s6 e04: Thriving In The Postpartum Season

Thriving In The Postpartum Season

Thriving In The Postpartum Season

In this episode, I’m going through some of the most helpful areas to focus on for an enjoyable postpartum season with your new baby. Before I dig in, I want to acknowledge that there are many times when things happen that make our postpartum experience less enjoyable that are completely out of our control. I also think we can recover and heal from a stressful postpartum experience. Both us and our babies.

I share:

  • The difference in my postpartum experiences with each of my daughters
  • Tips for building sustainable postpartum habits
  • How to prioritize self-care & postpartum support
  • Focus on nervous system health practices to help regulate emotions and build resilience
  • The importance to simplify, adjust expectations, and let go of perfectionism during the postpartum season

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Amanda Montalvo [00:00:01]:

Welcome to the Are You Menstrual podcast, where we dive deep into all things women’s health to support you on your healing journey. I’m Amanda Montalvo, functional and integrative dietitian, also known as the Hormone Healing Rd. If you enjoyed this podcast and you want to keep learning, check out the podcast Patreon, where I share a bonus episode with additional downloadable resources. Each week you can go to patreon.com, hormone Healingrd or check out the link in the show notes. Okay, so we’ve had our episode on Amaya’s birth story. Now, I wanted to talk about tips for thriving postpartum now that I’ve been through two postpartum seasons, but I’m thinking, I feel like you’re postpartum forever, right? Even when I got pregnant with Amaya, I was still postpartum with Eliana, even though I’d had her 13 months before that. I just want to go through a few areas that are helpful. I’ll start with talking about my postpartum experience and getting into the differences between the two.

Amanda Montalvo [00:00:59]:

I think it’s important to recognize that your birth is in your pregnancy are going to impact your postpartum experience, and it’s okay to have your own experience. I think we compare so much as moms cause we’re always trying to be better and say, how can I be a better mom and better wife and improve? At least the majority of women I talk to that mindset, improving themselves, their health, all these things, which is awesome, but it leads us into comparison a lot, and that just makes you miserable. So I’m going to share two postpartum experiences. Eliana’s was very difficult, but not the most difficult. Even going through it, I still enjoyed postpartum, especially the initial time, even though it was very stressful, it was still so special. She was my first baby. I still enjoyed that time, and we had so many moments of happiness. There was just definitely you’re in fight or flight for a lot of that.

Amanda Montalvo [00:01:52]:

When you struggle with breastfeeding and stuff, or any complication, I just think of traumatic birth experiences. Anyone that’s had a c section, that is a major surgery. So just keep in mind that while these are my experiences, I did a home birth for both of my babies. Eliana’s was very painful and a little bit longer, but it wasn’t impossible and it really wasn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. And Amaya’s was easy. Just keep that in mind because that will affect people have been like, oh my gosh how are you already back to work? How are you doing this stuff? I’m like, it was easier this time. Makes it so I didn’t take as long to recover. I’m also like, I’m not a first time mom this time, which changes everything.

Amanda Montalvo [00:02:35]:

And just don’t compare yourself to me, or anyone, for that matter, ever. But especially for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It’s just completely unnecessary. We learn from our own experiences, and it’s so important to cherish those, even when they’re really hard, so that we can become better from them. And then there are a lot of things that happen postpartum that are out of our control. So if you’ve had those happen, sometimes we have to mourn that, and it sucks. Like, my husband deployed really early the first time, and that was really sad when he was gone for a lot of Eliana’s early life, but that’s okay. It feels like it’s not, but it’s okay.

Amanda Montalvo [00:03:12]:

And that was our experience, and that’s all right. If other people don’t have it, it still doesn’t make our experience less special. And all those things just help you be better and grow and thrive within your family. So that’s just a little preface. I feel like I like to be very gentle with my mom, content, because moms are so hard on themselves. They’re constantly comparing themselves to other people, and they just have big hearts. I just want to help you guys. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad.

Amanda Montalvo [00:03:42]:

My initial postpartum experience with the two girls, very different, but I did very similar things. I felt so much more able to do stuff with a mind postpartum because it was a much easier birth and pregnancy. Those are just so important to keep in mind with Eliana, I had so many nursing issues. Initially, it was incredibly stressful. We could barely get her awake. Some days it was awful. Oral restrictions and everything. My husband deployed when she was, like, ten weeks old.

Amanda Montalvo [00:04:11]:

Like, right now, he’d be gone, so it was just a lot. He did have six weeks of parental leave then, which is way more than literally anyone that I know for the husband. And then this time he has twelve weeks. Thank you to the Air force. And while I’m very grateful for the twelve weeks, like so many people, like, oh, my gosh, I wish I could have that. I’m like, he’s literally gone six months a year, though, so it’s. Does it balance out? I don’t know. I’m telling myself it does, though.

Amanda Montalvo [00:04:44]:

Just remember again, like, that really shifted my two experiences, right? Having twelve weeks of support versus six is a big difference. And even with six, I was like, this is great. Especially most women that I talk to, like, their husband stays home for a week or two and they have to use their vacation days, not leave or they don’t take pay. And I’m like, that is awful. So I think that’s important to acknowledge that it’s like, that’s going to affect your postpartum experience. And just what was your pregnancy like? Did you have a lot of stress during those times? My husband was deployed for a long time during both pregnancies, so that was the same. But like my first pregnancy, I had this huge immune reaction and developed eczema. Had all these, like, gut issues that I was not anticipating, and this time I didn’t have any of that.

Amanda Montalvo [00:05:31]:

I also gained a lot less weight. So, like, physically it was a lot easier. I stayed super active. I had a toddler, so that there’s no option to not be active. So that definitely helped. But very different, like, pregnancies and then they’ve led to very different postpartums as well, and birth experiences, all those things. So all those are gonna play into your postpartum experience. So whenever I’m sharing things, just keep it in context to yourself.

