It is normal to be exhausted at times as a mother, but when that exhaustion gets out of hand and you are always overtired and overburdened, then you can suffer from postnatal depletion.
In addition, often freaking out, being irritated and then having an enormous feeling of guilt towards your children is also a symptom, says Anke Velstra, childbirth counselor and doula, who specializes in childbirth anxiety and trauma.
You mainly recognize postnatal depletion from chronic fatigue and hypersensitivity.
Depending on the personal situation and the basis of the exhaustion, complaints such as being constantly 'on', anxiety attacks, low libido, concentration problems, forgetfulness, a missing deep mother-child connection, hypersensitivity, guilt and sometimes depression can also occur.
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Not a scientific term
This is not the same as fatigue during the postpartum period because your baby is not sleeping, because you can have the complaints months or years after giving birth.
"The feeling that you have lost yourself in motherhood is also common," says Velstra.
Australian physician Oscar Serrallach first came to the fore with postnatal depletion in 2018 in his book
The Postnatal Depletion Cure
He said it would affect up to 50 percent of mothers.
But postnatal depletion is not a term that is scientifically recognized.
“By institutionalizing the term, women could receive better care.
And less likely to be unfairly labeled 'postpartum depression'. ”
Desirée Domacassé, health scientist
"But it should be. Otherwise, women would think that the extreme fatigue and double feelings are just part of it. Institutionalizing this term would allow women to receive better care. And less likely to be mislabeled as 'postpartum depression' or 'fatigue'. "says Desirée Domacassé, health scientist, postpartum therapist and nutritionist.
Childbirth trauma and insufficient recovery
According to Velstra, a traumatic delivery is an important factor in the development of postnatal depletion.
"If you experience fear during childbirth, it releases the
mode. But during labor you cannot fight or flee. Then mothers switch to freeze mode: they cooperate and do not express fear, but experience inside. they have terrible fear. This fear and alertness remains in the body. "
This leads to complaints such as irritability, being constantly 'on' and therefore not being able to rest, even when your baby is finally sleeping.
That leads to chronic fatigue, the doula said.
"Because you are so vulnerable during childbirth, trauma and fear linger in body and mind."
Desirée Domacassé, postpartum therapist and nutritionist
"Because you are so vulnerable during childbirth, trauma and fear linger in body and mind, and you are actually already 1-0 behind. You start traumatized at the postpartum period and you should be grateful because the baby is healthy. And if a woman does feel bad, she often feels shame so that she does not seek help to cope with the birth trauma ", Domacassé adds.
After delivery, your body needs all the strength, support and time to get back to its old age.
Domacassé: "By getting back to work too quickly and going back to work after giving birth, your reserves can run out, leading to shortages of essential vitamins and minerals."
“Such a deficiency usually occurs during pregnancy, because your baby first gets all the necessary nutrients and you get the leftovers. But if you take the right supplements and eat food after pregnancy, it can somewhat prevent and reduce that chronic fatigue. . "
Prevent or cure?
You can never completely prevent postnatal depletion caused by a traumatic delivery, according to Velstra.
"You cannot plan what will happen during childbirth and whether it will be experienced as traumatic. But you can learn more in advance about good communication during childbirth, in order to prevent things from happening that you do not actually agree with. , if possible. "
"And by being your best and healthiest self during conception and pregnancy, you can reduce fatigue and run out of reserves during and well after pregnancy."
Take your complaints seriously, don't be afraid to seek help and talk about your fatigue, feelings and possible birth trauma.
That will help to give everything a place and reduce stress and thus the fatigue, says Domacassé.