Energy Crisis: Beating chronic motherhood fatigue

Man, motherhood is tiring! Like, really tiring. Talk about an energy crisis. I’m in dire need of a boost. Chemical, thermal, nuclear, hydro, solar – whichever. If it can get me through the day, I’ll take it.

Those were my thoughts two months ago. I was five months postpartum and feeling seriously drained. Even with a good stretch of nighttime sleep ( ‘good’ being relative, as you mothers know), I was feeling exhausted throughout the day.

Yes, exhaustion is to be expected. The perpetual cycle of feeding, diapering, playtime and play dates is definitely a calorie burner. But should I have been that exhausted? Was it normal to feel like a plug had been pulled and my body totally drained? Was it normal to flop onto the bed depleted at 6pm?

Friends suggested nursing as a likely culprit. “I didn’t know how tired I was until I stopped. I have so much energy now”, I was told by the mother of an 18-month old. I was an envious shade of green.  Then my doctor shared the results of my recent blood work. “Your hemoglobin count is low. Have you been taking your iron supplements?” Ah, the iron deficiency that has plagued me most of my life and especially in pregnancy. It was still wreaking havoc on my body. I should know better. Still, having lived with anemia for many years, I knew that this felt even more severe. This was fatigue beyond fatigue.

Nuclear power sounded like the heavy duty charge I’d need. But since I had no idea how to harness nuclear energy, I’d have to look at some more practical methods.  Consults with a postnatal trainer and with the good ol’ internet revealed these suggestions for an energy boost:

  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Water
  • Lemon

Since I’ve been chronically lax in taking my iron supplements, it was safe to say I’d fare no better at a popping more vitamin pills. I didn’t even try. I did however, increase my water intake. I even had a good run with lemon and citrus slices. Fancy.

Good news. I’ve indeed seen a difference over the last few months. I am sometimes sleepy but less often fatigued. It’s hard to say how much the water has factored in. Though I do know that adequate water intake is a cornerstone of good health. That clear magic potion ensures all the body’s systems function properly. That said, I think what ultimately helped was an improvement in my overall nutrition.

By eliminating processed foods which are often laced with unhealthy sugars and opting for more whole foods, I’m naturally getting more vitamins and minerals. Yes, those same vitamins all wrapped up in cute little pink tablets. Oatmeal, berries, apples, spinach, nuts, eggs and lean meats are pretty much a part of my daily diet. That’s vitamins A, B, C, E, K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate and yes, iron among too many others to list. As for vitamin D, that comes mainly from the eggs and my daily walks.

The other change I made was in the gym. Or more accurately, outside of the gym. I suspect that my cardio and strength sessions were actually working against me. If breastfeeding, iron deficiency and poor nutrition were already zapping my energy, then the high resistance workouts must have put me over the edge.

If there’s anything I’m learning, it’s that this postpartum body is definitely a different animal. The same rules don’t always apply. The habits you got away with before baby may not be so good to you post-babe. Well at least I’m learning. And now I have the energy and brain power to do so!

Are you still a tired mom or have you found a way to boost your energy?

GOOD TO KNOW: Low iron levels can result in a “dead tired” feeling, poor appetite, headaches, dizziness, unhealthy weight loss, irritability and a pale and listless appearance.The recommended daily intake of iron for women 19-50 years is 18 mg.  Pregnant women require a daily intake of 27 mg of iron.  The requirement for iron is 1.8 times higher for vegetarians due to the lower bioavailability of iron from a vegetarian diet. (http://www.thesoko.com/thesoko/article1234-0.html)

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1 Comment

Filed under Nutrition

One response to “Energy Crisis: Beating chronic motherhood fatigue

  1. Pauline

    Well, I know that I have no deficiencies, and yet I am constantly tired. Put it this way, I could drink an espresso at 8 am, and be fully snoring by 9 pm. Rein laughs because I have the uncanny ability to fall asleep mid-conversation. (Well, he USUALLY laughs.) Now, granted, I have always been able to fall asleep pretty easily, but since our second baby, I have reached whole new levels. I must admit, though, this is probably also due to the fact that we spoil our kids rotten and they still climb into our bed almost every night. Or we end up on the sofa. Or in one of their beds. Oh, the joys… lol

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