Amanda Montalvo [00:05:57]:

Just like when I talk about nutrition, hormone, health minerals, I may say something, but it may not even be applicable because of your circumstances, health history, whatever it might be. But I do think the one thing that I have a lot of people ask me is there are other supplements that you recommend for postpartum, and your supplements shouldn’t really change from pregnancy. Ideally, you are nourishing yourself before you get pregnant. You know how to fuel your body, you’re eating well, you’re hydrating, and you understand if your body needs supplemental support, and then you get pregnant. And I like to have people do hair mineral testing so that they can build their own prenatal. Because prenatals do not meet your needs, they don’t meet your needs, they meet some of your needs, they don’t meet 100% of them. And then we take this prenatal and we think, oh, I don’t really have to worry about anything else. A lot of people don’t even take any other supplements.

Amanda Montalvo [00:06:47]:

And I’m like, there’s not everything that you need in your prenatal. Ideally, we’re focusing on getting most of it from food, even like the supplements and stuff like that you’re taking based on your hair tests, you’re never going to get everything from supplements. So I think understanding how to fuel yourself before pregnancy as well as you can during pregnancy, taking nutrients that you need based on lab work that you’ve had done is ideal. I know not everyone can do that. I have a blog post actually. Let me link to it. Let me just write it. Note, prenatal blog.

Amanda Montalvo [00:07:18]:

So I’ll link to that and then that kind of goes through like some tips. If you haven’t done any testing of things, that can be helpful, but ideally you can do hair testing. I have my master minerals course. A lot of women that want to conceive or are pregnant go through it so they know what they actually need. It’s also nice to know like what your status is, your nutritional and like stress status is going in. But I think that building these like sustainable habits during pregnancy, ideally before, and that’s what’s going to set you up for really positive postpartum. And that matters way more than like shifting your supplements and stuff like that. Like, you should basically be continuing on with everything you’re doing because once you’re postpartum, your nutrient needs are even higher.

Amanda Montalvo [00:08:00]:

For example, iodine. I think that using a low dose iodine supplementation during pregnancy is really helpful if someone has the foundations in place and they’re not incredibly stressed. I used it during both my pregnancies. I’m obviously nursing. I say obviously. I feel like I don’t know how that’s obvious, but maybe because I’m always covered in breast milk, you guys can’t see it though. But I still take it. The whole time I’m pregnant and nursing, I take a low dose of iodine.

Amanda Montalvo [00:08:28]:

I talked about that a lot in my previous pregnancy podcasts I’ve done, but I think that can be really helpful. And seeing your hair tests and knowing, okay, what are my other mineral levels? How stressed am I comparing it to your day to day, your nutrition, all those things you can set yourself up to, then utilize iodine. I talk about cofactors and how to take it in the course and like that. You wouldn’t change that postpartum either while you’re breastfeeding. And honestly, I took everything the whole time postpartum because I was still nursing. When your needs are still really high and it’s just a big change, it’s stressful. Your nutrient needs are going to be higher, but I don’t think we necessarily need to focus on what supplement should I take postpartum. But more of what habits do I have in place that are going to support me postpartum eating and enough food and having a good routine around that is huge, because then you’ll know that, yes, things will shift postpartum, but your body’s going to want that, and you’re already going to have somewhat of a routine, and then you’ll basically just be adjusting that based on having either your first baby or having another baby.

Amanda Montalvo [00:09:29]:

I feel like it’s easier after that first time because you already have somewhat of a routine with kids, but having that in place, are you eating regularly? If not, I wouldn’t really worry about supplements, to be honest. Are you hydrating properly again during pregnancy? We need more potassium. We need more sodium. So ideally, you’ve already been incorporating adrenal cocktails, and I have a million posts on those. I’ll put that blog in there as well. I like the high potassium version. I have a pregnancy adrenal cocktail recipe on Instagram that I’ll link to. But basically, ideally, you’re already hydrating in a really positive way during pregnancy.

Amanda Montalvo [00:10:07]:

You would just continue that postpartum, and if anything, you probably need more. If you’re nursing, we need to eat just as much food, if not more. I had way more of an appetite postpartum. I still ate a lot during pregnancy, but I was like, in those early days, you were, like, hungry. That was like, I already had that habit in place, and then I just continued. It adjusted based on my needs. And then with hydrating, I follow my thirst. But I always incorporate sodium potassium, like adrenal cocktails.

Amanda Montalvo [00:10:36]:

Throughout my day. I do pickleball by jigsaw that powder, because it’s just easy. It works for me. Eliana loves it, so she’ll, like, stay extremely hydrated with me. And I just put sea salt or soleil water in it because there’s not a lot of sodium in it. It’s just potassium. And then I usually put trace mineral drops. So I’ll do like I have.

Amanda Montalvo [00:10:59]:

If you’re watching online or on YouTube, you can see my giant water bottle here. I think it’s 36oz ish. Yeah, 32oz. So I fill this up. 32oz. I have a 40 ounce one, too. I, like, interchange them. Fill it up.

Amanda Montalvo [00:11:14]:

It’s glass, so I can put salt in it. And I’m just using one scoop of pickleball because I like it more diluted. And I’ll drink this throughout the day. But I have two of these a day. I did two during pregnancy, sometimes three, and I typically do two now and then. Any other water I drink, I will often add the trace minerals, drops, by concentrates to it, just even a few, because I’m like, I need to make sure I’m absorbing enough. Because when you’re nursing all the time and it’s hot, it’s warm out where I am. So I am sweating a lot.

Amanda Montalvo [00:11:45]:

Like, I need to make sure I’m hydrated and I can tell, like, when I need more. So having those things in place now so that you’re not trying to build these new habits postpartum, it just takes the work out of it, because it takes so much more energy, like, mentally and physically, to create these new habits when you have a new child that you’re trying to take care of, especially if it’s your first. So put sustainable habits in place during pregnancy that you can maintain after. The other big one is circadian rhythm and having good light exposure. I think this is so important because, like, postpartum, things get weird, right? Sleep is weird. You’re especially, even if you’re not nursing, you’re still constantly up feeding your baby. And so that can make you feel more wired and tired and make it difficult to sleep if you don’t have healthy life. Light exposure.

