Ashwagandha - Benefits as a New Mum
Amongst all the adaptogens out there, and I would never settle for just one in my life, Ashwagandha screams out to the new mum. Known by many herbalists and the big warm hug it has the ability to provide energy, calm, nourishment and assist with sleep as I'll explain.
Throughout pregnancy, cortisol levels naturally run at an all-time high acting as an anti-inflammatory and protectant for the mother allowing the her body to carry a 'foreign body' throughout the pregnancy. During birth cortisol levels hit the all time high, for obvious reasons, and in an ideal world this should return to a pre-pregnant range and the woman feels like her old self again - ha!
"During birth cortisol levels hit the all time high....and in an ideal world this should return to a pre-pregnant range"
As all mother's know this is not the case, cue sleep deprivation, not knowing what to do, trying to figure out what your baby needs on top of dealing with a roller-coaster of hormones that may not level out for the next year. Ashwagandha could not be more perfect in this setting to help calm the stress response and give mum's a fighting chance in terms of easing anxiety, low mood, support memory, mental clarity, focus and calm.
"Cue sleep deprivation, not knowing what to do, trying to figure out what your baby needs on top of dealing with a roller-coaster of hormones..."
Ashwagandha also can help sleep, boost iron levels, and support the thyroid which is huge! Sleep for obvious reasons, when you get the chance to sleep you want to be able to! And the beauty of ashwagandha is it will help with energy when awake and relaxation when asleep.
"Ashwagandha could not be more perfect...to help calm the stress response and give mum's a fighting chance in terms of easing anxiety, low mood, support memory, mental clarity, focus and calm."
Iron levels are often depleted during pregnancy and lactation with the baby taking what it needs to support its own blood supply and development. Add to this any blood loss during birth and many mothers are depleted in iron. As a side note this herb will not bring you back from severe deficiency - speak to a practitioner - though it does contain a small amount and play a role in nourishment of the blood.
"And the beauty of ashwagandha is it will help with energy when awake and relaxation when asleep."
In terms of thyroid function - again many women are diagnosed with hypothyroidism during pregnancy, a large percentage develop thyroiditis or Hashimoto's postpartum also. A big part of this is again the baby leaching iodine from the mother which is a major component of thyroid hormones. Again, if dealing with a thyroid issue it is crucial to work with a practitioner however in terms of energy Ashwagandha helps with the conversion of T4 (our inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (our powerhouse thyroid hormone) to really boost energy and help us get through the day. An added benefit is T3 will help with losing any extra pounds hanging around postpartum.
"Ashwagandha has been used as a support for breast milk production."
Finally, if I haven't yet convinced you, Ashwagandha has been used as a galactagogue in Ayurveda medicine… a galacta-what? A support for breast milk production. And what better way to consume it than mixed in your favourite hot drink with some healthy fats to really soothe your soul.
Sidenote: Whilst an extremely safe herb, as a practitioner I have to say, when it comes to any herbal medicine, please only consume in a food grade setting unless you are working specifically with someone who know how to dose appropriately.
- Rowena Benbow (In-house Naturopath)