Nutritional guide for postpartum (after childbirth) recovery

‘Matrascence’, the process of becoming a mother involves pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. The postpartum period is when your body undergoes physical changes to return back to your previous non-pregnant state [1]. This period can last for approximately 6 weeks following childbirth, but can vary between women. A high priority during postpartum recovery is healing from your childbirth wounds. Looking after yourself will aid effective wound healing, and help you regain your strength to continue caring for your newborn.

Childbirth, both natural and caesarean section, are physically and emotionally strenuous experiences. A natural childbirth can be described as a marathon, lasting between 8-14 hours [2, 3]. The main wound from natural childbirth is the perineum injury. This can be caused by a tear or a surgical incision to enlarge the vaginal opening. A caesarean section is classified as major abdominal surgery, and healing from the surgical wounds are the main concern. Wound healing is largely dependent on your nutritional status. This article will outline the key nutrients that support postpartum recovery and how Belmarita can help you.

The importance of nutrition during postpartum recovery

Wound healing requires the intricate involvement of various systems (e.g. immune and circulation) and cells (e.g. skin, immune and muscle). The rise in physiological activity at the site of the wound increases metabolic demand for various nutrients. Optimal nutritional status will provide a favourable environment for tissue repair and regeneration. In addition to wound healing, there are other key areas involved in postpartum recovery, nutrients that benefit each area are outlined in Table 1. It is important to note that nutritional deficiencies can hamper wound healing, and consequently increase postpartum recovery time.

Table 1. Nutrients for key areas in postpartum recovery

  Health area Description Beneficial nutrients
1 Immune health A healthy immune system is vital for wound healing and reduces the risk of wound infection. Immune cells initiate and coordinate the wound healing process.
  • Bovine colostrum
  • Biotin
  • Antioxidants: vitamin A, C, E, piperine, zinc, turmeric
2 Wound healing Wound healing is a complex and controlled process that involves a myriad of pathways to replace and regenerate cells. Optimal nutritional status supports wound healing processes.
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamins A, C and E
  • Zinc
  • Biotin
3 Skin health Healthy skin promotes wound healing. Other skin concerns such as loose skin, dryness, scarring can be improved when you care for your skin.
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamins A, C and E
  • Biotin
  • Nicotinamide
  • Zinc
4 Circulation Healthy blood circulation is vital for wound healing, skin health and immunity. Blood delivers immune cells, oxygen and nutrients to the wound site to promote healing.
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin E
  • Piperine
5 Pain Relief Managing pain (e.g. cramps) and swelling will help you during postpartum recovery.
  • Turmeric
6 Energy levels Your body will experience an increase in energy requirements for wound healing and breast milk production. It is important to support your energy needs and reduce oxidative stress.
  • Biotin
  • Nicotinamide

These 9 beneficial nutrients for postpartum recovery have been formulated in Belmarita.

Belmarita – The formulation that supports after birth recovery

Belmarita is comprehensive and multi-action formula to assist women’s natural healing and recovery processes during the post-partum period. Formulated based on traditional knowledge and scientific research, Belmarita consists of 9 active ingredients that include turmeric, colostrum, antioxidants and B vitamins.

The ingredients in Belmarita are sourced from quality and reputable herbal and nutrient suppliers around the world. Proudly made in Australia, Belmarita is a product regulated by Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – a division in the Australian Department of Health, and manufactured in Australia in compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to ensure quality, safety and efficacy.

Understanding how Belmarita works

Belmarita was formulated to support 6 key areas in postpartum recovery (Table 1). This section will explain each of these key areas and how the active ingredients in Belmarita function.

Nutrients for immune health during postpartum recovery

Fundamental to postpartum recovery is your immune health. A healthy immune system is vital for wound healing and reduces the risk of wound infection [4]. If your immune health is compromised, healing progression is hindered and your recovery time will increase. In addition, the risk of getting infections is also increased, and infections can complicate your recovery.

Immune cells initiate and direct all 4 stages of wound healing: hemostasis (stop blood flow), inflammation, proliferation (repair and formation of new tissues) and remodeling (strengthen tissues, promote skin cell growth to close wound) [4]. There are several nutrients and antioxidants that function to enhance and support immune health, Table 2. Belmarita features all these active ingredients.

Table 2. Nutrients and antioxidants for immune health during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Bovine colostrum
  • Enhance and supports healthy immune function
  • Enriched with nutrients, growth factors, antibodies, vitamins and minerals
Biotin
  • Deficiency is associated with impaired immune system function and increased susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections
Antioxidants: Vitamin A, C, E, Piperine, zinc, turmeric
  • Antioxidant activity prevents cell damage from free radicals, which is critical for maintaining optimal health
  • Antioxidants prevents damage to immune cells and help improves immune function [5]
  • Helps modulate resistance to infectious pathogens [5]
  • Zinc is essential in the immune system, it is required for the normal development and function of immune cells, e.g. neutrophils and macrophages
  • Deficiency of zinc, vitamin A, C and E  causes immune dysfunction and increased susceptibility to infections

Nutrients for wound healing during postpartum recovery

Wound healing is one of the main concerns for women during postpartum recovery. It is a complex process that involves a myriad of pathways involved in replacing damaged cells and structures, re-storing skin barrier function, re-establishing tissue integrity and maintenance of homeostasis (body’s internal balance) [6, 7].

