Around 20% of new mothers experience ‘the blues’ or postnatal depression, and almost all new moms at some stage in the first month or two have weepy sessions.
The changes to the body both during pregnancy and afterwards are huge, but here again with the correct nutrition during and after pregnancy, you can get around many of the causative factors of the blues.
Important DIY deficiency symptom tests
The blues can be caused by several things, but a lack of three main ones are noted: zinc, Vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids (notably Omega-3s from fish oil). Take these three little tests to see whether you are deficient in any three nutrients.
- Are there white marks on your finger nails?
- Do you have stretch-marks?
- Is your appetite poor?
- Is your sense of taste and smell poor?
If you answered YES to the first two and any others, you may have a zinc deficiency at this time. The worse it is, the more symptoms you will have. Zinc is such an important nutrient, and one many people are deficient in anyway, but particularly after giving birth.
If you are deficient, supplement a zinc tablet of 15-22mg a day twice a day until you start to notice you are feeling better, then take just one tablet a day.
- Do you have pain and stiffness in arms and/or hands?
- Have you got painful ‘knots’ on the last joint of your fingers?
- Do you get headaches?
Do you suffer from:
- Bad breath, dizziness, extreme nervousness?
- Burning pain and/or abdominal cramps?
- Swollen ankles?
- An itching red rash around genitals?
- Sore lips, mouth and tongue?
- Lots of dandruff?
- Do you take Theophylline for asthma?
Once again the more ‘YES’ answers here, the more your need for Vitamin B6 is obvious. A good starting point is to take a quality brand B-complex supplement. Find one which has around 50mg of each B vitamin, as B vitamins work best together. Too much of one B vitamin for too long ends up depleting the others, so take a complex to avoid this happening. Check that you get about 50mg of Vitamin B6 in this supplement, otherwise if not sufficient, add a good Vitamin b6 in addition to this Vitamin B complex.
- Is your skin very dry?
- Do you have stretch-marks?
- Do you have extremely dry hair?
- Is there a ‘goosebump’ rash on the upper arms and/or upper thighs?
- Do you sometimes experience excessive thirst?
- Do you experience frequent urination?
- Do you have attention problems?
- Are you depressed/anxious?
If you answered YES to these you are likely to be deficient in Omega-3 essental fatty acids, and a good fish oil supplement which is ultra-refined (mercury-free) will help to restore you to your old self. A supplement is strongly recommended, even though fish is the source of these helpful fatty acids, and we should be eating fish regularly as part of a healthy diet. However, we just don’t get enough of what we need anymore unless we take good quality supplements and this is no exception.
Super nutrients for super milk production then are going to include foods rich in these ingredients to ensure that you are covering all those nutrients. In effect, eating a diet rich in wholegrains, fibre, vegetables, healthy fats, ‘clean’ protein free of hormones and antibiotics, together with plenty of purified water will be best for any new mom.
As can be seen from the above three tests, Vitamins B6, zinc and healthy fats are pivotal at this time. But they are not the only ones you should be concerned with. By taking a specialised pregnancy or prenatal supplement, you will be getting all the important nutrients needed for yourself and your baby at this time. If you find from the above tests that you are still short in Vitamin B6 and zinc, these needs to be added. Omega-3 essential fatty acids from fish oil are always needed, whether you are showing a deficiency or not.
Food sources of these nutrients:
- Good sources of Vitamin B6 are fish, bananas, chicken, pork, wholegrains and dried beans.
- Good sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, salmon, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, wholewheat bread, potatoes and yoghurt.
- Good sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids cannot be eaten successfully other than from a seafood source. Eating fatty fish is good, and fish oil supplements from a purified supplement is an excellent source of pure bio-available EPA and DHA. As seen earlier, flaxseed oil is not a substitute in this instance as the conversion rate is virtually non-existent. We advise against krill oil mainly for humane reasons, as this is the bottom of the food chain, and the food of penguins and whales. Studies are showing that their food source is now under threat due to over-harvesting of the drill in the oceans. We get plenty of Omega-6 fatty acids from a diet high in plants, lean meats, nuts and seeds – so there really is no need to supplement this unless you show a serious deficiency.