Transcript: Postpartum Care and Recovery – Caring For You After Having a Baby
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Postpartum Care and Recovery – Caring For You After Having a Baby and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: I’ve chatted with many mums on First Time Mum’s Chat about the challenges faced after giving birth with postpartum anxiety, depression, and those baby blues. Some mums have shared their journey and challenges, whilst others have shared expertise, tips and insights to help. I’ll include a list of these episodes in the show notes and I’ll let you know where you can find them at the conclusion of this episode.
I’m sure you agree that there’s no shortage of education resources to help moms during their pregnancy. However, these are sadly lacking after your little one is born and you’re beginning your parenting journey. Studies show that many moms will face the challenges of baby blues, postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression, and I feel it is extremely valuable for moms to have a better understanding of their causes.
In this week’s episode, I’m speaking with mum of 2, Michelle Solger, who is a certified mental wellness coach and postpartum educator. You’ll hear Michelle share some excellent tips and insights to help you understand these better, including an explanation of what’s going on in your body after giving birth, with regards to your hormones and their role in your body. Some tips to help you recognize whether you are suffering those baby blues or whether it’s reached a point of being postpartum depression. Why you must not be shy and ask for help when you need it and tips on how to ensure you take care of yourself, including dietary suggestions, probiotics, and supplements that can help improve your mental health,
And so, so much more.
Hi Michelle, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m delighted to have you here and I’m looking forward to chatting with you about postpartum mental health. So can you please start by telling us about you and your background?
Michelle Solger: Awesome, thank you so much for having me. My name is Michelle. I am in the United States, and I am a certified mental wellness coach and a postpartum educator. So I help mums with their overall mental wellness. Part of that is by doing personal recommendations for supplementation and also helping them with their sleep and mindfulness, those types of things and also helping them figure out what is going on in their body after they have a baby because that is one of those times that people don’t talk about. You have all the education about what is going on during pregnancy, but then you have that baby and nobody tells you what’s going on after. So that’s what I’m super passionate about and that is what I do.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, when we had our chat, we were talking about hormones and what sort of hormones are going on after you’ve had your baby. What happens with your hormones after you give birth?
Michelle Solger: Yeah, so when you’re pregnant, you have those apps, you have everything that tells you what, what is going on every week. But then after you have that baby, there’s nothing. There’s nothing that tells you what’s going on every week, even what’s going on every month. You just have that baby and here in the US we have most likely one postpartum appointment and that’s it.
So I like to be able to tell people what’s going on in their bodies. So those hormone shifts during pregnancies are really well known. Like I said, what happens after delivery is not well talked about. So some of the big changes that you see immediately after birth is your estrogen and your progesterone plummet. I’m talking levels like you don’t see again until menopause.
Helen Thompson: Wow, that’s a long time.
Michelle Solger: Yeah, and that’s how low they hit right after birth and this is what contributes to those baby blues you have, which once you figure that out, you’re like, okay, that makes sense why I’m feeling this way. But when you’re not told that, you’re just like, oh gosh, what are these feelings, I don’t understand. Another hormone that goes crazy is your oxytocin and it skyrockets and with your baby it’s called your bonding hormone and this helps your uterus to contract afterwards and helps you prevent that excessive bleeding. It’s also called your bonding hormone, it helps you bond with your baby, it’s your love hormone.
Then your other big one is gonna be your prolactin. So your prolactin also increases because that’s gonna be responsible for your lactation, which is what you need for your breastfeeding. So a fun fact that I learned while researching all of this and trying to educate people, is that oxytocin that goes high can also increase your anxiety.
You know what’s a great natural, anti-anxiety, anti-depression hormone, progesterone, which is tanking. So that’s another reason that you have those baby blues because not only you’re increasing a hormone that can cause anxiety while decreasing the hormones that help with anxiety and depression.
Helen Thompson: So it’s getting a balance.
Michelle Solger: Yes, so as you go on postpartum, helping your body get back to that balance, but right after, and that is why people talk about those baby blues in that first about 10 to 14 days. So that’s what I wanted to, to touch on next is that those blues in those first 10 to 14 days is very normal because of your hormones, and about 70 to 80% of women actually experience those negative feelings and mood swings. So if you’re experiencing that, you’re not alone in that, at all. It’s just people don’t talk about it and when you don’t hear other people talk about it, you think you’re the only one experiencing it.
So what mom need to be aware of is when it could be more serious. So if it’s lasting longer than those two weeks, or if your symptoms are super, super intense. So some of the examples of symptoms for baby blues can be crying spells, feeling overwhelmed, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, when you do get to sleep and your sudden mood changes. So the difference in that and then your postpartum depression. So your symptoms of your postpartum depression are gonna be more of feeling sad, feeling helpless or guilty, excessive worry or feeling on edge all the time, a loss of interest in things that used to bring you joy. So maybe it’s hobbies or just things that used to bring you joy don’t anymore, a change in your appetite or not eating at all, loss of energy and motivation, again, trouble sleeping and crying for no reason or excessively.