The main wounds obtained from childbirth include perineal injury from natural birth, or abdominal surgical wounds from caesarean section. These wounds can cause pain and limit your activity while they heal. The duration for healing depends on the size and degree of tissue damage in the wound [7].

Your nutritional status has a significant role in wound healing. Optimal nutritional status aids wound healing, and may improve outcomes such as reduce healing time. Whereas, nutritional deficiency impedes healing.

Nutrients that support wound healing by promoting skin healing, tissue regeneration, reduce redness and swelling, are listed in Table 3. These active ingredients are featured in the Belmarita formulation.

Table 3. Nutrients for wound healing during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Turmeric
  • Wound healing is enhanced and supported by the following actions: antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory activity [8, 9].
  • Stimulates the production of growth factors involved in wound healing [8].
  • Supports skin regeneration, collagen structure and remodeling [10].
  • Protects the skin through antioxidant activity and reduces inflammation through NF-κB inhibition [11, 12].
  • Curcumin acts as a pro-angiogenic agent by regulating TGF-β [13]. TGF-β induces angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels), hence, it facilitates the remodeling phase during wound repair [14].
  • Pre-clinical studies found curcumin treatment groups resulted in accelerated wound healing, reduced wound closure time, increase cellular proliferation and collagen synthesis [10, 15-17].
Vitamin A
  • Facilitates normal wound repair and promotes healthy scar tissue, an important step in wound healing.
  • Research suggests vitamin A increases the number of immune cells (monocytes and macrophages) at the wound site, modulates collagenase activity, and improves immune response [18-20].
  • Stimulate epithelial and fibroblasts growth, and has an anti-inflammatory effect in open wounds [21, 22].
  • Deficiency is associated with delayed wound healing and impaired immune function.
  • In a pre-clinical, vitamin A treatment groups displayed increased collagen cross-linkage rate, hence, enhancing wound healing [23].
Vitamin C
  • Essential for the synthesis of collagen, proteoglycans and other components of the intracellular matrix of tissues (e.g. skin, capillary walls) [18].
  • Supports immune response and enhances neutrophil function [18].
  • Increases angiogenesis [18].
  • Deficiency causes slow healing of wounds, abnormal collagen fibers that affect the intracellular matrix [24, 25].
Vitamin E
  • A lipophilic antioxidant that prevents lipid peroxidation [18].
  • Supports wound healing. The effects of vitamin E on wound healing is complex [18]
  • Anti-inflammatory effects reduces skin inflammation
Zinc
  • Zinc is required for tissue regeneration and repair in wound healing [26].
  • It is involved in DNA synthesis, cell division and protein synthesis [18].
  • Zinc demands are increased during wound healing [18].
  • Zinc deficiency leads to poor wound healing due to decreased protein and collagen synthesis [27].
Biotin
  • Pre-clinical and clinical studies have shown that biotin supplementation can support wound healing (e.g. improved wound histology) [27, 28]

Nutrients for skin health (appearance, moisture and quality) during postpartum recovery

Looking after skin is another important aspect in postpartum recovery. Healthy and moist skin supports wound healing processes (e.g. collagen synthesis and cell proliferation) and contributes to improved outcomes (e.g. faster healing and better quality of healing) [29, 30]. Dry skin impedes wound healing because the cells (e.g. immune, skin and blood vessels) involved in healing require a moist environment to function optimally. In addition, dry skin lacks elasticity and is more likely to break and tear.

Other skin concerns include loose skin, stretch marks and scarring. You need to remember that your skin was stretched over 9 months to accommodate and protect your baby. The time required for your skin to tighten depends on a number of factors such as age, genetics and skin elasticity. You need to be patient with your skin and look after it over time to improve its quality, appearance and health. When your body has fully recovered, exercising can help tighten loose skin on your body (seek medical advice on when you can begin exercise).

Scarring is normal in the wound healing process. Over time your body will add more collagen to the wounded area to refine it, and the scar will slowly fade [29]. Caring for your skin health will help minimize the scar appearance.

Nutrients that support skin health by various mechanisms are outlined in Table 4. These active ingredients are featured in the Belmarita formulation.

