Natural Health Blog

Anemia & Postpartum Depression

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I recently attended my first home birth! It was AH-MAZING! It was a life changing experience on many levels and so consequently, natural birth and postpartum care are on my mind.

I began reading on the subject of postpartum depression and it's connection to low iron. The study I read (done on mostly impoverished women) cited depression, low energy and diminished cognitive function with low iron. Many women are low on iron even before having a baby! This is why natural, non-constipating & real food iron sources are necessary before, during and after the baby is conceived and born. 

Though well fed in the states, many of us our still nutrient deficient. First and foremost, a commitment to a whole food diet is needed to rebuild the body with iron postpartum. Baby blues is common; even painful - emotionally and physically. There may even be negative effects on the young children involved too. The study I read mentioned the possible connection between anemic mothers and children with delayed development.  

What can be done about low iron after giving birth?

Try taking the herb Yellow Dock Root for Anemia. Many women (especially those of a blood type A or B) may do well with plant source iron. Yellow Dock (and most yellow foods) will contain a high amount of organic iron. It is also safe for pregnant and lactating mothers. For the Blood Type O Mommies to be, get in a serving of grass fed beef and leafy greens at least 4-6 times per week. 

Organic Iron from whole foods is a MUCH better source than iron enriched foods. Iron fortification is little more than tiny iron shavings put into cereals, breads & other processed foods. A strong magnet will actually attract these foods to it - YUCK!
Yellow Dock in capsules is convenient, inexpensive and with a whole food diet can rebuild natural iron supply of the body. 

Yellow Dock in capsules is convenient, inexpensive and with a whole food diet can rebuild natural iron supply of the body. 

Yellow Dock Root is available in liquid tincture extracts (60-100 drops a day may be needed) in a small amount of water.  You can drink it as a tea (available at many health food stores) or it can be taken in capsules from a reputable brand. Gaia Herbs, Paradise Herbs or Natures Sunshine Products are all excellent brands that use CLEAN sources and know the proper way to cultivate and produce herbal products. 4-8 capsules will likely be needed for the first few weeks to rebuild iron. Less can be taken later. 

2863507 is my Member Number for Natures Sunshine Products; Using this number when signing up will give you the best possible pricing. 

Another fantastic Iron supplement is Floradix Iron Plus Herbs. It's a tasty liquid Iron supplement available at most health food stores - But it's not cheap! Buying online is the best way to go. Several teaspoons will likely be needed per day for a while to build up iron.

Many doctors will tell you to go to the store and get an iron vitamin. But be cautious! Iron supplements are often constipating as it's difficult to digest. Doctors will insist that you need hundreds of milligrams of iron per day in supplement form. The truth is Organic Iron from food, herbs, Floradix and other food sourced iron will require much less in milligram doses. When it's food and herbally based, absorption is much higher without the constipating effects. I saw this over and over again working in the vitamin department at Whole Foods. 

Iron loss is cumulative so it gets worse over time, iron building is also cumulative; it takes time to rebuild it after a pregnancy so consider supplementing for 1 year. 

Floradix Iron Plus Herbs is available in a Yeast Free Option which I recommend.

Floradix Iron Plus Herbs is available in a Yeast Free Option which I recommend.

If you've had previous pregnancies with postpartum depression, reduced cognitive function, and fatigue; consider placental therapy. It might sound really gross or a little extreme - but placental therapy has been used for thousands of years.  Think about this: An animal often eats the placenta shortly after their young are born. What does a house cat know that we don't?

Some cultures actually cook the placenta and eat it shortly after giving birth, which sounds disgusting (I know), but to those cultures doing this for thousands of years - my hats off to your bravery.

For the ladies looking for a simpler, modern way - choose placental encapsulation. Placental encapsulation is affordable, easy, and the postpartum benefits are many. Placenta contains a high amount of natural iron and naturally existing hormones that help to rebuild & rebalance the postpartum female body. Here's a list of the benefits of placental therapy

  • Avoidance of Postpartum Blues & Depression
  • Rapid Postpartum Recovery
  • Natural Replenishment of Lost Iron and Nutrients
  • Hormone Balancing and Replacement
  • Increased Lactation
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Increased Energy
Finished product of placenta encapsulation- it looks like any other vitamin you'd take from the store! But it's not! It's custom made by your body to heal postpartum. 

Finished product of placenta encapsulation- it looks like any other vitamin you'd take from the store! But it's not! It's custom made by your body to heal postpartum. 

Encapsulated placenta looks and is like any other herbal supplement in the way it's taken. Taking a bit more at first and tapering off is what is recommended. This is what it looks like as a finished product.

How is Placenta Encapsulated?

Placenta is kept cold until processed. It should be processed 24-48 hours after the birth, it is usually steamed,  then dehydrated, then ground and finally encapsulated or tinctured.  Placenta encapsulation can cost anywhere from $150 to $300 depending on where you live.

With a little instruction - its easy to do yourself so perhaps you can enlist a close friend to do this (as I did recently for my friend who had a baby). The process takes about 4 hours plus the time it takes to dehydrate. This process is also for the brave ones in the house! If your in my area, for a small fee, I can teach you how to do it yourself! 

For more information on Placenta Encapsulation and pricing reach out to me at desiree@modernhippie.org. I can share my process, the benefits and the logistics, i.e., placenta pick up and delivery of the finished product once complete. 

Other Iron Rich Foods (that don't seem totally disgusting- haha)

  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Raw  Nuts like Cashews, Pine Nuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds and Peanuts
  • Raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • White Beans and Lentils
  • Spinach and Swiss Chard
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Squash

Got questions!?  Reach out to me by email or on facebook for questions on natural health topics!