Please remember that the views on this podcast and website are not meant to be substituted for medical advice, shouldn’t be used to diagnose, treat or cure any conditions, and are intended for general information purposes only.
Stephanie chats with Dr. Brooke, ND about postpartum hormones. They answer your questions about ways to navigate significant hormonal changes during early postpartum, functional medicine approaches to hormonal balance in mamas, how to work with your doctor to get quality care, and the two most important things to focus on when it comes to balancing postpartum hormones.
Interested in enjoying the medicinal benefits of mushrooms via delicious hot cocoa, matcha, or coffee? Receive 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase by using code WHOLEMAMAS at check out or simply head to foursigmatic.com/wholemamas.
Dr. Brooke 0:03
Our acronym in the book is ACES: appetite, cravings, energy and sleep. And listen to those things and when they’re telling you right now, I hate your intermittent fasting plan, I hate your low carb diet right now, I need to do things a little bit differently. We just need to make sure that we listen and the truth be told, you don’t necessarily need a salivary hormone panel to tell that.
Stephanie Greunke 0:25
Welcome back to the Whole Mamas podcast. We’re here to give you tools, resources and evidence-based information so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Whether you’re trying to conceive or navigating life with a toddler or a teenager, we’ve got you covered. I’m Stephanie Greunke, Registered Dietitian and Program Director for Whole Mamas Club. I’m also the co-creator of Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program, where I teach mamas how to navigate the endless decisions around their pregnancy. And my co-host is Dr. Elana Roumell, Pediatric Naturopathic Doctor and creator of Med School for Moms, an online resource where she teaches moms how to safely be a doctor mom. Today I’m excited to bring Dr. Brooke on to the show. continue our discussion on balancing hormones. But this week, we’re going to answer your questions about hormones during the postpartum period. We’re going to talk about ways to support them during the early weeks and while you’re nursing, how to advocate for yourself when it comes to getting comprehensive care, and we’ll share the two most important things to focus on when it comes to balancing postpartum hormones. I think you’re gonna love this episode. And if you want to dive deeper, our upcoming Whole Mamas Postpartum Program will give you even more tools and support for feeling your best as a new mama.
But before we begin, I want to thank our podcast partner Four Sigmatic. Is your skin getting dry with the colder weather? Mine is, too. And while it’s easy to slather on whatever lotion you have on hand, the ingredients in your beauty products are something to consider. When you’re ready and you’re able to take on some swaps to your baby products, lotion is one of the first places I like to start. Why? Well, good question. Our skin is the largest organ of our body. And since it’s porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. The ingredients in your beauty products penetrate through your skin barrier and go directly into your bloodstream. Now of course our body is designed to handle a certain load of chemicals and foreign ingredients but a good goal is to reduce our overall load of chemicals, endocrine disruptors, pesticides and environmental pollutants, so our liver and our detoxification system don’t have to work as hard. And if they’re not working as hard, our body can focus on other projects like supporting your adrenals and creating balance with your hormones, healing your gut and repairing your tissues postpartum. That’s why I think Four Sigmatic’s skincare products are a fun, effective option for supporting beauty from the inside out, especially for moms. Four Sigmatic’s skincare products have such clean ingredients you can actually eat them and it’s encouraged. They haven’t activated charcoal based powder that works has a face mask and a tonic that you can drink. Outside of the activated charcoal, other Ingredients in the powder include organic cacao, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and adaptogens, like reishi, chocolate and ginseng. Since it’s beauty from the inside out, you can either mix a powder with water and drink it or you can use a few drops of water to form it into a lotion, apply it on your face and leave it on for 10 or 15 minutes. The product is awesome if you have skin that’s oily, acne prone or sensitive with a tendency towards redness. The redness piece, yeah, that’s me. If you’re not feeling this option and want something that’s easy to just apply on the go, their superfood serum is also amazing. It’s really hydrating for that dry winter skin and it has oils coming from avocado, olive, ahoba seed, reishi and nourishing oils from great fruit and frankincense. I love applying it to my neck area to reduce signs of aging and wrinkles which I did not expect to see at 35. I blame the San Diego sunshine and a few too many sunburns when I was younger. Do you want to clean up your skincare routine and enjoy the medicinal benefits of mushrooms? Whole Mamas listeners get 15% off their Four Sigmatic purchase by using code WHOLEMAMAS at checkout or simply head to Four Sigmatic.com/WholeMamas. All right, now let’s welcome Dr. Brooke to the show.
Today I am so excited to have Dr. Brooke on the show to talk about her new book that she co-wrote with Sarah Fragoso. These ladies have been such positive inspirations and mentors in my life for years now and I can’t wait to share their new book baby, and some really helpful information with you today. So thank you for coming on the show Dr. Brooke.
Dr. Brooke 4:25
Oh, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Stephanie Greunke 4:26
Now before we begin the episode and talk about your new book baby, Hangry, and how we can support hormonal changes postpartum, we like to open up the episode with our Nourish Yourself segment. We’re curious about how you approach self care as a busy doctor and mama. So what are you doing today or what have you already done today to nourish yourself?
Dr. Brooke 4:45
Wow, as many moms will understand my morning did not go as planned. My time for myself this morning got completely thrown off. My husband and I had a miscommunication about when he was going to be home, when I could start recording my podcast and then be here. So, I will be doing that stuff later. And we’ve been on vacation, so the first thing I want to do today is go to the gym. I haven’t been to my own gym in a week. So that is my self care for the day. And I meant to do it earlier, but you guys know how it goes sometimes kiddos are, you know, they’re on summer vacation. Everybody’s home today, so it got pushed to later, but that’s okay. I’ll get it done later.
Stephanie Greunke 5:24
Yeah. How are you feeling coming back from your vacation? Do you feel rested? Or do you feel like there’s so much to catch up on?
Dr. Brooke 5:30
You know, it’s funny, I did something crazy on this vacation. With our book coming out the last year has been crazy. The last couple of months in particular have been nuts, and I’ve been way more stressed than I would like to be. And I had every intention of working while I’m gone because typically I find if I kind of keep up a little bit on my email and stuff, I don’t feel as stressed when I get home. But the night before the vacation, I did not sleep at all and I was just, you know, when you’re already kind of run down you just kind of really can’t take that. So I went into vacation thinking, you know what I am going to take a couple days off and just not work, try to let my stress come down. And as soon as I give myself permission to do that, I got a couple of really good nights of sleep. So I told myself, you know what, that’s it. I’m not working on this vacation at all. So I don’t know that I’ve ever done that since I’ve graduated from school 12, 13, 14 years ago now. So I actually did come home rested. I was gone actually a few weeks ago and came home very not rested. So I think I really needed to completely step away and let my hormones kind of recover and get some good sleep. So I actually do feel pretty rested, which is not something I felt a lot of this last year.
Stephanie Greunke 6:41
Yeah, well, I’m glad you’re feeling rested. I know it has been a really busy year for you. But you’ve been up to so many incredible things. And I’m curious, you know, you walk the walk and you take the principles that you outline in Hangry into your daily life. So I’m curious what your exercise workout’s going to look like knowing that you’re coming back and your life has been kind of crazy. Are you catering what you’re doing fitness wise to suit your hormones?
