Postpartum Hormones: Reasons For Imbalance And Tips To Deal With It

Surprising Ways To Restore Hormones After Pregnancy

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There is a striking difference in your energy levels before and after pregnancy. As your body goes through several hormonal changes during pregnancy, it takes some time for it to get back to normalcy after you have delivered the baby. In the meantime, the hormonal imbalance could lead to depression, fatigue, menstrual problems and more.

It thus becomes necessary to understand the underlying hormonal problems and reinstate the balance by changing your lifestyle and using medications prescribed by the doctor. In this post, Momjunction tells you about the different ways to restore the hormonal balance in your body post pregnancy.

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance After Pregnancy?

The primary cause of hormonal imbalance post delivery is the changing levels of the female reproductive hormones called estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are vital during pregnancy period and post-delivery, and an imbalance in their levels causes several physical and mental changes in the body.

The changes, however, are temporary and nothing to be worried about.

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What Causes Estrogen Dominance Post Childbirth?

During pregnancy, the progesterone hormone is produced and regulated by the placenta to maintain a supportive environment inside the uterus (1). After the baby is born, there is a drop in the progesterone level, which typically does not increase until the woman starts ovulating post childbirth (2). This, in turn, causes an increase in the estrogen level that leads to estrogen dominance.

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How Does Estrogen Dominance Affect You Post Delivery?

Estrogen dominance gives rise to the following conditions:

  1. Hypothyroidism: A peak in the estrogen level causes an inflammation of the thyroid gland. This increases the level of thyroid-binding globulin produced by the liver, leading to Postpartum Thyroiditis (3). Increased estrogen levels can lead to stress that causes a rise in the cortisol level (4). This further leads to hypothyroidism.
  1. Adrenal fatigue: Estrogen dominance also cause adrenal fatigue, wherein the adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol as required by the body. This happens due to a drop in the progesterone level and increases fatigue and stress.

In addition to this, you may experience other physical and psychological changes.

[ Read: Postpartum Stress ]

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance After Pregnancy?

The symptoms you experience due to hormonal imbalance post pregnancy are (2, 5, 6):

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Mood swings and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Postpartum distress syndrome
  • Allergies (7)
  • Hot flashes
  • Decreased libido
  • Acne
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Irregular periods
  • Breast milk issues (breast cysts or lumps)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Vaginal dryness

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How Can Hormonal Imbalance Lead to Postpartum Depression Syndrome?

Postpartum depression is a result of the hormonal fluctuations occurring post childbirth. It occurs in around 10-20% of new mothers. It can begin at any time post delivery and can last up to one year. The symptoms of PDS include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and change in appetite among others.

However, clinical diagnosis of PDS followed by the right antidepressant medication can help alleviate the disorder. Moreover, counseling and follow-ups with a therapist can be effective in helping you get out of depression. Apart from medication, good food and regular exercises can also help in recovery (8).

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Ways To Restore Hormonal Balance Post Pregnancy

Here are some effective ways to restore the hormonal balance in your body after delivery:

  1. Avoid white food: Stay away from white foods including rice, bread, milk, pasta, and wafers, which are high in complex carbohydrates (9).
  1. Exercise: Engaging in physical activities will help reduce any stress and strain, promoting hormonal balance. Walking is a great way to boost your energy levels.
  1. Eat fiber-rich food: The excess fiber in your diet binds with the estrogen, thereby eliminating the excess estrogen from the body (10).
  1. Yoga: Practicing yoga helps alleviate anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness that in turn helps in restoring the hormonal balance.
  1. Avoid high-fat food: High-fat foods increase the estrogen level (11). Avoid vegetable oils that are believed to affect the estrogen level and eat plenty of fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  1. Vitamin D: Taking vitamin D supplements and soaking in the sunlight (the primary source of vitamin D) can help compensate for vitamin D deficiency and control the estrogen level (12).
  1. Placenta encapsulation: Placenta ingestion is an ancient Chinese practice, wherein the dried placenta is ground and encapsulated into pills. It is believed that ingesting the placenta has various benefits, including hormonal balance restoration during the post-delivery period (13).

