Ben Warren of holistic health and nutrition company BePure (bepure.co.nz) answers that age-old question asked by mums everywhere: “why am I so tired, and how can I get more energy?”
Looking back on my childhood, I feel lucky to have such fond memories of my mother cooking beautiful meals, taking care of my emotional needs, and being my fiercest champion. Today, I observe the same qualities in my wife as she journeys through motherhood. She has a wholehearted and unconditional love for our children, a love which often requires her to put their needs – emotionally and physically – before her own. However, having a child is undoubtedly one of the biggest roller coasters your body will ever go on. Being a parent requires a total adjustment in sense of self; a re-evaluation of lifestyle and self-care routines. And the key to taking charge of your own energy levels is making a conscious effort to understand the hormonal changes your body is going through.
See best ever routine for tired mums at bottom of page.
Your hormonal journey during motherhood
Every part of your body is interconnected. As your body changes, your hormones work as a conductor, bringing your internal systems together in perfect symphony. Hormones play a pivotal role in how you feel on a daily basis, both physically and emotionally, affecting your energy production, quality of sleep, mood, weight management, and sex life. As capable and intuitive as our bodies are, having a baby puts huge pressure on your hormonal system. By paying attention your own unique needs, you can support your body back to balance, providing yourself with the tools you need to tackle the endless demands of motherhood.
Tips to balance your hormones for energy
1. Prioritise eating well
Aim to eat whole foods that will genuinely keep you energised, balancing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Fats are essential for hormone production, as cholesterol is the precursor for both the sex and stress hormones. Our body makes cholesterol from healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Protein is crucial for rebuilding your body, as it is used for cell growth and repair. It also helps to keep us full and stabilises our blood sugar balance over the day. Lots of people worry that carbohydrates aren't good for us but, in fact, they are the most efficient source of energy. Include carbohydrates in their whole-food forms (kumara, pumpkin, whole grains), and avoid their processed forms (bread, sugar, biscuits, crackers, etc).
You can now have your hormones tested here in New Zealand with a home testing kit from evehealth.com
2. Nourish your body with nutrients
Growing a little person inside your body when you're pregnant generally leaves you depleted of essential vitamins and minerals. This can be a problem, as every major metabolic pathway in our body depends on essential nutrients – vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – to function.
- B-Vitamins are essential for energy production at a cellular level. The more you have, the more energy your body will be able to produce.
- Low iron levels often contribute to that “flat” feeling. Increasing your iron levels will have a big impact on your energy levels (vital for mums).
- Omega 3 is incredible for balancing the inflammation levels in the body (think aches and pains) and is essential for hormone production.
- Magnesium is great for supporting sleep, balancing hormones, and calming the nervous system.
- Zinc: When we are under stress, we readily use up zinc stores, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough zinc while being a busy mum.
3. Quality sleep
Quality sleep is one of the most important things for hormonal balance. Yet, with young children, getting a good night’s sleep can feel downright impossible! There is no easy fix here, but do what you can to utilise the support networks you have available to you. Being a mother is more than a full-time job – don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help. Share the midnight wake-up with your partner, and find your community of support groups that might have some advice to share. Sometimes the most important thing is the comfort of knowing you’re not alone.
4. Support your adrenals
Sleep can feel elusive when you’ve got a young one up during the night. And the reality is, most of the time new parents are simply exhausted! But sleep deprivation, stress, and ongoing demands on your body can all lead to cortisol levels rising. To ensure you don’t burn out from motherhood, make sure you are protecting and nourishing your adrenal glands. You can do this by stabilising your blood sugar levels.
TOP TIP: Avoid processed sugar and processed carbohydrates as much as possible, try eating some organ meats such liver, and ideally take an adrenal nutritional support.
5. Enjoy precious moments of calm
I predict a few eye rolls at this! However, it is possible to bring calm back into your day-to-day life. Try simple mindful exercises such as a few deep belly breaths, lie with your legs up against the wall, or even just taking a short walk around the block. All of these simple things have a powerful effect on your physiology, activating your rest and restore nervous system. In moments of stress, take a deep breath and draw your awareness to your inhales and exhales. Make time to unwind a priority, and amid it all, do what you can to bring small moments of solitude back into your life. Both you and your family will be better for it.
TRY THIS best-ever energy regime for tired mums created by Ben Warren of bepure.co.nz
Create a routine
It may seem small, but a simple routine can go a long way to set your day up for success. When the house is in chaos and the kids are whining, often it’s your own health that goes out the window, which in turn makes you even more tired! Having a relatively set routine is a great way to structure your day in a way that supports your health, so you have energy for the things that really matter.
Morning routine ideas:
Take 5 mins each morning to do some form of mindfulness.
- Have a cup of tea and sip with intention
- Practice deep belly breathing
- Meditate with your mantra
Wake with the sun
Having young children that wake early can sometimes feel like the last thing you need – but it can also incredibly beneficial for your circadian rhythms. If possible, try spending some time outside in the natural light when you wake up. As well as being a simple mood booster, it’s also great way to regulate your hormones by letting your body know you’re ready to start the day.
Kick start your morning with lemon water
A warm lemon water first thing is fantastic for kick-starting your digestive system. This is a great way to support proper breakdown of foods throughout the day, giving you the best chance for optimal energy production.
Balance your blood sugars with a nourishing breakfast
Even if the rest of the day is a write-off, making sure you incorporate some greens, good quality protein and fats into your morning will mean you’re set up for the day ahead. If your mornings tend to be chaotic, try to prep your food the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning. Soak your oats/buckwheat if porridge is your breakfast routine, or you can cut up greens tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast. Even boil some eggs so it's all ready to go!
10am vitamin c energy booster
A daily Vitamin C boost is an easy way to support your adrenal glands, which produce the hormones that help control blood sugar, burn fat and protein, and regulate blood pressure. Set an alarm or keep your vitamins somewhere in sight so they become a regular part of your day.
Evening routine ideas:
30 minutes of no screen time
Pop the phone away, aiming to have 30 minutes of no screen time before sleep.
Take an epsom salt bath
Have a bath in the evening using Epsom salts. 20 minutes of soaking not only helps you relax and wind down after a busy day, but also supports magnesium stores in the body which will help with a night of restful sleep. If you are someone who struggles to fall asleep, you could also try taking a magnesium supplement to help your body completely relax.
10 Minutes of YOU time
As impossible as it can sometimes feel, try and prioritise some time in the day just for you. Once the children are in bed, take 10 minutes to focus on deep belly breathing, you could even do this in bed. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is a great place to be in before sleep.
Bedtime no later than 10 pm
Having young children can make it difficult to get to bed before 10pm, but whenever you get the chance try to wind down early enough to be in bed around this time. Deep, restorative sleep is one of the most productive things you can do for your health.
Nutritionist Ben Warren is the founder of scientific, holistic health company BePure (bepure.co.nz).