Follicular Tracking & Low Progesterone

From the Founder

14 months after coming off the pill and after 8 months of actively “trying”, I went to a fancy fertility clinic to start follicular tracking to see what’s up, and whaddayaknow, it turns out I’ve got low progesterone. 

Low progesterone is apparently a pretty common reason for infertility. But even though a lot of women experience it, when I Googled it, alas, I couldn’t find any real, interesting or inspiring information or stories about it online. So, to help spread the word, here’s mine…

What is follicular tracking?

It might mean slightly different things for different women, but for me, it means having to go for regular scans to monitor the growth of my follicles (where the eggs grow), use a kit to predict when I’m ovulating (hello pee sticks), time sex accordingly (oh joys!), and then have a blood test to check that I’ve actually ovulated. And on my first tracked cycle, my blood test showed that I have low progesterone.

What does low progesterone mean (in terms of conception)? 

A lot, it turns out! Progesterone is a female sex hormone and if you don’t have enough of it, it’s simple: you may have trouble getting or staying pregnant. It’s produced mainly in the ovaries following ovulation each month, and helps to regulate your cycle; but its main job is to get your uterus ready for pregnancy and helps maintain the uterine lining throughout pregnancy.

How do I feel about it? 

Honestly? Fucking relieved. Relieved to know that there’s a reason why, over a year later, we’re still not pregnant. Relieved to know that, whilst it’s my body that isn’t doing what it should (in terms of producing the right level of hormones), there’s really nothing I can do about it. Relieved to know that after months of planning and timing sex and stressing so much that it ended up being too difficult to have that perfectly timed sex, that my planing and timing wasn’t off – my hormones were. And, most of all, relieved to know that it’s treatable.

So what now? 

We keep tracking, and this time during the second half of my cycle, I pop some progesterone pessaries to get their levels up to where they should be, and for the next few months try to conceive “naturally” as if I had a more “normal” cycle. Talk about levelling the playing field!

And who knows, maybe after a few months with a little extra suppository support, and a few rounds of acupuncture – I’ve just started to see the brilliant Mandy Brass to help balance my cycles, (and it was actually Mandy who spotted low progesterone well before the blood test, from previous BBT data I’d give her) – hopefully the mixture of Western and Chinese medicines will work their magic. 

As anyone who has been trying for a while will know, (and I know that my length of trying is fractional compared to so many women) – trying to get pregnant has been a rollercoaster. And up till now, if I’m totally honest, I was more angry at my body for not getting pregnant, rather than actually wanting a baby. But now, for whatever reason – maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s the new house, or maybe it’s because I finally have answers – for the first time in my life, I actually want a baby. I’m ready for it (or as ready as I’ll ever be).

So don’t you worry, I feel good about this. (It isn’t fucking easy, mind you, but I do feel good). There’s comfort knowing that I’m no longer out there “doing it on my own”. I have help. And answers. And a plan. And hope. 

So wish us luck on this next chapter of our journey. And if you want to, I’m here to talk, always. 

Arianna x 

Middle Eastern Chickpea & Broccoli Recipe

During Pachamama Wellness Week (our week long celebration of free, virtual events centred around well-being for women, mamas, mums-to-be, partners, little ones and friends, from Monday 9 – Friday 13 November, 2020) we hosted a live cook along with Le’Nise Brothers to promote hormonal balance through nutrition.

Click on the video below to watch the live, and cook along with us. Ingredients list and cooking instructions below.

Middle Eastern Chickpeas & Broccoli 
Serves 2, Prep and Cook Time: 25 Minutes 


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely dice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 x 400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 medium broccoli, roughly chopped coriander,
  • 2 tbspcumin
  • 2 tbsp 
  • 6 tbsp natural yoghurt 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • fresh coriander 
  • sea salt
  • hot sauce (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan (I love using a cast iron pan as it adds iron to your meal) to medium. When it’s hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot and sizzling, add the onion and 3 of the diced cloves of garlic and season with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down and let them soften for 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add 1 tbsp coriander and 1 tbsp cumin, stir and let cook for a minute. 
  3. Add the broccoli and another pinch of salt. Stir and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli starts to soften. 
  4. Before you add in the chickpeas, make sure there’s no leftover liquid. I usually drain the chickpeas into a strainer, rinse them in the strainer and then leave the strainer in the sink so that all the liquid completely drains out. 
  5. Add the spinach and stir so the spinach is fully mixed in. This will cook quickly.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the rest of the dried coriander and cumin. Stir and let cook for 7-10 minutes so the chickpeas soften and the flavours blend. Taste and add more salt as needed.
  7. While this is cooking, mix the yoghurt with the garlic, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 
  8. Serve with the yoghurt sauce and a few splashes of hot sauce (optional) on top of the chickpea mixture and enjoy!

