Meet Katie Fitzgerald - Co-Owner of HelloEden
Posted on November 13 2020
Balancing Hormones Through All Phases of Motherhood
How did your own journey to motherhood inspire you to start Hello Eden?
My husband and I struggled for over 5 years with infertility. Following several rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages I found myself at an impasse. For the first time in my (reproductive) life my cycles vanished and my whole body was suffering from symptoms of hormonal freefall. Bloating, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, sleeplessness, stomach issues- my body was stressed to the maximum and crying out for relief. To get my cycles back it was suggested that I go on the pill but the idea of more synthetic hormones in the mix did not sit well with me. I went back to my roots as a Nutritionist and I started taking care of myself as if I was my own client. HelloEden’s formula is based on the regimen of supplements I adopted to assist with hormone balance, combat stress and inflammation, and support normal predictable menstruation. In just a few weeks I was looking and feeling so much better and most importantly my cycles came back. It worked so well in fact that one hopeful embryo split into two and I went on to have a very healthy pregnancy with my boys who are now 16 months. Effective as it was, my supplement routine was complicated, expensive, and time consuming. There was nothing on the market specifically targeted to hormone balance that was comprehensive and accessible so I created one! Reproductive health is the cornerstone of overall health and HelloEden is an easy way to nurture it every day.
Take us through the changes in women's hormones from when she conceives, through the months of pregnancy and then during and after birth?
Conception and First Trimester: Many women feel pregnant before knowing it due to an influx of estrogen, progesterone, hGC, and thyroid hormones, and the symptoms they bring forth from the very beginning. Following ovulation, a temporary gland called the corpus luteum is activated which produces progesterone and is essential for implantation. After conception, the embryo forms the beginnings of a placenta. This placenta releases hCG, the hormone that pregnancy tests look for, and this signals the corpus luteum to keep pumping out progesterone for about 10 weeks. Progesterone supports pregnancy by keeping the uterine lining inplace and intact while elevated estrogen increases blood flow to the uterine lining. At this stage, progesterone also signals the breast tissue to prepare for milk production which is why so many women experience breast tenderness in early pregnancy. HCG triggers thyroid hormones which are essential to a baby’s bone and neurological development.
Second Trimester: After 13 weeks gestation, hormone levels plateau which helps most women feel a bit better in their second trimester. Estrogen and progesterone continue to increase along with insulin. Typically your doctor will test for glucose concontrol in the middle of the second trimester due to increased Human Placental Lactogen (HPL) and insulin. While HPL encourages the growth of your baby, too much HPL can lead to the overgrowth of the baby, insulin resistance, and gestational diabetes.
Third trimester: Estrogen and progesterone levels reach their peak at about 32 weeks. Like the first trimester, the surge of these hormones can lead to more symptoms like leg swelling and heartburn. Now that the baby is getting ready to make her appearance, prolactin kicks in to prepare the breasts for milk making. An increase of oxytocin and drop in progesterone is the hormonal kickstart to labor and delivery.
Postpartum is in many ways a shock to the system. During pregnancy hormones gradually increase to their heights and very quickly crash once the baby is born.
Oxytocin: Immediately after birth the hormone oxytocin rushes through the body to promote feelings of bonding towards your infant. Along with the feelings of “you are my everything” oxytocin also activates momma bear mode, encouraging protective feelings that can lead to uneasiness and anxiety.
Estrogen Dominance: The biggest hormonal shift that occurs postpartum is estrogen dominance. During pregnancy, the placenta produces progesterone at levels much higher than it usually does during a typical cycle. Of course when the baby is delivered so is the placenta resulting in an immediate progesterone plummet. While this is happening, estrogen levels remain high leading to symptoms such as severe menstrual cramps, irregular and heavy periods, premenstrual fluid retention and weight gain or mood-related symptoms such as anxiety, panicky feelings, mood swings, feeling low or depression. These opposing forces are a major contributing factor to the emotional backlash referred to as “baby blues” and can catalyze postpartum depression.
Hypothyroid: Estrogen dominance causes the liver to produce increasing levels of thyroid-binding globulin. As the name states, it binds to thyroid hormone. Once thyroid hormone is bound in the blood, it is no longer free to enter the cells to be used as its intended function which leads to impaired thyroid function postpartum. Symptoms include brain fog, hair loss, fatigue, low mood, headaches, and constipation.
Why is it so important to keep our hormones balanced during postpartum and breastfeeding? How does Hello Eden help?
With so much happening all at once physically, emotionally, and mentally- postpartum can be a shock to the system. This is a normal, natural process but it can feel overwhelming. Taking care of an infant and breastfeeding is hard work to say the least and most mothers find it difficult to take care of themselves, especially in the beginning. HelloEden is an easy way to help postpartum women feel more balanced, manage physical stress, and regain regular cycles.
HelloEden is first and foremost a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement. Right after giving birth women are at a nutritional deficit so it is important to eat well and shore up nutrients for healing and lactation. Chasteberry helps prevent engorgement while probiotics, Maca root, ashwagandha, and turmeric are fantastic galactagogues (milk boosters). Stress can increase inflammation, prolong healing, and limit milk production and adaptogenic mushrooms like reshi, cordyceps, and chaga help to keep cortisol levels in check. Myo-inositol is great for rebalancing insulin levels which is important for overall health, mood, and metabolism.
You are trained as a Clinical Nutritionist, and health begins with what we put into our bodies each day, what are some of your go to foods for expecting and breastfeeding mamas?
With challenges like food aversions and general discomfort during pregnancy, it can be difficult to eat full meals. It’s a great idea to eat frequent small snacks throughout the day that are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense foods contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fat, protein, and carbs in a small serving. An easy way to do this is to add grass fed butter and/or high quality olive oil to vegetables, hummus to sandwiches, or pair nut butters with fruit. Protein is the building block of tissues so it’s important to prioritise foods like bone broth, poultry, approved seafood, and eggs. Digestion can become more difficult as your baby grows so you may find it helpful to take your fruits and vegetables in a smoothie with some high quality dairy or collagen protein. Also it’s a good idea to cook down your vegetables for better nutrient absorption and less stress on your tummy.
Many of the same rules apply in pregnancy and postpartum in regards to nutrition- get your protein in, and eat throughout the day to support milk production and healing. My favorite foods are oatmeal or overnight oats with almonds, bananas, and nut butter. Oatmeal and many whole grains like whole grain bread and brown rice are helpful for milk supply. Hydration is key for flushing out excess fluids from pregnancy and is essential for milk flow. To keep well hydrated and aim for about 120 ounces of water per day. Beans, leafy greens, and lean beef are important to incorporate to replace iron. Probiotic foods like naturally fermented veggies and yogurt can help balance gut flora which is great for your immune system, a rich milk supply, and staying regular.