Post-Weaning Hormone Dump: it’s a Thing

OK, so I started writing this blog post because I was feeling irrelevant and generally like ass. I felt like all I do on a daily basis is a waste of time and nobody gives a crap because all I’m doing is taking care of P and being a boring stay at home mother – so who cares?!

The last 2-3ish weeks. Not a good time.
The last 2-3ish weeks. Not a good time.

I told M (le partner) about how I felt, because he’s awesome and listens to me and stuff. I’ve just been feeling…off. I’m still getting stuff done, working out, etc, but something was different. I’ve been anxious and on-edge, quick to snap, libido was gone, I have CRAZY ACNE like I’m 13 again and 3 days ago I came down with this crazy-looking rash.

Seriously haven't been this pimply since I was 15.
Seriously haven’t been this pimply since I was 15. Rash is mixed WITH the acne. WTF!

 

Obviously, M noticed! So I figured my period was coming, but when I checked my calendar (hell-to-the-yes I track!) I realized I was still 2 weeks off. I don’t normally get super irritable from PMS anyway. Today just reached a boiling point and I was teary-eyed and trying to figure out why exactly I felt so awful.

The culimnation of my thoughts of lethary and despair, sadness, are also symptoms of postpartum depression, which is something that’s unfortunately common for many women from birth to up to 4 years postpartum. What I’m talking about is specific to being post-breastfeeding.

I weaned P 6ish months ago and I think what’s going on is my body is *finally* returning to its pre-pregnancy state. BlissinMamma wrote a post about EXACTLY what I’m going through, and even listed symptoms of this hormonal change when she was dealing with it.

I checked off 11 of the 15 symptoms she listed – even the canker sore!

LOOK AT IT. LOOK.
LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT IIIIIT!

 

It really threw me for a whirl. Why in the hell would it take my body so long to return to its regularly-scheduled programming after weaning? I mean, good lord, get on with it – ya know?!

I found another article by Priscilla Stevens, a seasoned mother of 6, who wrote about post-weaning depression and strategies for coping. It was really useful and included things like getting regular exercise, meditation, regulating sleep times and NOT turning to food for comfort – which has been a full-on problem for me before. Some time ago for me, comfort-eating morphed into binge eating, but I managed to pull myself back out of the cyclical hole – but the last few weeks I’ve caught myself munching for no reason and when I’m not hungry.

(I’ll add: I know some people can just nosh freely and it’s no big, but since I have a genuine binge eating problem, I keep track of what I eat and use positive affirmations to maintain a healthy view/relationship with food.)

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I had my yearly appointment with my gyno last week and I asked her if it’s possible that I could still be going through postpartum-related hormonal changes – obviously this is before everything came to a boil and I was laying on the floor whimpering during P’s nap time. She said (I’m paraphrasing) “Absolutely! People underestimate how long it actually takes to recover from childbirth. It’s not just physical recovery, there’s a mental and hormonal component that isn’t discussed enough.” Have I mentioned I love her? She rules. And she showed up 5 minutes before I pushed P out but that’s a funny story for another day.

So after all this, I’m still rashy and pimply and waiting for that canker sore to bugger off, but I feel calmer and more at ease because though this is incredibly friggin annoying it is also common and hopefully with time it will sort itself out. I think if it doesn’t, I’ll obviously seek outside help starting with my doctor, and go from there.

For this post, I also read this very reassuring article from JStor regarding stay-at-home motherhood: How the Internet Makes Women’s Work Visible

 

How was your, or your partner’s, post-weaning experience?

Intro to Food and Health – Week 1

Coursera has a pretty nifty setup with many of their online courses. You can purchase a certificate of completion for your LinkedIn page or for use on a resume, or, you can just take the free online courses. The courses themselves are structured into short video lectures (no more than 10 minutes, usually less) with infographs and a narrator. This course is narrated by Dr. Maya Adam, MD, who is both a doctor and a professor at Stanford.

Week 1 gave short introductions to different types of nutrients, how we generally see food and how it’s probably better to simply see food as food, instead of trying to break it down into particular nutrients that we need each day (I’m looking at you, macro-junkies). It’s not to say that any particular nutritional strategy is bad, save for restrictive diets that usually involving demonizing one kind of nutrient over others, BUT what was emphasized was that food in itself is so complicated that scientists are still studying how it fuels us, why balance is essential to a healthy diet, and how fad diets are absolutely not recommended for sustainable, long-term health.

My favorite tidbits of this week:

I learned a simple explanation for how carbohydrates, fats and proteins are processed in the body. What I found especially interesting was how different types of sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc) are processed and why some types aren’t recommended to be eaten regularly as opposed to others.

The 3 macro-nutrient concentration dates back to 1827, where William Prout was among one of the first English doctors to recognize fat (lipids) as an important nutrient. Apparently the development of nutritional science started in the 18th century, and I wrote my MA thesis about material culture in the 18th century so OF COURSE I was excited to read that.

There are 20 types of amino acids, and 9 of them are essential (meaning we have to get them from food).

Plant-based proteins aren’t “complete”, as in they don’t have as many amino acids as meat-based proteins BUT the benefits of replacing meat 1-2x per week with plant-based protein (so beans, lentils, stuff like that) far outweighs the potential negatives.

Needless to say, I’m enjoying the course so far. If there’s any other interesting bits I learn, I’ll probably tweet about it if it’s not enough to make a whole post about it. If you’re super interested, you should sign up for the course yourself! 

Intro to Food and Health

I started a course on Coursera.org called “Stanford Introduction to Food and Health“. Getting a certificate of completion cost me €36, but I figured it’s worth it since the average person studying to be a personal trainer probably doesn’t get too much nutrition in. I have a long history of issues with food, but I think getting a strong background in nutrition, coupled with my own personal experience (empathy is a big deal!), and other requisite courses standards for PTs would give me a leg up against a lot of personal trainers where I live when I start training clients, as well as teach me about the foods I eat.

There’s a big emphasis in this course on the global obesity epidemic. To be honest, I’m fat positive. I think there needs to be more representation of fat people in the media, in magazines and in daily life. I like FatShion, and fat bloggers who are radical about fat positivity (not faux “body positivity” disguised as dieting fads in order for someone to sell their crappy recipe book) and those who write extensively about fat shaming and how fat/obese people are discriminated against. My personal opinion about this is, if a fat person wants to do some strength training but wouldn’t want me to advise them on nutrition (usually because they’ve already had someone hassling them for years about it), then I’ll work with them. You can still build strength even if you aren’t eating kale chips every day (I know it’s more complicated than that, I’m making a joke).

What I’m getting at here is that I will endeavor to avoid the bits about obesity. I just don’t want to come off judgey, or turn anyone off from the really useful nutritional science stuff. I don’t think, as someone who is average-sized and not discriminated against on a daily basis for my body’s size, that I need to be writing about this subject.

I will focus as much as I can on what I’m learning regarding nutritional science and how our bodies process nutrients from foods. This seems pretty interesting and I’m looking forward to babbling about it on here.