Amanda Montalvo [00:12:38]:

With Eliana, I was not as strict with myself about my phone and my phone use at night. And I would, like, listen to podcasts, do all this stuff. I’d be basically awake with her. Whereas now I keep it very calm and there’s no phone use for the most part. Sometimes I do if it’s earlier in the night and Amaya wants to eat, but we’re asleep and I feel more awake, but it just depends. Or if I’m like, I feel like working right now, then I’ll let myself do it, but I won’t. Like, if I’m, like, wired but tired, I’m like, no phones. I have to be strict about that so that I can crush that right there.

Amanda Montalvo [00:13:14]:

And the next night I can rebalance out, but basically get light in the morning within my circadian rhythm episode, which I’ll link that I did with Carrie Bennett. It’s such a good one, and it gives you all the tips. And I think people can really complicate circadian rhythm. Like, overcomplicate it. It’s literally just getting outside, blocking blue light when you first get up and going outside and getting that initial light in your eyes as natural light. So when I wake up, the house is just all dark. So I don’t put blue blockers on or anything in the morning. Usually it’s like just starting to get light out.

Amanda Montalvo [00:13:47]:

It’s interesting. Amaya wakes up and wants to eat at sunrise every day, and I’m like, cool. So I get up, we go outside, get some light in our eyes, and then come back inside and I nurse her. So we always get a few minutes, but it wasn’t always like that. And sometimes we have a rough night and I’ll sleep till seven, and right now I’d miss Sunrise if I did that. And I just go outside first thing and just make sure that’s the light that I get in my eyes and I don’t stress about it. So that is, like, extremely helpful for you. It’s also helpful for setting up your baby, for having a healthy circadian rhythm.

Amanda Montalvo [00:14:20]:

And she, like, she wakes up to eat, but she’s, like, asleep. She just wants to nurse, and then she’ll go back to sleep. She’s not, like, up, up at night, she’s sleeping through the night. She’s just waking to nurse. Like, sleep nurse and go back to sleep. So I’m not like. I literally wake up to feed her. She’s basically asleep.

Amanda Montalvo [00:14:38]:

Once she eats, burps, we work on all of being upright. She’s got reflux right now, so we’re doing all the things, but it’s like, I may be up for 30 minutes and she’s pretty much asleep that whole time and goes right back to bed. Eliana was not like that, but I didn’t have a solid of habits with her, and I really wish I did, so that’s why I’m sharing. I think this has really helped us thrive postpartum and being really, like, big on that first morning light, because I’d always go for a walk with Eliana, but it was always after sunrise, and usually it wasn’t. I would be at the end of the Uva time. So get outside. Don’t put your contacts in, take your glasses off. I just take mine off outside.

Amanda Montalvo [00:15:17]:

I’m with her, she’s on my chest. We’re getting light. She’s getting it too. And I do the same thing. When Eliana wakes up, we first go outside for a few minutes and come back inside, because that’s. That’s just our habit, that’s the routine that we’ve built. I have had a lot of moms say I don’t want. My kids would never come back inside.

Amanda Montalvo [00:15:32]:

And I do get that. And I think at first it was harder, but I don’t know, I just always. We spend a lot of time outside, so if I’m like, let’s go back inside. She doesn’t really get upset because she knows that we’re going to be back out there soon. If you can’t go outside or you’re nervous and it’s stressful for you thinking about that, like, in the initial days postpartum, I just. I would be like, on the couch a lot and it’s right next to the window. So I just open the window and would get light through that way. And that’s totally doable as well.

Amanda Montalvo [00:16:01]:

We now we’re, like, always eating breakfast for the uva time. So you have sunrise and then the next really cool. The good one to get is Uva rise. And that is like, when the sun is at a certain, like, degree. And it’s extremely powerful for, like, supporting thyroid health. That’s when our body’s making thyroid hormone. And just getting this light exposure throughout the day helps to sync up your body clock, which controls all the systems of your body and makes them run properly at the right times. So that’s why supporting circadian rhythm is so healthy.

Amanda Montalvo [00:16:30]:

It’s helpful for your hormones postpartum, including like, making melatonin at night to fall asleep. And most of the time I hear from moms, they’re like, wired and tired at night because their sleep’s all disrupted. They have crazy light exposure. So that’s another thing where I’m like, invest in a good pair of blue blocking glasses. They don’t even need to be, like, really good. I link to all this stuff in the other podcast episodes, so I’m not going to link to it all here, but I’m going to link the circadian rhythm episode. You can get everything. Kerry has like a million recommendations.

Amanda Montalvo [00:17:00]:

She has a frequently asked question guide, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Just get a pair of blue blockers when it gets dark at night. Put your blue blockers on if it’s dark in the morning when you get up. Like, a lot of times I get up before Amaya wants to nurse and I put my blue blockers on if I’m going to be using my computer, because I typically work in the morning before they both wake up. So sometimes I don’t and I just wake up with her at sunrise. But if I do wake up early, then I will block that blue light in the morning. So if, like, when I was first waking up with her a lot at night and I actually had to get up and stuff, I would put my blue blocking glasses on because we usually have a little light in the kitchen, so we don’t like, bump into everything. And then I’d go in the living room and nurse around the couch.

Amanda Montalvo [00:17:43]:

I just kept my blue blockers on because there’s always, like those little lights, like a little light from. We have like the tv and like a thing on the counter. Like they just have these little tiny lights and it’s. It just stimulated me too much that I’m like, this is weird, but it’s dark. But I’m going to store my blue blockers and it would make it so I could immediately go back to sleep. So build sustainable habits around food hydration, around your light exposure, and be diligent with the basics. And I’m telling you, like, people, I’ve had a lot of people ask, like, I lost weight very quickly postpartum this time. Last time I, like, gained a little bit of weight, which I’m going to do an episode on for my Patreon, a bonus one, because there’s a lot that goes into that, but it’s.

Amanda Montalvo [00:18:21]:

And I felt really good. I’m dealing with this really big stressor of reflux. We’ve had some stuff happen with Eliana that I’m not going to talk about. And it’s. It. We have had stressors, but it’s. I feel good and I’ve been able to be resilient and take them on and also, like, work and find a rhythm with the two girls now. And I really attribute it to the foundations and I know that is not sexy and it can be really boring and sometimes we don’t want it to be that simple.

