The Autonomic Nervous System of many women breaks during pregnancy and if left untreated the damage may linger for a lifetime; I call them “Broken Mommies”.
Autonomic injury is why Broken Mommies are unable to regain their pre-pregnancy health and suffer from foggy brains and poor memory, ADD, dizziness, chronic hunger and weight gain, intestinal problems (bloating, heartburn, frequent urination, constipation or diarrhea), or anxiety or depression.
These moms suffer from real physical damage that is not a normal part of motherhood, and on brain testing the damage can appear the same as a high impact sports concussion.
It all begins in the third trimester, when the mother gives 50% of her bodies’ Omega-3 fatty acid stores to her baby for neurological development. If the mother has adequate daily supplies of Omega-3 (wild fish, fish oil) and low amounts of Omega-6 (processed foods, vegetable oils), her neurological system easily recovers.
But if the mother’s diet prior to conception is deficient in Omega-3’s, this leaves her neurological system in a fragile state and prone to damage. She does not fully recover after the first pregnancy, and any subsequent pregnancies take an even greater toll.
Some women “break” after one pregnancy, others break after their second or third as they become even more Omega-3 depleted. In some moms it is the sudden depletion of Omega-3 stores that can trigger post-partum depression.
The stress of pregnancy coupled with Omega-3 depletion leads to Autonomic Nervous System damage. When the Autonomics work correctly they are “automatic” and you don’t even know they exist. The field of Autonomics encompasses almost everything that goes wrong when your body is not working “automatically” perfect like it should.
The Autonomics are the brain’s master control mechanism for the entire body. The Autonomics control every organ in the body such as the heart, bladder, stomach, intestines and kidneys. It is how the brain regulates your blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep cycles, immune system, and hormones.
The Autonomics also control many smaller functions like when your pupils dilate, hiccups, and the adrenaline that produces nightmares. Basic bodily functions that no one really thinks about until the moment they start to malfunction.
The Autonomics have 2 branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. One or both branches may be injured during childbirth.
If the “fight or flight” sympathetic brain commands are disrupted the mothers feel tired, crave salt or sugar, or get anxious. Mothers may get heart palpitations, tingling or numbness in their arms (hands or face), disrupted night vision, or stiff necks and severe (“migraine”) headaches. They also create adrenaline rushes that fuel insomnia, nightmares, or anger.
If the “rest and digest” parasympathetic brain commands are disrupted they affect the intestinal tract (heartburn or constipation), immune system (autoimmune disorders) and produces chronic pain syndromes (fibromyalgia).
The mothers may get sleep apnea, “restless legs”, morning nausea, night sweats/hot flashes, or power surge sensations when they should be at rest. It leaves them exhausted in the morning despite a full night’s sleep.
The parasympathetic dysfunction may also trigger small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). In the short term SIBO can trigger bladder infections, strep throat, eczema, and thyroid problems. In the long term SIBO triggers Autoimmune Disorders like Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Both Autonomic dysfunction and SIBO impair the immune system, contributes to obesity, and ignites the metabolic inflammation which activates our genetic weaknesses for cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, and other such diseases.
The first step to reversing Broken Mommy damage is Autonomic spectral analysis testing, a non-invasive test that takes about 15 minutes in my office which breaks down the sympathetic and parasympathetic functioning. It tells me which branches, and to what extent, have been injured and no longer works automatically.
The second part of the treatment plan may include short-term medication to allow the brain and nervous system to heal, and re-testing after 6 months to track recovery and stop medication. Many Broken Mommies also need treatment for the SIBO overgrowth. Long-term maintenance often requires a high omega-3, low omega-6 diet because once broken the moms are susceptible to Autonomic re-injury.
If you think you might be a Broken Mommy, you probably are a Broken Mommy. But you don’t have to remain a Broken Mommy. Your body and brain might just need a little medical testing and help to repair your Autonomics and achieve a healthier intestinal blend.
© Copyright 2014. Dr. Patrick M. and Jean R. Nemechek. All rights reserved.