As we talked about with the baby blues, crying spells are normal, especially with everything that’s going on, but it’s the crying for no reason or if it’s that excessive crying, difficulties thinking or focusing, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself or your baby and then last would be lack of interest in your baby, so if you’re experiencing those, that’s when you need to be contacting, whoever your healthcare provider is, if it’s a doctor, a midwife, whoever is providing your care.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, the hormones, as you say, jump up and down. I teach baby massage and I know about the hormones, some of them, that’s why I knew about prolactin, oxytocin and dopamine, yeah, that’s all to do with stress as well. If they’re up and down, I can fully understand why mums feel that way if they’re not told that. I have heard that some doctors just say, you just had a baby, you’re tired, you’re stressed, just get on with it and that’s not always the case, as you say.
Michelle Solger: That’s I think it’s really important for moms to be educated on what the difference is of those baby blues and the difference of when it would be coming to postpartum depression.
Helen Thompson: What do you actually do to support moms with those issues?
Michelle Solger: Yeah. So you know, first and foremost I make sure that they are talking to their healthcare provider, cuz postpartum depression is not something that you can think away, it doesn’t make you a bad mom. It is a chemical, hormonal imbalance in your body. There are ways that you can support your hormones naturally and just asking for help in other ways. So, ways to support your mental health overall postpartum, would be getting outside, changing that scene can help. Asking for help and accepting help. When people want to help you, let them. I know, especially as a first time mum, for me, I was like, I can do this all by myself, I need to prove to everybody that I am a good mum and I can do this. You don’t need to prove to anybody that you can do this, and accepting help doesn’t make you a weak mum or a bad mum. It just means that you are human and you need help.
Focusing on your diet. Eating, good filling fiber, protein rich meals, and not just reaching for the easy processed sugar, which is usually there and trying to get those vitamins, and minerals back that you’ve lost through childbirth because no matter how you had your baby, you lost a lot of blood and your body went through a lot of trauma and just trying to get those back and then you can do supplementation.
My two favorite things for postpartum moms are saffron, saffron extract, that helps with your focus, that helps with your mood and then a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus Rhamnosus. It’s a specific strain of probiotic that is targeted toward that stress and anxiety and there are actually studies out there that say that if mom takes that during pregnancy, it can help with not getting that postpartum depression after and I think that that’s amazing.
Helen Thompson: Saffron, is that not what makes rice turn yellow? If you put rice in saffron, it turns yellow.
Michelle Solger: Yeah, a lot of products will use an extract of that, but yes, it is the same spice.
Helen Thompson: Oh, okay, so spices like that are good, I didn’t know that because I’m a great believer in natural therapies and supporting mums much as possible naturally.
Michelle Solger: Saffron is a great one for just overall stress, anxiety, mood focus, it’s got a lot of great qualities and yes, like you said, it’s a more natural way to do it.
Helen Thompson: The other one you mentioned, the natural probiotic?
Michelle Solger: It’s a bacteria strain. So probiotics are made up of those bacteria strains, and they’re all named very specifically for what they do and so it’s just a specific strain. So if you were going to get a probiotic, you would just look for that specific strain in it.
Helen Thompson: Oh, okay, I take probiotics about two or three times a week and it does help.
Michelle Solger: Yeah, the different strains are towards different things, so you just need to make sure that you’re getting ones for what you need. There’s strains, like I said, for stress, anxiety, mood. There’s strains for just overall digestion. So if you are looking for digestive health, you don’t wanna take strains for stress, cause it’s not really going to target your digestion.
Helen Thompson: Can you take both at the same time?
Michelle Solger: Yes cuz they’re gonna be kind of targeting different things.
Helen Thompson: Oh, okay. So did you have anxiety when you had your first child?
Michelle Solger: With my first child, I was fine, my second child, I ended up with postpartum depression and that is what sent me on the path of wanting to educate moms cuz I had no idea what was happening and I felt very alone in it until I really started talking to others and speaking out and realizing how many other moms also went through postpartum depression. Just nobody talks about it.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, it’s a very taboo subject because as we said, people think you’ve gotta be the best mum but it’s a hard process to give labor and go through all that. As you said, once you’re pregnant, you are excited, you’re happy and excited because you’re having a baby but when that baby comes out, you can go through so many different emotions. It’s not just we, we mentioned a hormones, but there are so many different emotions you go through. I think when the baby actually comes out, you either love that baby instantly or you think, oh my, what’s happened? That’s where you mentioned the hormones come in cuz they’re all over the place. I think you’ve just gotta stabilize that as naturally as you can and that’s where I think being able to talk about it and having natural stuff, as you said, the saffron and the probiotics, and eating healthy too. But eating healthy for a mum isn’t always that easy because they’re thinking more about the baby than themselves.