Amanda Montalvo [00:18:47]:

But to thrive postpartum, in my opinion, I think it needs to be. So that is. That’s like my major tip number one, build sustainable habits now or during pregnancy or whenever, and then continue them postpartum and anything fancy, it’s got to go. Unless you have time and bandwidth for it, but don’t feel like you have to do all the things. All you got to do is feed yourself, hydrate, get sunlight, and then you’re basically doing the same thing with your baby. So that’s like, my best advice. And what I think really helps people thrive. And I think most people are missing the circadian rhythm piece.

Amanda Montalvo [00:19:24]:

And then they, like, get extremely anxious, they don’t sleep well, they burn through all their minerals and it’s. That’s how I would help avoid that. The other big thing is, like, having help and support. This is going to look different for everyone and you need it in different areas. So, for example, like, I think it’s really important to have a breastfeeding resource if you plan on breastfeeding postpartum have something that, you know, either maybe you take a course beforehand. Like, I’m going to link to two breastfeeding accounts that I trust. Healthy mom and healthy baby is a course that I went through with eliana and I love it, I endorse it. Theresa’s amazing and she’s a really good teacher.

Amanda Montalvo [00:20:06]:

The other one I’m about to go through, she’s like, building her course now and I’m hopefully going to go through it is for the love of breastfeeding. So I’m going to link to both of those instagrams so you guys can check them out. I really like the love of breastfeeding her content because she’s like an Ibclc previous nurse. I forget what kind, but so is theresa. So they’re both previous nurses, great credentials, extremely knowledgeable. They’ve both gone through it on their own breastfeeding journeys, but they’re like, trained in this area, so that I think that’s really helpful. Theresa has so many helpful things on, like food allergies and things like that. The love of breastfeeding, she’s got a lot with, like, body awareness.

Amanda Montalvo [00:20:48]:

She’s also CFT, solid cranial sacral fascia therapist, so she’s very aware of all those things. And she talks a lot about oral restrictions. Her baby had reflux. That’s how I found her. She was recommended to me and she’s just like, very aware of fascia. And she wants to empower moms to do their own body work on their babies because it’s like, you have to know how to do it. It just doesn’t matter. Like, Amaya’s birth was so easy and she still was tight when she came out.

Amanda Montalvo [00:21:16]:

And I had to do every day we do body work now she’s got reflux, but it’s like constant. They need it. Every baby needs it. Doesn’t matter how easy, hard your birth was, doesn’t matter if they don’t have, like, issues nursing. Like, they. Every baby needs to be touched and cared for in a specific way. And if you’re struggling, if your baby’s colky, if you have a crazy witching hour, if they have reflux, if you’re having trouble having them latch, if you haven’t been able to breastfeed, it’s learn how to move your baby’s body in a way that’s going to make them feel good. Because it’s not all just like massage and stuff.

Amanda Montalvo [00:21:48]:

There’s like stretches, there’s movement techniques, posture, how to hold them when you’re nursing, all those things that are. Can be really helpful. So those are two accounts that I love and trust. So you could find some support like that. You could find an IBClC near you, but understand how they practice, who they are and what they know. Don’t just find an IBclc. You need to know what knowledge do they have? What resources will they be able to point you to if something comes up? And I so, like, breastfeeding is huge, have those resources because, like, I had some with Eliana, but then it didn’t end up, like, working out as much, and then I wish I had others. So with the Maya, I had way more experience.

Amanda Montalvo [00:22:28]:

This time, I didn’t need the resources, but I’m certified in CFT now because of everything I went through with Eliana. I do the bowspring classes, I know a lot about fascia, so I had that knowledge going in this time that every mom should have at least some of this. You don’t need to go through all those programs. There’s basic knowledge that you can have, and that that’s what the love of breastfeeding is like, trying to empower moms with. So you can learn so much online as well. If you need someone in person, definitely do that ahead of time. The other ways you can get support and think about is, like, food. How are you going to fuel yourself? I, like, prep some food ahead of time, but not like a crazy amount.

Amanda Montalvo [00:23:06]:

Mostly proteins, because of casseroles and stuff. Last time I made so many of those, and I only want to eat. My husband really likes to cook, so we initially had a bunch of leftover food. My mom brought some food, and then he was making some of our meals, so it was a nice mix. But I could tell he was stressed because he was basically completely care of Eliana the first couple weeks, because I tried to help as much as I can, but I gotta feed this baby. I can’t always put her down at night if Amaya needs to eat. Amaya loves my husband, but doesn’t love being held by him for a long time. She likes to look at him, so that’s been interesting.

Amanda Montalvo [00:23:39]:

Whereas with Eliana, he could just take her. It’s not like that with Amaya, and every baby’s gonna be different, so I can’t really leave her, her ever. She doesn’t do great. So maybe one day, but that was really hard, and I could recognize that. I was like, I’m going to find a food, like a meal service. And so I found one that was local to us that we could just go pick up the meals so you could find one online. I used to work for a meal service, so I was pretty picky, but I knew what to look for. I like fresh meals.

Amanda Montalvo [00:24:07]:

I didn’t want the frozen ones. I found a place that did that near me, and then you could. But you can look online and find what’s going to work for you. But I think that is something to consider. Can you afford it? You what you need? A lot of times we don’t know, and it’s okay to be like, I want to order these meals, but maybe this is a lot of money for us right now. Maybe we could have some people chip in and make this possible, because this would be, like, really great for us. Learning how to say what you need and not be afraid to say it. So that’s a really big thing, like, you have when people are gonna offer their help and listen, if someone’s offering it up, I’m like, I’m gonna take it.

Amanda Montalvo [00:24:40]:

So I hope you meant it. Especially because we’re military families, so none of our family is near us. My mom’s like a two and a half hour drive, but she offered her food and I was like, yes, here’s the food that I want because it’s just like, some. My mom’s a great cook, but I just was like, there’s certain things that I want to eat that I know are going to make me feel good. I’m like, I don’t want lasagna. I love you. Love your lasagna. But I’m like, can you make pulled pork? Can you make, like, a bunch of that? We can just pair with easy carbs and have those on hand because I just, I wanted to feel good, and I knew the kind of foods that make me feel that way.

