Pregnancy’s Effect On The Body: My Story

Hey friends.  I have had a bit of a health journey since Jack was born.  I haven’t really known how to post about this – I’ve started the post about 1200 times since last December, but I have never been able to finish.  The thing is, I feel like EVERYONE needs to know what I learned through this process, especially if you have had babies, are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant.

So let’s make a long story short, and I will share with you some of the symptoms I dealt with (BIG TIME) after Jack was born.  The reality is that many of these were present in small ways before I had kids, but they grew worse with each pregnancy. Turns out there’s a REASON for it.  So here we go. I was dealing with:

  • Insomnia – like entire weeks with 20 hrs of sleep.
  • Muscle aches and major unexplained back pain, soreness that wouldn’t go away
  • Lack of Energy
  • GI problems and digestive issues
  • Always in “fight or flight” mode. I was just extremely jumpy and easily startled.
  • Soreness that would last way too long after exercise.
  • All symptoms were worse post ovulation, pre-menses.
  • And because of all of this – a growing sense of hopelessness that I couldn’t fix it – even though I tried w/ diet and exercise.

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This sounds very matter of fact, but let me tell you, it was awful.  How do you start the day with a positive outlook when you have three young kids and haven’t slept?  It would take a whole post to describe how this actually felt.

There’s a spiritual side to all of this too, as there ALWAYS is. But physically, there were problems going on that were causing my suffering, and the “solution” was actually fairly easy.  Hear me: We live in fallen bodies. I trust the Bible when it says that our outer bodies MOST definitely ARE wasting away and that one day if we are in Christ we will take off these lowly, earthly bodies and put on a heavenly body. I believe this with all my heart. Ultimately we all need a Redeemer. We NEED the ONE who controls the spiritual AND the physical. We need to hope in him. We need to live by the Spirit and not put our hope in flesh.

And at the same time, I am so very thankful that God has filled the earth with TONS of nutrients that can keep our bodies functioning.  I never wanted to believe that nutritional supplements were necessary- just eat healthy and get your nutrients from food, right? Yes, please do that.  BUT, if your gut isn’t healthy, you can’t always absorb the nutrients in your food.  And genetics also play a role in your ability to break down nutrients and convert them to what they need to be in order for your body to use them.  And lastly, let’s be honest, we all know our soil and food supply is nutrient-depleted, even the healthiest eaters aren’t immune to this.

So at the lowest of the low, I finally called this guy in Austin who a friend had told me about before. She went to him for an autoimmune issue, but he was a Christian and came highly recommended for any type of issue. He’s a nutritional counselor with a PHD named Dr. Glen Luepnitz.  I was willing to do anything, but had already tried some conventional things – my own research and experience made me a doubter in a typical RX for this type of thing, ESPECIALLY because I didn’t know WHY it was happening.

First he told me I needed to start thinking about serotonin differently, and then he explained. Here is the short version of what he taught me (try to stick with me):

  • Folic acid is the synthetic form of methylfolate.
  • It is a four-step process in your body to turn folic acid into methylfolate.
  • Methylfolate is what crosses the blood brain barrier and becomes 5-HTP in your brain (and in your gut- 85% of 5-HT receptors are in your gut).
  • SEROTONIN binds to 5-HT receptors in the brain (and moreso, gut).
  • Genetically there’s a strong change if you are of European descent that you can’t convert folic acid into methylfolate.
  • When you get pregnant, babies suck up all the pools of methylfolate that you have stored in your system.
  • If you have an impaired ability to convert folate/folic acid into methlyfolate it can be impossible to get the nutrients back.
  • Because of this, each time you get pregnant, it will alter your ability to produce serotonin.
  • Serotonin turns into melatonin about 2.5 hours before sunset. (Therefore, no serotonin, no melatonin.)
  • Alcohol is the drug of choice for people with this problem. Bc you can’t produce melatonin to relax. And yet alcohol can suck the serotonin from your system. (Wonder why you started drinking more wine when your kids came along? Besides the fact that kids are obviously stressful.)
  • We have to have Melatonin to reset every circadian rhythm in our bodies, including hormonal cycle.
  • 400X the amount of melatonin in your gut as you do in your brain.
  • SEROTONIN and MELATONIN control gastric motility, the speed at which food goes through you.
  • Stress (young kids, etc.) also depletes serotonin.
  • Exercise is a form of self-medication.