Michelle Solger: Yes, a lot of times, especially as a new mom, you end up just grabbing what you can find cuz you’re so focused on baby, when I think we need to retrain our focus to be mum. As mum, I need to nourish myself so that I can nourish baby and take care of baby, because if I’m not well, I can’t take care of my baby to my best ability. Studies say that one in seven mums experience postpartum depression.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, not surprised.
Michelle Solger: Yeah, it’s pretty common. People think that if they admit that they’ve suffered from that, that it is questioning their ability as a mum Hmm. which obviously is not the case.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think a lot of people don’t do that for that very reason because they’re scared that people are gonna say, you are a bad mom, or you are this or you’re that and I think that’s a great shame because moms need to be supported rather than told that they’re a super mom and they’ve gotta get on with it.
You mentioned about taking care of yourself before you take care of your baby. I always think of that scenario in an airplane. When you’re flying, they say, give the oxygen to yourself first before you give it to anybody else because if you don’t give the oxygen to yourself first, you are not gonna be in the space to support your child.
Michelle Solger: Absolutely, I 100% agree. Somehow along the way, we’ve gotten it twisted.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, exactly and I think that people forget that. I remember my father always used to say to me, if we’re in a plane together I’ll give you the oxygen first cause I’ve had my life and I thought, but dad, that’s, crazy.
Is there anything that you’d like to mention that we haven’t actually mentioned about the hormones? Is there anything you’d like to add?
Michelle Solger: A couple more herbs that would be good for balancing your hormones naturally. Just a couple more would be Ashwagandha. So it’s gonna help with your thyroid function, your adrenal function, just stabilizing your blood sugar overall, hormonal function and it’s gonna help with decreasing that depression and anxiety. The next one would be Shatavari, which is really gonna help with supporting that estrogen, which we know is in the pits and it’s gonna help with your healthy hormone balance, supporting your reproductive health, supports your mood, and can also help with P C O S, polycystic ovarian syndrome. So the Shatavari can help with regulating your hormones.
The last would be Fenugreek, which can help with milk production. Caveat, some people do find that it decreases their milk supply, so just be careful. It seems to be very individualized per person. But it does help with your hormone balance and it helps with controlling that insulin resistance and it can also help relieve that menstrual cramping.
Helen Thompson: Have you got any information, freebies or anything that you can pass on to the audience or anything like that?
Michelle Solger: Yeah, I have one that goes over the five ways to help improve your mental health postpartum, that goes over some of those ways we talked about, and it’s just a great way to have it all right in front of you.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I saw that on your website. If anybody wants to get in touch with you or find out more about you, how do they go about doing that?
Michelle Solger: So I’m on Facebook at Michelle Solger and Instagram at postpartum and beyond. I’m probably more active on Facebook and I also have a mom community over on Facebook. A group just for moms where, you can come ask questions, get support from other moms, and I do a lot of education in that group too. I also bring in speakers every month on different motherhood topics. This month we’re about to have somebody come in and talk about parenting and how to handle big emotions in your kids.
Helen Thompson: Oh, wow. That’s a huge topic.
Michelle Solger: Yeah, I have toddlers, so I’m very excited to learn about that.
Helen Thompson: Yes, I’ve worked in childcare and I’m very much aware of that topic. When you have temper tantrums and everything else, to me, it’s not that the kid’s having a temper tantrum, it’s more that their emotions are running wild and they’re still learning how to process, and as a mother or as a child carer, it’s just a matter of doing your best, take a big deep breath and just let them go and then talk to them afterwards, and not to try and intervene when they’re having it. If you try and intervene too much when having it, you’re just gonna make it worse.
So thank you Michelle so much for being here. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and I’ve really enjoyed finding all about the herbs.
Michelle Solger: Thank you.
Helen Thompson: I learnt a lot from Michelle from our chat, and she certainly shared many great tips on the whole postpartum health area. Since this impacts so many new mums, I think it’s important to empower yourself with lots of knowledge of what’s happening with both your body and mentally during this time. Also, as Michelle said, please don’t hesitate to seek outside help if the signs are there that you need it.
I’ve included links to Michelle’s Instagram, Postpartum and Beyond Facebook group and her 5 ways to improve your mental health, postpartum free resource, which she mentioned during our chat, in the show notes, which can be found at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/127.
I also share each episode on the First Time Mum’s Chat Instagram page, and you’ll hear me chatting live with folks I’ve interviewed from time to time. Please support me by following me and I look forward to meeting you during one of my lives.
Next week I’m chatting with parent educator and social worker, Jill Urbane, who specializes in toddler speech, social emotional development and behavior, and has supported hundreds of families for nearly 30 years. We’ll be talking about ways to support infant development by using effective communication strategies. Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out next week, and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favorite platform so that you get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they are live.