I am sure during and after pregnancy you (and your partner) have been fully introduced to your hormones. I know during my pregnancy and post-birth some days I would feel like a cranky 13 year old brat and other days completely euphoric, with crazy massive mood swings.
Hello hormotional roller-coaster !
If you have had symptoms before or after pregnancy including : fatigue, skin issues, struggled with weight around your middle, trouble sleeping, always sleeping, PMS, endometriosis, infertility, PCOS or other issues, chances are you have hormone imbalance. Don’t worry you are not alone. And yes often these symptoms are more sensitive if you are looking after a newborn and living on very little sleep.
Plus if you have just had a baby in the last year your hormones, post pregnancy are going to take at least 12 months to settle down from the enormous changes your body has just been through. Never fear ! there are some things you can do to help this process.
What are Hormones ?
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. They work slowly, over time, and affect many different processes, including
- Growth and development
- Metabolism – how your body gets energy from the foods you eat
- Sexual function
Endocrine glands, which are special groups of cells, make hormones. The major endocrine glands are the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands and pancreas. In addition, men produce hormones in their testes and women produce them in their ovaries. (source)
Hormones are produced using good fats and cholesterol, so lack of these important dietary factors can cause hormone problems simply because the body doesn’t have the building blocks to make them. Toxins containing chemicals that mimic these building blocks or that mimic the hormones themselves are also problematic because the body can attempt to create hormones using the wrong building blocks… mutant estrogen anyone?
Want to know how to reduce your toxic load for pregnancy and beyond ? – read my blog post here.
The endocrine system is a complex system that we will probably never completely understand, but there are some basic things you can do to boost your body’s ability to create and balance hormones.
4 tips to balance your hormones
Try to follow these tips during pregnancy and postpartum (or if you are trying to conceive) and you should hopefully ease a some of those uneasy mood swings.
1 – Eat Real Food – Your body can not make healthy hormones if it does not have the correct building blocks. Every meal try to focus on nutrient dense foods (and forget about calories) – grab my free Nutrition Guide to get started.
2 – Part with plastics and toxins – many plastics and everyday household products (like make-up, soaps and cleaning products) contain endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA. Switch to glass for storing left-overs and start to chose more organic, natural household products.
3 – Sleep and PNS – I know Mama I can hear you laughing….“yeah right I am dreaming of sleep !” However sleep and rest are vital for hormone balance. If you can’t sleep try to just slow down during your day. Do something that switches of the “go button” and the adrenaline. Maybe take a bath, listen to a meditation or just tap into lengthening your breath. Also when you exercise please don’t think that pushing yourself to exhaustion is the only way to get results. Slowing down will nourish your hormones by allowing you to tap into your PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and when that happens you actually burn fat. Learn how here.
4 – Limit the Caffeine – Too much caffeine can wreak havoc on the endocrine system. I know many women often feel “wired but tired” and coffee can be a big contributor to this (myself included). Try to limit caffeine (especially if pregnant) to 1 regular cup per day. You can also combine you coffee with healthy fats and protein (check out my Iced Coffee Protein Smoothie) which helps slow the release of caffeine into the bloodstream.
Plus don’t be afraid to try some alternatives to coffee. Green tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants and also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. A far more nourishing way to start your day than with caffeine rich and sympathetic nervous system stimulating, coffee. Excess caffeine can also decrease the absorption of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron.
In summary and importance
If you try some of these tips and still feel overwhelmed or imbalanced, don’t be afraid to reach out. Adjusting to the major life change, as well as coping with the day-to-day demands of a new baby, can mean parents are more likely to experience depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. If you become aware of any of these symptoms or fear being left alone with your baby, please don’t be afraid to Get support
Speak up for yourself or your partner and contact Beyond Blue
- Call (within Australia) 1300 22 4636