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Why We Need to Start Advocating for Better Care of Women During the Postpartum Period
There is such a horrible stigma that goes around because of the way the medical community treats illness. Things like anxiety, depression and postpartum depression are NOT mental illnesses. They do not mean you are “broken”. If that were true, then we certainly have a LOT of people out there that are broken.
To put it as simply as I can: our soils have been depleted of many essential minerals since about 1936. You can read about the Senate meeting from that year here. And yes, they have known for almost 100 years that the soil was depleted of these nutrients and they have still yet to address the seriousness of this issue! Because of this issue, there is no way that there are many completely healthy people out there- unless their family has been eating nutrient dense, organic, non GMO food through the generations. (yea, I know, not very likely!)
Why is it so hard to believe that we are DEPLETED of nutrients?
Especially in the postpartum period. Think about it: women grow babies! For nearly a year, they are nourishing and growing another living being. Babies take a lot of nutrition to thrive and it is often at the expense of the mother’s health. MANY women are simply not nourished enough to give birth and walk away in perfect health anymore, especially with the skewed view about health and nutrition that we all have. This is when things like depression, anxiety, hypothyroid, and adrenal fatigue come into play. When our bodies do not have the nutrients needed, then our health suffers. Period!
Some of the most common nutritional deficiencies and imbalances:
- Vitamin A (retinol not beta carotene)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D (secondary to magnesium deficiency- read more here)
Copper Dysregulation and Postpartum Issues
One of the BIGGEST issues that women deal with postpartum is copper dysregulation. This is especially common with women because copper is closely related to estrogen. We have high estrogen and copper when we are ovulating, when we are menstruating, and when we are pregnant. Copper can TRIPLE while we are pregnant. The period right after we give birth that is called “the baby blues” is essential our bodies ridding itself of the excess copper we accumulated while pregnant. Copper is critical for fetal development, but once the baby is born we don’t need as much.
If we do not have the proper amount of ceruloplasmin or zinc to help balance copper, we will get symptoms like anxiety, racing mind, insomnia and night sweats. If we have weak adrenals or a weak liver, we will get symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and mood swings. We have to rebuild, support and nourish the body in order to properly re-balance.
There is quite a crazy occurrence when it comes to copper. You can be both copper deficient and copper “toxic” at the SAME TIME. This is because of the copper binding protein that is needed called ceruloplasmin. Without sufficient ceruloplasmin, copper cannot be made bio-available. To make ceruloplasmin we need a few things. Sufficient adrenal and liver function is required to help make this protein. Ceruloplasmin is also dependent on animal-based retinol, whole food vitamin C, and copper itself.
Why are we lacking ceruloplasmin? There are actually many things that inhibit ceruloplasmin production. Obviously the biggest problem with creating sufficient ceruloplasmin is our overloaded livers from environmental toxins. Preventing the liver from becoming sluggish is key to making ceruloplasmin available. Other offenders include supplemental iron (which is HUGE in pregnancy because of the ridiculous focus on IRON as the only important nutrient), calcium, and vitamin D, high fructose corn syrup, and ascorbic acid (passed off as Vitamin C but it is generally made from GMO corn!).
Why do we focus on ceruloplasmin production? When we calculate unbound copper, we need the copper and ceruloplasmin level. For some reason, people have always deduced that when unbound copper is calculated, that means that it’s the copper that is the issue and it needs to be lowered. No one ever thought that maybe ceruloplasmin was too low instead of copper just being too high. When ceruloplasmin rises, high copper levels decrease, and this allows zinc to re-balance as well.
When you raise your ceruloplasmin your unbound copper comes down. Attacking and lowering copper (with zinc and other copper antagonists) first will only bring stress on your body. Yes, while you raise your ceruloplasmin you can still experience the dreaded copper dumping as well as some other detox reactions. But this method is creating less steps in healing for you. Instead of attacking copper and THEN rebuilding, we aim to rebuild to begin with.
We also need sufficient bile flow to excrete excess copper. Bile is created in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Pregnancy is actually very hard on our livers, especially if we already were dealing with sluggishness before pregnancy. It’s no wonder why so many women end up with emergency gallbladder surgery in the postpartum period- their livers and gallbladders were working overtime! Read my tips for supporting bile flow here! So loving your liver is double important: we need to help create bile to flush excess copper, and we need healthy livers to help create ceruloplasmin.
Strengthen, nourish and rebuild the body- don’t aim to detox, cleanse, or rip metals/toxins out. You can read my tips on nourishing yourself while pregnant or nursing here too.
Symptoms of a Copper Imbalance
You’ll notice that you may have symptoms from both of these lists. Like I have mentioned, it is because we can have low “bound”, usable copper and high “unbound” unusable copper at the same time. This isn’t “copper toxicity”- this is ceruloplasmin deficiency! I’ll put the most common postpartum issues in bold- these are all related to postpartum depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
Copper Deficiency Symptoms:
Decrease in number of white blood cells
Nerve damage can cause tingling and loss of sensation in the feet and hands
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Low blood levels of fat-soluble vitamins, zinc, and folate
White, gray and silver hair
Copper Excess Symptoms:
Feelings of doom
Fatigue and exhaustion
Hypothyroid (slow thyroid)
Mind is in a fog
Cold hands, and/or feet
Feeling of loss of control
Despair, suicidal feelings, hopelessness
Arthritis, calcium spurs
Racing heart, pounding heart
Adverse reaction to vitamins and minerals
Problems with concentration and memory
Short attention span, ‘spaciness’
Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, overeating
Panic attacks, high anxiety, free floating anxiety
Yeast infections (candida)
Aching muscles or muscle cramps
Mind races — insomnia, interrupted sleep
Low blood pressure
How to Balance Copper
Copper is a necessary mineral for making ATP, aka cellular energy. Low bioavailable Copper is associated with chronic fatigue. Copper is needed for at least 300 enzymes in the body. Bound, usable copper is absolutely essential for candida control (yes, those “candida cleanse” might work short term, but they are NOT addressing the real issue!).
Copper is NOT the enemy. The whole point of this post is to make more people realize that will get much further with supporting ceruloplasmin production than attacking “excess” copper.
Postpartum depletion is REAL and copper dysregulation is the number one contributor to issues since it involves several components.
A hair tissue mineral analysis is a huge part of the healing process. This will not only show you the relationship between your zinc and copper, but it will give you an idea on the state of your adrenal glands. Strong adrenals are needed to balance copper. An HTMA will also show your magnesium and calcium levels, which both play a part in regulating copper.
The blood tests that are very helpful are Magnesium RBC (not serum!), copper serum, plasma zinc and ceruloplasmin.
If you are on any kind of birth control, have been diagnosed with estrogen dominance, or are in the post-partum period, it would be very crucial for you to test for copper dysregulation. You can read a little more about copper and how it being in excess or deficient can negatively affect our health from one of the HTMA labs: “Copperheads” Copper and all of the illnesses it is involved in Disclaimer