Dr. Brooke 7:03
Yeah, I mean, I really think we all need to do that, right? I think there’s a lot of like, right, right and wrong. There’s a lot of dogma around food and exercise. And for me, you know, if I’m really wiped out, I try to stick with just walking. But for the most part, I, you know, roughly follow what’s in our book, which is recommending five walks a week, and three strength training sessions a week, and those are really the things I try to keep up with. And those strength training sessions, if I’m more rundown are going to be very different than if I’m not but currently right now, I’m not doing a lot of metabolic training. I’m not doing a lot of, you know, don’t really any long distance cardio, just really focusing on strength and walking. And if I’m in a place where I want to change that up, I say to make sure like we all do that our hormones are okay with that if we want to be doing more.
Stephanie Greunke 7:51
That’s so smart. That’s really what I’ve been doing too, because I’ve also been under a lot of stress lately, so walking and doing weight training three times a week is my routine. So we’re totally in line with that there. What I’m doing today to nourish myself is I’m actually going to see my therapist. I’ve been seeing her every Tuesday to just check in and talk about what’s going on and see if I have any blind spots, if I’m missing anything that really needs my attention and doing some deep work. And this actually is a new therapist, for me. The other therapist that I was going to see wasn’t working. And it got to the point where we just couldn’t get over something that we were stuck with. You know, she wanted me to go a certain direction that I didn’t want to, and it just wasn’t working for us. So, yeah, I’ve been going to her and it’s been really helpful. And I wanted to share this with you and our listeners, because one of my friends Robin Cagulia, she mentioned something that she heard from Deanna Minik, which I don’t know if you know Deanna but she’s fantastic. She’s a doctor that really gets the functional medicine approach. And she talked about the issue of boundaries, and how in functional medicine or in wellness circles, we talk so much about leaky gut and a leaky blood brain barrier and how having a healthy barrier is important for our immune system and our mental health, but non-physical boundaries, the ones that we set up for ourselves and for our family to take care of us also serve the same purpose. So what we allow in or don’t allow in via psycho emotional boundaries can determine our health too. So I thought that was really interesting, because you know, we can give ourselves tons of bone broth and glutamine and collagen to help heal our gut lining to help create that healthy boundary there. But if we’re not applying that to other aspects of our life and our relationships, our health is going to be at a detriment as well. So isn’t that a really interesting connection?
Dr. Brooke 9:46
Yeah, yeah. No, I don’t know her personally, but I do you know who she is. And, yeah, you know, it’s funny that Sarah and I, for our book. We, you know, set out to write this book, of course, it’s going to have be with the expertise that we have, it’s going to have lots of hormone information, the functional medicine stuff, a workout program, a food program. But that for us is the, you know, probably the easier thing to tell a woman to do is like, here’s how we think you should eat or how you should exercise. It’s all of that mindset, like you’re saying with boundaries, all of that stuff is so important. And it is a constant ongoing stress. And we think it’s not because we maybe we can’t see it or we don’t associate it as having an impact with our hormones, but all that stuff running around in the back of our minds all the time. You know, the stuff we’re worried about, the obligations we have, the times we should have said no, when we said yes, then took on too much and being overwhelmed and not feeling like we can either set a boundary or, you know, express our truth, whatever that is, and just be who we are. That stuff is a constant ongoing, like impact on our cortisol and that’s of course affecting all of our other hormones. And so it became like all of that kind of stuff became like probably the meat of our book that became such a bigger part of it because that’s really I think, where it’s at and you know, maybe you’re getting it all right with the bone broth. But if you’re not happy, does it really matter if you have a, you know, really healthy gut lining?
Stephanie Greunke 11:04
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what I loved about your book because I mean your expertise is that functional medicine approach and understanding the hormones and the Dutch panel and all these different supplements that can support our health. And you also get it from a psycho emotional perspective. And Sarah is fantastic with understanding the exercise component and she’s able to explain some of these like woo theories in in such like a realistic, approachable way and just the combination of you two really makes Hangry a beautiful book and I talked about you know, I get a lot of books sent to me I do read a lot of books, but yours stands out as something that I feel like all women truly from the bottom, my heart really need to read and I think it can change their lives to be honest. So can you kind of tell us what made you to decide to write Hangry and why is it something that our listeners may be interested in?
Dr. Brooke 11:58
Yeah, so Sarah and I both came from, you know, different sort of professional backgrounds. The two areas, I guess three areas, we really overlap in, so Sarah is a gym owner, personal trainer. Her brand was Everyday Paleo so she was the first woman kind of on the scene in paleo back in the day. Now it’s a very big, big space but Sarah was, you know, right under Rob Wolfe back in the beginning. She had a lot of experience in that and then kind of grew into more of the mindset piece, where I came at it from you know, naturopathic doctor, functional medicine doctor, a lot of hormone information but you know, something that not every naturopathic or functional medicine doctor talks about is strength training and mindset. So we really kind of came together with all of those things. We met at a conference and really enjoyed each other kind of always wanted to do something and figure it out. Eventually we would start the podcast and then of course right after that we put together our idea for for a book that you know was going to accomplish all of those different aspects. So the what to eat, how to exercise really important focus on strength training, and then, also, all of this stuff we really wanted to help women do with mindset. Because again, there’s so much going on in our heads that is really getting in the way of our health and our hormones and our happiness. And we found so many women we worked with, by the time they get to us, they’ve seen other practitioners and two things. One was, they’ve just kind of forgotten what they’re all about, right? They’re busy being a mom and having all of these other roles fulfilled as a woman, wife, partner, friend, sister, all of those things, and really forgetting what it actually is that they love, and not being super happy. Right? Many of them are just too tired and worn out from living their life the way that they are, taking care of everyone else that they don’t even you know, they’re just too tired to even feel joy or feel happier, to make time for themselves. So we really wanted to tackle that big piece because it is big, but we really feel like that’s kind of at the crux of all of it for most women and their hormones. But the other thing is most women have multiple hormone issues and when a woman looks at the Internet, as they’re like, well, I know I have this thyroid thing or this low cortisol stuff going on. And the advice for me is to eat really frequently, don’t exercise, get tons of rest and take these certain supplements. But let’s say they also have some insulin resistance or something else is going on with another hormone. Well, that advice is really often counter to that, right, the blood sugar problem advice is exercise all the time and eat really low carb, and then they turn around and read well, that’s bad for my thyroid, and they get very confused. And so when and understandably so there’s a lot of information and what does a woman do when she has conflicting information for her own hormone issues? Because you know, women have lots of hormones, and sometimes we need to be able to honor those all. Right, we can’t take advice that works for one and not the other. So we wanted to give also a really customizable plan, like give you a template so you had a place to start, but then teach you how to customize that once you know how to turn into your unique hormone talk and what your hormones are telling you. And then make that plan work for you, honoring all of your hormones and sort of in order so that you don’t sort of sacrifice one for the other, because we’ve all done that, right? We’ve gone on a mission to lose weight or whatever, and ended up creating some hormonal issue because we didn’t quite understand which order to address things. So it was a pretty tall order what we wanted to do, but I think we did it.
