A mom reached out to me a couple weeks ago. She's pregnant with her second baby, and told me her brief history and story of motherhood. She suffered a period of anxiety, loneliness and worthlessness after her first baby she doesn't want to face again.
That's when she asked for help.
In her words, "I am desperately trying to prepare myself to not have the same experience with my second child and want to take all the steps I can to prevent it from happening again or help me get through the first few months better than I did the last time.
Would you be able to point me in the right direction of how to take care of myself after delivery? Your blog said we could reach out to find out more information about eating clean.
Does the little mother’s helper deck and app provide this level of detail with respect to diet or meal plans? I am patiently waiting for the App to launch to purchase and get as much help as possible, but just needed to reach out."
When I get these emails, I can't help but stop and respond. I was in the midst of negotiating a contract and I pulled over. Not literally, but figuratively.
Because without sounding too cheesy, and really meaning it - this community means everything to me. You give me hope that we will improve maternal health.
So when a busy woman pulls over in her day and says, "Can you help me?" I will most certainly try. Here is the response I emailed back:
Your message is beautiful and strong, thank you for reaching out!
Sounds like you’ve been through some powerful experiences, and from what I know preparing - like you’re doing emailing me - is truly not only a sign of emotional readiness, but psychological readiness. I don’t know if you feel that, but you’re already one step ahead of your old self. I’m in awe of your tenacity to care for yourself deeply.
Right now, LMH will give you the basics of what you need in regards to clean eating - what it is and how to start focusing your diet. Neither the app or deck has meal plans. But this is a great way to grow out the app, and an easy way.
Clean eating to help reduce anxiety...this is how I use it to help me manage my energy and keep anxiety at bay:
1. Meditation is as much a part of my “diet” for anxiety - 5 minutes of headspace a day - it’s made a world of difference, especially as I came out of sleep deprivation and some life trauma
2. I wake up each day and have accepted I can drink A (one) cup of coffee even when I want more
3. I follow it up with a green smoothie, or warm oatmeal with things like hemp, chia, and gentle seeds rather than nuts - but I do love putting a scoop of nut butter in it > snack mid-morning if I have one is a raw bar of some sort or toast and nut butter/avocado > lunch: I try to make my biggest meal and keep it clean (salad and protein; burger without a bun and salad or roasted veggies; soup; leftovers of clean - I’m all for advocating cooking on Sunday and having meals prepped; gluten-free pasta with veggies) > Dinner is light, warming, and shared with people you love
4. I’ve learned that when I crave sugar, I have to make myself head to protein and I mean solid protein - fish, grass fed meat and birds, avocados, lentils, black beans, hemp seeds, greens
5. I’ve also chosen protein over sugar - over time. It was not an easy thing to give up, because I love cookies and baking - but everything is so much more manageable for me when I choose something other than sugar
6. I drink alcohol once or twice a week, and just a glass - again alcohol turns into sugar in the body and it makes me a wreck, and sleep like crap
7. I love burgers and fries, and really good food that’s not “clean” and I let myself have it - but again when it comes to feeling anxious, I’ll choose a night or two for decadence - rather than 7 nights
8. The only dairy I really do these days is cream in my coffee. I won’t let either go.
To take care of yourself clean eating wise, download the “green kitchen” app. I’d say prenatally, make a schedule of how you want to eat and at what times. If you’re breastfeeding, eat small meals every two hours - like your baby at first. This kind of stuff IS in LMH.
If you have little time to cook during the week, invest in the afternoon on Sundays to do meal prep. I know a lot of moms who do this, especially moms who work outside of the home, and it relieves a lot of the tension a week can bring.
I also think that if you have some anxiety on board during pregnancy, that it’s really helpful to scout out a therapist that you can meet now and you have their # in your phone for that first year postpartum if you feel like you’re spinning. A lot of research shows that anxiety during pregnancy predisposes a woman to the risk of postpartum depression in the first year after giving birth, and we now know 1 in 3 women have undiagnosed postpartum depression. That’s a big deal, according to the WHO.
Since you’re preparing, and express experience with anxiety and loneliness, and if I were your midwife I’d want you to prepare for your mental wellness too. General rule of thumb, it’s good to have numbers available prenatally to reduce risk.
Another mom reached out to me like you’ve done last year. She was experiencing anxiety prenatally, and about to have her second. She wanted to walk a new path with her upcoming postpartum experience. I gave her a similar list of how to be prepared for going from a family of 3 to 4.
A lot of what I’ve said here was in our conversation, but the most important was preparing her family that she was going to ask them for help - and about her anxiety. She talked to her mom, her husband, best friends and although it was hard it brought both her and them great relief.
She asked for help around cooking, cleaning, errands, childcare, etc…during the first few weeks so she could bond with her new baby and growing family. She put her team on-call, the team she trusted to pick her up when she needs them.
When I checked in with her 8 weeks after she gave birth, she was ever so grateful for all her preparation and that her second postpartum experience was night and day from her first because she prepared, and her anxiety was close to none.
What you’re doing for yourself right now is huge, and I respect your efforts so much. I hope this helps, you’ve definitely inspired me to take more action in the clean eating realm for motherhood.
Lots of love to you,
ps…I’m sure this is more than you expected, but I couldn’t help myself. xo
She replied immediately grateful that I took the time to respond, that I "really read" and listened to her (trust me, I'm always watching and listening to y'all).
Her words tugged my heartstrings more and made me laugh when she said, "This has lifted a tremendous amount of weight that I've been carrying around with me and after just reading this and knowing there is so much I can do to help, I felt a huge release. Now I have to go to the bathroom and clean up because I am not wearing waterproof makeup and probably look crazy...thank you, thank you again."
Thank you, mama.