Dr. Michelle Peris, Naturopathic Doctor in Oakville, discusses postpartum fatigue, what to look for and how to cope.
There are so many changes after you have a baby, but among them, the most popular concerns shared at my clinic is fatigue. With round the clock feedings, changing diapers and just the general time needed to bond with baby; some fatigue is expected. Although fatigue can be directly related to the responsibilities of a newborn, it is important to recognize that some fatigue can actually be caused by an underlying nutritional deficiency.
Why is this distinction important?
Identifying and correcting a nutritional deficiency can alleviate the excess fatigue you are experiencing and enable you to feel more vibrant, energized and capable to provide for your new addition.
The reality is that during this crucial time we tend to shift focus from ourselves and become totally immersed in our baby’s needs. We give all the love and care we have, but unfortunately, we are left feeling depleted and fatigued. We repeat the process and eventually we may feel guilty because the fatigue takes over and there becomes less we can give. Energy is not boundless and we cannot continue to function at a high level if our system is depleted.
However, not to worry, this can be very easy to fix! Allowing yourself to be a priority actually helps you be a more connected and happy mom – making it possible to enjoy all the precious moments as opposed to feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
What can I do?
Make an appointment with your health care provider and be sure to check the following:
Vitamin B12 is a very common nutritional deficiency especially for vegans and vegetarians. This is because it is most abundantly found in animal protein, especially red meat. B12 is important for proper energy metabolism, a co-factor for DNA synthesis, and is required for production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness). Deficiency symptoms can vary from low energy to anemia to peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the extremities).
To compound, breast-feeding moms are especially at risk for B12 deficiency as much of your supply is passed through breastmilk for your baby’s needs.
Additionally, if you suffer from a digestive issue, this can impair B12 absorption and could also warrant further investigation.
B12 deficiency is easily resolved through oral supplementation or intramuscular injection. Both your medical doctor and naturopathic doctor can requisition the appropriate blood work.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in pregnancy. That said, it’s imperative to enforce that being common does not constitute normalcy. In my clinical experience, there is not much postpartum follow-up on a woman’s iron status; it is generally concentrated to pregnancy.
Iron is crucial for ideal hemoglobin and hematocrit levels (ie normal oxygen transfer to tissues) and a deficiency can result in anemia.
Symptoms of low iron can include:
Pale conjunctiva (lower eyelid)
Shortness of breath
A simple blood test of your ferritin and CBC levels will determine if you are in fact deficient. It’s important to note that if you were low before or during pregnancy and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, consider being tested. Also, proper supplementation, even through nursing, is critical to ensure you reach optimal levels.
Your naturopathic doctor can facilitate the proper tests and help you rebalance, re-energize and build a healthier version of yourself.
Interested in learning more? Come and see me at the clinic for a complimentary 15 minute appointment and we can discuss if you need to consider doing some testing and learn how else I can help you.
In health and happiness,
Dr. Michelle Peris
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Oakville Massage & Wellness Centre
77 John Street, Suite 201