Pachamama’s Wellness Week Supports Black Mothers Matter

We’re so excited to announce that Pachamama is launching our first-ever Virtual Wellness Week. It’s a week-long celebration of free virtual events centered around well-being for women, mamas, mums-to-be, partners and little ones from 9-13 November, with each day focused on a different theme of wellness, including: nutrition, movement, sex, hormones, mind and body.

All the classes, talks, meditations and workshops throughout the week are free to attend, however, we are asking anyone who’s able to, to pay what they can, with all proceeds from the week donated to Black Mothers Matter.

Pachamama founder, Arianna Radji Lee says:

“This year has been challenging for everyone, but particularly so for parents. I really wanted to create something special and feel-good for our community, so they could head into the end of the year feeling strong, cared-for and connected.”

Feeling good is important, but we also need to do good. Earlier this year I made a commitment to educate myself and our community on racial privilege that exists in the world today, and help raise the profile of black-business owners in the parenting and wellness spaces. As part of that on-going commitment, all money raised during the week will be donated to Black Mothers Matter, a UK-based charity whose mission is to create a dedicated, safe space for Black mothers to get information and support on issues they face during pregnancy and after birth.” 

To donate to Black Mothers Matter, click here.

To see the full line up of events during wellness week and to book into sessions, visit: https://bit.ly/pachamama-wellnessweek2020


Their mission is to create dedicated resources, a platform and safe space for black mothers to get information and support on the issues faced by them during pregnancy and the first year after birth.

Their vision is that all black mothers can easily know the issues faced by them and have easily accessible advice on solutions so that they and their children are no longer disproportionately in danger during pregnancy and the first year after birth.


Assure black woman that their journey is just as valid and important
Most resources available to pregnant women and new mothers are made through the lens of whiteness. Though broadly speaking this encompasses a wide range of things that women will go through during this time, this fails to address the cultural differences that face black women and the struggles and difficulties that may face a black woman.

Reduce barriers to black woman seeking professional support
We know that black women are less likely to attend appointments with doctors and midwives early. The most comprehensive study was of 24,319 women in Britain. Compared to White women, women from minority ethnic groups were more likely to be younger, multiparous and without a partner. They tended to access antenatal care later in pregnancy, have fewer antenatal checks, fewer ultrasound scans and less screening. They were less likely to receive pain relief in labour and, Black African women in particular, were more likely to deliver by emergency caesarean section.
Postnatally, women from minority ethnic groups had longer lengths of hospital stay and were more likely to breastfeed but they had fewer home visits from midwives. Throughout their maternity care, women from minority ethnic groups were less likely to feel spoken to so they could understand, to be treated with kindness, to be sufficiently involved in decisions and to have confidence and trust in the staff. (Henderson et al Experiencing maternity care: the care received and perceptions of
women from different ethnic groups, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013).

Provide resources that are appropriate for black women
We aim to curate resources that are culturally sensitive for black women. This will include pregnancy information, information of what to expect at appointments and also signposting to other organisations that may be helpful.