[ Read: What Causes Postpartum Acne ]

  1. Acupuncture: It is a Chinese practice that uses a blend of needling, herbs, and moxibustion that help in regulating the hormonal balance (14).
  1. Avoid birth control pills: As the body needs some time to get back to normalcy, it is better to avoid any birth control pills right after the delivery. It may trigger hormonal imbalance and trigger physiological or psychological changes (15, 16).
  1. Magnesium: Magnesium plays a significant role in balancing the hormonal level in the body (17). You can increase the intake of magnesium-rich foods or take supplements prescribed by the doctors.
  1. Say no to alcohol and caffeine: Consuming alcohol can lead to hormonal imbalance (18) and caffeine causes estrogen dominance (19).
  1. Avoid soy products: Soybeans are a rich source of a substance that is similar to estrogen and suppress the thyroid functions (20). Thus it is better to avoid soy products like soy milk, soy-based cereal, soy-protein, soy meats etc.
  1. Vitamin and mineral supplement: The body requires essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a hormonal balance inside the body (21). Thus taking vitamin and mineral supplements as per the direction of your doctor can help restore the hormonal levels in your body.
  1. Eat liver: The animal liver is a good source of vitamin A (22), which helps in restoring the hormonal balance after pregnancy.
  1. Consume egg yolk: Egg yolk is a good source of selenium, vitamin D and A (23) that help in restoring the hormonal balance. Thus, it is good to add it to your diet.
  1. Get enough sleep: Inadequate sleep causes hormonal imbalances in the body (24). Getting the right amount of sleep helps in the production of hormones, removing the toxins from the body and refreshing the mind. All these factors play an important role in maintaining a hormonal balance in the body.
  1. Avoid toxins: Exposure to toxins in the environment can also have an impact on the body, causing various health issues. To reduce the toxin exposure, you must go organic, replace plastic containers with glass ones, and avoid exposure to chemicals.
  1. Consume herbs: Certain herbs can restore the hormonal balance in the body. But, you must consider the doctor’s advice before taking any herbs. Here is the list of a few you can consider:

a. Chaste tree berry: It helps in raising the progesterone levels and also improves fertility (25).

b. Red raspberry leaf: It is rich in nutrients and is considered as a uterine tonic that helps in improving fertility and reducing cramping and PMS (26).

c. Origanum: It helps regulates the menstrual cycle by maintaining the hormonal levels (27).

d. Maca root powder: It is high in essential fatty acids and minerals and boosts hormonal production (28).

e. Evening primrose oil: Being high in essential fatty acid content, this essential oil help balance the hormonal level effectively (29).

If you are facing any health issues related to hormonal imbalance, then do not fret. Just know that the body needs time to readjust to the changes that have happened during pregnancy and delivery. Once the hormonal levels stabilize, these symptoms will also vanish. Just ensure that you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle that helps keeps your hormone levels in check.

[ Read: Benefits Of Postnatal Exercises ]

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Did you face any hormonal imbalance issues after pregnancy? What did you do to overcome it? Share your experience in the comment section below.

References

1. Progesterone And Pregnancy: A Vital Connection; The National Infertility Association
2. Postpartum Hormone Balancing; Canary Club Hormone Testing
3. How Childbirth Affects Hormones: Estrogen Dominance, Postpartum Thyroiditis & Adrenal Health; Hotze Health (2018)
4. Estrogen Dominance and Hypothyroidism: Is it Hypothyroidism or Hormone Imbalance?; The National Academy of Hypothyroidism (2017)
5. Do You Have a Hormone Imbalance?; WIBI
6. Reviewed by Dr. M. James; Symptoms of hormonal imbalance; Women’s Health Network
7. H. Lucille; Estrogen Dominance: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Certainly Be BAD!; AANP
8. Postpartum Disorders; MHA
9. Causes of Hormone Imbalance; WIBI
10. Fiber Nutrition Facts
11. Fat and Hormonal Effects; PCRM
12. Vitamin D lowers estrogen levels and your risk of breast cancer; Health and Science
13. Placenta Encapsulation; Placenta Remedies Network
14. Acupuncture; The American Society of Breast Surgeons Foundation
15. Side Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives: AAFP (2010)
16. Hormonal Contraception; SOGC
17. Magnesium and Hormonal Balance; Nutritional Magnesium Association
18. Alcohol and Hormones; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
19. NIH Study shows caffeine consumption linked to estrogen changes; National Institutes of Health(2012)
20. An update on soy: It’s just so-so; Harvard Health Publishing (2010)
21. The hormone balance requires essential nutrients but are you getting enough?; Health and Science
22. B. Wellness; Liver: Love It or Leave It?; University Of California(2017)
23. Protein & Other Nutrients in an Egg; NC Egg Association
24. Hormone Imbalance & Restoration; National University Of Natural Medicine
25. J.L.Mayo; Black Cohosh and Chasteberry: Herbs Valued by Women for Centuries; Advanced Nutrition Publications
26. The Uterine Tonic – What you need to know about Red Raspberry Leaf; Acupuncture for Fertility, ivf Support & Reproductive Health
27. Haj‐Husein, S. Tukan, F. Alkazaleh; The effect of marjoram (Origanum majorana) tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomised controlled pilot study; Wiley Online Library
28. Maca; U.S. National Library Of Medicine
29. Evening Primerose Oil: The Grand Master Of Medicinal Plants?; MEBSR.ORG

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shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling. know more about her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreeja-pillai/
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