Stephanie Greunke 15:18
Yeah, I think you did it really brilliantly and you have quizzes that help you identify which hormones may be out of balance, and then specific, actionable plans to get those hormones back in balance. And I think it’s just really accessible because as much as we’d all love to go see a functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor, that might not be in the cards for us where we’re at right now. So this kind of gives you leverage to take empowered action and to know yourself and to start really healing those hormones that are out of balance. So it was a tall order, but I’m so grateful that you did it.
Dr. Brooke 15:51
Yeah, I think we did. We’ve certainly tried that was that like you said, that is our book, baby for sure. There’s a lot of our heart into that book as well as our expertise.
Stephanie Greunke 16:00
Yeah, now, I put a call out for questions over at Whole Mamas Club. I said you are coming on and you were the queen of hormone balance,. You really know your stuff. And you showed that to our audience when you wrote a blog about a functional approach to PMDD, which is a more severe form of PMS that can pop up in the last two weeks of your cycle. And so when we put the call for questions, there was a majority of people that wanted to know about postpartum hormones. And I find that this is something that is really not talked about and it’s you have to dig to find information about postpartum hormones and how to get your hormones back in balance and what you do because a lot of times what is suggested like getting a ton of sleep or eating strict diet, a healthy diet, or, you know, exercising in a certain way isn’t going to work if you have a newborn. So, you know, that’s kind of what we want to talk about today is that postpartum hormone balance, and I think a great place to start would be just understanding what is going on with our hormones in the postpartum period. Because a lot of times, women may go to their doctor and the postpartum period and say like, I think my hormones are out of balance. And they don’t get really great information about, well, what hormones are out of balance, and what does that look like? And what do we do? So can you kind of walk us through what happens to our hormones in the postpartum period whether or not we’re breastfeeding?
Dr. Brooke 17:25
Yeah. So it’s going to be different. If you’re breastfeeding, than if you’re not and one thing to think about is so postpartum if you’re comparing your heart quote, unquote, hormone balance to a woman who’s not postpartum, they’re going to be out of balance, right? So you’re not going to be like the perfect balanced hormones right after you have a baby. Now, your hormones postpartum are perfectly balanced for what they’re supposed to be right? Those first couple months, you’re supposed to be kind of high cortisol, you’re on alert. You are supposed to be you know, sleeping, but not super deep sleeping. So your body’s kind of doing some of its normal things. It’s just not what is, quote unquote normal for the rest of your life. So I think it’s important to really understand, you know, new moms that like this time can feel kind of nutty, but it is. I mean it is kind of yeah, and the less, we sort of stress out too much about how it’s supposed to be different, I think whether whether that’s your mothering or your hormones, or your body or any of those things, and just kind of let it be kind of a crazy intense time, because that is what it’s supposed to be. So let’s just talk about like hormones, just post pregnancy then we can talk about breastfeeding. So your body goes from a really high progesterone and estrogen place, to a really low estrogen and progesterone place immediately. Once you deliver that placenta, you’re without all those hormones that have probably been making you feel pretty good for the you know, last several months, right. So most of us not everyone has that experience, but many women feel pretty good. Like once those hormones kind of kick up into the second trimester. We feel, we sleep a little bit better. We’ve got all that progesterone, usually we’ve got the hair and the glowing skin from all the estrogen. So you know, there’s a lot of nuance and individuality with pregnancy. But for the most part, you go from a high hormone place to a really low hormone place when it comes to estrogen and progesterone. Your cortisol is going to go up a little bit because you’re not sleeping. And again, we were meant to be on high alert to take care of babies. Back in the day when things were a little bit dicey or so we still have some of that stress response. And you guys know that you know what it feels like you hear the slightest sound, you’re immediately awake, checking on the baby. So that’s all pretty normal. What can happen with that abrupt shift from higher especially estrogen to lower estrogen during that time is your thyroid can get impacted during that big shift. This is a really common time for things like hashimotos, autoimmune, thyroiditis to get triggered. I’ll talk about that in a moment but you do really have like a big shift in hormones. Some of it’s totally normal. And it’s going to start to shake out once you sort of adjust to your new normal. Let’s say you’re not breastfeeding, and you start cycling again. You’re going to have usually a rough period or two, because you’re kind of still shedding some of the lining from pregnancy. But then we sort of move into what will be your new normal, and it may not, it may be exactly like it was before you were pregnant. And it may be completely different. Many of our hormone issues come along with us. Sometimes things can improve certain conditions, hormonally, can be a little bit better. But not all, many women with PCOS have been told their PCOS will go away or get better after pregnancy. And I have definitely not found that to be the case for most women. It’s just a little bit different. We’re a little bit older, we went through a big stress. We forget how long it takes to have a baby, right? It’s a year to get through that whole time. Life has moved on. So you might be a little bit different place, you know, one way or the other. So let’s talk about thyroid and then I’ll talk about breastfeeding. So again, that is a time when you definitely can have some shifts, and so about three months postpartum between three and six months, I’d like to check the thyroid antibodies, check your thyroid and kind of make sure those things are okay. Now depending on if you want to test other hormones, it’s really going to depend on a couple of things, you know, give it a couple of cycles, make sure you’re starting to cycle and you’re starting to see what you know new normal is because there is going to be just a bit of an adjustment time during that. If you’re breastfeeding, of course, you’ve got a whole different goal. And your hormones are going to be a little bit different. But whether you’re breastfeeding or not, I would say get your thyroid checked, make sure you’re following up on you know, any iron studies to make sure that you don’t need to be supplementing with iron because of course that’s going to make you more fatigued, it’s going to impact all of your hormones. So those are kind of some basic things. There’s of course a lot of blood loss during pregnancy and there was a lot of blood demand when you were pregnant. So getting iron, probably vitamin D and thyroid checked. I would say do those around that three months mark. Those are all things you should be able to easily access with your doctor. Not every doctor will run thyroid antibodies, if you do not have a thyroid test, but there are ways of course to get that stuff, you know, out of pocket as well. But those are things I recommend all women get checked. Now, when you’re going into breastfeeding, your hormones are going to stay a bit, you know, quote unquote out of balance, if you’re comparing them to what they would be, you know, for someone who’s not in those situations. So, when you’re breastfeeding, some women are cycling, and some are not. Some women are cycling, but not really ovulating very well. And some are not cycling or ovulating at all. So that just tends to be a little bit different for most women. The high prolactin does a couple of things as does the not ovulating or maybe not the super robust ovulating. And when we don’t have estrogen and progesterone, we can have a number of things shift in our metabolism that can make it easier for us to gain weight or struggle to lose weight. Breastfeeding can be such a challenging time with the expectation to quote unquote, get your body back, I like to tell women our bodies and ourselves, we’re just forever changed by our babies, for better and worse, and we have to kind of move into what works for us now, rather than going back to some place that was before something completely changed our lives, right. So that could be a lot of unnecessary pressure. But during this time, for hormones, we’ve got this big shift without the estrogen so we tend to be more insulin sensitive or insulin insensitive, insulin resistance. So maybe we don’t tolerate carbohydrates or sugars or simple processed foods as well as we used to, or it might be different. We tend to not have as much progesterone. Combine that with the high cortisol from not sleeping can be a real recipe for a change in where we’re putting down body fat. And many women will notice they’re starting to feel some of that around the middle and then the high stress from not sleeping is of course going to impact all of your hormones. So when we’re in that prolactin also can kind of impact the insulin and the blood sugar carb tolerance thing as well. So we have to kind of remember our goal, right? If our goal during this time is to feed the baby, the goal is to feed the baby and our hormone balance is going to be shifted. As such, I was one of those women who didn’t get a period at all until I stopped breastfeeding. And then it came within like, a week or so both times after. So every woman’s got a little bit different hormone balance, which can make it again frustrating because you see what worked for someone else when that may not be your exact mix, you know, right now. So should you get your estrogen and your progesterone and all these things tested during this time? Again, it depends on the goal. So if your estrogen is low, because you’re not ovulating, are you going to stop breastfeeding? For some women, maybe yes, for other women, maybe no. And so you want to kind of think about, too, what your body is just trying to do during this time and what is like, quote unquote, normal for you right now and what the goal is. So with getting a Dutch test during this time really be helpful? Perhaps not. Because what would you necessarily change? Now if you know, you’re ready for your hormones to be back in balance and you are done breastfeeding, then you’re going to want to give it a couple of months. I would say, if you’re not breastfeeding, coming out of your pregnancy, then you can get some hormones checked after your cycle starts to level out. I would probably say I wouldn’t check estrogen and progesterone and those sorts of things until about six months. And I would check thyroid a little bit earlier. If you’re breastfeeding, I would still check your thyroid within the three to six month mark. But some of those other hormones, it’s really going to kind of depend what your intervention would be, I would say not spending hundreds of dollars on a Dutch test to tell yourself that you’re not ovulating because you’re breastfeeding. That may not be super useful information for you to have. And again, kind of focusing on the goal at hand during that time. So a lot of information. Did that answer your question?