  • Black women in the UK have more than five times the risk of dying in pregnancy or up to six weeks postpartum compared with white women. (MMBRACE UK REPORT 2015-7)
  • Black women have a higher risk of miscarriage with both spontaneous and IVF pregnancy (Dhillon et al Investigating the effect of ethnicity on IVF Outcome, Reproductive Biomedicine online 2015)
  • Black women are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby than their white counterparts (J. Muglu et al., Risks of stillbirth and neonatal death with advancing gestation at term: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies of 15 million pregnancies, PLOS Medicine 2019)
  • Black women have higher rates of non-attendance for cervical screening – 62% for Caribbean women and 44% for African women, as compared to 11% for white women (Marlow et al Understanding cervical screening non-attendance among ethnic minority women in England, British journal of Cancer 2015)
  • Black women are 3 times more likely to have fibroids than white women, and they tend to grow more quickly (Stewart et al Epidemiology of uterine fibroids a systematic review, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2017)
  • Black women and women from minority ethnic groups are underrepresented in medical research studies and clinical trials (A. Smart et al., The under- representation of minority ethnic groups in UK medical research, Ethnicity Health 2016)
  • Black women and women from minority ethnic groups are more likely to have a poorer experience of healthcare during pregnancy, delivery and aftercare (Henderson et al Experiencing maternity care: the care received and perceptions of women from different ethnic groups, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013)
  • Black women with breast cancer have a higher mortality rate than white women (4 H. Møller et al., Short-term breast cancer survival in relation to ethnicity, stage, grade and receptor status: national cohort study in England 2016)
  • Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women are at an increased risk of having a pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight (Garcia et al., Specific antenatal interventions for BAME pregnant women at high risk of poor birth outcomes 2015)
  • Ethnic disparities in health outcomes have been shown to clearly exist despite socioeconomic factors and other demographic variables (J. Dovidio et al., Racial biases in medicine and healthcare disparities 2016)

To donate to Black Mothers Matter, click here.

To see the full line up of events during wellness week and to book into sessions, visit: https://bit.ly/pachamama-wellnessweek2020

Ways to Celebrate UK Black History Month 2020

As part of are ongoing commitment to educate ourselves and our community in anti-racism work, each week during this month we’ll be including a spotlight section to our weekly newsletter, to highlight related events, articles and/or videos to raise awareness of UK Black history. Here’s what’s been included so far:

The Black Cultural Archives heritage centre in Brixton 
The Black History Month exhibitions at Museum of London Docklands

Go Back To Where You Came From a programme that explores issues of belonging and identity through a specific type of racial abuse
Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History to hear more about influential black composers from John Blanke and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Shirley Thompson
Watch Black British filmmakers explore the impact of George Floyd’s killing by the police and the protest it sparked in the UK through four-minute-long episodes in the series Take Your Knee Off My Neck
Black history inspired documentaries, films and series from RadioTimes’ list. The list includes where to watch/access in the UK. We recommend 13th and Becoming.

@r29unbothered on Instagram made for and by Black millennial women
@sharethemicnow High profile white women hand over their social media accounts to magnifying Black women and the important work that they’re doing 
@colourfulcelebrations A baby gift shop that celebrates colour, culture and heritage boldly and proudly and watch their video on what representation means to their Colourful Mamas
@HereWeeRead, an Instagram account by Diversity & Inclusion Expert, Charnaie, who features diverse children’s book recommendations. Storytime sees her reading a diverse children’s book and can be found under the ‘Storytime’ stories on her account.

About Olive Morris and her role in the movement of Black women in 1970’s Britain fighting against racial discrimination  
The 392the debut novel fromAshley Hickson-Lovence from Hackney in London about a 36 minute bus journey on the 392 in London, the characters on that bus journey and their stories.
About Wilston Samuel Jackson, the first Black train driver.

Alexa for the ‘fact of the day’ throughout October to learn more about UK and Ireland Black history

Postpartum Psychosis

After an incredibly brave, humbling and eye-opening conversation we had with postpartum psychosis survivor, Eve Canavan, we wanted to share some information about this rare but serious mental health illness that often goes un- or mis-diagnosed, so that you as a Mama, or you as a partner or friend of someone who experiences this can tell the signs and know how to help.

Eve is coordinator of the UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week for the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, and as you’ll hear in her story even the health professionals she sought help from where unable to recognise postpartum psychosis, and when they did, not all of them knew how to help her. Please help spread the work about this severe and sometimes frightening illness, so that no women have to suffer alone or for long.

The below information was provided by the Action for PostPartum Psychosis (APP) website. For more information please visit: app-network.org


Postpartum Psychosis (PP) is a severe, but treatable form of mental illness that occurs after having a baby. It can happen ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous experience of mental illness. There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk. PP normally begins in the first few days to weeks after childbirth. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Most women need to be treated with medication and admitted to hospital.

With the right treatment, women with PP do make a full recovery. Recovery takes time and the journey may be tough. The illness can be frightening and shocking for both the woman experiencing it and her family. Women do return to their normal selves, and are able to regain the mothering role they expected. There is no evidence that the baby’s long term development is affected by Postpartum Psychosis.

