The Return of Aunt Flo: Dealing with Your Period (and PMS) After Having a Baby

PMS certainly doesn’t stand for “pleasant moms syndrome.” Here’s what to expect from your periods after having a baby, and how to ease the pain of premenstrual syndrome

Last week, Coraline and I went to a new friend’s house for a playdate. While the gaggle of kids clamored over snacks at the table, the moms and I sipped coffee and talked shop: teething babies, defiant toddlers, and that time of the month, the latter a topic of discussion that will forever make you feel like you’re in the eighth grade. Despite having children and being in our thirties (or knocking on the door of our thirties) — an age at which you’ve spent many a week with dear Aunt Flo — we still share the awkward experience of being totally overwhelmed by something so inevitable. Because, whether you’re 14 or 40, it’s just no fun.

According to my midwife, your cycle post-partum (whenever it dares to return) should be lighter and more painless than it was pre-baby. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the norm: The majority of new moms I know experience heavy, painful, or irregular periods and scary mood swings. Which is no surprise considering the havoc wrecked on your hormones from pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing. Throw some sleep deprivation, adrenal fatigue, or post-partum depression into the mix and you’re primed for one loopy ride come that time of the month.

Though you may swear by Midol, there are several natural ways to address even the most uncomfortable PMS symptoms, from runaway emotions to an insatiable appetite. All of these supplements can be found in your local health food store, though you should consult your health care practitioner first if your symptoms are severe to rule out any serious conditions.

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  • Vitex (aka Chaste Tree) Tincture: Many natural mamas swear by this remedy, though it requires patience. A “slow” tonic, it must be taken for six months to a year before symptoms are relieved. Another helpful tincture is Motherwort, which can help with irritability.
  • B6: Though this vitamin is found in lots of foods like fish, starchy vegetables, and fruit and deficiency is uncommon, taking extra B6 before and during your period can help stabilize and lift your mood as well as minimize fluid retention.
  • Magnesium: Found in whole grains, beans, leafy green vegetables, and nuts, this common mineral is important for heart and bone health, immunity, and muscle and nerve function. A supplement can help the symptoms associated with period-related hypoglycemia as well as emotional uproar.
  • Nettle Tea can help with fluid retention, as will consuming lots of diuretic foods like grapes, cucumber, watermelon, celery, and corn.
  • And of course, things like exercise; a low sodium, no sugar diet; relaxing activities like meditating; and avoiding stimulants like coffee are all ways to minimize or manage the crazy-making symptoms of PMS.

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