Stephanie Greunke 25:54
No, it’s really great. You unpacked a lot of information that’s really helpful for helping us understand what this hormonal dance looks like in the postpartum period if we’re breastfeeding or if we’re not breastfeeding. And I just kind of want to talk about a couple of things that you mentioned, just to review it. So when we were talking about labs, a couple of the ones that you mentioned that are really important are looking at iron. And so looking at ferritin, and a more comprehensive iron panel to see what our current stores are, looking at vitamin D to make sure that we didn’t give all of our vitamin D to baby and understanding our supplement needs, looking at a comprehensive thyroid panel and making sure we’re looking at those thyroid antibodies because those can pop up in the postpartum period within the first year postpartum. It’s called postpartum thyroiditis. And the symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis can mimic a lot of the new mom symptoms like fatigue or hair loss or just not feeling like yourself. So those were the ones that you mentioned, did I miss any besides the thyroid, iron and vitamin D that are really important,
Dr. Brooke 26:57
You know, I’d say that those are the ones that all women should probably get between that three to six month mark. Obviously, if there’s something a little bit more nuanced for you, like you were dealing with blood sugar problems, you’d want to make sure your glucose, your A1C, your fasting insulin, all of those things. Yeah, those are all really important kind of during that that time. So I think you covered that.
Stephanie Greunke 27:16
Okay. And you said between the three and six month mark. Is there any problem with getting those specific lab markers tested before three months? Would they maybe not be accurate? Or is it just three months is when mommy maybe can get out of the house to get it done?
Dr. Brooke 27:32
Yeah, so I think that the iron you can probably get checked a little bit earlier and be supplementing with that. I mean, I would probably tell most women towards the end there. Even if they haven’t been on iron, it’s not a bad idea to take some iron, at least for a month postpartum because there’s a lot of blood loss you know, after that. Now, when you get into that initial swing, there’s such a shift in your immune system coming from, you know, pregnancy to not. You shift from basically one side dominance to the other. I usually say three months is kind of about as early as you want to check those thyroid antibodies, because they’re going to be doing a little bit of a fluctuation during that first phase. Perhaps to turn themselves on or perhaps for you to get an accurate reading. So three months is kind of the mark on that one and perhaps doing it before you might not get the information that you need.
Stephanie Greunke 28:18
Yeah, and I think it’s really important if you do get lab work done, what you need to take into consideration your context. So I just recently talked to a mom who had an emergency cesarean section, and she got her lab work done. And her CRP was high and her cholesterol was high. And all these indicators and the doctor, well meaning, gave her the advice of here’s how we bring your cholesterol down and your CRP down. And it’s like, definitely, you can take those steps but also understand that you just had a major abdominal surgery and so some of these levels are going to be off just because your body is healing and getting back into balance. And, yeah, absolutely you can take fish oil and turmeric to help, but you may just want to hold off and wait or recheck in a little bit to see what your body is naturally doing. And same thing with postpartum antibodies. I mean, hers were just a little bit elevated. But also she just came out of an emergency C section, and she was feeling great. So it’s taking the labs into consideration with what’s going on. Do you see that, too? Sometimes you get patients come in, and their doctors are worried about something. But really, you got to look at the total context.
Dr. Brooke 29:22
Yeah, we always want to look at who you were before, who you were during pregnancy, and who you are now, right? The inflammation, of course, I would think would be just elevated from the surgery stress, the major shift in your immune system, that shift is no joke. That’s why autoimmunity can get triggered. It’s a very big shift from when we are pregnant. We have to do this amazing thing which is down regulate our immune system. And we can do that, and we need to do that because baby is not totally you, right? It’s not you. It’s not completely not you. But we managed to hold that without attacking it right for the most part and so because of the high estrogen, we can kind of do this more modulating thing and adjustment to our immune system, and then everything changes. So yeah, it’s kind of a time when all the stuff can get triggered. So I would watch your antibodies for sure. And then I do also, you know, prolactin will be lowered by turmeric. So that’s something. Turmeric is the hot kid on the block right now. Right? That’s the super food. So I usually tell breastfeeding women not to take turmeric, fish oil for sure, because that can be a good way to dry up your milk supply.
Stephanie Greunke 30:27
Yeah, absolutely. You want to be careful with any supplements that you’re taking. Because even with something like fenugreek. All moms respond differently to that. So really great to keep in mind.
Hey, Mamas, Stephanie, here. Are you overwhelmed with all the information out there regarding pregnancy and prenatal health? We get it. So I want to take a minute to share about our Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program. Our program includes over 20 videos discussing topics from nutrition to exercise, mental health, sleep, conversations to have with your partner as you approach birth, and so much more. Each video has suggested reading, action steps and handouts to help you dive deeper into the topic and apply what you’ve learned. Our weekly pregnancy emails guide you through the program each week of your pregnancy. They’re the only weekly service that focuses on the nutrients that you and your growing baby need, and provide simple recipes using that unique nutrient. You also get a short checklist of things to do each week to help you prepare for baby and take care of yourself. We want to help you spend more time enjoying your pregnancy and less time searching for answers. Want answers and support to your burning pregnancy related questions immediately from the comfort of your own home? Then you’ll love our safe non-judgmental community within the pregnancy program. It’s my favorite corner of the internet, and many of our members agree. To find out more, visit WholeMamasClub.com and click on Join Programs.