The period after childbirth can be a devastating time to experience a severe mental illness. For women who experience PP, their partners, friends and family, it can be hard to find high quality information about the symptoms, causes and treatment.


There are a large variety of symptoms that women with PP can experience. Women may be:

  • Excited, elated, or ‘high’.
  • Depressed, anxious, or confused.
  • Excessively irritable or changeable in mood.

Postpartum Psychosis includes one or more of the following:

  • Strange beliefs that could not be true (delusions).
  • Hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations).
  • High mood with loss of touch with reality (mania).
  • Severe confusion.

These are also common symptoms:

  • Being more talkative, sociable, on the phone an excessive amount.
  • Having a very busy mind or racing thoughts.
  • Feeling very energetic and like ‘super-mum’ or agitated and restless.
  • Having trouble sleeping, or not feeling the need to sleep.
  • Behaving in a way that is out of character or out of control.
  • Feeling paranoid or suspicious of people’s motives.
  • Feeling that things are connected in special ways or that stories on the TV or radio have special personal meaning.
  • Feeling that the baby is connected to God or the Devil in some way.

There are a great many other symptoms that can be experienced. For more information see mums’ and dads’ personal descriptions of PP.


Postpartum Psychosis is the label used by most professionals for an episode of mania or psychosis with onset soon after childbirth. However, other names can be used and this can be confusing. You might hear the terms: Puerperal Psychosis; Postnatal Psychosis; Mania or Bipolar Disorder triggered by childbirth (this doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will develop ongoing Bipolar Disorder); Schizoaffective Disorder with onset following childbirth (this doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will develop ongoing Schizoaffective Disorder); Postnatal Depression with psychotic features.

There are many other mental health conditions that occur following childbirth, including Postnatal Depression (PND), severe anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is important that these conditions are not grouped under the term ‘Postnatal Depression’. PND is much more common than PP, but tends to require different treatments and has different causes and outcomes.


Unfortunately we know little about the causes of PP. Research points to biological, probably hormonal, factors related to pregnancy and childbirth but many other factors are likely to be involved.

For further information about PP take a look at APP’s Frequently Asked Questions, read their Insider Guides, see the Royal College of Psychiatrists PP patient information leaflet which APP have helped to develop, read the personal stories of APP members, and find out about the research APP are conducting to help understand more about the condition.


APP’s Peer Support network helps women and families affected by PP feel understood, supported and less isolated. With the support of world-leading academic and clinical experts, an amazing, supportive, peer-led, lived experience community has been developed. The Peer Support community has been described as “life changing”, “lifting me from the shadows of a life half-lived” and a “good and precious resource to all who have been affected by PP”. Our evaluation shows that the service saves lives and improves recovery outcomes. It is the only PP support network in the UK, and the largest in the world with over 900 members. 

Our workshops, conferences and arts events enable women to articulate their experience of PP and develop information to help other women and families. We facilitate ground-breaking research into the causes of PP at the universities of Birmingham and Cardiff and produce ‘Insider Guides’ and other expert literature to support affected families and health professionals caring for those with PP.

APP is a collaborative project run by women who have experienced PP, specialist health professionals and academic experts from Birmingham and Cardiff Universities. Our project is based within the Mood Disorders Research Group in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. We are very grateful for their support.

Interpreting Stories of Motherhood

By guest contributer: Emily Orlik, co-founder of lifestyle brand NINA.

Having a baby in the middle of a global pandemic and a national lockdown was not what my brother-in-law and his wife had envisaged. We heard the challenges – how there was less support available, how partners could only be at the hospital a short while, how it was challenging to buy essentials like
nappies. We were frustrated too that we couldn’t be there in person to support and to celebrate and welcome our new niece. 2000 babies are born each day in the UK so that’s a lot of other new parents and families in the same boat.

