Dear Young Mom,
Why Your Health Feels Awful and How to Fix it…
The headaches, the extreme fatigue (like so tired you have no clue how you’re going to get breakfast together, much less get out of bed, and thinking about cooking dinner just about throws you over the edge)…The 3 0’clock CRASH (like lock me in my room and don’t come get me till dinner’s done)…. Not to mention the random aches and pains (should I really be having backaches in my 20s/30s)? The anxiety about nothing really, but it’s always there…. The weight gain and belly bloat that hasn’t gone away even after trying 15 different workouts, meal plans, diets, blah blah blah…. And not to mention the absolute lack of patience that no one else sees (how are you doing? Oh, great and you?), other than your children and husband….. Feeling like garbage after eating a meal (should I be gluten-free, maybe low carb, paleo, oh forget it, where’s the ice cream? I had a stressful day). The dizziness and brain fog…Just feeling like garbage, there’s really no other way to explain it. When did this happen? I must need a vacation, a spa day, a day away from the kids, prozac, something! But you take a vacation, a pricey spa day and “day off” but you still feel awful. Trust me, I get it. You are not crazy! You are overtaxed and two tiny glands in your system are paying the price. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s find out WHY us young moms feel like this.
How did I get like this??
You have your first baby. You go into it with a night of no sleep (or 2 nights or 9 months…) and pretty much don’t get sleep from there on out. Your body has gone through something no major surgery can compete with (ok sir, you’re going to have back surgery but you will be completely awake and will get a max. of 3-4 hours of sleep a night for the next few months with absolutely no recovery time…sign me up!). You go home after a whopping 24 hours of “rest” (i.e., nurses coming in every 4 hours and turning on bright lights) and have no idea how to stop this little blessing from crying…. you rock, you nurse, you give up every food so that it doesn’t bother her tummy, you try bottles, but she won’t stop crying! Too bad, back to reality. Your insides are falling out, but there’s now poopy laundry to be done every half hour and dishes and bottles and meals and, well, forget cleaning. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a family member help with the chores, you’re pretty much on your own, in pain and ready to give your little blessing to the first person who claims her. But, you march on because what else can you do? Crying in the closet can only solve so much.
After a good 3 months (or 3 years) of no sleep, you finally can get a good 8 hours of sleep, but now you can’t shut your mind off and you’re back to 3-4 hours of sleep. Bring on the coffee.
Fast forward and you forget the above and decide to have another little blessing. Rinse and repeat, except now in addition to the bundle, you’re also wondering what the heck happened to your sweet angel toddler, and why she is jumping on you and the baby while you’re trying to nurse, coloring on the tv, and screaming into baby’s ears. Not to mention, you now have double the poopy laundry, dishes, meals and chaos. But no time to dwell, there’s Pinterest worthy meals to make, crafts to do and visitors to entertain. Blogs to write, money to make, floors to vacuum, meetings to attend, trips to take, and potty training.
Whether you had your first child 10 years ago or a month ago, your body still hasn’t healed from the initial stress. Whatever the case, You.Are.Taxed.
The Way We Were…
In the past (like 150 years ago+, and still today in other countries), it was not like this. New moms had huge teams of women around them; we’re talking moms, in laws, sisters, cousins, aunts, neighbors, you name it, that supported them not only in birth, but after. Women had a baby and all they did was nurse and sleep. That.Was.It. We’re talking high maintenance treatment here. In some cultures, they had other women washing their hair for them! For real, they didn’t mess around back then.
Unfortunately, in our independent culture, we pretty much keep to ourselves, offering a hand here or there, but thinking we don’t want to bother the new mom, just let them rest (right!). And we all have our own crazy packed lives that it’s just not like it was back then. So, a 6-8 pound blessing comes out of a 1 inch space, and we are expected to bounce back and carry on. But, this wreaks havoc on our body. It takes a good 6-8 weeks to recover enough to get back to minor chores, and a full 18 months for our bodies to fully recover from birth (crazy right?)! Back in the day, women nursed exclusively for 3-4 years, so it was unlikely they would get pregnant within the first couple of years after having a baby, giving their body time to recover. So if you got pregnant with your second+ child within 18 months of the previous, you are really feeling it.
