After my hormones after kids discussion over on my stories a few weeks ago, I decided to keep digging and create a blog post about what I found. I was astonished by how many of you are experiencing the same issues and really want to be able to help in any way that I can. Coming from a medical background and relying heavily on scientific studies and research, it can be a bit “taboo” to be discussing things like acupuncture and other Western medicine concepts but I truly believe there is a balance to everything in life. If you haven’t had success, there is no harm with trying something natural to turn your life around for the better. After my third baby was born, my menstrual cycle came back around 8 months (which was typical for my previous postpartum cycles) and I was still nursing. My cycles at first were pretty normal but once I stopped nursing they became a nightmare! Super heavy, inconsistent, horrible mood swings, etc. After a recent early miscarriage in June, it got even worse – if that’s even possible 😉 I decided to try and take matters into my own hands. Before I discuss what I am currently doing, I am going to share some resources/other things that YOU have found to be helpful with hormonal imbalances!
I collaborated on this post with two amazing womens health resources:
– Ailsa who practices as a midwife in DC
-Meg Tantillo who is an RN and owner of Holistic Health Code
Your Hormones After Kids & What You Can Do About it
***Please make an appointment with your primary care provider and have them run all the basic blood work FIRST including a thyroid panel. Our fertility is highly associated with the function of our thyroids and this can be an easy fix!
3.) Maca Root – helps balance depression anxiety, helps increase libido and fertility, heavy and painful periods
4.) Castor Oil Womb Care | a good alternative that is recommended for use during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. It is believed to help with wound care or adhesion degradation. A warm hot pack may work as effectively for the pain. Many women use it in labor- do not recommend. It will dehydrate you and cause painful and not effective contractions.
5.) Deliciously Ella’s Podcast | Period Power – I have heard great things about this podcast and it’s my line up to listen to on the way to work!
6.) Ashwaganda | medicinal herb that helps to manage stress, anxiety and balance moods | no formal studies on if it can be taken long term. It is an exotic Indian herb that helps the body combat stress and anxiety. It is often referred to as the Indian ginseng, they aren’t botanically equivalent. So many benefits- improves learning, increases libido, regulate blood sugar, reduces anxiety/ depression without making you sleepy.
7.) Myo-Inositol | This is one of the ingredients in the supplements I am currently taking! Myo-Inositol is normally found in the body and helps with insulin insensitivity and promotes female fertility. There is also a study that concludes that Myo-Inositol is a safe and alternative way to boost infertility in those with PCOS.
8.) Whole 30 Diet | Many have attributed a wacky hormone cycle due to inconsistency with diet and some recommended this for fertility – HOWEVER, Ailya spoke to a nutritionist about this and she felt it was restrictive and short term with no long term benefits. Definitely a firm believer and recommend to my patients to add Coq10 to their daily regime (via nutritionist)
** added – CoQ10 is VERY highly recommended by reproductive specialists in the form of ubiquinol which is the active form of CoQ10 and much easier for us to absorb! This is the one I purchased! 400-600 mg per day
9.) Acupuncture | I have never personally used acupuncture but I have heard SO much about it changing lives whether it was stress, infertility, or regulating cycles.
10.) Balance by Alani Nutrition | I was taking this supplement and really saw a difference in overall energy and how I felt. I am switching over to some supplements recommended by Megan for this month because they are more tailored to me. I will keep you all updated!
11.) Jenna Kutchers Goal Digger podcast with the Period Coach | Heard this was an awesome podcast to listen to as well!
12.) Progessence plus – natural progesterone supplement/oil roller with progesterone from wild yams | 1-2 drops on wrist daily | I order through my friend Nikki (firstname.lastname@example.org)
13.) Postnatal Depeletion Cure | I have heard wonderful things about this book!
14.) Ovaboost — Used to help regulate cycles, with infertility // Here is a quote from a woman in my community: “Our eldest will be 2 next week, and we’ve always dreamed of having our kids close in age, so we started trying to conceive again around 10 months postpartum. I had nursed for 9 months, and my periods regulated (in terms of frequency) fairly quickly after weaning, but the pain and cramping was honestly unbearable and the ‘quality’ of them was so different…lots of clots, super dark blood, extremely heavy flow, etc. I could not function during the first two days of my cycle, definitively. After trying to conceive for 6 months with no luck (after having gotten pregnant on our first month’s attempt with our first baby), I started to get concerned and did some research on postpartum depletion (also found Nancy Anderson through you, who is such a God send!). I started taking a supplement intended to help women conceive from Fairhaven Health called Ovaboost, which includes myo-inositol, coQ10, and a blend of antioxidants. Pretty quickly, I noticed a massive change in my periods. After 60 days of taking the supplement, my periods were much lighter with far less clotting, cramping was minimal, and I also had much more positive ovulation signals (cervical mucus, less pain with ovulation, etc.). I got pregnant before ordering my third month’s supply, and we’re expecting our second son in late November. This sounds kind of like an ad, but I expected minimal results from the supplement, and was kind of (happily!) shocked with my experience.”