Over the past few months we’ve heard lots of women’s’ stories and experiences of their journey to motherhood at this moment in time. NHS midwives who want to remind everyone to “Remember, we are always here for you, ‘new normal’ or not.” Completely coincidentally corroborated by Annie, who came out of hospital in the middle of the lockdown – “Midwives are still there and doing a brilliant job at keeping us and our new babies safe.” Kate shared about her fertility struggles, suggesting to others to “Try not to focus on the ‘what ifs’, because we can’t predict the future, nor
can we dwell too much on the past.” Primrose discussed how being a naturopath has been incredibly empowering for her during pregnancy (and how she can’t live without kefir every morning or her raspberry leaf & nettle tea to prevent leg cramps at night!)

Primrose Matheson – Co-Founder of Bedstraw and Madder – Blog ‘Inspiring Women’

Everyone has their own story. At NINA we launched The Motherhood Prints at the beginning of lockdown: limited-edition art prints inspired by motherhood to celebrate all the women we know and love. It’s been amazing to read about the inspiration behind the artworks and how the artists interpreted the theme of motherhood. Artist Harlie Briggs for example paints abstract nudes and nature. Beautiful pieces. But more than that, there’s so much beneath the surface that we don’t always hear about. Through her art Harlie is out to celebrate the female form “because society
decides not to.” And in creating her prints for The Motherhood Prints in particular, Harlie was reflecting on how much her own mother loved pregnancy and so she wanted to capture the joy she felt as she neared her due date.

Artist Harlie Briggs

It’s easy to forget to simply be inspired! There’s so much female power and energy in the world. Without forgetting that there are a huge variety of experiences of motherhood, it’s amazing to stop and simply be inspired by how powerful motherhood is.

Take a look at The Motherhood Prints at our website and follow us on Instagram here. 10% of the profits from each print sold goes to Awamaki, a charity that supports female artisans in Peru.

About Nina

NINA is a lifestyle brand selling unique artist-designed products for families



Classic Beef Bourguignon

Recipe by ByRuby

Makes 8 portions (Approximately 300g per portion)
Dairy free

This is always a hit for a dinner party or a cosy solo supper at home alone.  Use the best quality meat you can afford and you will truly taste the difference.  Cooking low and slow tenderises the meat beautifully and it will fall apart when cooked.  This dish tastes far better if left for a day after cooking so that flavours have time to intensify and penetrate the meat.  Serve with a baked potato or tagliatelle and a sprinkling of parmesan….


1.5kg diced organic / grass fed beef (chuck steak works well)
50g plain flour
2 large onions, diced
5 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 stick of celery, diced
3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
5 sprigs of thyme leaves, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
200g smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
750ml bottle of red wine
1 beef stock cube with 1 liter of water or stock reduction equivalent
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
½ bunch parsley
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Dust the diced beef in flour then brown the meat in batches in a large saucepan with a little oil. Once all the beef has been browned put aside.
  2. In the same pan wipe any burnt bits away, then add the onions and with a tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt, sweat down until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes
  3. Once the onions are soft add the carrots and celery then cook for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the chopped thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves and tomato puree then cook for 5 minutes
  5. Add the bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the beef back into the pan
  6. Cover with red wine a turn down the heat to a low simmer. Reduce for 15 minutes then add the beef stock and water. Cook low and slow for 35 minutes
  7. Then add the mushrooms and chunky carrots, carry on cooking until the beef falls apart, about an hour or so, make sure the sauce doesn’t become too dry and keep topping up with water.
  8. Once the beef is soft take off the heat and add the mustard and parsley. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Freezing tips: In a freezable and microwaveable or oven proof container (see page .. for more information on freezing tips) portion out 300g of the beef casserole then once the mixture has cooled put the lid on and write a label ‘Beef bourguignon’ with a best before of 6 months. 

To reheat straight from frozen, microwave:  Put into the microwave for 3 minutes, take out of the microwave and remove the lid and stir, place the lid on top but not sealed closed then put the container back into the microwave and heat for another 5 minutes or until piping hot. Leave to stand for 3 minutes then serve.

To reheat straight from frozen, oven:  Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4. Take the lid off the oven proof container and then cover the top with foil to ensure the food will not dry in the reheating process.  Place on a baking tray and heat in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until piping hot, Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

About ByRuby

Seriously special, home-cooked food. That’s what ByRuby is all about. We source the finest produce from local, ethical suppliers then lovingly prepare all your favourite meals in small batches. Super fresh, nourishing dishes made with sustainability in mind, for you to enjoy whenever you like.

