Motherhood brings in a variety of changes in a women’s body. Along with a range of common and expected changes, alike fluid retention and swellings to changes in the vision, the hormonal and physiological changes that shows up with pregnancy and post pregnancy are unique in nature.
Pre-delivery hormonal changes
During pregnancy women experience sudden increase in the two hormones – estrogen and progesterone along with experiencing changes in the function and amount of other hormones. Although these hormones are critically important for a successful pregnancy, they can make a lot of things difficult. As during these phase of motherhood the ligaments are looser, women are at a greater risk of sprains and strains of the ankle and knee. At this phase the postures and body changes – larger breasts, the abdomen transforms from a flatter shape to a convex one increasing the curvature at the back.
Due to weight gain at this phase women experience additional workload from any physical activity. The additional weight in turn slows down the circulation of blood and body fluids in particular to the lower limbs.
Due to these hormonal changes during the pregnancy phase aspiring mothers experiences a multitude of sensory changes alike –
i. Visionary changes like blurriness and other eye problems like retinal detachment or vision loss.
ii. Changes in smell and taste. Due to this they prefer more of salty and sweeter foods. They also have a higher liking for strong sour, salty, and sweet tastes. Pregnant mother’s also report changes in their sense of smell.
iii. Breast and cervical changes: The breasts often undergo a series of significant changes during the pregnancy phase as their bodies prepare to supply milk to the new-born baby. As the breasts changes and grow, they experience tenderness and sensitivity. Some even develop stretch marks on the breasts as they rapidly undergo growth. The entry to the uterus, cervix, also goes through changes. The tissue of the cervix thickens and becomes firm and glandular.
iv. Skin, hairs and nails also change. The physical appearance of their skin also undergoes changes during this phase.
v. Changes in the circulatory system like huffing and puffing while climbing stairs, feeling dizzy after standing quickly and experiencing changes in blood pressure are common.
vi. Respiratory and metabolic changes – there is an increases in the amount of oxygen they transport in their blood. This forces increases in metabolic rates during pregnancy, requiring women to up their energy intake and use caution during periods of physical exertion.
Post-delivery hormonal changes
The hormonal changes post pregnancy begins very quickly after the delivery of the baby. The delivery of the placenta triggers a sudden and severe drop in estrogen and progesterone levels unlike in the case of pre-pregnancy. Vaginal dryness is a symptom not often talked about but is incredibly common. The loss of estrogen causes the tissues to be thin, delicate and sensitive. The hormonal changes can affect women mentally also, making them more inclined to feel low and sad.
In many mothers thyroxin, the main hormone made by your thyroid gland in the neck and released into the blood stream works all around the body and is crucial for digestion, muscle function and energy levels among lots of other vital functions. In up to 1 in 10 women their thyroid gland stops working correctly in the months after giving birth.
Prolactin that is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain works on the mother’s breast to increase milk production. Successful breast feeding requires a plenty of prolactin and another hormone oxytocin, this is sometimes also called the love hormone. It controls the release or let down of milk when baby is feeding.
Diet to Help Balance Hormones Naturally
What mothers choose to eat helps regulating many aspects of the body including the secretion of hormones? Here is a list of foods to eat (and to avoid) that will help mothers maintain a healthy hormonal balance:
• Cruciferous vegetables
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower fight excess estrogen to lower the risk for breast cancers. Excess estrogen can cause pre-menopause in women who are overweight or obese.
• Poultry, fatty fish, and soy proteins
These all important protein sources do more than just helping maintain lean tissues. Research has found that menopausal women tend to lose more weight when most of their protein comes from these ingredients. Consuming soy foods also helps alleviate hot flashes. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, protects against blue moods, heart diseases, and cancers.
• B vitamins
Lack of foods rich in vitamin B can contribute to feelings of depression. Consume foods high in the B vitamins, such as whole grains and lean beef, asparagus, melons, and watercress.
There are certain foods that should be avoided to reduce the impact of hormonal changes and balance then naturally. These foods are:
– Spicy foods.
– Caffeinated beverages.
– High fatty and processed foods.
The article is authored by Dietitian Sheela Seharawat. She is one of the youngest successful entrepreneurs of India and founder & chief mentor of Diet Clinic Health Care Pvt Ltd. http://www.dietclinic.co.in.