15.) Dutch Test | An amazing kit that you can use to test your own hormones from home! Unfortunately it is expensive (unless you’re a provider and then you can save a good amount) or just ask your OB/GYN if they will possibly order the hormone tests for you! 🙂
My Current Routine
I decided to take matters into my own hands after getting my period TWICE in August. I started taking Balance by Alani Nutrition which contains Myo-Inosito, L-Glutathione, DIM, ALA, Chromium & Folate. You can read more on their website about what each ingredient helps with and do individual research on each ingredient as well! I do believe it is important to have your hormone levels checked before starting a supplement since this is more helpful for those that are estrogen dominant! I am switching over my regimen to something tailored to be a bit more specific for me – recommended by Megan! Balance is more generalized! I am also using Progessence plus 2 drops per day (alternating between my inner thighs and belly). Overall, I have been feeling awesome and better than I have in YEARS. Some day soon I will go over exactly what I take on a daily basis but it’s important to know that it can be different for everyone depending on how your cycles are and your past medical history!
Estrogen Dominance Postpartum
Estrogen dominance related symptoms are common during the postpartum period. This is because throughout pregnancy, hormones estrogen and progesterone are at an all time high, which is essential to maintain a healthy pregnancy. After birth however, hormones drop off rather quickly. Within the first week postpartum, hormones are back to pre-pregnancy baseline which understandably, can cause hormonal symptoms and sometimes, extreme emotional changes.
Keep in mind if you are breastfeeding, cycles may be irregular or nonexistent for a year or more meaning, without ovulation, you aren’t producing progesterone, the calming counterpart to estrogen.
Also important to note that stress management plays a huge role in hormone balance. Even the most prepared mothers struggle with sleep, anxiety surrounding new baby and familial role changes, stress related to going back to work, maintaining a household, etc. Stress disrupts ovulation which again, impedes progesterone production and allows estrogen to creep higher and higher causing unwanted symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
- Weight gain, mostly in the hips, waist, and thighs*
- Bloating or water retention*
- Irregular periods
- Heavy, painful periods*
- Fibrocystic breasts*
- Uterine fibroids*
- Loss of sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Headaches or migraines*
*The most common symptoms I see in my practice.
As you may already know, I am a nurse with a private practice specializing in women’s wellness, gut health and fertility. I work with women 1:1 and also teach The Period Fix eCourse helping women understand root cause of hormone symptoms, implement holistic hormone balancing solutions, and regulate cycles naturally. Inside the course I teach what I consider to be the 4 pillars to natural hormone balance:
- Heal the gut
- Balancing blood sugar
- Stress management
With that said, here are my top 5 tips for balancing hormones naturally postpartum and beyond.
- Take a high-quality prenatal. It takes an incredible amount of nutritional resources to conceive, carry and deliver a baby. A prenatal is essential to ensure your body is getting all the micronutrients it needs for optimal hormone balance.
- Heal your gut. Do you struggle with gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation? If so, you want to start here first. Estrogen is carried out through the bowel so it is absolutely essential you poop every single day girlfriend. Dysbiosis, or a microbial imbalance in your gut can also contribute to hormone imbalance, so be sure to talk to your provider about how to correct underlying gut infections – they are more common than you think!
- Practice a daily detox ritual. The liver packs up estrogen and metabolizes it through 3 different pathways, some of which are more protective than others. This can get complicated for those who are non-medical however, just know that your liver is a major player in hormone balance. Be sure you are eating enough protein, taking a high-quality B-complex vitamin, and eating cruciferous vegetables daily. My client’s love Holistic Health Code’s Daily Detox Shake.
- Balance your blood sugar like it is your job! Do not sleep on this practice. Extreme highs and lows are stressful on the body. Remember, stress disrupts ovulation which prevents progesterone production. Focus on fiber, fat, protein and greens at each meal.
Lastly, stress management, perhaps the most difficult step for my clients. My highest recommendation – say no. Stay in. It’s ok to pass on plans because your mental health needs some TLC. I also love adaptogenic herbs and magnesium at night is your new BFF.