Post Natal Depletion

Pregnancy

Em Batger

Motherhood is without a doubt, the most emotionally and physically demanding experience I’ve personally been through. It starts with pregnancy, the changes your body undergoes not only physically but hormonally. Then you give birth, and suddenly you are solely responsible for another life. The demands of breastfeeding (for those that choose to), the sleep deprivation and the constant giving of your emotional energy. It’s no wonder some mothers are left feeling literally sucked dry.  

Post Natal Depletion is a term first described by Dr Oscar Serrallach and refers to the combination of physical, emotional and hormonal depletion that a mother can experience after giving birth. It usually presents in the post partum period and symptoms can be seen in mothers in the first 7 years of the children’s life (add multiple children into the mix and this period can last a long time) 

The why is fascinating. The brain literally changes during pregnancy - called neuro hormonal remodelling. The only other time in life we see these changes are during adolescence but the degree seen in matrescence is far more intense and it takes a few years for a mother to get used to the new wiring in their ‘mother brain’.  

Unfortunately our fast paced modern lives have made this adjustment infinitely harder; women are no longer given the luxury of time to recover, nor do we have the intergenerational support networks that we once did. There is an underlying pressure on mums to do it all, leaving women juggling many responsibilities that extend outside caring for their baby (and themselves). Once that mother then returns to work there is then the added stress to settle in, perform and prove yourself again.  

Many of the symptoms will be familiar to any mother out there;  

  • Fatigue and exhaustion. This is different from tiredness, this feeling doesn’t get better after a few good nights sleep 

  • Overwhelm and a lack of ability to cope with stress.  

  • Hypervigilance: being overly focused on small details and feeling like you are ‘always on’ 

  • ‘Baby Brain’ which describes a lack of ability to concentrate or general brain fog. 

  • Anxiety 

It’s not unheard of for a woman to present to a medical professional with one or more of the above and are met with ‘well you are a mother now, this is normal’. No it’s not. Common yes, in fact it is thought this affects 1 in 2 mothers but that doesn’t make it normal. 

Unsurprisingly there is no fast fix. It’s easier said than done but it all starts with YOU and shifting your perception of motherhood.  

  • Supplement: A well designed post natal supplement that can replenish the micro and macro nutrients that your body gave to your baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding is a very simple place to start.  

  • Lean on your support network: find small things that can lighten the workload. Outsource a cleaner, organise a frozen meal swap with friends or ask family to mind the baby so you can have some downtime. These sound so simple but it’s surprising how many mothers find it very difficult to ask for help. 

  • Prioritise time for yourself. Little things done often. This could be 20 minutes a day where you meditate, do some exercise or read a book. Something that is away from your baby and just for you.  

I think the lesson I have learnt on my journey to becoming a mum of 3 is that if I fill my cup up, prioritise myself in small ways then I am a better, more patient, more attentive parent. Holding space for myself, creates space for my kids. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary to take time for yourself.  

Em Batger

Please note: Em's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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