Coffee With Gi? Sign up to get the exclusive interview in your inbox.

All Blog PostsWellbeing, Baby

How can I manage my PCOS as a new mum?

While PCOS affects at least 1 in 10 women (though this may be closer to 1 in 5), common knowledge of symptoms is generally limited to those linked to fertility issues, weight problems and excess hair…charming! You only have to spend minutes in a PCOS body to know that the symptoms are more far reaching than those affecting fertility and outward appearance and can actually impact energy levels, sleep quality, mood, cognition, eating patterns, mental health and so much more.

For women with PCOS who have recently given birth, many find that symptoms are kept at bay in the immediate postpartum period but can come back with a vengeance once cycles return. Coupled with the hormone changes post-birth, sleep deprivation and the demands of raising a family, we can despair of ever getting our hormones back on track and PCOS symptoms under control.

 

PCOS can be difficult to manage, for me it took dedication, time and consistency which I had in abundance at the beginning of my PCOS journey but much less so now that I have a very energetic toddler. Many times in my postpartum period I asked myself how on earth I was going to manage my PCOS and get my body back on track and the answer I kept coming back to was that I needed to turn my whole approach on its head.

 

Gone were the days where I could produce elaborate hormone supporting meals and dedicate whole evenings to selfcare – I now had to figure out where I could fit micro-habits and the simplest of hormone hacks that would still pack a punch into the small amount of time I had for my own wellbeing as a busy new mum. It took some time but I discovered some very effective and easily actionable tips that got me back to feeling my best while optimising my fertility.

 

Tips to managing PCOS as a new mum

 

Start the day with protein

I know it’s much simpler to eat the same breakfast as our little ones but these often carbohydrate heavy meals like porridge, toast and cereal can wreak havoc on our blood sugar balance and worsen PCOS symptoms.  It’s thought that for up to 80% of those with PCOS, insulin resistance and imbalanced blood sugar can be the driver of our PCOS – this means that eating for balanced blood sugar, especially for breakfast, can actually reduce our levels of excess ‘male’ hormones (androgens) like testosterone and lessen unpleasant symptoms like acne, excess hair growth, hair loss and regulate cycles.

Though it may be difficult at first, taking a little time to prepare ourselves a breakfast of eggs, toast and veggies, smoked salmon with avocado or a protein smoothie can actually keep energy levels and appetite steady, reduce sugar and carb cravings and even evening snacking in women with PCOS.  Having imbalanced blood sugar can really impact mood and our ability to deal with stress, so prioritising ourselves in the morning can actually help us to be more patient mums throughout the day.

 

Caffeine after breakfast

Now I know this is easier said than done but drinking caffeine on an empty stomach can prolong our natural morning cortisol spike, impacting our ability to adapt to stress and worsening PCOS symptoms.  Women with PCOS often have a dysregulated stress response meaning our responses can often be heightened and as our androgen excess can be fuelled by stress hormones, we really don’t want to worsen this.  Having caffeine with breakfast is a really simple way to reduce this impact while still enjoying the stimulatory benefit.

 

Daily movement over rigid exercise routines

It can be really easy to succumb to ‘bounce back’ culture or the pressure to return to pre-pregnancy workout routines but I truly believe that at a time when physical demands on the body are high, the best exercises for PCOS are those that focus on nourishment and kindness to the body, like walking or yoga.  The last thing we need when sleep deprived is to be forcing daily HIIT into nap time when we could be resting.  Unless you really feel like getting sweaty, simple movement like walking, boogying with your baby and gentle pilates can be all that the body needs.  If you want to get back into the gym, this isn’t a bad idea at all as building muscle can be very beneficial for PCOS as it improves insulin sensitivity, again supporting blood sugar balance.  That being said, start low and slow, building up over time and please don’t expect to be lifting your pre-baby weights.

I always say that the best exercise for PCOS is whatever you enjoy and this certainly applies here!

 

Habit stack for stress reduction

I know from experience that the pressure of fitting stress reduction into a busy day can actually make us feel more stressed, but I find that stacking simple stress reducing techniques onto my existing daily habits really simple.

An example of this is belly breathing, in for 4 and out for 8, which you can do whilst doing your everyday routine, like whilst breastfeeding, waiting for bottle prep or for the kettle to boil.

Or humming while brushing teeth or in the shower.

Belly breathing and humming both stimulate the vagus nerve, a nerve that runs from brain to gut and controls our ability to adapt to stress (among other incredible things). Taking a few minutes to switch the body out of ‘fight or flight’ and into its restful state can have a huge impact to our mood, sleep quality and our hormone balance.

 

Supplements

Though PCOS supplements aren’t one-size-fits-all by any means, it can be worth considering Inositol, magnesium and vitamin D.  While all three have links to insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance, they also have some incredible benefits for us PCOS-ers.

Inositol can help to control sugar and carbohydrate cravings while improving egg quality and regulating cycles, magnesium glycinate can help to support our stress response and improve sleep quality.  Similarly, as Vitamin D deficiency is linked to low immunity and energy levels and is very common in those with PCOS, it’s well worth supplementing during winter months where it can’t be absorbed from the sun – a good quality vitamin D and k2 supplement is preferable.

 

It may feel counter intuitive during these busy years of raising a young family but spending a little time on simple self care techniques can really improve PCOS symptoms, making us better mums overall – remember you can’t fill from an empty cup. These tips also help to optimise fertility for future babies should that be your path and are part of the framework for my approach with clients in clinic.

You can listen to my episode of Happy Mum Happy Baby: Parenting SOS with Giovanna Fletcher here, where I answered your PCOS questions.

If you’d like to explore how I may support your PCOS management and fertility on a one-to-one basis, please head to my website and follow me on Instagram over at @londonwellnesscoach where I post lots of PCOS hints and tricks.

You can also access my simple step-by-step video course The Complete PCOS Plan here. It’s instant access so you can start getting your hormones back on track today!

 

Biography

Lauren Johnson Reynolds is a registered Nutritional Therapist, Homeopath, PCOS expert and Women’s Health Speaker. After years of working as a backing singer, Lauren turned to natural medicine to manage debilitating PCOS symptoms and heal ailments caused by a busy lifestyle on the road. Soon she was acne, eczema and IBS free, having regular periods and inspired to train in holistic healing.

Amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic Lauren qualified and launched London Wellness Coach, an online clinic for Women’s Health where the root cause approach focuses on empowering women to understand their bodies and heal themselves through diet and lifestyle changes.

Despite being told at the age of 14 that she would have difficulty getting pregnant, through implementing these same methods, on Christmas Day 2021 Lauren gave birth to a healthy baby girl and is now halfway through her second pregnancy.

Lauren is passionate about making this information affordable and accessible to the masses as she believes that every woman should be able to thrive with PCOS.

Share with