Ask Elise

I Had a Baby Months Ago and I Still Feel Terrible—What Gives?

Ask Elise

Elise Loehnen, goop’s chief content officer, was raised by a doctor and a nurse. She doesn’t share the med degrees, just an endless curiosity about the mind and body (plus, spirit). We regularly consult her black book of MDs, NDs, PhDs, and all manner of healers—and she’s our go-to for really real pregnancy/parenting talk (mom of two). Now, you can send her your own q at [email protected].

Dear goop, I had my second kid about six months ago—I have a five-year-old as well—and I have never felt more run-down. My kids sleep through the night, too, so it’s hard to say it’s sleep deprivation. My doctor says I’m totally fine and healthy. What gives? —Hilary T.

Hi Hilary, You sound just like me! I’m not a doctor, and I’ve never played one on TV, but I was in similar straits after my first child was born. He was a great sleeper, always, but I still felt really rundown. I asked my doctor if anything could be wrong, and he told me that it was just how it is when you have a young kid. That felt frustrating. I’ve experienced chronic sleep deprivation before (hello college!), and this wasn’t it.

I explained this to Dr. Alejandro Junger (one of goop’s go-tos), who referred me to Dr. Oscar Serrallach, a family care doctor who practices in the Australian bush. Serrallach had come to believe in a concept called postnatal depletion, which he was observing in his patients and also in his partner, Caroline, with whom he has three kids. He was noting that women were becoming increasingly run-down after having kids, and he felt like something was up—but he could find nothing in published scientific literature to explain it. Some of this is social and cultural (we don’t have the support that we historically did, and we certainly don’t depend on our neighbors for childcare and “alloparenting” as our ancestors did), and some of this, in his estimation, comes from not having optimal micronutrient levels. In short, babies are incredibly taxing on our systems—they take everything that they need from us to thrive in utero, including A LOT of fat. Without a proper diet before, during, and after pregnancy, some of us don’t feel great.

“He was noting that women were becoming increasingly run-down after having kids, and he felt like something was up—but he could find nothing in published scientific literature to explain it.”

I had taken a basic prenatal vitamin, which I now realize was probably inadequate (it didn’t have a separate capsule of DHA, for example, so I wasn’t taking fish oil throughout my pregnancy, which is key for supporting brain health), and my ob-gyn never told me to continue taking it after I had my baby. So Dr. Serrallach put me on a vitamin and mineral regimen that ultimately became The Mother Load, our pre- and postnatal wellness protocol that includes six tablets to take every day, including DHA.

He also wrote a piece for us at goop about postnatal depletion that broke the internet—particularly because he believes that this concept can affect women for seven to ten years after they have a kid. After we published his story, we received emails from moms all over the globe who felt like they had finally been seen and heard. Moms who felt like they finally had an answer to why they never felt like themselves again. It has been really gratifying to share with them the tools and support they need to coach their bodies back to health.

Is The Mother Load vitamin protocol an intense daily regimen? Yes. (Internally, we refer to it as the Rolls-Royce of prenatals.) But will it help you replenish vitamin and mineral stores? In my experience, yes. (Your experience may vary and you should always ask your doctor.)

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.