Amanda Montalvo [00:25:14]:

Last time I didn’t ask for specific things, and I wish that I did. So ask for what you need. Learn how to accept help and support and just be specific. And people usually love it. They’re like, oh, because they want to help you. They want to give you something that’s going to be helpful. And so, like, when you can give them something specific, I think it’s just easier for everyone involved. So I think getting breastfeeding help, getting some help, or some plan around food, what’s that going to look like for you? A lot of people will do, like, meal trains and stuff, like, figure out what’s going to work for you and be specific with what you actually want so that you are happy and feel good.

Amanda Montalvo [00:25:51]:

The other area is, does your partner have time off? If not, is there anyone else that can help you check in on you? Because sometimes it’s just a phone call. Like, my mom offered to help so many times when my husband first applied with eliana, and I was like, we’re good, but I would just love to talk on the phone right now to an adult. And she would come and stuff, but I was like, you don’t have to come all the time. I just want to talk to someone because I’m, like, home alone with my newborn. So, like, little things like that, like, what kind of support are you going to have? And sometimes we can’t always have that physical support, and which can be very challenging. And if you can’t, and if you’re in a position, you don’t have family around, you don’t have anyone you can turn to, who can you talk to? Because I’m telling you, like, for me, it made a really big difference. This time it’s very different because my husband has twelve weeks off and he’s not deploying until, like, probably the end of the year. So it’s just a super different experience.

Amanda Montalvo [00:26:49]:

But that’s just something to consider. What kind of help are you going to have? And sometimes we don’t know. We don’t know what we’re going to want, and that’s okay, but try to at least think about it so that you have some options. And then once you’re in it, you’ll know, okay, this is what I need. And hopefully you’ve talked to someone about it previously. And even if your spouse works and stuff, and they don’t get a lot of time off, it’s have the conversation around, like, what each of you needs if your spouse is gone all day. My husband went back to work the first time he had a really hard time being away from Eliana. And so I was like, what can we do when you get home to make this work? And it’s okay? Well, can you try to have her fed so that I can take her and have some time with her? And I’m like, done.

Amanda Montalvo [00:27:30]:

So that was helpful. We always gave each other time to work out. We just work out with our kids, but it’s all watching while he’s working out, and then he watches them while I’m working out, those sorts of things. Like, what does each of you need? And trying to think about that beforehand, if you can, and then just not being afraid to talk about it when you’re, like, in the thick of it. So those are like the big areas that kind of came up for me and like things that I think about. But having help and support doesn’t always have to look like the traditional, like having someone come and help you with your baby. Sometimes we don’t have that. So just don’t be afraid, don’t feel, oh, I can’t do that.

Amanda Montalvo [00:28:07]:

It’s like there’s other ways you can get support from people. Thyroid health is essential for healthy hormones, digestion, energy and more. Our thyroid is so important because it sets the metabolic pace of our body, which controls how every single system functions. Whether you think you may have some thyroid dysfunction going on based on symptoms you may have or have a confirmed diagnosis, chances are you haven’t been given the best tools to address your thyroid health. I’ve been there. Thyroid is a big part of my health journey and something I’ve been optimizing for the last decade. I’m very passionate about this topic, which is why I created a free thyroid training that walks you through how to assess thyroid health. All the labs I do cover blood work and what the optimal ranges are.

Amanda Montalvo [00:28:49]:

I just want to say that I think we have to look beyond blood work when it comes to assessing our thyroid health. That’s why I also cover hair mineral testing, urine testing, and then basal body temperature, which is a measurement you can do at home to assess your thyroid health. I’ve had so many people reach out say they can’t believe that this training is free. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I also cover nutrition tips for optimizing thyroid health. You can head to the link in the show notes or to my website, hormonehealingrd.com, to watch the training. There’s just so much lacking when it comes to helpful info on thyroid health. So I’m really hoping that this training helps you and fills that gap.

Amanda Montalvo [00:29:29]:

And then the other big area. This is probably most important one mindset and expectations. So learning to adjust and be flexible with our children, it just makes things way less stressful. Like just being realistic with your expectations. It’s like you have a kid, everything changes. Then you have two kids. Like, I have a toddler and a newborn. And my biggest thing is, if I’m starting to feel stressed, I’m like, where is it coming from? Is it because we’re rushing? Am I planning to try to do too many things in a day that aren’t realistic? Am I expecting to accomplish all the same things with two kids that I was with one? Where is, where is this stress possibly coming from? Am I meeting my needs.

Amanda Montalvo [00:30:10]:

Have I eaten enough today? Did I make my mineral drink that I know makes me feel good? Have I gotten outside? Have I been able to do something for myself or for work today that makes me feel good? Like, for me personally accomplishing things with work and nerding out and researching and making content, that makes me feel really good. And it’s something that I enjoy. It’s a good outlet for me. If I don’t get to do that, I will get cranky. And I’m like, okay, well, I need to figure this out. And sometimes that’s like asking for help from my husband. I really need to do this. Sometimes I just need a minute.

Amanda Montalvo [00:30:42]:

I’m like, I need you to take it for a minute. And I’m just going to go sit by myself. And sometimes I just go sit outside. And Eliana’s out there, too, but she’s playing on her own. So it’s like, what do you need? What is your body asking for? Because a lot of times we’re just so stressed, and it’s all the circumstances. I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Well, what can you do? And whose help do you need to do it? Sometimes you might not even need help.

Amanda Montalvo [00:31:05]:

It’s just you changing your routine for the day, like, taking stuff off your list, being more realistic. I just think it’s so important. And then the other big one that I think about is, do you miss doing things that you used to do? Because I feel like there’s. And I love all the parenting and mom content on Instagram. I find it incredibly enjoyable and funny. But sometimes I see stuff. Like, I see so many reels about moms trying to fit all their self care in, like, while their kids are sleeping. And it’s 10:00 p.m.

