Postnatal depletion can depend on many factors and one that must be considered is the interpregnancy interval, or the time between the end of the first pregnancy and the conception of the next. A short interpregnancy interval is usually defined as less than 18 months to 2 years.
While the data are not completely clear, in general it is advised to avoid interpregnancy intervals shorter than 6 months and that the risks and benefits of a repeat pregnancy sooner than 18 months should be considered.
I personally had an interpregnancy interval of 17 months. If I had my time again I wouldn’t necessarily change the duration however I would start with higher iron stores. I’ve found this second pregnancy more challenging in terms of energy levels and believe this would have been very different if I had optimised my stores preconception [pregnancy + a toddler is tiring enough, am I right?].
I strongly believe that for all mummas-to-be and mummas, the keys are:
- Preconception health. Starting with blood tests at least 3 months prior to our ideal conception date, we need to optimise our health for pregnancy and beyond. It’s far more than just folate.
- Postpartum health. Starting with blood tests at ~6 weeks postpartum, we need to replete our stores from pregnancy and continue to do so while nursing. While postnatal anxiety (PNA) and postnatal depression (PND) are complex and multifactorial, a repletion strategy is an essential part of minimizing our risk of PNA and PND. Unfortunately, at this this stage, optimizing nutrient status is not part of the standard postpartum conversation, and very much needs to be. When I experienced anxiety as Grace and I weaned, all I was offered was an iron infusion, Zoloft and the OCP. We can do much better than this.
My personal journey and that of my clients is one of the many reasons why I do what I do. Regular tests and a plan to prepare for pregnancy and recover postpartum with food and lifestyle strategies, and the appropriate supplements when required, is critical for our health and the health of our next generation.
Please reach out to learn more about creating an optimal preconception, pregnancy and/or postnatal recovery plan.