Hidden Solutions to Overcoming Stress in Motherhood

We're delighted to partner with Dr. Angela Potter to share her expertise in this post.

Stress. Parenthood. Those two words mean the same thing, right? According to the US Census Bureau, roughly 3.5 million mothers who had school-aged children left the workforce in March through April of 2020. Regardless of working either at a job while parenting, or as a stay-at-home parent, it’s clear:, the demands of balancing (or not balancing at all?) daily life in the past couple of years has taken its toll on parents’ health.

As a doctor and a mother to two under six myself, I personally understand the rigors of being a good mom while balancing work and family life. In fact, I used to be in a space where I couldn’t get off my couch. I could barely get myself and my baby out the door because I was struggling with severe anxiety, constantly worrying that something bad was going to happen. 

Woman lying on couch with back to camera, hiding face
What I was going through was severe burn-out. I had the knowledge, but I hadn’t yet discovered the vibrant health pathway. At that point, I became my own best patient. 

From that place of burn-out, I used the tools that I had as a nutritionist and a doctor to get to a place where I was able to heal my anxiety, naturally. Healing my body without medications was one of my main goals. Many people I work with take, or need, medications for anxiety, and it’s important to know that any one of those paths is okay. 

Dr Potter in Europe with a big happy smileThe burn-out disappeared and I got my energy back. That energy allowed my family and I to take a three-month trip to Europe where we visited 17 different cities, with a 3- and 5-year-old in tow. Now, I work with women all over the country who want to discover vibrant health for themselves. 

Today, I will share some key steps to take if you, too, want to heal your body naturally and get your energy back.

To do that, we will follow along with a patient of mine that I will call Julie. Many details from her story have been changed to protect her privacy. 

Julie was a working mom to a 3-year-old. She came in to see me because she was trying to get pregnant with her second baby, and yet she still felt completely worn-out and exhausted from her last pregnancy. It was taking two hours for her to fall asleep at night, and the exhaustion was making her worried she would get fired. She was taking an antidepressant, but was still struggling. 

I reminded Julie that in order to get to a place where she can get the long-lasting and effective results that she is looking for, she needed to find an approach that discovers the root cause of how she is feeling and treats that to its core.

The shortfall of medications used commonly for mood issues is that they often cover up symptoms, but don’t treat the underlying cause. This was happening in Julie’s case, because she was still struggling with stress and poor sleep, even though she was taking her medication. 

Start with Lab Work

Lab work is an important first step in identifying the root cause. This is how you find out what the inside of your body is telling you. As I do with all my new patients, I ordered lab work for Julie.  

No wonder Julie was burned-out and exhausted! Her lab work showed she was struggling with three of the most common issues that lead to chronic stress in anxiety that I see in my practice. Here’s a visual to explain a bit more.

Chronic stress and anxiety graphicThankfully, there are also simple and targeted ways to overcome these vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances.

For Julie, I replaced her vitamin B12 levels with specific supplementation. Julie was also positive for the MTHFR gene defect. If she had gone out and bought a B12 supplement off the shelf, it most likely would have the synthetic (man-made and hard for the body to use) form of vitamin B12 (called cyanocobalamin). Because she had this genetic disorder, if she had taken that supplement, it only would have made her feel worse. 

This is yet another reason why it’s so important to understand what your body is doing underneath it all to figure out answers to your health issues. 

Julie started my Stress Lowering Protocol to help her cortisol (stress hormone) levels come back to normal level. I also prescribed bio-identical progesterone to help raise her progesterone levels to not only help with stress, but also to help with her baby-making goals. 

Look at food and nutrition

Blood sugar cycle graphicAs is common for a working mom, Julie also wasn’t eating regular meals throughout the day and was relying on a lot of coffee. What this caused for Julie were some pretty significant blood sugar swings. Blood sugar has a significant effect on how people feel during the day. This graphic shows some of top ways we experience symptoms.

Julie and I came up with some changes to shift how she was eating. To begin, she started eating breakfast and lunch. That small step was effective enough to help improve her exhaustion in the late afternoons so she could be more present with her daughter. 

By the time she was done working with me, Julie had made great strides. She was able to get off her medication, she wasn’t stressed about losing her job, and she was sleeping through the night. 

Health can be really complex. What causes your stress and burn-out is most likely different from what caused Julie’s. This is why the first and most important step to getting answers for your health issues is to understand the root cause of what is leading to how you feel.

Do you need to find an experienced practitioner who can help you with that very thing? Reach out to discuss your health concerns and let’s start turning your health around.

About Dr. Angela Potter

Photo of Dr. Angela Potter for the Portland Mom & Baby Guide
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Dr. Potter is a women’s health naturopathic doctor and leading expert in helping busy, burned-out women reclaim their health, energy and vitality. After overcoming hormone imbalance and postpartum anxiety herself, she is on a mission to help 10 million women create a vibrant, potent, juicy, healthy life.

Dr. Potter is also a speaker and has shared the stage with various CEO’s and global thought-leaders from corporations like Google, Microsoft and Headspace and has been interviewed for Healthline.com. Dr. Potter is a nutritionist as well as a doctor. 

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids. Find out more at www.drangelapotter.com.