What I loved about your approach, too, is you listed off a couple of the really important labs to get done right away. And I know there’s a ton of labs that we can get, but we also need to take into consideration the cost and also sometimes moms will go to their doctor for these labs and like with the thyroid antibodies, they get pushback. And so one of the questions that we got from a mom in our community was, How do we go into the appointment with our doctor or provider, whether that is our midwife or our OB or family physician, and ask for the labs that we know that we need? And what do we do if they say, Well, no, you don’t need an antibody test, your TSH is fine. Or we don’t routinely do that. How do you recommend working with your provider?
Dr. Brooke 32:27
I really wish I had a better answer for this question, because it’s not and I think the best thing to do is to go into your doctor with some respect for what it is that they’re trying to do. And they are trying to do one of two things. They may be trying to do what they truly feel is the very best way to help you and that you getting extra testing doesn’t necessarily help them help you. So if your thyroid antibodies are positive, they’ve got Hashimoto’s antibodies, but your thyroid is normal. What are they going to do for you? Nothing, right? If you don’t need Synthroid or Armour, if your thyroid hormone levels are okay, and you’ve got positive antibodies, there’s no medication for that. There’s no tool for them. So it doesn’t change the way they practice. So for them, they’re doing their best medicine by watching your thyroid hormone levels. And when they’re too low, putting you on some sort of hormone replacement. There’s no extra treatment for the antibodies. So we have to kind of remember what the model is that they’re working with. They are also very much constrained by insurance. So they’re, you know, working as part of a big monstrous network is not really within their control. So they sometimes have to do things by the book. And when they go outside of that, that can be a real legal issue. They can lose their insurance being part of an insurance carrier. So we have to kind of remember what they’re doing. And again, particularly for, you know, let’s say low thyroid positive antibodies, there’s nothing they would do for you. So running those extra tests doesn’t really change anything for them. They don’t necessarily look at the fact that your T4 is ok, but that T3 is a little bit low. Are you getting any Selenium in your diet? Or is your ferritin okay? Are there things we could do, nutrients we could use to help you boost your thyroid hormone. They just don’t practice that way. So we have to remember it’s kind of like going to the guy that paints your car and does auto body detailing, and then the guy that changes the tire, puts the oil in. They just have two different jobs. So if you are somebody that really wants to get that bigger piece of information, I do have a lab guide on my website. I can give you the link to that if you want, just for women to kind of have. This is what I’m looking for. And this is what I can kind of make sense out of of my own labs. I want to always remind women, whether it’s your doctor or you looking at it without a lot of background in this. Our labs, that information is kind of only going to be as good as the interpretation of it, right? Like because sometimes women get all this testing, and they don’t know what to do with it, and their doctor doesn’t know what to do with it. So is that really going to help them? And we can talk about hormones, symptoms, here in a second. So I think, just remember what their job is and what they’re trying to do. And if you want something else, you may have to find a different provider. And I know that’s frustrating, and it can get expensive. I hope that resources, like our book Hangry. And it’s not specific for postpartum, but there’s a lot of hormone information in there, can just help women understand things a little bit better, and know when it might make sense for them to get other help or when they can just be helped by understanding a little bit more about what’s going on and making some either supplement or food choices that might work better for them on their own.
Stephanie Greunke 35:34
What do you think about the, like direct labs or the different companies that people can purchase labs for themselves and then obviously take the results to their provider? If their provider doesn’t know what to do or kind of dismisses it, then see another provider. But do you think that’s an option for some people to order themselves?
Dr. Brooke 35:54
Yeah, but I mean, if they know they’ve done enough research that they know that being off gluten or taking a look at dairy or changing how they’re training or looking at different nutrition strategies. Like they’ve read enough that they know that that can have an impact on the autoimmune response. And so maybe if they go to direct labs and get find out that they have Hashimoto’s. Maybe that’s the motivation that would help them with that bit of information to do some of their own stuff. Like, look at the diet. Let’s maybe look at some of my daily habits and things like that. So in that case, I think there can be a time when a woman’s like, I’ve got a little more information. That helps me make those nutrition strategies that maybe felt a little bit hard. Like for some women, giving up gluten is easy, and for other women, it’s really not. And so they see that on the piece of paper and they’re like, I’m going to go explore some of these other strategies on my own behalf. So doing something like direct labs like that can be, you know, helpful if it’s something that you can make a move on when it comes to what the strategy is going to be or what the next play is going to be. Now if you’ve got a really complicated, let’s say your thyroid’s really low, you might need some medication and you really want to start with natural desiccated thyroid, something like Armour and your provider is like, No I don’t do that. I only do Synthroid, then you might need to see someone else. So I think you can always get that information. And there’s going to be some of it that you can move. Like I said, if you get my lab guide, that’s pretty helpful to kind of see if like, this is definitely a problem. And I could take some B6. I could take some iron and possibly resolve that. So some of those kind of lower force interventions you might be able to do on your own. Or again, if having some information helped, you know, different decisions you need to make around food and lifestyle easier. Because some people when it seems like well, I heard that’s a good idea, but I’m not really motivated to do that until I have some more data. That can be helpful. But yeah, a lot of women get all this testing and they spend all this money, but they’re still pretty confused about what to do with all that. So then that can actually feel almost more overwhelming.
Stephanie Greunke 37:51
Yeah, so let’s get into some stuff, some actionable items that our moms can do to help. Maybe balance isn’t the right word, but to help make them feel better in the postpartum period, knowing that some of their hormones are going to be a little wacky for a while. So, you know, one of the things that you and I talk about a lot is the importance of getting sleep and eating really healthy food and moderating our exercise to me, the stress levels in our life. And so what are some of the top things that you talk to your new mamas about to help them with their hormones postpartum?
