stats:
Up to 50% of men whose wife is suffering from post-partum depression, will also become depressed themselves. (source)
According to Dr.Will Courtenay (author of Dying to Be Men), men’s hormones change during pregnancy after their babies are born. Their testosterone levels decrease and their estrogen levels increase. High levels of testosterone are what makes men less prone to anxiety in general than women. However, these post-natal hormone fluctuations together with the neurochemical changes that occur in the brain because of sleep deprivation can create “the perfect storm” for depression and anxiety that Dr Courtenay says peaks in the 3-6-month period after the baby is born.
Every day, over 1,000 new dads in the United States become depressed. And according to some studies, that number is as high as 2,700. That’s 1 in 10 to as many as 1 in 4 new dads who have postpartum depression. (source)
Now think of all the men that don’t come forward to share their experience because they don’t think they are worthy of being heard. Couple that with all the women who are just trying to bond with their baby, recover from the birth, breastfeed successfully & just basically make it through the day. Suddenly, we start to form a picture of how communication and empathy start to break down in a marriage once a baby comes into the picture.
So really – post-natal depletion is not just the plight of the mother. It’s the plight of the family. It takes everyone pulling together for everyone to rise up - together: mother, father & baby.
How do we keep it all together?
Nutrition is a great place to start because we already make time to eat – three times a day. And we can use our meals as an opportunity to support our body’s ability to cope with stress or we can use it as opportunity to create toxicity and inflammation in an already vulnerable body.
My previous article on anxiety lays out the foundations of my SLEEP LOVE POOP nutritional strategy for making nourishing choices for your mind and body. Because we can eat to help us sleep. We can eat in a way that shows our body love and kindness. And we can eat in a way that helps us flush out toxicity from our body on a daily basis and reduce inflammation.
I usually ask people to start with eating breakfast. And hey! I know it’s hard getting food in when you are racing to get out the door. But blood sugar regulation is key to ensuring hormonal regulation, which in turn is going to make it easier for you to tap into that space inside you that is calm, confident and strong.
In my opinion, I can’t think of a better push-present than a high-speed blender. I myself use the Vitamix but hey! Get the best one you can afford and start bonding over smoothies.
Thrive’s Signature Post-natal Recovery Smoothie for two pushes all the right buttons.
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
2 cups of water
2 cups of spinach
2 cups of blueberries
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tspn cinnamon
2 servings of pea protein (I like Nuzest and Deigns for Health)
The benefits of this smoothie are amazing for both mom and dad:
Spinach is full of folate for energy creation and DNA repair – as well as magnesium to support bowel health, sleep, healthy bones as well as so many other bodily functions.
Blueberries are full of antioxidants to boost immunity and anthocyanidins to fuel the memory centres in your brain
Chia seeds are full of omega-3s – the beautiful anti-inflammatory fatty acid that is going to support hormonal regulation
The hemp seeds and the pea-protein are going to support blood sugar regulation and give you the amino acid building blocks to make your happy hormone serotonin, which in turn is going to help you create melatonin at bed time.
Cinnamon is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice
Nutrition is really at the core of a helping husband and wife transition into their new life as mom and dad. When we eat in a way that shows our body kindness & compassion, we are better able to embody those values and treat others with the empathy they deserve.
Work with me to reach your health & wellness goals. But whatever you do – know that you’re worthy.
Cristina Tahoces will be discussing post-natal depletion and how nutrition can help support mothers & fathers who are at risk for post-natal depression and anxiety at the BLOOM HATCH & THRIVE prenatal classes next month on March 8th and March 20th. Please register to attend.
If you suffer from anxiety or would like to work with Cristina to address issues of post-natal depletion, please contact her. Post-natal depletion is not limited to the immediate months after birth, just as motherhood and fatherhood is not limited to that moment when we give birth.
Thrive Nutrition Practice focuses on digestive healing, blood sugar regulation & post-natal recovery. You are also welcome to join the Facebook Group "Thrive Nutrition Practice: Post-natal depletion" or "Thrive Nutrition Practice" for weekly articles, recipes & promotions.
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