This week, I’ll be talking about ‘Part II - One hundred days of repletion: rebuilding physical wellness’, from Dr Oscar Serrallach’s ‘The Postnatal Depletion Cure’ which includes five chapters.
My aim, with these reviews, is to provide you with what I would have hoped to have known before the birth of my firstborn, so that it may help you on your own journey.
In the introduction to Part II, Dr Oscar Serrallach says that the human body “is like an intricate and beautifully woven spider’s web. You can’t pull down one part of the web without it affecting in some tiny or even some monumental way other parts of it.” (p. 51)
Dr Serrallach goes on to explain what the ‘four pillars of health’ are: sleep, purpose, activity and nutrition (p.54) and explains why you need to focus on these in order to recover from postnatal depletion, whilst paying attention to the key organs we need to be focusing on during the postnatal period: the liver, brain and intestines. (p.54)
In Chapter 4: ‘Rebuilding Micronutrients’, we learn more about what depletion means for our body and how to restore what’s missing. The place to start is with micronutrients which are the “vitamins and minerals that help regulate our metabolism” (p.56) Some of the key micronutrients in question are: iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and magnesium (p. 57-58). A number of these you would need to get a test for to check your levels but with regards to magnesium, Dr Serrallach suggests: “Use magnesium sulphate as bath salts or a foot soak to relax. The skin, especially via the feet, can absorb very generous amounts.” (p.72)
In Chapter 5: ‘Rebuilding Macronutrients’, Dr Serrallach explains more about the types of food groups to focus on when women are depleted: Fats, proteins and carbohydrates. There are some fascinating facts provided in this chapter including:
Our brains are composed primarily of fat (p.82)
Low DHA in the brain and central nervous system directly contributes to both baby brain and postnatal anxiety (p.84)
Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles and collagen (p.86)
Chapter 6: ‘Rebuilding Hormones’: Ah, hormones! They get blamed for so much of our moods and low feelings and yet they are pretty fascinating when you start to understand how they work and how involved they are in the way our bodies function! “A hormone is a “chemical substance” produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs.” (p.93)
So what do you need in order to fix your postnatal depletion? According to the author, you need ‘enough sleep and rest, improve your diet, move more and get ‘down time’ so you can relax.’ (p. 96). Hmm, my pre-children self is thinking that this all sounds totally doable! However, once you have a baby and then young children in the mix, it’s quite another matter. Hence the importance of postnatal planning.
As a society, we’re gradually improving how we prepare for labour and birth but we’re so far off the mark when it comes to preparing birthing people and their partners to the early weeks, months and years of parenthood. Dr Serrallach says: “Having people help you with cleaning, laundry, food shopping and meal preparation can make all the difference in your stress levels.” (p.97)
In Chapter 7: ‘Rebuilding Energy’, Dr Serrallach talks of what different cultures focus on with regards to regaining lost energy, including Traditional Chinese Medecine, Accupuncture, Ayurveda, Restorative Yoga, Breath awareness and Meditation.
Chapter 8: ‘Rebuilding Sleep’ - “Many changes take place in your brain when you’re pregnant. While these changes prepare you to bond with and care for your infant by making you hyper vigilant, the downside is the hijacking of sleep quality.” (p.124)
If you’ve already had your baby and you’re reading this then you’ll know exactly what the author is referring to here. If you’re expecting and reading this, please look up this chapter to get some ideas of how to get the restful sleep needed when the time comes postnatally.
Part II of this book delves a lot deeper into how we need to care for ourselves postnatally. As I have talked about since the birth of ‘bump & glide’ nearly three years ago now, the conversation in Western societies needs to shift from ‘I need to shift this baby weight’ to ‘what do I need to put in place to ensure my body and mind get what they need at such a pivotal time in my life? Especially during that key fourth trimester.'