2

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Does living paleo make for a different postpartum experience?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 17, 2012 at 4:39 AM

How would you describe your postpartum health and how did you cope?

Specifically, do you think your paleo diet affected your experience at all? Did your experience differ to previous (non-paleo) pregnancies, or friends/family experiences and do you reckon paleo had anything to do with that?

I've been reading about all the gory things that your body has to go through postpartum and (aside from being a bit terrified of what I have to look forward to) I'm curious... do paleo mama's have a different experience to those living & eating a more 'conventional'/SAD lifestyle?

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:15 PM

Thanks girls. It's true that labour is difficult and challenging and can be painful, and when you're in the middle of it, you may just feel like you want it to be over (depending on your labour experience), but you DO forget the pain and it IS all worth it! :)

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:13 PM

Thanks girls! :)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:45 PM

Congratulations! What a great account of your experiences, as someone who has never given birth but plans to some day it is so nice to read genuine experiences, stories, and advice about pregnancy, birth, and what comes after.

Cbc1f37f2b79b079b0de479d5365a231

(605)

on May 21, 2012
at 05:55 AM

Congratulations gilliebean and thank you so much for taking the time to describe your experience!

Cbc1f37f2b79b079b0de479d5365a231

(605)

on May 18, 2012
at 12:39 AM

Thanks so much for your detailed answer!!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:27 PM

That seems to be a common theme in some traditional cultures, that women must face labor alone. I suspect those traditions aren't created by women. There is some wisdom to leaving women alone and in a dark or low lit room for parts of labor because distraction and other people can slow the process, but having a midwife or another woman for emotional support can also help the process, especially near the very end.

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:22 PM

Good luck, by the way!

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:22 PM

Just so you know, it's not that bad. I think people like to scare new mamas for some reason by exaggerating their own stories. There were some gory parts to both of my deliveries/recoveries, but nothing I couldn't handle and I'm not really that tough. I don't have personal experience with being paleo while pregnant, but I do know that my two pregnancies and deliveries were different from each other in a lot of ways even though I did everything the same. Every baby is different and that affects the pregnancy.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:21 PM

I think that mom is often nutrient-deprived with subsequent babies (unless she's waited 3-4 years in between. & made a concerted effort to replenish.)

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:12 PM

I think it's just a matter of all babies/deliveries being different. I'm not sure it's hormonal, or if there is any real reason for it.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:43 AM

I wonder, have your heard of birth order affecting the postpartum experience? I had one paleo/whole food friends who had a baby and her first birth was just an excellent experience before, during, and after, sounds very similar to your own, but her second was totally the opposite even though she did all the same things. Does having more babies change hormones, etc?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:40 AM

Of course, that is unrelated, but thanks for the detailed, honest account of your birth experiences!

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:40 AM

That's interesting about the Inuit, one of my friends is Inuit and she was talking about where she is from the traditional birthing practices are actually pretty brutal- you leave the mother to give birth by herself after a certain point, no one can be present and if she calls for help you're supposed to leave her and if something happens to her or the baby, that was the destiny they needed to get to. He grandmother and great-grandmother say they felt extremely lucky to have survived labour, because they knew many of their friends and family members that died alone in the birthing hut.

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3 Answers

4
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 20, 2012
at 09:35 PM

My first babe is 5 weeks old today. My postpartum experience has been typical.

I laboured (and delivered!) at home for 25 hours:

  • Early labour was 12 hours
  • Active labour was 10 hours
  • Pushing was 3 hours

My uterus detached on it's own and was delivered in one push only 25 minutes after I delivered my little girl. I had an internal tear that bled about 200cc and my uterus only bled about 150cc. My midwife was concerned about the internal tear but pleased with the health of my uterus. She and my doula also commented at the health of my umbilical cord and placenta. Yay paleo!

I also never did take iron supplements and only rarely took prenatals, yet my iron tested perfect the whole time. My blood pressure was great the entire pregnancy as well.

My placenta is still in my freezer. I'm still considering having it made into pills. But it's important to note that I haven't consumed it.

