Local doctor releases new book on postpartum self-care and shares advice for boosting vitamin D levels during and after pregnancy

By Dr. Emilie Wilson

Light has a way of shifting perspective. For years, walks have provided me time and space for reframing challenges, enjoying victories, and planning ahead. And I’m not unique: as I write this, a dear friend is asking herself some big questions while she walks the Camino de Santiago in sunny Spain.

Getting outside is essential for physical and mental wellness, especially in pregnancy. Historically, pregnant women were told to take it easy; we know now how essential movement is to a healthy pregnancy and a better postpartum. Most pregnant people can walk safely, and it also gets you outside for fresh air and sunshine.

Sunlight also boosts vitamin D levels: vitamin D is both a vitamin and a hormone, and its synthesis begins when sunlight hits your skin. Vitamin D is necessary for your health throughout your lifetime, but it becomes really important in pregnancy and postpartum.

Lower vitamin D is associated with poorer health outcomes for both mom and baby, and low levels are also linked with many health conditions including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postpartum depression, and even poor sleep quality and increased risk of back pain.

As for screening, it’s proven difficult for the medical community to land on a recommended vitamin D level for pregnant and postpartum women. ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) does not define a recommended level, and states that it’s an area of active research.

In general, we know that a vitamin D level below 50 nmol/L is too low, and anything below 30 nmol/L is way too low. Pregnant women may want to aim for about 75 nmol/L, although some research points to levels between 90-100 nmol/L for miscarriage risk reduction and decreased depression in pregnant and postpartum lactating women.

My own pregnancy and postpartum left me with lots of questions, but it inspired me to pave a smoother path for other new moms.

So I wrote a book full of the most effective, research-backed methods for a healthier, happier postpartum experience: part memoir, part guide. I call it POST: The Essential Guide to Creating Your Postpartum Self-Care Plan in Pregnancy. Pregnant readers will learn how to create their own Postpartum Self-Care Plan, including creating a postpartum support circle before the baby arrives.

For now, ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels, and in the meantime, get outside for a walk. Not only is it good for your physical health, but the time away from your daily routine may provide new perspective.

Dr. Wilson founded Sanos Wellness to serve women’s hormonal and cardiometabolic health, and to support a healthier postpartum. Her book is available on Amazon. Visit www.sanoswellness.com for more information.