Hormones tend to go haywire at some very specific times in a woman’s life. First, we have puberty, then there is pregnancy and childbirth, and finally menopause. Post pregnancy hormones are pretty important, as they are Responsible for some wonderful things like the instinct to nurture your child or the elation you feel when you share a skin-to-skin moment with your baby, but they can also wreak havoc on your body and your brain.
Most women have a couple of visits with their obstetrician or midwife following the birth of their babies, but most do not dig deep enough into resetting hormones after childbirth – which can leave many women feeling not quite themselves.
Hormonal fluctuations or imbalances are very common after pregnancy and it is crucial to get them back in check. Your endocrine system is inextricably linked with your brain and nervous system. It is like an orchestra, that needs to have everything in balance or the overall effect is off. From milk supply issues, to sex drive, difficulty losing weight, anxiety, acne, or postpartum depression (PPD), a hormonal imbalance may be the culprit.
If you suspect that your hormones are out of harmony, It is a good idea to see a functional medicine practitioner who specializes in female hormones to run some labs and have your hormone levels and overall health assessed. In the meantime, much progress towards hormone balance can be made by making simple changes to your lifestyle.
Here are 10
Enjoy coconut, olive oil, salmon and avocado. Proper amounts of unsaturated fats and good cholesterol are prerequisites for a functional female endocrine system. Make sure you are getting enough of these in your diet.
These fats, the high Omega 6s found in vegetable oil, peanut oil, margarine, shortening and other commercial and chemical oils interfere with the proper functioning of the endocrine system and promote other health problems like heart disease.
Moving your body will definitely make you feel better and help restore hormones after pregnancy, however, marathon cardio sessions are not recommended. So, you will want to keep your cardio sessions quick and intense, alternating days with strength training and having a at least one rest day.
Lifting weights releases positive hormonal reactions. Choose squats, kettle bells, and other resistance exercise to enjoy these benefits.
Doing 8 short sprints a few times a week has also been proven to exhaust the body in a short and ultimately hormonally positive way.
Walking at a slow, leisurely pace not only burns calories and increases circulation, but it also has a great hormone balancing effect and is a wonderful way to relieve stress.
I know, you need your coffee! I wouldn’t dream of taking coffee away from a mom, but limiting consumption to 2 or less cups per day can be super helpful in balancing hormones. Excessive caffeine is taxing on the adrenal system because it elevates cortisol levels and also impedes the thyroid. The effect of too much coffee is an energy burnout that destabilizes hormone levels.
To maximize your hormone boosting efforts, delay your first cup of coffee until 2 hours after you wake.
Besides a properly nutritious diet, you may choose to supplement with specialized nutrients that have yielded good results in hormone management. These include maca, Omega 3s, chasteberry, red raspberry leaf, and evening primrose oil. These supplements can be very helpful in restoring hormone balance, however, you will want to work with a health professional to find the right mix for your body.
Toxin exposure is a fact of modern life. We are bombarded with toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in and the foods that we eat. One way to reduce toxic exposure is to read labels on every product that you bring into your home. Go organic when it comes to produce and proteins. Store food in glass containers instead of plastics, use essential oils to replace your cleaning products and use a filter for your drinking and bathing water.
Toxin elimination can seem daunting, so a good place to start is your bathroom cabinet, which can account for a large chunk of the toxins we absorb daily. Read your labels and try to eliminate parabens, phthalates, and BPA (Bisphenol-A), all of which can interfere with hormone function.
This vitamin acts as a hormone in our body, so keeping it at proper levels is a fundamental part of balancing out the hormones after pregnancy and beyond. Even if you receive plenty of sunlight, it may be necessary to supplement with Vitamin D. A simple blood test will show if your levels are low.
Without regulating our levels of cortisol, it is impossible to keep all the other hormones in check. Take deep breaths, get enough sleep and work on techniques (such as yoga and/or meditation) to manage your stress levels.
One of my favorite breathing exercises is called “box breathing”. It is super simple and ultra effective. You can do it anywhere to reduce stress instantly. Here’s how:
Start by inhaling through your nose with your closed for a count of 5. Hold the breath for a count of 5. Breath out through your mouth for a count of 5 and hold the breath out for another count of 5. Do this 5 times and you will notice a change in your body and mind.
Staying off of synthetic hormones can help you stabilize your own.
Fiber has a way of binding to old estrogen and passing it out of the body, which will open up space for the right amount of hormone in your bloodstream.
Would you like to have your hormone health evaluated? Are you looking for a personalized strategy to balance your hormones and heal your metabolism? Book your free Hormone Health Strategy session with Dr. Michelle Sands. (Space is extremely limited, so book now!)