I have had baby blues (I'm over them now); but the jury is still out on whether that was hormone related or sleep-deprivation-related or a combination. My vote is on combination. But I did experience blues. I mourned the end of my pregnancy. I mourned the "disconnection" of my baby from my body (even though we were breast-feeding!). As I said, I've come through it, but there were a few dark days and lots of tears. Thankfully, my husband took time off and my mother has been with us and extremely helpful too.

Other notes:

  • I bled for two weeks and have had normal lochia for the three weeks after that.
  • My uterus took about two weeks to "disappear".
  • I lost most of my baby weight in the first three weeks PP. But I still have "extra" weight that I put on "unnecessarily" to lose. But I'm EBF, so I'm not worrying about that right now.

I was eating organ meats and have been mostly paleo postpartum; but I'm not "strict" paleo. I do think your own postpartum experience is going to be unique. Being paleo will be helpful but not a panacea. Also, having done strength and endurance exercise will be helpful too.

But here's my advice:

  1. have people lined up to help
  2. have meals frozen or people lined up to bring you food
  3. be prepared to speak openly and honestly with your caregiver about your physical experiences
  4. be prepared to speak openly and honestly with your family and close friends about your emotional experiences

You. Will. Recover. :)

P.S. I'd also like to note that I did CrossFit until 38 weeks into my pregnancy. I think that it helped with my labour and hopefully it has helped with my recovery?

More notes:

  • I needed help walking for 48 hours following the delivery and I had difficulty lifting my legs for 48 hours beyond that.
  • I started going for walks at 2 weeks PP; I started running and KB workouts at 4 weeks PP.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:45 PM

Congratulations! What a great account of your experiences, as someone who has never given birth but plans to some day it is so nice to read genuine experiences, stories, and advice about pregnancy, birth, and what comes after.

Cbc1f37f2b79b079b0de479d5365a231

(605)

on May 21, 2012
at 05:55 AM

Congratulations gilliebean and thank you so much for taking the time to describe your experience!

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:13 PM

Thanks girls! :)

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 22, 2012
at 03:15 PM

Thanks girls. It's true that labour is difficult and challenging and can be painful, and when you're in the middle of it, you may just feel like you want it to be over (depending on your labour experience), but you DO forget the pain and it IS all worth it! :)

4
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:32 AM

Sorry this is more of a reassurance than an answer based on personal experience, I developed a love for animal crackers, croissant sandwiches, pudding cups, and Recharge that could not be denied the last month of my pregnancy, so any shreds of paleo hope went right out the window. I think having a paleo diet for the 8 months before I conceived, and for part of the 2nd and 3rd trimesters helped though, my midwives commented on the speed of my recovery.

Birth and recovery do seem to be aided by traditional diets. I can't remember the name of the doctor off the top of my head, but he worked for decades in Canada providing medical care for the Inuit population, and when he started he was never able to get to a birth before the baby was born, but over the years as a more Western diet was adopted he noticed that labor times were increasing from hours to days, so if you have it in you, sticking to paleo could certainly help.

Don't be scared, birth hormones do a really good job of taking care of you, there are some damn good opiates we can tap into in the right circumstances, the process just sort of takes over and the rest of the world melts away. Plus, you'll be too tired/relieved/distracted by the new baby to really notice anything that happens in the few days after birth anyway other than an afterpain here and there as the uterus tightens, and developing mondo boobs when your milk comes in.

I didn't find any of birth (other than the Castor Oil induced projectile vomiting, which was self inflicted, and not usually a necessary part of labor) or the following to be gory, the placenta pops out (didn't even notice), the uterus clamps down, and spot where the placenta was heals over the course of a few weeks (just like having a 2-3 week period that is really heavy for the first few days).

I'm a little bummed that the memes about birth are either that it is "horrible" or in response it gets overly romanticized by people trying to respond to the negative images, neither one is totally honest in my opinion. My experience was that it just "is", it all just felt quite matter of fact, and then we had one more family member. I've wept tears of joy and gotten quite emotional at every birth I've been to but my own, I think it is much more emotional to watch than to do (which I think accounts for most of our media images positive and negative of birth, the vast majority are outside accounts). I was like, "Hey there baby, you're outside now, let's get some rest," and then looking around I was wondering why everyone was crying, obviously two very different experiences observing versus doing.

