A Postpartum Cleanse?
How many of you beautiful mamas felt the urge to dive into a cleanse a few days after baby made their grand debut?
First, I’d like to wholeheartedly acknowledge the tantalizing nature of this urge. I’ve been there myself. There is a huge shift from pregnancy to postpartum yet biochemically, the postpartum body might as well still be pregnant:
All moms are recovering from the massive athletic event that is birth.
Some moms have surgical recovery on top of it.
And many moms are still supporting the nutritional needs of their little one through breastfeeding.
Nutritionally entering into a phase of further breakdown is just about the last thing recommended for a postpartum mama. So WHY do we all find this so attractive!?
In the realm of Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition, the cleansing phase of nourishment is associated with a sense of loss, desire for renewal, and the urge to “clean house.” Of course we desire a cleanse during the postpartum transition!
The mother of BIRTHFIT, Dr. Lindsey Mathews, describes postpartum like a house renovation. For the sake of analogy, your baby is a messy tenant making himself/herself at home inside your house. By the time they outgrow your quarters, they’ve all but destroyed the inside. Nothing is in the right place; everything is inflamed, stretched, strained, and nearly ripped apart. The desire to “clean house” is perfectly understandable! Many postpartum women just want to START OVER. Hit the reset button. Renew.
The “BIRTHFIT postpartum cleanse” requires synchronicity with a nourishing building phase. It’s a beautiful dance between nutrient-dense building for recovery and psychological cleansing to navigate the postpartum transition and feel renewed. The real food, nutrient dense protocol that BIRTHFIT recommends during pregnancy is just as, if not more, important during the 4th trimester. A placenta smoothie, juiced greens, or other forms of rapidly usable nutrients is great in addition to (not instead of) your real foods. This will provide the necessary building blocks to support milk production, tissue repair, and increased energy demands.
For the cleanse portion, I recommend targeting one of the most vicious sources of toxicity in the body: stress chemistry. A stressor is any threat, real or imagined that drives the body into sympathetic nervous system dominance (the “fight or flight response.”) At a biochemical level, the stress response is responsible for:
4x less blood flow to gut
20,000x decrease in enzymatic output in gut
Decreased growth hormone & thyroid hormone
Increased insulin & cortisol
Die-off of healthy gut bacteria
Impaired mitochondrial function
Excretion of key minerals and water-solution vitamins (A, D, E, K)
Decreased oxygen uptake
Increased inflammation & oxidative stress
Decreased thermic efficiency (calorie-burning)
Increased pain sensitivity, decreased pleasure
I’d say this is rather toxic and counterproductive to a postpartum period of vitality. Don’t get me wrong—the stress response is 100% necessary for the survival of our species but in a chronic state primed by imagined stressors (i.e. negative body image/ self-talk), stress chemistry is extremely detrimental to well being.
So, how do you cleanse from chronic stress? The answer is simple yet difficult to implement (especially during the postpartum phase). But hey, if you were about to commit to a strict juice cleanse, I believe you have what it takes to dive into this one! The secret here is cultivating pleasure and relaxation. Flip the switch on your autonomic nervous system from sympathetic activation to parasympathetic activation (aka “rest and digest” state). Under this side of the nervous system, optimal digestion, repair, and healing can occur. This is also the state where pain is diminished and pleasure is heightened. To get started, ask yourself the following questions and make some space in your calendar:
What thoughts, activities, experiences, people (etc) make you feel nourished, loved, relaxed, and renewed?
How can you incorporate one or more of these into your daily, weekly, and monthly routine?
Does anything open up for you? What did you learn?
And a bonus, check out tomorrow’s blog on GamePlay by BIRTHFIT’s San Diego, Kiersten Markham.
Share your experience with us! And let us know if you have any questions!
Wishing you a rejuvenating 4th trimester,