“As a busy chef, I knew what it’s like to have little time at home, but still crave proper home cooking. On my days off, I loved to visit farmers markets, meeting the producers so that I could buy the catch up day, the freshest veg and the most ethical, local meat. Then I’d come home and happily spend the day batch cooking all my favourite recipes. When friends started asking me to send dishes to them too, I knew something had begun.

ByRuby was born because I want to share the joy and comfort of home style cooking, using the very best ingredients available”

BAME Breastfeeding Peer Supporter Training

This post is contributed and written by NWL Breastfeeding Support for All Minority Communities

The founders of NWL Breastfeeding Support for All Minority
Communities (BSAMC) – (formerly known as NWL BAME) – are very
excited to announce that, thanks to the many generous donations we’ve
received, we now have funds available to pay for 20 mothers to train to
be breastfeeding peer supporters! 

We have put together an application form (link below) and invite anyone
who is interested to apply for a funded place on the Association of
Breastfeeding Mothers’ “Mother Supporter” online training course. You
can find out more about the course here:


As part of the funding, we will also pay the cost of one year’s
membership of the ABM – required in order to do the course – a total
amount of £45.

If you receive funding, we will ask for a commitment from you to
complete the training, which requires a minimum of 3 hours work a
week, for 12 weeks. The work can be done on a smartphone, as well as
on a laptop or computer. Please reflect carefully on whether you will be
able to complete the training within the specified time, as we would really
like the opportunity to go to someone who is able to take full advantage
of it. 

We welcome applications from women who are London-based and have
breastfed their baby for a minimum of six months – exclusive
breastfeeding, pumping or combination feeding all count. We are
encouraging applications from women who are Black or Asian, or from
another ethnic minority community. We are very keen to promote
diversity in breastfeeding support.

In the application form we will ask for your post code, for more
information about why you would like to train, and also about what you
would do with the training once you have it – whether that is supporting
online, helping at a local group, or something else. It’s crucial that these
questions are answered in detail. 

If you’d like to apply, then please click here:

If you have any questions about the application process, please email: NWLBreastfeeding@gmail.com

Postnatal Depletion

By contributing writer: Clare Young, Registered Nutritional Therapist and Founder of Seed Nutrition.

You have most likely heard of postnatal depression, clinical depression involving the lack of pleasure or joy from a situation. Your midwife may have discussed the signs and symptoms with you and your doctor may have asked you a few questions surrounding your mental health in your six week check-up. But has anyone discussed postnatal depletion with you? And what even is it?

Postnatal depletion is a relatively new term coined by the Australian Doctor Oscar Serrallach. He describes a collection of symptoms from hormonal, physiological, psychological, mental and emotional changes that happen to a mother after she gives birth. Although the term is relatively new, I bet every single Mumma reading this can relate to at least one, or more, of these symptoms included in postnatal depletion even if you gave birth
10 years ago:
– Intense fatigue and exhaustion
– Anxiety
– Hypervigilance (feeling constantly wired)
– Easily startled and sensitive to bright light
– Difficulty concentrating (baby brain)
– Poor libido
– Poor Immune function (mastitis, catching every cold going, reoccurring infections).
– Loss of confidence and self-esteem
– Feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope

Your body goes through immense changes externally and internally from the moment of conception. The nutrients used while your baby grows, during childbirth, the postnatal healing process and breastfeeding are on a much larger scale than pre-conception. If your baby is taking your stores of nutrients in the womb and you don’t replace them with nutrient dense food, supplements and rest, you are likely to feel exhausted once your baby is born. This is also coupled with sleep exhaustion, which has a huge affect on your physiological and emotional health. Then topped off with adjusting to your new Mum life, potential social isolation and looking after a tiny human.

Our Western culture attributes pressures to the modern mother that other cultures do not. We are expected to open our doors to friends and family days after baby is born. We feel we must lose the baby weight and bounce back to our original jean size in a few months. We must be super mum and keep the house tidy, make cake and tea for visiting guests, appear
in control at all times, and look after a new-born baby! Other cultures employ traditional practices that involve the new mother resting for up to 40 days whilst she takes care of her baby and relatives take care of her.

So how can we prevent postnatal depletion in our modern Western World?

The key is in the preparation before the postnatal period, known as the fourth trimester. Ensuring you have a nutrient dense diet during pregnancy will not only supply your baby with the correct nutrients to grow but it will keep your stores topped up so you are not running on empty after the birth.