Not only does our culture expect us to bounce back, but we are expected to do it with excellence. Visitors, entertaining, Pinterest worthy newborn photos, back to work, phone calls to return, a billion texts and emails to sort through, etc. With all of the craziness, taking care of your health (and what does that even look like, who has the time to figure that out) takes a back burner. So, we take antidepressants, sleeping pills, diet hop, overload on the latest “superfood”, and caffeine it up hoping for the best.
And not to mention the fact that we went into all of this with probably less than stellar health ourselves (hello generation pop tarts and pizza rolls).
Breathe. There is a better way. This is not a new fad diet that’s going to take it all away. There are simple things you can do to start feeling like a human again. I know this, because I’ve been there.
We can’t go back in time and put a Facebook request out there for someone to wash our hair while we nurse, but we can make changes to stop feeling like garbage.
Like I mentioned, there are two glands that take the heat when you are stressed, your adrenal glands. And stress doesn’t just include life events, it includes things you are putting into your body that “stress” your adrenals. Don’t hate me, they’re probably your favs that are getting you by (barely)….sugar, caffeine and alcohol. For those with normal health, these are okay in moderation (organic of course), but if you’re health isn’t up to par, these 3 amigos are killing your adrenals. I’m not going to lie, it’s not an easy thing to cut them out. I cut out sugar and caffeine cold turkey 6 years ago and it was a tough week. But I got over it and I feel a lot better for it. Set aside a week to cut these bad guys out and I promise you, you will feel the benefits after a few days.
A fabulous way to support your adrenals is to drink licorice root tea. Licorice root helps boost anti-stress hormones in your body, taking the heat off of your poor adrenals. There are several ways to take licorice root: tea bags, pills or straight up (click the links for my recommended products). I prefer the straight up way, taking a 1/2 tsp in powder form with water (it actually tastes pretty good), as it’s the most potent form, but do whatever’s easiest for you. Caution: if you’re nursing or pregnant, wait until you are no longer pregnant/nursing.
If you crash around 3 pm, that’s a good indication that your adrenals are poor. To avoid the tired/sluggish feeling you get from 2-4pm, eat! It’s important, though, what you eat. Eat a healthy carb (like an organic apple) with a good fat/protein source (like organic peanut butter). And drink a full glass of filtered water with minerals added back in (or spring water). Sound too easy? Try it, it should carry you through dinner without needing a fitful nap.
Exercise much? That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Again, the adrenals are sensitive to stress, so if you are “stressing” the body in any way, including heavy workouts (runnings, heavy cardio, weights), you’re doing more damage to your adrenals glands. Stick to light workouts for now, like biking or walking, until you heal the little guys.
Lastly, eat healthy. Seriously, it’s better for you, for your family and for your adrenals. You really will feel the difference. You know the deal- good fats like coconut oil and olive oil, whole grains if you eat grains, organic fruits and veggies, grass fed beef and organic chicken.
So, easy peasy:
- Cut out sugar, caffeine (ALL sources) and alcohol
- Take licorice root 3 times a day on an empty stomach
- Daily pop a Vitamin B and C pill
- Eat a healthy, filling snack to avoid the 3 o’clock crash
- Lay off the heavy workouts
- Quit eating junk 😉
Give yourself a few weeks and you should start to feel the load lighten.
If you are still having trouble feeling well after making these changes, you may need to be checked for a thyroid condition. Your doctor can run blood tests to determine what might be going on.
As always, consult with your doctor before trying any of the above, and check for any contradictions with your meds of current vitamin protocol. The info. above is not intended to diagnose or cure any ailments.
——->! And BTW, when I call our children blessings, I truly mean it! Parenting can be so trying and sometimes you want to quit, but our little ones truly are blessings from the Lord and it will feel a lot more that way once we get our health in order. 🙂
Please come back and let us know if these changes have been helpful to your health! And be sure to comment with any questions. Hang in there mama! 🙂
Photo credit: FreeImages.com/Jesse Therrien
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