Postpartum is not a phase

Postpartum is not a phase

Postpartum, across many cultures, is associated with a time frame; sometimes six weeks, sometimes six months, and at most one year. You'll hear "when the female body has restored to pre-pregnant physiology."

Restored?

Are we just talking about when the female body can get pregnant again? Because A LOT is happening in a body after birth that isn't restored within one year.

We argue that postpartum folks need more love than the allotted 1-year timeline.

We believe it is much clearer to name major transitions as life-changing states on their own and not simply a passing circumstance with a pre, current, & post phase.

Enter the world of women's health, where transitions are named as if they are just phases.

The word 'post’-anything is grossly misleading. The effects of major life experiences cannot be complete if they are deemed 'post.'

We've got prepubescent, prenatal, postpartum, perimenopause, pre-menopause, and post-menopause.

We do not define ourselves by our place in line at the ovulation station. 

When it comes to grossly overlooked life stages, the transition into parenthood and parenting over the long haul are flat-out ignored.

After bringing a newborn home, a person's entire life shifts significantly forever - physically, emotionally, temporally, and financially.

You spend enormous amounts of energy birthing an infant and bear the emotional and cognitive load of raising young children. It's not just getting over the baby blues, having sex again, or the ability to go back to a job. Your brain changes, your body changes, and your stressors change - none for the worse or better, just different.

Even without birth, raising young children has life-changing impacts on a primary caregiver. What your health needs in terms of support is different than before.


While there is research on how a parent's brain changes concerning alertness and connection, the medical community still needs to fully explore the parenting experience's health impacts. Most research is based on physiological needs in an age range or developmental stage. Even someone who is an athlete, eats a vegan diet, or has food allergies has resources to ensure they meet their nutrient needs. Parents, however, are left out in the cold. There needs to be research acknowledging that parents have distinct nutrient needs and challenges.  


The first ten years of child-rearing are referred to in many ways: 'All Joy, No Fun,' 'The Longest Shortest Time,' 'The Primal Scream,' or, as we like to call it, 'A Parallel Universe' & 'The Marathon.' Despite popular media and first-hand perspectives, only a tiny minority in the medical field are diving into parents' nutrient and physiological needs. Parents are sleep-deprived, regular meal deprived, and under the chronic stress of nuclear parenting in a time-poor environment. The impact of these challenges on a parent's health is considered part of the deal. Worse, parents often feel guilty for not being able to care for their health in these unreasonable circumstances. "Mom-brain" is yet another trope that faults a mother instead of taking care of her.

In this context, parents, particularly women, could benefit from some nutritional support.

The nutrients that are almost certainly waning in our diets and contribute to our well-being are:

The minerals:

  • Iron 

  • Magnesium

  • Zinc 

  • Selenium

The vitamins

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Vitamin K

  • B12

  • Folate

If our medical system stopped considering these major transitions as passing phases, it could acknowledge that parents are not getting their needs met.

Let’s be honest; what we all need is a personal administrative assistant and better sleep.

At a bare minimum, all parents should be informed that their nutrient needs matter, which, unfortunately, is often not standard care.

The constant juggling - alarm setting for activity sign-ups, pick-ups, drop-offs, work deadlines, being woken at night by tiny humans & not getting the actual nutrition you need because you are cleaning splat off the floor while sweeping crumbs and making sure that at least one vegetable has been consumed… wait, don’t forget the laundry - it all takes a toll. 

Childrearing is energy intensive, and there are ways to enact a routine of basic care that don’t require home cooking, meditation, regular exercise, and a solid night’s sleep. 

You require nutrients to function. If you are high functioning (trust us, you are), you are using your reserves with little time to feed yourself the required replenishments.

We can’t give you a personal assistant, but we can give you assistance. 

Postnatal vitamins? How about “this is parenting” vitamins?

Sources:

Three distinct phases of postpartum

Lasting brain changes after pregnancy

Mom brain shows growth and change

Primary caregiver brain structure adaptations

Brain changes during mothering

Nutrient deficiencies postpartum

Micronutrients in postpartum

Depression while mothering

Postnatal depression & impact on children

Postpartum depression may last for years

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