Our current health care system classes ‘postpartum’ as 6 weeks after childbirth, but actually postpartum recovery can take up to 2 years and postpartum depletion can exist for even longer.

These are some tips to consider for positive postnatal health:

Help you can organise before the birth;
– To ensure you get some rest and time with your new family pre-warn friends and family that you don’t want any visits in the first few weeks.
– Ask close relatives to drop off food parcels for you. You will appreciate having a nourishing meal ready prepared.
– Someone to help do your house-hold chores. Anyone who visits needs to bring a meal or do the washing up!
– You may receive endless bunches of flowers and cards but why not plant the seed to friends and family that they could contribute towards a gift voucher for a postpartum massage or acupuncture and osteopath appointment.
– Sign up to a regular an online food delivery service to ensure you have a constant flow of ingredients to keep you going.
– Employ a doula who can help with many of the things listed above as well as emotional support and a wealth of knowledge. https://doula.org.uk/

Everyone’s health is individual but here are some general tips to support post-partum recovery:
– Replenish depleted nutrient stores with a multi vitamin from a reputable company. I like Terranova, Wild Nutrition and Cytoplan as these all have high quality food source supplements.
– Eat when you are hungry and when you need it. Don’t wait until breakfast time if you are hungry at 3am. Keep some oatcakes or an apple by your bed so you can eat something nutritious that will keep you going until breakfast.
– Think nourishing foods – soups, broths, protein smoothies, overnight bircher muesli, dahl.
– Reduce sugar, caffeine and processed foods as these spike blood sugar levels, which if regular will contribute to hunger, tiredness and weight gain.
– Snacks like nuts, seeds, oatcakes with nut butter or guacamole, vegetable crisps, hummus, energy balls and natural fermented yogurt will nourish you and provide energy.
– Focus on the macronutrients in every meal – protein, healthy fats and slow release carbohydrates.
– Replenish important micronutrients -Vit D (supplement), Zinc (nuts and seeds, lamb), Iron (spinach, red meat, lentils – eaten with Vitamin C rich foods), B Vitamins (beef, chicken, yogurt, eggs), Magnesium (spinach, kale, nuts and seeds, legumes), Calcium (leafy greens, oily fish, dairy)
– Stay hydrated, especially if breastfeeding.

– Gentle exercise like going for a walk, yoga, pelvic floor exercises (if signed off by a doctor)
– Introduce a sleep hygiene routine with ways to wind down before bed (Epsom salt bath, lavender essential oil, sleep tea, eye mask, yogic breathing, black out blinds).
– Nap when you can to restore energy especially in the early postpartum phase.
– 4-7-8 Breathing technique to vitalise and improve energy
– Keep socialising to a minimum in the first few months and spread out meet ups to allow rest days in between.

About Clare

Clare is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and founder of Seed Nutrition, focused on supporting women during pregnancy and postpartum with personalised nutrition plans which tackle common health complaints in motherhood.

She is also the founder of The Nourished Mumma Box, a new venture creating supplement and wellbeing boxes to support pregnant and new Mumma’s that Nourish, Relax and Restore.

You can find more information and recipes for postnatal recovery and free downloadable wellbeing guides on Clare’s website at www.seednutrition.space.

15 LGBTQ-Friendly Children’s Books

To celebrate Pride month, we’ve published a list of 15 LGBTQ-friendly books, suitable for a variety of ages, that you can read with your little ones at home.

These books will help you approach the topic, and encourage and open the conversation about the LGBTQ community, which will help nurture a home environment that is inclusive and accepting.

If you have any more books to add to this list, please do leave them below in the comments.

A Family is a Family is a Family

ABC A Family Alphabet Book (ages 0-5)

And Tango Makes Three (ages 0-5)

Sparkle Boy

Queer Heros: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heros From Past and Present!

The Different Dragon (ages 0-5)

Everywhere Babies (ages 0-2)

The Great Big Book of Families

Love Makes A Family (ages 0-2)

Worm Loves Worm

The Family Book

Princess Princess Ever After

I Am Jazz

Heather Has Two Mummies

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

For other books on acceptance and inclusion, please see our post on the 20 recommended children’s books on race, ethnicity and acceptance.