I’m not sure if you followed all of that, but here’s what I took from it.  Babies suck really important nutrients out of us, and sometimes we can’t get them back through JUST diet and exercise.  Those nutrients are really important to our systems – whether you have the same issues as me, or started having some other kind of issue after you became a mommy (or even if you haven’t had kids). Those nutrients are ALSO really important if you plan on having another baby bc you and the baby BOTH need them.  If mom doesn’t have nutrients stored, babies can’t fully develop the way they need.  It makes me wish I knew all of this before ever becoming pregnant so I would have taken my nutrition a little more seriously before becoming pregnant and before becoming pregnant AGAIN. ***At the very least if you are trying to become pregnant, take a prenatal or multi with bio-available MTFH instead of folic acid.***

So he put me on a supplement regimen to immediately deal with the insomnia. He said I wouldn’t need them forever. (Some of these were mixed together in one capsule.)

  • Methyfolate (MTHF) Because of all of the above.
  • Vitamin B12 – B12 and MTHF are like two peas in a pod. They go together.
  • 5-HTP (precursor to serotonin)
  • L-Glutatmine (AMINO ACID in tummy that protects gut lining. My body was not getting rid of lactic acid because of fight or flight.) This is why I would stay sore after working out for DAYS and had muscle and back pain. **I have also added a Plexus product – BioCleasnse and it has MAJORLY helped with muscle tension. It’s main ingredient is magnesium, which helps your body get rid of lactic acid, which is what makes you sore and tense.
  • L-Theanine (helps you switch from “alpha waves” alert and tense to “beta waves” alert and relaxed)
  • Melatonin (will spare your serotonin)
  • Progesterone cream for the second half of cycle. (To balance all the excess estrogen that is in all of our environments.)

**Don’t just go purchase any old version of vitamins from the grocery store.  There are good quality supplements and crappy ones. And also, it really is important to get the right amounts and proportions.  It’s important you’re not just doing this all on your own.  Talk to doctors, nutritional counselors. etc.**

I saw improvement IMMEDIATELY. It’s like my body was saying, “OH MY GOSH I NEEDED THIS! THANK YOU!”  Not everything was 100%, but it was a gazillion times better. Almost no insomnia except occasionally.  No more fight or flight.  Digestion improved, etc.  I was still dealing a little with back pain, but it was much better.

This was sort of the beginning of feeling better and then I started to do my own research and have tweaked some things and started learning more about gut-health.  There is SO MUCH more than what I can share in this one post, and I do plan to share more.  I don’t think supplements are the hope of the world, but this experience made me really begin to value them where as previously I truly just wanted to believe that they weren’t necessary.

The other half of this story is that I recently became a Plexus Ambassador.  I really consider myself more of a health/nutrition ambassador because I could care less if you use Plexus, as long as you at least TRY to improve your health with good quality supplements/nutritional support. Y’all know that honesty is my greatest strength and greatest vice. That said, Plexus products impressed me and I had a lot of trustworthy people who shared incredible stories of restored health via Plexus, so it’s ONE of the brands that I trust. If you want more info about Plexus or other brands, send me a message or leave a comment. I’ve been using the products for a month, and I am undoubtedly seeing positive changes.

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I was impressed that Plexus changed their vitamin so that ALL the ingredients are readily absorbed by the body. Specifically, MTHF.

And here’s what I would literally tell ANYONE with any kind of health problem.

  • It’s not your fault.
  • There is hope.
  • It’s physical but also spiritual. “Man does not live on bread (physical nutrients) alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) “He sent forth his word and he healed them.” (Psalm 107:20) Be reconciled to the God who created and loves you.
  • It’s spiritual but also physical. Man does not live on bread ALONE. But he does need food (nutrients). (1 Tim 6:8, Ephesians 5:29)
  • Your gut is your second brain. Find products to heal your gut. (Probiotics, digestive enzymes)
  • When your gut is healed, it can better absorb nutrients. Find good quality, bioavailable supplements, and eat nutrient dense foods that don’t cause blood sugar spikes or inflammation.
  • Listen to your body.  Change your diet so you begin to feel better on the inside.  Don’t aim for perfection, but just tweak as you go, and it’s okay to have a treat now and then if you can do it and still feel okay!
  • Exercise. Gentle exercise like walking is great, but just do whatever movement you can actually enjoy. This is literally nature’s antidepressant, and we could all use a little more vitamin D3.

I believe with all my heart that we could all greatly benefit even with just a little extra support to our diets. Life, the human body, it’s a complex thing with many overlapping systems. Nothing should ever be looked at in a vacuum, but as a WHOLE. Supplements aren’t THE answer, but they are ONE answer.  I am just a student, and I’ve developed quite the hobby learning all about health from a more natural standpoint. Most importantly, supplements have legitimately helped me. Take it from a friend, they can help you too.

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Leah

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