Amanda Montalvo [00:31:37]:

at night, and they’re the ladies, like, walking on the treadmill to get her steps, drinking her water, has a face mask on and is, like, working or something. And I get it. But I’m like, we have to learn how to do stuff with our kids. People. Like, how do you work out so much? I do it with my kids, and it’s not easy at first. You have to adjust, and you have to experiment and find what works for you. But it’s like everything I do with them, I’m never alone now that we’ve had a Maya. But even before, I very rarely had a ton of alone time, which I’m okay with.

Amanda Montalvo [00:32:07]:

My kids are young. It’ll be different when they’re older. And again, I shift my mindset. I’m like, this is not going to be forever, and one day I’m going to miss this. I’m going to be very sad when I don’t have a baby constantly attached to me. I’ll also be probably happy and relieved in many ways, but I’ll still have those moments of missing it. So I tried to just, like, take it all in, and she was really cute, so that helps. But it’s like, what can I do with her? Like, in the mornings, I.

Amanda Montalvo [00:32:33]:

I could easily just be like, I can’t get up and work or I can’t do anything. So Maya might wake up and, like, stress out about, like, her sleep and is she gonna need to eat? Am I gonna have time to do x, y, z? I just do it. And I’m like, we’ll figure it out. Because that’s basically what it is, being a mom. Like, nothing is gonna happen perfectly. So I feel like if you can adjust your expectations and then try to find ways to do stuff for yourself with your kids, like, Eliana knows. Oh, mommy. I’m like, I say, I’m gonna work out.

Amanda Montalvo [00:33:00]:

I’m gonna go work out. Now she goes in the garage with me. Amaya’s always there too, and it’s like sometimes she needs things from me during it. But if she wants to read a book or wants me to do something with her, I will say, I will help you and do this with you after I’m done working out. I gotta work out to be healthy. Now, granted, my workouts are pretty short. It’s not taking longer than 30 minutes typically, but I have stuff for her to play with out there, so it’s like, we had to learn that, though. So don’t just give things up because you think you can’t do it.

Amanda Montalvo [00:33:32]:

I would challenge yourself to be like, how can I incorporate my kids into this? And it’s not like she’s working out with me. Like, sometimes she will, if she’s interested, cool. But a lot of times she’s not, and she’ll just play. And she’s learned to do that. It didn’t happen overnight, but it’s like, we can do things for ourselves and also have our kids present and not need to do everything while they’re napping. Because then it’s like, they stop napping, and then you’re like, oh, my God, I have no time for anything. Or they don’t take a nap that day, and you’re super stressed. So it’s like, how can we eliminate that at least this is what works for me because we don’t have childcare or anything.

Amanda Montalvo [00:34:04]:

Like, it’s me and my husband and he works. So it’s definitely tricky. But it’s gotten so much easier. And I’m like, I just wish every mom had this mindset shift. The whole, like, the funny seeing the mom do all the things, you’re like, wow, I can relate to that. Because when they’re sleeping, you do try to get a lot done, but you shouldn’t be meeting all your needs in that time. It’s not possible. So what can you incorporate in with your kids? Obviously, we’re gonna need alone time sometimes.

Amanda Montalvo [00:34:33]:

It’s not. I’m not saying that we don’t need that, but a lot of times the reality is that we’re not gonna get it. So you can, what can you do for yourself? Like, I use my red light mask on Eliana. She thinks it’s so funny. She loves it. I was so scared she was going to be afraid of it and I wasn’t going to be able to use it around her, but she thinks it’s funny. She’ll do a face mask with me at night when we go take a bath. She lets me paint her nails and she’s only two, but I love to paint my nails.

Amanda Montalvo [00:35:00]:

I just always have. Since I was little, I used to do both. My sister’s nails, my mom’s nails. She thought I was going to have a salon one day. I was obsessed with it. And I’m like, I want to still be able to do this. And I don’t care that she’s only two and she does it with me. It’s great because I don’t shy away from trying to incorporate her into stuff, thinking it’s going to be super stressful.

Amanda Montalvo [00:35:20]:

If you expect something to be stressful, it’s probably going to be stressful. And when things do go awry, I like to remind myself, like, if she starts to get crazy, she has her days where it’s like now, she sometimes will cry if we try to put it on for a nap. It’s so easy to get frustrated and that she’s out of control and you’re out of control and everyone’s upset. But I just remind myself, like, I am the parent, I’m regulating her. So while I may have some feelings about this and this may be frustrating for me, I need to support myself and my nervous system and get that in a good place for her. Even if I want to have a pity party and be mad about it, I can do that later. And then you end up being able to calm and support your child better, and then things calm down much quicker and you figure it out. At least that’s, like, typically how it goes with us, like, we have.

Amanda Montalvo [00:36:11]:

And my husband was gone for four and a half months. I was super pregnant and alone with her, and it was so hard some days, but it really taught me, and it helped set me up for being a mom of two because there were no breaks and there was never any time alone. And it was like, okay, how am I going to continue to support myself and take care of myself and meet my needs while also taking care of this child that really needs me right now? So all that is to say, look at your expectations postpartum, if you can shift those and not really have any at first, and then try to make sure everything is, like, age appropriate, too. Like, sometimes I’ll get frustrated with Eliana, and I’m like, that’s not even an age appropriate expectation. That’s my fault. That’s something I need to adjust in my mind so little things like that can be helpful. And a lot of this comes to. There’s so many parenting accounts out there.

Amanda Montalvo [00:37:08]:

There’s amazing books, there’s podcasts, there’s courses. And I did a lot of that stuff initially after I had Eliana. And then it’s the same thing as with the wellness space. You get information overload, you think you’re never doing anything right. You’re like, I’m going to mess up this kid. And then you stop listening to your intuition. And it’s the same thing with wellness in your health. It’s like you get so much information, you’re constantly researching, and then you don’t listen to, okay, what does my body really need right now? What am I craving? What do I think is going on? You just shut down all those natural instincts, and I think as parents, we have so many, and we just ignore them because we’re listening to everyone else.