Dr. Brooke 38:25
Yes, everything we’ve talked about so far, like thyroid, estrogen, progesterone. Those are going to be hormones that you might need a little help with trying to get those back in balance. And some of them like we said, as well. You know, if you’re not ovulating right now, because you’re breastfeeding, then they’re just not going to be in balance right now. And that’s okay. You’re kind of in the balance that you need to be. But whether you’re postpartum or not, or breastfeeding or not, the two hormones you absolutely have the most control over our cortisol and insulin. So I know women say to me, Well, I don’t know what to do. I’m so tired. I’ve got a six week old, and they want me to give them a magic answer and the magic answer is still sleep. And I know it stinks to hear that. She wants to hear because you’re not getting sleep, right. So you know, it really is resting as much as you can, when you can. And then also understanding that right now it’s going to be a bit of a stressful time and it will get better. I mean to the new moms out there, it does get easier. You know, it’s just a new place that we’re in and it can be a little intense there at first. I think we’ve all experienced that. So, but because we have a lot of control over insulin and cortisol even during this time, and maybe the sleep is what it is. The sleep is what it is when you have a new baby. Sometimes you get a good sleeper. I had two terrible sleepers. So it is what it is. And I wasn’t getting a lot of rest and I don’t like napping. I don’t like being asleep when my baby was asleep. I didn’t like any of that. I had to really rethink what I expected of myself every day because if I wanted to feel a little bit better and have some stamina to do a little bit of working out and a little bit of some of the other things I wanted to do. I needed to get some rest. So kind of having to rethink what my expectations were during that time was something that really helped me manage the cortisol and try to keep rest being a priority. So that one unfortunately, kind of is what it is. Of course, if you’re tired, and you are anemic, and you haven’t checked that blood work. If you need iron or B12 or folate or B6, or any of those things that can be something that can, of course, really impact, like you were saying. Some symptoms, we chalk up to just being a new mom. And sometimes it’s a little bit deeper than that. we need to make sure that we have looked at both of those things. So when we think about cortisol, stress is one piece of it. There’s, of course, all the other stresses, right? There’s this expectation that we’re not being a good enough mom. There’s an expectation that we should be back to work. There’s the expectation that we should be in better shape. We might be over exercising and causing stress. We might not be eating right and causing stress. So you may not be able to get as much sleep as you would like. But there’s a lot of other ways we can look at stress management. When it comes to how we’re eating, exercising, mentally handling things, all of those, we still can have a lot of influence in even if we can’t get the rest that we need. And the same Insulin. Insulin and cortisol, I call them the really key master hormones because they are going to impact all of the other hormones. In fact, in our book, we have what I call the hormone hierarchy, and estrogen and progesterone. And they’re the very last things we even think about. And those are the ones that come to mind when we think of women and their hormones, estrogen and progesterone. We’re not going to make a lot of headway with either one of those things, cortisol and insulin. So if our blood sugar and our stress levels are out of whack, we really still can have a lot of effect on those without taking a supplement. And without testing our hormones, and without, you know, really getting enough sleep. We can still really impact those by looking at all the other ways we might be raising cortisol, coming from food that’s not working for us, or not eating frequently enough, not getting enough protein or having our blood sugar out of whack. And those are things we really can feel better from doing during this postpartum time.
Stephanie Greunke 41:54
So let’s break down some of those things. So we can we can impact our insulin, and we can impact our cortisol. And I think sometimes thinking about reducing our cortisol levels and reducing our stress just seems really heavy. We know that we need to do it. We know that we need to get our stress managed. Which I love that you say stress management. So what are some of your top things that you recommend for reducing the amount of stress in their lives? What can they do starting today to get that down?
Dr. Brooke 42:23
So I think there’s the stresses we can take off our plate. So if there’s something. We walk through in the book, we have what we call our five pillars, and they’re these like big picture ideas for how to live our life to make it less stressful. And the second one is opting out of overwhelm. And I think especially during this postpartum time, we might need to take some other things off our plate. We have a whole new level of responsibility to this little person, and we’re not getting anywhere near the amount of sleep that we need. So, you’ve got some adjustments, of course, emotionally too as your hormones are going through that fluctuation. So is there anything else that we can get get rid of? We walk through when you’re trying to set your priorities every day. Understanding when you think that has to get done. That thing is on my priority list. I don’t like doing it, but I have to do it, or it needs to get done. It’s important, really taking some inventory of what really does need to get done. What really is that important to you? And if there’s something that you’re like, this feels important, but I don’t have a good reason why. So for example, maybe you think your house has to be spotless. And when you look at the reason, it might come from because that’s what you thought moms did, or that’s what was important to your mom, or maybe it wasn’t important to your mom and you want your kids to have a different experience. And sometimes we have to look at those things and decide is that something I still need to carry? Does this value of this clean house even really belong to me? Did that belong to my mom or my mother in law, or something along the line and getting really clear on what are the most important things for you to get done. And being willing to stick with that, and saying no to some other things or getting help with other things. Or, for me, especially I mean two kids and working and my husband just had to do more of the cleaning and I don’t like how he does it.
You know, I don’t like the way he does the dishes. He does them 87% of the way and leaves like four things in the sink. And it drives me batty. But it was one of those things where it’s like I needed the help, and I needed to let it go. And I needed to let someone else help me. I needed to ask for the help. And he’s happy to do it. And I needed to let it go that wasn’t done exactly the way that I wanted it to be done. So I think many stresses come from us being a little bit, you know, overwhelmed and overburdened. And so looking at what can you let go. What can you delegate? What can you share? What could you hire out? What can you just not do and feel okay about that? And then making sure that you’ve got the resources to just do the things that matter the most to you. That can be a really big one. So the five pillars that we talk about in the book are they’re finding and committing to what works for you, being fully engaged in your life, being who you are, being your own best friend. They’re really big things and they’re going to take a while for most of us to kind of understand and start to practice. And they’re so counter to the way most of us feel all the time. So there’s that. And we kind of walked through that one per week in our program in the book. But we also designed in the book some what we call the 12 tangible tools that we’re all going to. It doesn’t matter how much time we meditated that day, or if we’ve been living from the five pillars for years,. There’s going to be those days where you’re at your wit’s end. Especially as a new mom, you’re gonna definitely have those days where it just all feels like it’s falling apart, the baby’s crying, you don’t know what to do, you’re exhausted, your husband’s out of town, your partner’s doing whatever. All that stuff, someone’s going to cut you off in line, you know, and it’s going to feel terrible. And you mean the only tools that work for us and I think stress management is so highly individual right? Like something that you do stuff to calm yourself down, might make my skin crawl. And vice versa. There might be something that I do that you’re like, I don’t like that at all. It doesn’t help me. And so we gave 12 tools so that you can hopefully at the end of the book, have a couple of things that really worked for you in those moments of stress. So that you know you have a way to kind of pull yourself back to reality, feel like you’ve got your power back and that you can make a move and it doesn’t necessarily fix everything all the time. But we’ve got to have those tools that work for us in the moment of those big big stresses. So I think we have overall perspective to help us with stress management, and then we need some tools. And I think one thing that I know. I don’t know if you felt this way, but for me, I didn’t realize until I had kids that my really only stress management tool was working out. It was like the thing that always makes me feel better. It was always something I could distract. I could get away from what was going on that was wrong and do something else. It always felt good to move my body, boost your brain chemicals, all good stuff, but you know, I had a pretty significant diastasis and ab separation afterwards. My husband was gone a lot. I was home with this new baby trying to work all the time. It was really most of what I would have done before in the past, I didn’t have access to, either because I was at home or I wasn’t strong enough to do those things or didn’t have a babysitter to leave and go to the gym. So I think too, we have to make sure we’ve got an arsenal of things because especially postpartum, and especially exercise, that may not be the best thing for your hormones. Me going, and any other new mom, going and working out really hard on no sleep is not the right thing to do. It might feel good for a hot second there, but you’re probably going to feel more wiped out afterwards. And it may not be something your body is quite ready physically for either. So I think it’s really important. We have lots of tools to get through those times.
