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Postpartum hormones play a major role in affecting weight loss after baby. Hormones are those invisible little guys that can make or break your mood and your weight. Postpartum hormones are especially tricky because there is a roller coaster effect after having a baby, which can send us for a loop of adjustment. Understanding the how postpartum hormone levels ebb and flow after baby is a great start to managing these changes to help you lose the baby weight.
After you give birth, progesterone and estrogen take a massive nose dive. This is essential to tell your body to produce breast milk. Your Oxytocin levels also go up for producing breast milk. This is a complete 180 after being pregnant with high levels of estrogen. These hormonal changes cause individual reactions in each mama that are unique to that mama. Some people function at their best with low estrogen and progesterone, while others may feel totally depressed.
In addition, with the high levels of Oxytocin, some mamas may feel like they are on top of the world, while others can feel totally anxious. Oxytocin also increases your ability to see danger, and heightens your awareness, which can lead to a more anxious state of mind. Progesterone levels hit the floor, which help manage anxiety as well, so you don’t have the natural balance that is more normal. Anxiety often causes appetite and eating issues that make weight loss really hard. If you aren’t use to anxiety at all, food could be your first step to managing these new feelings, and you don’t even realize this is what you are doing.
New feelings of anxiety, from postpartum hormonal shifts play a major role in weight loss.
Mamas who aren’t accustomed to the stress of a new baby, and anxiety find themselves wanting to eat to emotionally feel better, but because this is so new, they think they are starving because of breast feeding. Not wanting to lose milk supply, they continue to eat and fill an appetite that isn’t fueled by hunger, but anxiety.
If this is your reaction, or you are thinking it might be, there are a few things you can do to manage these postpartum hormonal shifts to help you lose weight.
First, herbal supplements like Vitex or Chasteberry can really help with postpartum hormonal changes:
I took Vitex years ago for PMS issues, and I found it to be very, very helpful. It is also proven to help with milk supply and alleviate some of the massive swings in hormones. Balancing your hormones as much as possible is the best we can do through the postpartum phase. You could be getting your cycle soon after baby, despite exclusively breastfeeding, which means your hormone levels are changing monthly. If this is the case, I highly recommend taking the Vitex or Chasteberry to see if that helps your mood and postpartum hormonal swings.
Exercise can boost mood and help stabilize postpartum hormones too:
Exercise is really hard to fit in after having a new baby, but it is super helpful in boosting your mood and easing anxiety. I highly recommend walking for postpartum mamas because it is just enough to get your blood flowing, safe and effective in burning fat. It can also help you process your anxiety and stress, even if you don’t realize you are stressed. If you are aren’t 6-weeks postpartum yet, most doctors will tell you walking is just fine, so check to make sure, and get going. It will dramatically help you, and you can do it anywhere. If weather is an issue, see if you can get to a gym or walk around your house with the baby in a carrier. Dance and walk for 45 minutes to get moving and let go of all the stressful events surrounding your day.
Balancing blood sugar and eating the right nutrients is super important:
If you are managing your anxiety with food, then you most likely are experiencing blood sugar imbalances that are causing your mood and energy to drop and exacerbate some of the uneasy feelings. Managing your postpartum hormones with a great, nutrient-dense diet really does help. I highly recommend starting the day with protein shakes, which are a huge part of my program. I recommend this protein powder because it is super clean and plant-based. It tastes great, and when you blend it up with a frozen banana or fruit, you are filling your body with lots of fiber and protein which will help keep you full, in addition to keeping your blood sugar balanced. Obviously this can sound difficult with everything going on, and I get it, but what I’ve also found is that combining the protein with the fiber in the frozen fruit really helps you feel full and satiated, as well as giving you something sweet to drink, which helps with the sugar cravings.
Postpartum hormones have a mind of their own, and realistically we need them to fluctuate in order to properly produce breast milk and recovery from delivering a baby. The issue is more how our body reacts to the postpartum hormone fluctuations, rather than trying to change the fluctuations themselves.
I personally believe in exercise and nutrition as the foundation to healing mentally and physically, and I highly recommend adding some herbs like the Vitex or Chasteberry to help you function as optimally as possible during the adjustment period. The important thing to note is that this is a difficult time period. There is stress, lack of sleep, adjusting and hormone fluctuations. Everything comes together to make it difficult to manage life all together. Remind yourself to appreciate the little things, like clean clothes, a shower, more than 2 hours of sleep at a time, a healthy baby….in order to keep things in perspective. Life isn’t going to go back to normal any time soon, so it really helps to make your own new normal! If you are struggling to lose the baby weight, please check out my free, 5-day jump start plan to help you with baby steps!
If you need help losing the baby weight and keeping up your milk supply, I have a very popular program, The Postpartum Cure, which comes in an app you can download.