Amanda Montalvo [00:37:48]:

So while I think learning and finding approach that interests you, that you want to take with your kids and becoming knowledgeable on it is helpful. And I’ve done courses that have really helped me, especially when my husband’s gone, continue to be regulated and make sure I’m not snapping and being really stressed and making it so I enjoy being a mom so that I’m not stressed all the time. And a lot of it, I’m like, this is common sense. And I guarantee you, if I just stop trying to be perfect, be the perfect mom, fix everything, make everything perfect for Eliana, that it would be just how it’s supposed to be. So I’ve taken a huge step back from all that kind of content and no longer take it in because I think it was hindering my natural abilities as a mom. Not that everyone needs to do that, but take it or leave it. But if you are stressing yourself out with all that stuff, like, you might need to take a break, just like anything. Like, we tell our one on one clients, okay, you’re working with us now.

Amanda Montalvo [00:38:49]:

We are going to support you. We’re going to answer all your questions, and we’re going to make sure you have a plan and that you’re successful so you don’t have to continue to constantly research and try new things, because we are going to support you in that. And it’s usually a huge stress relief for them because they’re like, I need to step away from Instagram and researching and all that stuff, and it takes a big burden off. So same thing with parenting information. If you’re anything like me, you probably need to chill. So that’s another thing, reducing that information overload when you’re postpartum, whether it’s health information, parenting stuff, anything like that. Because we have natural instincts and we have this innate ability to be great moms. It’s just, what do you have to do that you need to take care of yourself as best you can and meet your basic needs and so that you’re regulated.

Amanda Montalvo [00:39:41]:

And I want to end this episode with a few nervous system tips. Because if there is one thing that I could say people want to know for pregnancy prep and stuff, like, I think hair testing is helpful. Understanding how to read your hair test, how to adjust your supplements based off of that. Incredibly helpful. I think knowing how to nourish your body, hydrating all those things are really helpful. But we can’t ignore the nervous system because everything changes after you have a baby. As your kid grows and gets older, things change even more. We have stuff happen in our lives.

Amanda Montalvo [00:40:12]:

It’s like, things happen, like tragedies happen. Some people get divorced, and you can’t predict it all. And a lot of times you can’t control it. So it’s so important to have this way of understanding. Like, how can I check in with myself and understand my nervous system and build that resilience? Yes, we have to be fed. If we’re not fed, we’re going to be in more fight or flight. Just working on nervous system doesn’t work. Just working on nutrition doesn’t work.

Amanda Montalvo [00:40:36]:

So I think have the nutritional foundations in there. That’s why I made my replenisher minerals course, it’s less than a. You can listen to it all on audio, like a podcast, and it has steps for you to take throughout the six weeks to build your foundation. And it hits on all these areas, and that is great. And then we need to learn about our nervous system. And there’s one thing that I love to have that I personally like to do, and that’s quick body scans, like checking in. Irene Lyon uses orienting, and she edited a podcast episode with her. It was amazing.

Amanda Montalvo [00:41:10]:

And I love to orient regularly throughout the day. So you’re basically. You’re stopping and you’re paying attention. You’re not. You don’t. You can close your eyes because you want to build your awareness, and you can immediately calm yourself down if you pay attention to things in your environment. I’ll do it during my transition. So say I’m getting up and I’m going outside to see sunrise.

Amanda Montalvo [00:41:30]:

When I’m outside at sunrise, I’m orienting. I’m like, okay, we’re standing here. I see the sun. What do I hear around me? Usually I hear birds, cars, because there’s a street right over there. Like, you just bring yourself into the environment and the immediate presence. And then I’m like, how does my body feel? And I love checking in with my body immediately during the day, because then that helps me really want to prioritize caring for myself throughout. So I might feel really good. I might be like, I’m achy.

Amanda Montalvo [00:41:58]:

My back hurts from nursing all night, whatever it might be. And then what am I going to do for myself that day? I’ll think about the day ahead. And then I stare at her a lot because she’s really funny when she wakes up. She’s so smiley and happy and cute. So we have a lot of moments out there, and then I go back inside. So, like, during my transitions, I try to do it when I just made breakfast and we’re, like, about to eat. I’ll take 30 seconds and just take in what’s around me, feel my body. How do I feel in my body? Do I feel out of balance anywhere? Do I need anything? And that’s, like, how we recommend for clients to do it, to try to use it in your transitions.

Amanda Montalvo [00:42:34]:

You don’t have to carve out ten minutes, 20 minutes to meditate. It’s not that. It’s you paying attention to how you feel so that you can understand. Am I feeling good right now? Do I need anything. That’s a really great place to. To start. And, like, I remember when I first learned this practice, I went through Irene Lyons 21 day nervous system reset. That’s where I learned orienting.

Amanda Montalvo [00:42:57]:

And then I did her full twelve week program. Smart body, smart mind. It was amazing. But you can do the reset and you learn. I didn’t do it in 21 days. It took me, like, six months. It’s dense, but I highly recommend that for people, it’s a great starting point, and then you can learn that skill of orienting. She does, like, other, like, I forget exactly what they’re called, like, brain exercises, but she’s great.

Amanda Montalvo [00:43:25]:

She’s my favorite nervous system resource. I’ll link to her podcast episode, Irene episode, and then learning how to, like, just check in with yourself, but, like, really check in. That it. I used to set timers in my phone so that I’d remember to do it. This was, like, before I even had Eliana. I did her course, and I think it was 20, 2020, and then I got pregnant in 2021. So I was so grateful to have these nervous system skills. And then when I was pregnant with Amaya, I did her twelve week course, which, like, solidified everything and was great.

Amanda Montalvo [00:43:56]:

Much more in depth. But the 21 days, perfect. You can gain so much with that. And most people don’t have time for the twelve week, so learning how to check in with yourself, the orienting practice is great. The other thing that I think I usually have, we have people start with, especially if we have people that have been in fight or flight for a long time and don’t feel like we’ll ask them, like, how they feel, and they’re very, like, disconnected from their bodies. We’ll have them honor their physical needs. And Irene talks about this. I can’t remember what she talked about in the episode I did with her, but I’ve heard her talk about it so many times.