It will be your unique experience, but the act itself is by no means unique, all of our mothers, grandmothers, and the women who came before them have been through the same right of passage, they did it, we can do it, it is totally doable.

I think the main thing to remember with breastfeeding too is that it is an "animal" experience, and modern trappings like clothing, separating baby from mama for more than a few minutes in the early weeks and trying to time feelings can interfere with a hormonally based process. Spend as much time topless and skin to skin with your baby as possible, and put a boob in their mouth the moment they start rooting in those first 3 weeks and you improve your chances for smooth sailing on breastfeeding tremendously.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:40 AM

That's interesting about the Inuit, one of my friends is Inuit and she was talking about where she is from the traditional birthing practices are actually pretty brutal- you leave the mother to give birth by herself after a certain point, no one can be present and if she calls for help you're supposed to leave her and if something happens to her or the baby, that was the destiny they needed to get to. He grandmother and great-grandmother say they felt extremely lucky to have survived labour, because they knew many of their friends and family members that died alone in the birthing hut.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:40 AM

Of course, that is unrelated, but thanks for the detailed, honest account of your birth experiences!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:27 PM

That seems to be a common theme in some traditional cultures, that women must face labor alone. I suspect those traditions aren't created by women. There is some wisdom to leaving women alone and in a dark or low lit room for parts of labor because distraction and other people can slow the process, but having a midwife or another woman for emotional support can also help the process, especially near the very end.

3
8c64b9c54f591531071e93792156ca15

(187)

on May 17, 2012
at 05:16 AM

I had an excellent birth and postpartum experience (I'm 2 months as of May 2012). I followed crossfit throughout my pregnancy (rowed 5k and did kettlebell swings 3 days before I went into labor @ 37 weeks); was paleo when I conceived and followed it throughout.

To start, I had my baby at home. It was a fast labor; I went straight into active labor so I had no appetite. Drank only coconut water straight from the shell and water. Baby came out very alert and was suckling on my breast 20 minutes after birth. Heavy lochia (bleeding) lasted for about a day; tapered down to a scant amount by day three. My uterus also involuted pretty quickly according to my midwife and was undetectable through my abdominal wall by day 10. I did not have any constipation and was able to have a BM on my 2nd postpartum day (probably could have had one on day 1 but I was nervous). I lost 15lb after the birth and another 10lb within a week. I've been steadily losing since (gained 40lb overall). My birth experience was completely unlike my mother's and grandmother's. I've read about other peoples' first-time labor and postpartum experiences and (I believe) mine was hardly a gory one. My midwife was pretty impressed as well and credited my fast recovery to my fitness and diet regimen (crossfit and paleo).

No bluesy feelings and absolutely no milk supply issues. I had my placenta encapsulated and have been taking it daily. Baby is gaining well (born at 7lb13 at 37 weeks gestation, 13lb4 at his two month checkup - exclusively breastfed). I was able to return to exercise at 3 weeks, ran 5k and started doing KB swings at 1 pood.

Overall, I would say it wasn't that bad. Paleo definitely helped but education was key.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:21 PM

I think that mom is often nutrient-deprived with subsequent babies (unless she's waited 3-4 years in between. & made a concerted effort to replenish.)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 17, 2012
at 07:43 AM

I wonder, have your heard of birth order affecting the postpartum experience? I had one paleo/whole food friends who had a baby and her first birth was just an excellent experience before, during, and after, sounds very similar to your own, but her second was totally the opposite even though she did all the same things. Does having more babies change hormones, etc?

Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

(2022)

on May 17, 2012
at 01:12 PM

I think it's just a matter of all babies/deliveries being different. I'm not sure it's hormonal, or if there is any real reason for it.

Cbc1f37f2b79b079b0de479d5365a231

(605)

on May 18, 2012
at 12:39 AM

Thanks so much for your detailed answer!!

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