If you’re a new mom, you know the daily struggle: Wake up 27 times a night due to feedings, diaper changes, or being sure you heard the baby stop breathing. How exactly are we supposed to find the energy to function an entire day until we reach that bedtime collapse again? And how are we supposed to do it over and over and over until our kids are sleeping through the night?
As impossible as this sounds, it’s not. There are some very simple ways you can support your body to help it make the most of what sleep you get and produce enough energy to get you through the days without feeling like a mom zombie.
- Feed your body the energy and nutrients it needs. Our body makes energy from the foods we consume. At a macro level, that’s protein, carbohydrates and fats. At a micro level, it’s vitamins and minerals. Postpartum and breastfeeding/pumping are not the times to cut back on your intake in an effort to lose the baby weight faster. If you feel hunger, your body is telling you it’s ti If you don’t put the energy in, your body will take what it needs from whatever nutrient stores you have left after pregnancy & milk production. At a certain point, if it’s not getting enough energy input, the energy output suffers. Your metabolism slows down to match. Postpartum is the time to supercharge your inputs. Your nutrient needs have never been higher. Focus on nutrient dense foods as often as you can, and ensure you are boosting your food intake with a powerhouse postpartum multivitamin. Those prenatal gummies are not cutting it, we promise. The results of high quality inputs will be more energy, replete nutrient stores, nutrient dense breast milk for baby, and a better postpartum recovery for your body, and any subsequent
- Support Your Sleep. You may have heard many environmental basics before: Turn off the phone and TV at least 30 minutes before shut-eye to get acclimated to night time without blue light; keep your bedroom cool and comfortable; black out all light, etc. But are you also supporting your body’s ability to shut down and rest? Our natural circadian rhythms are disrupted in this time of life. We are awake often at night, and (hopefully) napping during the day. To help your body re-regulate, get exposed to sunlight as soon as you are able during the day. Sip your coffee on the porch with the baby in the sunshine, go for an early morning stroll around the block. Anything to get your eyes & brain to realize the sun is up and your day is starting. Additionally, make sure you are getting adequate magnesium to help your brain shift to a restful state at night and calm anxiety that may be keeping you awake. You can also support your nervous system with lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and other nervines (herbs that help the nervous system) that decrease stress and anxiety and promote a sense of calm and relaxation, leading to a deeper, more restorative sleep.
- Stay hydrated. We cannot overstate the importance of hydration for energy. Imagine how low energy and parched you feel on a hot day without enough fluids. That’s how the cells in your body feel on any given day of breastfeeding with inadequate hydration. When there is not enough fluid to go around, it creates a slow down in every process. Even mild dehydration can cause brain fog, persistent fatigue, lower muscle output, headache, trouble concentrating and many other symptoms postpartum moms experience. Drinking water (bonus if you are adding in electrolytes or other nutrients) can be the most simple solution we are overlooking. Some moms will fill up all their water bottles the night before and put them out on the counter or in the fridge so they are ready to go the next day. Others set a daily goal: ex: fill my water bottle 3 times today. Whatever system works for you, make it work consistently on a daily basis to feel the difference.
- Caffeine As A Bonus. Not A Solution. In addition to consuming enough energy (nutrients from food & supplements), supporting good sleep, and staying hydrated, caffeine can be a great tool to give you a little boost. However, if you feel like you NEED caffeine to function, chances are there are other underlying issues at play. We know that 5th cup of coffee in the 3pm stretch seems like a must, but if you find you’re relying on it on a regular basis and getting caffeine headaches any time you cut back, you might think about looking at some of the other factors potentially contributing to low energy. Aside from being dehydrating and fighting against all of your efforts to stay hydrated, caffeine appears in breastmilk very soon after ingestion, and at high levels (above 300-500mg daily) could be impacting baby’s sleep and behavior, and decrease iron concentration in breast milk for baby1.
- Check in on your thyroid and labs
- When you’ve tried everything and feel like nothing is helping improve your energy, it is always a good idea to reach out to your practitioner for some tests. Postpartum thyroid disorders are VERY common. Postpartum anemia (low iron supply) and low Vitamin D status are also very common. Low functioning thyroid and not enough oxygen in your blood (the result of low iron levels), are very real culprits of low energy that often are not fixed with food alone. Low Vitamin D status has an impact on mood and postpartum depression2. Additionally, if you feel like you might be suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression, talk to your practitioner and make sure you are heard. Know that the time investment in your health is worth it and essential for both you and your family.
Bonus Tip: Let that housework go. Your rest, recovery, and presence in this period is so much more important than the laundry getting folded and put away. Ask your partner for help with specific tasks, call on your family or friends to pitch in if you feel like you’re just not able to keep up with all the new demands. The village is necessary to raise these little ones and come out on the other side feeling like ourselves again. We’re here to support you!
We’d love to hear from you: What helped you most to feel energized postpartum?