Amanda Montalvo [00:44:30]:

I’ve done all her programs, but she talks about this in a way of, it’s really great to start connecting back to your body and regulating and understanding, like, what you need by anytime you have an urge to, like, do it. If you have to pee, don’t hold it. Go pee. And I know some people may hear that and be like that. That’s, like, weird. Why would you hold it? If you’re a mom, you know why? So it’s really easy if you’re a seasoned mom, if you’re like, a new mom, you just. Especially when you’re adjusting with your first. I feel like all your needs go out the window.

Amanda Montalvo [00:45:01]:

And sometimes it can be incredibly overwhelming. And I know I talked about, like, incorporating your kids into things. I think that’s really important. But I think the other thing is, like, going. Taking one step back is, are you meeting those little needs throughout the day? Are you suppressing everything? And those people are usually people that are also trying to do everything during nap time and feel like they need a ton. They’re like, I need a break. I need a lot of alone time. That’s when I’m like, are you listening to your body throughout the day? Because I think if you can learn to meet your needs throughout the day, like, if you have to be like, I’m.

Amanda Montalvo [00:45:31]:

Even if I’m, like, doing something with Eliana, like, I used to not think about it, I would just be like, I’d shut it off. I’ll pee later. Like, now I’m like, I have to go to the bathroom and, or, like, hunk hunger. Like, it’s so funny. I’ll be like, mommy’s hungry. I need to eat. Especially if she’s not wanting to go inside for lunch or something. I’m like, I need to eat.

Amanda Montalvo [00:45:51]:

We’re going inside, and she’s okay, mommy, see? And we go in, and it’s really sweet. She’ll ask me, mommy thirsty. Because, like, if I need to make a mineral drink, I share my needs, and she sees me constantly meeting my needs. I need to do a workout. Mommy’s gonna work out. And it’s. I make it fun. She has fun, she has things to do.

Amanda Montalvo [00:46:09]:

But it’s become just a part of our days and a part of our lives. And I think if you can start instead of ignoring those little needs that might not seem like a big deal then, and meeting them, that’s how you teach your body that, hey, I’m here for you. I’m supporting you, and I’m listening. And I think that can be incredibly helpful postpartum, when you’re, like, in this weird spot, especially if it’s your first in your, like, in fight or flight, like, I’m unsure. Like, when I hear mom saying, yeah, I’ve just been hanging on for the first six months, I’m like, it does not have to be that way. And granted, again, everyone’s experience is going to be different. There are horrific things that come up and make it so that you probably will just be hanging on for six months. And I know people, we’ve had clients in that state.

Amanda Montalvo [00:46:56]:

So it’s obviously, this is not for everyone, but I think for most people, just learning to meet those little needs helps to connect you to your body and your intuition, and you start to open those lines of communication more. You’re not just shutting everything down. And then you get these bigger needs, and it encourages you to want to meet them. I just really need my body right now. Or do get outside, get light. So, like, any urge that I have, I try to meet that if I can, if it’s safe, realistic, and something I can do at the time. But I think that’s a really good way. If you’re like, I don’t know how to check in with my body.

Amanda Montalvo [00:47:32]:

Like, we get people that are like, I don’t really notice anything when I do my orienting exercise, and that’s when we go back to that, okay, honor those physical signs that your body’s giving you, and that is, they’re like, oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize that I was, like, actually hungry because I’ve been suppressing it for so long. So, like, eating when you’re actually hungry, tired, go to bed when you’re tired, if it’s appropriate. If your kids are not asleep yet, that’s probably difficult. But, like, when you’re tired, I’m like, go to sleep hungry. Eat. If you want to move your body, how can you make it so that can happen? And it might not always be perfect, but it’s like, what can you adjust? Because if you got it, you have to let go of perfectionism, shift your expectations, and keep things very simple. You don’t need to do more. You typically need to do less and simplify, like, wherever you can, so you can build that capacity.

Amanda Montalvo [00:48:22]:

But, yeah, so those are all my postpartum tips. It’s not. I think people probably wanted, like, a, what food should I eat? Is there? What supplements should I take? But I’m like, that’s not what’s going to help you thrive postpartum. I hope that all this stuff does really help people, and I just hope that everyone, like, no matter what kind of birth experience you had or early postpartum season, if it has been rough, or maybe you had one in the past that was, I hope that you can still enjoy bits and pieces of it, because no matter what beautiful, and it’s going to help you, if you can learn from it, it’s going to help you so much in the future. I think it can. Sometimes we have to grieve those things. Like, I grieve, like, the first few weeks for Eliana because we were so stressed out about nursing and her ties and what do we do? And it was terrible. Like, when you feel like your baby’s not like themselves.

Amanda Montalvo [00:49:16]:

And sometimes I do grieve that tie, but I’m like, we still had a lot of really happy moments. And I’ll tell you what, she is, like, the happiest and best kid ever. So it all worked out, and I learned so much. That has completely changed my experience with Amaya. So it can be really hard, but I just think about how, like, with birth, it’s like you have all the emotions. Like, you scream, you cry, you laugh. At least I did. I feel like I had every emotion ever during Amaya’s birth and Eliana’s.

Amanda Montalvo [00:49:43]:

And it’s that. That’s like motherhood. You have all the emotions. It can. It’s really hard, but it’s really easy at the same time in certain little ways, and it’s just the best. I hope that no matter what kind of experience you’ve had up to this point, that this is helpful when you can take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. But I hope anyone listens. This has an amazing postpartum experience.

Amanda Montalvo [00:50:06]:

And the next episode. What are we doing? I think we’re digging right into histamines or no? Yeah, histamines. Yep. We’re going to have Histamine series with Michelle Shapiro, so that’s going to be really fun. We’ll talk about, like, pregnancy and stuff, too, because there’s lots of histamine issues there. But I hope you’re enjoying this season so far, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Are You Menstrual podcast. If you want to support my work, please leave a review and let me know how you like the episode.

Amanda Montalvo [00:50:36]:

This lets me me know, like, what you guys want more of, less of. I read every single one, and I appreciate them more than you know. If you want to keep learning, you can get access to the bonus episode and additional resources on patreon.com hormonehealingrd. I’d love to have you in there. Thanks again, and I will see you in the next episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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