What to do if exhaustion persists after childbirth

What to do if exhaustion persists after childbirth

Many women know it: the child is here, you are actually overjoyed – but at the same time paralyzingly exhausted. This condition can persist for months and years after birth. But how many women does the topic actually affect? “Practically all women are exhausted after giving birth and need time and rest to recover and to adapt to the new situation,” says Dr. Christian Albring, President of the Professional Association of Gynecologists.

Postpartum exhaustion

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Postpartum exhaustion

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Several things come together: The last few weeks of pregnancy and the birth, in particular, are physically demanding. Blood loss during childbirth, pain in the pelvic floor and genital area and the hormonal changes after childbirth with the sudden drop in pregnancy hormones also contribute to exhaustion. “Many women underestimate that and think that they have to be able to take full load again straight away,” warns the expert.

Not only exhaustion, but also the risk of postpartum depression exists, especially in the first few weeks of life. As part of a study, common features of those affected were examined – with amazing results!

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In addition, the baby also cries at night and needs to be looked after when an exhausted mother urgently needs to recover herself. “Coherent sleep is hardly possible – and that for weeks,” says Albring.

If women also have the ambition to get back to their pre-pregnancy figure quickly and therefore sometimes even fast, this can lead to a lack of important vitamins, nutrients and trace elements. That is then even more exhausting. “Breastfeeding can also increase physical exhaustion after the birth,” emphasizes the expert.

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Iron deficiency or depression can also be the cause

In some cases, iron deficiency also plays a role. Albring explains: “Even during pregnancy, iron and therefore oxygen deficiency is common.” This deficiency can be exacerbated by blood loss during childbirth. Typical symptoms are fatigue, poor circulation and dizziness. “Ferrous foods do not help to treat severe iron deficiency,” he explains. “Here you have to intervene with medically prescribed iron supplements.”

Postpartum depression can also play a role in exhaustion, i.e. depression that occurs in connection with childbirth: “Severe exhaustion can promote depression.” Typical for this is that there is no joie de vivre, a feeling of deep despair and desolation persists and the mother often cannot build a positive relationship with her baby. “Rapid diagnosis and support are necessary here,” says Albring.

If the exhaustion doesn’t go away on its own

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In many cases, postpartum exhaustion is temporary – it subsides over time. But there are always cases in which women still feel exhausted for months or even years after giving birth and cannot find their way back to their old strength.

The Australian doctor Oscar Serrallach has dealt with this topic and the question of how mothers can regain energy, health and emotional balance. He wrote the book “Postpartum exhaustion. When the body goes on strike after giving birth” *, in which he gives affected mothers tips on how to recover and gain new strength.

In it, he describes postnatal exhaustion as a constellation of symptoms that affect all areas of the mother’s life after childbirth. Physical problems, hormonal changes, a disturbed bio and sleep rhythm as well as psychological factors play a role here. Accordingly, according to Serrallach, it is important to work on the various areas.

The most important tips from the experts

1. Improve sleep and adhere to sleep hygiene, including, if possible, always going to bed and getting up at the same time, reducing noise (or wearing ear plugs) and relaxing in the evening

2. Ensure sufficient movement, while also optimizing posture, core strength, alignment and gait

3. Finding meaning in life, getting to know yourself properly again and finding out what makes you happy, cultivating old hobbies and interests, meeting friends

4. Improve nutrition and consume all important nutrients or eliminate deficiencies

5. Learn to ask for help when needed – and to be able to accept help

6. Take time for yourself and relax, be it with yoga, massage or breathing exercises

In terms of nutrition, according to Serrallach, it can make sense to replenish micronutrients with food supplements. During pregnancy and breastfeeding the body used up many nutrients, so that deficiencies can now prevail, which make exhaustion even worse.

The most important nutrients are iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, magnesium, trace elements such as iodine, selenium, molybdenum and manganese, other B vitamins, vitamin C and fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A, E and K2.

It is also important to keep an eye on hormones. According to the expert, with persistent exhaustion it can make sense, including the thyroid hormones to be checked, as they too can become unbalanced after a birth and have an enormous influence on the well-being.

* Oscar Serrallach: Postpartum Exhaustion. When the body goes on strike after giving birth. How mothers regain energy, health and mental equilibrium, VAK Verlags GmbH, 386 pages, 22 euros.

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