Stephanie Greunke 47:31
I love that approach so much. And I I think it’s really important to have that in the back of your mind of knowing what tools work for you and whether you’re looking at the list in Hangry, or you identify your personal ones, write it down and have it handy because when stress hits, you almost don’t know what would help and you kind of are just scattering around trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces. But knowing I can choose from one of these three things that I know are going to be helpful during this really stressful time, makes it so you don’t have to work to get that stress reduction or management that you need. So I love that. I love that you identify that we all approach stress and stress management activities differently. And I’m also curious. We tackle the stress piece. It’s all so different, but it’s really important. But what about diet? I know you mentioned in the beginning that everybody is going to be different depending on their unique hormonal makeup and metabolic health at this moment. And you also mentioned the fact that eating protein regularly and having regular meals is important. So are there any specific foods that you recommend to support postpartum hormones or repletion outside of that?
Dr. Brooke 48:41
Yeah, so again, it’s not super sexy to always talk about cortisol and insulin. But it just really does come back to that. I like those hormones because again, we have so much control over them. So that’s what you really want to be thinking about during this time. It’s like what can I do? So most of us that aren’t getting enough sleep have a lot more sugar cravings and a lot higher appetite. Some people do wake up with kind of that really low appetite when they’ve got all that adrenaline in the morning from not sleeping. So you want to have protein options that are easy. So for some women a protein shake in the morning. For other women just making sure they start their day with protein and vegetables. So again, not super exciting. It’s not fancy, not keto. It’s not any of this things. It is like fundamental keeping your blood sugar kind of rocking, so that you don’t have that as an additional stress. And so that you don’t have to battle the cravings. Because I think what happens when we are really stressed out and we’re tired and we want just like all the sugar because we feel low energy, our blood sugar’s bouncing all over the place, and we kind of gravitate towards it. It’s going to be a quick pick me up, but it just makes it harder the rest of the day, right? If we start our day off with something that sets our blood sugar out of balance, then it just becomes harder all day to kind of right that ship. You fight it. If I had the cravings, then we feel bad because we feel guilty and I don’t think all cravings are necessarily a hormone imbalance. Sometimes we just want what we want. But if you’re feeling like all day long, I’m just trying to eat healthy, eat some vegetables, eat some protein, and I’m just battling these cravings, you really want to maybe think about eating a little bit more frequently, just because so sometimes we’re busy. Sometimes we’ve heard all the benefits of fasting and all of those things, but if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s probably a formula a day plan might work best for you. Just to kind of keep things level so you’re not fighting, because I just feel like what’s harder than making it worse on ourselves. So if I’m really not getting any sleep, and I just had to get breakfast or eat something really carbee in the morning, the rest of my day becomes harder because I’m just always wanting the things that are going to make me feel like I want more of those things. And so one of our pillars is be your best friend. Like just do the stuff that you know kind of helps you have it a little bit easier. There’s enough going on. So I think really going back to plenty of protein, veggies and maybe you need three meals a day. Maybe you need four during this time when you’re not getting as much sleep, and one of the things I always teach women about our hormones is right now what’s working for you, let’s say you went into your pregnancy and you’re like, I was intermittent fasting, I was eating really low carb and I felt great. We’re just in a whole different time. So maybe your hormones are telling you your appetite was good, your cravings were minimal and managed. Your energy was great. You were sleeping great. And now you’re in this whole other time ,and we so badly want to go back to what worked for us before. But now your energy’s in the tank. Your cravings are all over the place. Your appetite’s kind of unpredictable and maybe it’s really high. Maybe it’s really low. Maybe it’s just high for the things that don’t work for you. So we have to remember now you are in a time when your hormones are telling you something totally different and there may be another time where they’re telling you something completely different than what you’re doing now. And so we really want to not cling too hard to what worked for us before and be where you’re at.
Our acronym in the book is ACES: appetite, cravings, energy and sleep, and listen to those things. And when they’re telling you right now, I hate your intermittent fasting plan. I hate your low carb diet right now. I need to do things a little bit differently. We just need to make sure that we listen, and the truth be told, you don’t necessarily need a salivary hormone panel to tell that. If your cravings are crazy, and your energy’s in the tank, we know that your hormones are not happy. So listening to those signals and kind of being willing to be where you’re at, and roll with it, a little bit differently. And when it comes to carbs, I think we all have our unique carb tolerance. And that may be very different for you postpartum. Again, you’ve got the low estrogen, the high cortisol, the high prolactin, and that can make you a little bit more carb sensitive. So maybe were someone who did fine with lots of starchy carbs before and you might be at a time when you feel a little bit different. Or vice versa. You might be someone who was kind of a low carber that needs things to be a little more balanced during this time because your sleep is so erratic.
Stephanie Greunke 52:50
What about if you’re breastfeeding? Do you see changes in women’s carbohydrate needs if they’re breastfeeding versus not breastfeeding?
Dr. Brooke 52:57
Yeah. I don’t know if you were told this. You burn 500 more calories a day breastfeeding. I don’t know why, because I have PCOS and I’ve got blood sugar stuff. So I have to kind of watch the carbs and sugars for myself and I always have and that’s never been a thing. But for some reason I had that advice in my head after having a baby. Oh, I can have all these things that I normally wouldn’t let myself have because they’re just gonna burn away. Right? So being postpartum, my cortisol is higher, right? My cortisol is a mess because II was truly not getting hardly any sleep. Prolactin, high prolactin, low estrogen are going to make you more carb sensitive. So combine that with my already pre-existing insulin resistance, and this was a very hard time for me as far as weight gain. And so doing the stuff I was doing, which was thinking I can get away with like a muffin or two because I need all these carbs. Everyone told me you have to a lot of carbs, you’re not gonna have enough breast milk, and even though I knew that didn’t really work for me, it was interesting how that my head kind of went there. I used it as a good justification to get away with stuff that I knew didn’t really work for me. But, I think that that can be a time when we are just told to just eat more and that you do need a lot of carbs. What is more important during that time is calories and your insulin levels. So you can certainly keep your breast milk up with plenty of protein and plenty of healthy fats. This is just a time to kind of listen to your body and make those adjustments. Like if you’re seeing changes in your flow, then maybe you need to add more carbs, or maybe you need to take them down. Or if you’re not eating enough protein, maybe you’re going kind of low carb, but you’re not being sure that you’re getting at least 100 grams of protein a day. Adjust that first. So calories are really important during this time. So we want to make sure we’re not quote unquote dieting right out of the gate and we’re nourishing ourselves but I for one did really well on a lower carb, high protein, higher fat diet, and my breast milk was fine. But that doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to work for everyone. So again, you want to just kind of listen to the ACES signals, the appetite, cravings, energy and sleep, and look at your total calories. Make sure your protein is nice and high, your healthy fats are high, and then you layer in the carbs kind of as you need to.
Stephanie Greunke 55:18
So it’s a great answer. Yeah, I think it really speaks to how individual we are. Our hormones, while it makes sense that they’re in a specific pattern in the postpartum period for breastfeeding, we all respond to them and our diet differently. So you know, I think one of the problems that I see sometimes if women go too low carb is that they’re satiated, and then their calories are also low. So it’s a combination of, maybe it’s not that the carbs are so low, but their total calories are getting too low. So it really is just playing with it and knowing your body and knowing if you have the history of PCOS and do you have a history of insulin resistance. Maybe there is a different approach that’s going to work better for you. So I loved it.