Table 4. Nutrients for skin health during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Turmeric
  • An in vitro study indicated that turmeric may decrease scarring by reducing scar tissue formation [31]
Vitamin A
  • Important for cellular differentiation, a process that helps cells reproduce normally (e.g. skin cell turnover) [32]
  • Promotes healthy skin by providing photoprotection (protect against UV-induced damage), and fights signs of photoaging (e.g. roughness) [33]
Vitamin C
  • Important for collagen synthesis and healthy skin [34].
  • Deficiency declines collagen synthesis, which leads to poor connective tissue and fragility of blood vessels [34].
  • Protects skin against UV light exposure through its antioxidant activity [34].
  • Vitamin C intake is associated improved skin outcomes e.g. better appearance, reduce skin wrinkling [35, 36].
Vitamin E
  • Required for the maintenance of healthy skin [37]
  • Antioxidant activity prevents oxidative damage and UV-induced damage [37]
  • Anti-inflammatory effects helps prevent inflammatory damage after UV exposure [37]
Biotin
  • Important for the maintenance of healthy skin. Signs of biotin deficiency include hair loss and skin rash [38].
Nicotinamide (vitamin B3)
  • Required for the maintenance of skin health
  • Involved in inflammatory responses, DNA repair and apoptosis (cell death) [39]
  • Deficiency is associated with dermatitis and skin inflammation around of the mouth and tongue [40]
Zinc
  • Zinc is involved in skin cell proliferation [41]
  • Maintains skin health, zinc is required in a number of zinc-dependent metalloenzymes in the skin that are involved in wound remodeling [41]
  • Antioxidant activity protects the skin from oxidative damage [41]

Nutrients for circulation during postpartum recovery

Healthy blood circulation is highly important for effective wound healing during postpartum recovery and overall skin health. Blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to all skin layers to maintain skin health. In the wound healing process, blood delivers cells (e.g. platelets and monocytes), nutrients and oxygen to the wound area for repair and regeneration [4, 43]. Oxygen is vital for collagen formation, growth of new capillaries and infection control [42]. Consequently, reduced blood flow hinders wound healing and can lead to chronic wound if not healed properly.

Nutrients that support healthy blood circulation are outlined in Table 5. Belmarita features these active ingredients.

Table 5. Nutrients for healthy circulation during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Turmeric
  • Anti-coagulant properties help prevent blood clot formation (blood stasis) [43]
  • Used in traditional medicine to dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation [43]
Vitamin E
  • Prevents blood clots forming and promoting blood circulation [44]
Piperine
  • Used in Asia for the treatment of poor peripheral blood circulation [45]
Antioxidants: Vitamins A and C, Piperine, zinc, turmeric
  • Prevent blood vessel inflammation
  • Help maintain endothelial function

Nutrients for pain relief during postpartum recovery

Managing pain while you recover from the childbirth wounds will help you during postpartum recovery. Another symptom you may experience is cramping. Cramping is normal and it assists in the uterine involution (shrinkage) process [3]. After childbirth, your uterus weighs approximately 1kg [1]. After 6 weeks when uterine involution is complete, the uterus is reduced down to 100g [1]. The cramps can feel strong and regular in the first 12 hours of postpartum, however, the intensity and frequency will decrease as uterine involution progresses.

Turmeric provides pain relief actions (Table 6), and this active ingredient has been included Belmarita.

Table 6. Turmeric for pain relief during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Turmeric
  • Pain relieving properties
  • A clinical trial found turmeric supplementation resulted in pain relief that was comparable to phenylbutazone, and better than placebo in post-operative patients [46]
  • Scientific research found that the antinociceptive effects of turmeric was beneficial for postoperative pain and aided recovery [47, 48].

Nutrients for energy levels during postpartum recovery

During postpartum, your body will have increased energy needs for wound healing and producing breast milk. It is normal for women to feel fatigue during postpartum. B vitamins are involved in energy production, including these nutrients will help you with your energy requirements (Table 7). These active ingredients have been included in Belmarita.

Table 7. B vitamins to support energy levels during postpartum recovery

Nutrient Health benefits
Biotin and nicotinamide
  • Required for energy metabolism
  • Symptoms of deficiency include weakness and fatigue [49]

Belmarita Product Highlights: The turmeric and piperine combination

Turmeric is a spice derived from the rhizomes of the tropical plant Curcuma longa Linn. The main active constituent in turmeric is curcumin, it is classified as a curcuminoid. The curcumin featured in Belmarita is Curcumin C3 Complex®, a patented extract of turmeric.  Curcumin C3 Complex® is the most clinically researched curcumin brand, with more than 80 research papers, including 45 clinical studies published in peer reviewed scientific and medical journals.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that the oral bioavailability of curcumin is relatively low [50]. However, when orally administered with piperine, curcumin bioavailability is improved significantly [51]. Hence, both of these active ingredients have been included in Belmarita. The piperine featured in Belmarita is BioPerine®, a patented active ingredient that has been clinically proven to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%, Figure 1 [52].

 

Figure 1. The bioavailability of curcumin, and curcumin + BioPerine® after oral administration in humans. Curcumin administered with BioPerine® significantly improved its bioavailability and raised serum levels; Cmax was reached at 0.75 hours [52]. Whereas curcumin administered on its own showed low bioavailability.

Figure 1. The bioavailability of curcumin, and curcumin + BioPerine® after oral administration in humans. Curcumin administered with BioPerine® significantly improved its bioavailability and raised serum levels; Cmax was reached at 0.75 hours [52]. Whereas curcumin administered on its own showed low bioavailability.

Summary

Belmarita is a comprehensive and multi-action formula for postpartum recovery and wound healing. Formulated based on traditional medicine and scientific research, Belmarita features 9 key nutrients such as turmeric, piperine, colostrum, antioxidants and B vitamins. The active ingredients have multiple functions in key areas involved in postpartum recovery, including supporting immune health, promoting skin repair and healthy circulation.

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