7 foods to balance postpartum hormones

You’ve done it!  You’ve birthed your baby in a magical or not so magical experience and now you’ve crossed the world changing bridge into motherhood.  The hardest part is over, right?  Wait, right?  The idea of childbirth was terrifying at first, but somehow you made it onto the other side and you don’t have anything else to worry about.  Except for the tiny human you’re raising, and what the heck just happened to your nether regions, and why are your breasts so engorged (or not), and will you breastfeed, and for how long, and what preschool will they go to, and will their future spouse like you, and…!  Breathe.  It’s 100% normal to feel overwhelmed, confused, maybe even disappointed after giving birth.  There is so much that comes after baby that no one seems to prepare you for.  I believe that much of motherhood is instinct, but also, there is much that could be taught or guided by a community of women who birthed before you.

So, what is going on with your hormones?  If you had a vaginal birth, you probably got all that good oxytocin (the love hormone) flowing through your body and filling you with that warm feeling.  Progesterone levels are really high during pregnancy, but when the placenta is expelled, it causes an immediate drop in progesterone levels.  It’s quite dramatic.  Your body sometimes can’t keep up with that drastic of a change.  Enter baby blues.  Progesterone is important for mood stabilization.

As if this wasn’t enough, estrogen levels are often sky rocketing and dominating.  This can lead to heavy cramping, irregular and heavy periods, bloating, weight gain, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  Thanks a lot, estrogen.  All of these imbalances can also lead to thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, and migraines.  So this momentous turning point in your life has not only left you with a new, beautiful, tiny human to feed and care for and shape and mold, but also a whacked out emotional and physical state.  It happens all of the time and it is normal.

And yet there are simple ways to get back on track and balance your hormones so you can truly enjoy this next part of life!  It doesn’t have to be difficult, you can make 7 additions to your meals that will benefit you greatly.

The following 7 foods should be added to your diet to help balance postpartum hormones:

1. Fermented Foods

These guys are gaining popularity in millennials, although our grandmothers were rocking them daily long ago.  They aid in creating and maintaining an anti-inflammatory state.  While the food is fermenting, the natural bacteria feeds on sugar and starch and creates lactic acid.  This preserves the food while creating helpful digestive enzymes and leaves them high in probiotics.  Probiotics are essential to a healthy gut which creates a healthy environment allowing for proper nutrient absorption.  Some delicious fermented foods are homemade sauerkraut, kimchi, properly pickled vegetables, and kefir.  It is recommended to have a small amount (about a tablespoon) of fermented foods with each meal to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

2. Seaweed

Seaweed is high in iodine which is an essential nutrient for thyroid health.  The thyroid is essential in regulating hormones.  Seaweed also helps regulate estrogen levels!  Brown seaweeds have a insoluble indigestible fiber that directly benefits intestinal microflora.  Try sprinkling dulse on your salad, making your own maki rolls with nori, blending spirulina into a smoothie, and making a gelatinous dessert with agar agar!  There are many kinds of seaweeds and can be a delicious part of a hormone regulating diet.

3. Brazil Nuts

You only need 3-5 of these power packed nuts for a full serving of selenium.  Selenium is thought to reduce inflammation.  Getting rid of inflammation allows the body to properly absorb nutrients from all those great veggies you’re eating.  Brazil nuts are also a great form of prevention, especially women who are prone to autoimmune disorders.

4. Avocado

Oh, the super ever popular (and rightly so) fruit.  Unlike most fruits, it acts as a fat, rather than a high sugar carbohydrate.  It is full of monounsaturated fat, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins including folate, which are all vital for hormonal balance.  It is a well balanced food as fat is necessary for the absorption of may vitamins and minerals.  So dip your carrot and celery sticks in homemade guacamole while knowing you’re helping out your hormones!

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that nourish the gut while fighting fatigue.  It is antimicrobial meaning it kills bad bacteria, while encouraging good bacterial growth.  It is nourishing to the gut and very beneficial for hormone production.  Coconut oil is heat stable, so the uses are virtually endless.  It can be used for sautéing vegetables, making raw or baked desserts, frying an egg, or for fattening up a smoothie.

6. Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms are an adaptogen, which means they adapt to the current needs of your immune system.  (Nature is so cool!).  Reishi work to restore hormonal balance while regulating the immune system.  They also have anti-viral and anti-cancer properties and are beneficial to the cardiovascular, central nervous, and digestive systems. They contain beta-glucans which stimulate the immune and endocrine system.  Reishi is referred to as the “queen” of medicinal mushrooms and is another powerful food to have in your corner.  Reishi are usually consumed in a dried powder, a tincture, or steeped in hot water to make a tea.  They can be added  to a morning elixir, stirred into a super food porridge, or blended into a smoothie.

7. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable.  Cauliflower along with it’s other family members, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and kale, is filled with nutrients that detoxify bad estrogenic molecules.  They are natural aromatase inhibitors, which means they can combat the process of converting hormones into estrogens, leading to estrogen dominance, and therefore a hormonal imbalance. Cruciferous vegetables have many more super powers as they also aid in liver detoxification, provide better rest with magnesium, and so much more.

{Photos by Arianne Teeple}

Sources:
Axe, Josh. “Natural Remedies for Hashimoto’s Disease.” https://draxe.com/hashimotos-disease/ . 2017. Web.

Body Ecology. “Two Smart Pregnancy Tips for Healthy Moms & Babies”. https://bodyecology.com/articles/two-smart-pregnancy-tips.php. Web. 2017.

Husband Coached Childbirth. Dr. Robert A. Bradley, MD. May 20, 2008.
Hotze Health & Wellness Center International. July 5, 2011. https://www.hotzehwc.com/2011/07/how-childbirth-affects-hormones-estrogen-dominan/

The Journal of Nutrition. 2009. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/5/939.full

PharmacistBen: Top Ten Foods for Protection from (The Stress Hormone, Fibroid Stimulating, Anti-Libido and Potential Carcinogen) Estrogen. http://pharmacistben.com/nutrition/top-ten-foods-for-protection-from-estrogen/

Romm, Aviva. “Thyroid Problems After Pregnancy: Ending Unnecessary Postpartum Suffering.” https://avivaromm.com/thyroid-problems-after-pregnancy/ . 2015. Web. October 20, 2015.

WebMD. Beta-Glucans. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1041-beta-glucans.aspx?activei ngredientid=1041&activeingredientname=beta-glucans

Reishi Mushroom: The Ultimate Guide. 2017. https://chagahq.com/reishi/

Welcome! I'm Laura. I'm married to my best friend and musical partner. We are learning how to raise two tiny humans together. I became interested in holistic living in college and further when I worked at Whole Foods Market in the Whole Body department. I learned so much about eating a healthy, well-balanced, diet as well as good about nutritional supplements, herbs, and holistic body care. love food and I believe that healthy food should still be delicious. I graduated from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition with Honors in 2016. I am a natural birth instructor via The Bradley Method and I love teaching couples about natural birth and preparing for such a pivotal and important time in their lives.



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