Dr. Brooke 55:59
Yeah. And I wanted to say one thing there, too, that when we say low carb, I think some of us have a macro number. Yeah, my quote unquote low carb diet might be way too low for someone else, or it might be way too high. So going back to how do you feel after you eat carbohydrates? Is your energy better or worse? Is your cravings better or worse? And, again, it’s one of those hormones you can really, really understand, only just tune into those signals, and you’ll know which carbs and which amounts and which times a day are going to work best for you.
Stephanie Greunke 56:29
Yeah, and you wrote an amazing article about breastfeeding and that myth that everybody loses weight if they breastfeed. In that it’s just this magic thing where weight will drop off of you if you nurse your baby. And that’s one of the first articles I think I ever read of yours was, you’re looking at it from a hormonal perspective and looking at it from the fact that you’re not sleeping, and you’re probably craving more sugary foods, and there are a lot of factors at play that could be causing you to either maintain weight while you’re breastfeeding or even gain weight while your breastfeeding. So I will link to that article in our show notes and I know you mentioned it in the beginning of this episode but I just wanted to point that resource out to people who are feeling really frustrated, because they aren’t experiencing that rapid weight loss while breastfeeding that may be their friend is
Dr. Brooke 57:13
Yeah, I mean, that was the promise right? That’s what everyone told me. That was no reason why I wanted to breastfeed, of course, being a naturopathic doctor, I had some real scientific reasons why I wanted to breastfeed, but I was like, that’ll be great. That’ll be a nice bonus, and part of it was. I woke up in the morning from my two hours of sleep. Lola, my first would only sleep from 7 to 9 am. And the rest of the time, someone had to hold her. So it meant one of us was up all night long. And then she did this lovely stint in the morning, but I’d wake up and all I wanted in the world was sugar, and I didn’t care where it came from. And so if I gave into that then I just wanted sugar all day and that’s how carbs and sugar work for me. And so it was one of those things that I was so tired and I kind of had in my head like, well, this is okay, right? Because everyone told me the weight’s going to fall off. And it was truly an example of just not listening to who I was at all. And following some rogue advice that blew up beautifully in my face. And we all need to just kind of trust our own hormone signals. And no matter what any guru, including myself says, if it feels bad for you, it doesn’t doesn’t work. I have women all the time, come ask me, should we be doing a keto diet? And I’m like, well, how do you feel when you eat tons of fat? I feel terrible. Well, maybe that’s not the diet for you. Doesn’t mean it’s an inaccurate plan, or it’s not based on any sort of research, but, Who are you? And what works for you and what works for you now. Again, like I said, your postpartum time is going to be possibly not what’s worked for you in the past. It might be something completely different.
Stephanie Greunke 58:48
Yeah, it’s a huge identity shift in so many different ways. Well, thank you so much for sharing all your time with us today. I know we could talk endlessly about postpartum and all the changes that happen and how we can really support ourselves and the mamas that you and I both work with. But before we leave, I’m going to post all the links that you mentioned, the one about finding your unique carb tolerance, the lab testing, breastfeeding and weight loss. I’ll also link your functional approach to PMDD, which is on our website. Are there any other resources that you think our mamas would be interested in, on your website that we could link to or anything else?
Dr. Brooke 59:24
Yeah, well, if you’re interested in the book, then there’s obviously a lot of stuff in there. So the book, again, is called Hangry and finding your carb tolerance, how to do that. That’s all in there. There’s a core and floor recovery plan for our new moms. So there’s a way to workout that we designed for five days a week that you’re gonna be working on to recover that, and again, walking through your carb tolerance, understanding all these hormones. We don’t talk a lot about prolactin and breastfeeding, but we did talk about all the other hormones. So that is going to be kind of a good Bible for you for understanding all of this stuff. Now if you want to print out like our 12 tangible tools, or we have a really beautiful visual for the five pillars. And our little five habits, like the five walks and three strengths training, all of our stuff was in this little format of five. So it’s super tangible, easy to understand. We have infographics for all of that. We have webinars for PCOS, all this stuff as bonuses if you get the book. So that is that SarahAnd DrBrooke.com. So there’s tons of free stuff. If you want the recap of the ACES or any of those things that I mentioned, those hormone systems. are all free on our new website as well.
Stephanie Greunke 1:00:35
Oh, perfect. Thank you so much for all that you do. You share so much great information freely, and we can’t thank you enough for being here with us today.
Dr. Brooke 1:00:43
Thank you. Thank you for all your support.
Stephanie Greunke 1:00:47
We hope you enjoyed today’s episode with Dr. Brooke about balancing your postpartum hormones, and I know I totally geeked out over this episode. I’d love to hear some of your favorite takeaways. So please take a screenshot of yourself listening to this episode, tag @WholeMamasClub, and share on social media so we can see your key takeaways. We also want to thank our podcast partner Four Sigmatic. Please don’t forget about our special offer. You can receive 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase by going to FourSigmatic.com, that’s FourSigmatic.com/WholeMamas, or you can use discount code WHOLEMAMAS at checkout to enjoy this special offer. Please remember that the views and ideas presented on this podcast are for informational purposes only. All information presented on this podcast is for informational purposes and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis and/or medical treatment of a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any diet, supplement regimens or to determine the appropriateness of the information shared on this podcast, or if you have any questions regarding your treatment plan. Now go on, have a great day, and nourish and nurture yourself and your family.
- Common postpartum hormonal imbalances
- Ways to identify imbalances
- The two most important things mamas can do to support hormones
- Foods and supplements to support postpartum hormones
- Myths about breastfeeding and weight loss
- Purchase Dr. Brooke’s book, Hangry
- Dr. Brooke’s Lab guide
- Blog: A Functional Medicine Approach to PMDD
- Blog: Find your unique carb tolerance
- Blog: Why Didn’t I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- Find Dr. Brooke on Instagram
- Find Sarah Fragoso on Instagram
- Lean more about Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program
- Get Our Weekly Pregnancy Emails
- Dr. Elana’s Med School For Moms
- Schedule an appointment with Dr. Elana
- Follow Steph and Elana on Instagram
- Whole Mamas Podcast Archive
This episode's guest
A licensed Naturopathic (ND) and Functional Medicine doctor, Dr. Brooke attended Seattle, Washington’s Bastyr University, where she earned a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and Masters in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Dr. Brooke’s postdoctoral training in women’s health and functional endocrinology as well as her personal battle with PCOS led her to specialize in female hormone issues including menopause, hypothyroidism (including Hashimoto’s), autoimmunity and endometriosis and of course, PCOS.
She helps women reset their hormones, their heads, and their habits, so they can finally feel at home in their bodies. She is also the co-host of the Sarah & Dr. Brooke Show and co-author of Hangry: Balance Your Hormones and Rediscover Your Joy In Five Simple Steps (St Martin’s Press, June 2019).