Are There Ways to Decrease Postpartum Depression?
After childbirth, many women go through drastic mood swings. One minute you may feel elated, and the next, you burst into tears. The phenomenon of uncharacteristic emotional ups and downs after giving birth is what many know as postpartum depression (PPD). Some women may experience difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or even having an appetite. These symptoms usually start about three to four days after delivery and may last several days or weeks. Please know this: you are not alone.
Approximately 1 in 7 women in the United States develops postpartum depression. The most effective way to diagnose and treat your PPD is by visiting your doctor. You’ll receive a plan tailored to you that will bring the best possible outcome. There are also a handful of things you can do at home to help cope with your everyday life.
In the early days, weeks, months, and even years of motherhood, it can be easy to think of yourself as nothing more than “just a mom.” You may feel an overwhelming burden always to put your child or children first, thinking it’s the best possible route to being a “supermom.” However, maintaining pre-motherhood hobbies of your own, or developing new ones, allows you to escape from the chaotic routine of life and remain faithful to the woman you are, apart from motherhood.
Whether you prefer painting, yoga, photography, or even reading, choose what makes you feel the most like yourself. Just because a new life is born doesn’t mean that you should put yours aside. You’re more than “just a mom” and have a lot of passion and personality that deserves to continue shining while you also care for your child or children.
Sunlight is a fantastic way to help your body produce Vitamin D — an essential nutrient that fights against depression of any type. You don’t have to spend hours in the sun to start noticing the effects. Even as little as 30 minutes can start lifting your spirits. (Reminder: ALWAYS apply sunscreen to you and baby!) Of course, if you live in a climate with cold winter months, you won’t be able to peacefully bask in the sun as much as you do in warmer months. In this case, a Vitamin D supplement will suit the task just fine. Before taking any supplements, always consult your doctor to ensure it will not interfere with any other medications.
Even though it may seem impossible right now, you need sleep. If you aren’t getting your rest, you could be more susceptible to postpartum depression. A lack of sleep can cause your brain to overwork itself and cause more mood swings. If possible, ask your partner if they can help out a little extra a few nights a week. In addition, take advantage of any moments your little one is asleep. When baby sleeps, mommy should sleep too. Housework and other errands can wait until your energy levels are back to normal.
When you have a baby, regular life keeps going — in fact, your life may suddenly seem extra full and chaotic. You’re juggling feeding sessions, household chores, work, or other kids. It can be tempting to call yourself superwoman and get it all done yourself. However, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Ask your friend, sibling, or in-law to babysit once in a while for a few hours. Those few moments of support will feel like a huge weight lifted off your shoulders. In addition, schedule some time out of the week to focus on yourself. Decompress by going on a walk, taking a nap, watching a movie, or doing some meditation.
While exercise is an essential part of everyday life, it is especially vital when dealing with PPD. Exercise can improve blood flow to the body and brain, thus allowing you to think clearer and release positive endorphins to your brain. Even though it may be hard to get out of bed some days, that is all the more reason to get up and treat your body right. The more time you spend exercising, the more energy you will build and the better you will feel. Even a short jog or walk can help your brain start releasing endorphins. Before partaking in any physical activity, please consult your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to begin.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Clean eating is just another tool to use against PPD. It isn’t the cure-all, but it sure does help. By getting into the habit of eating food that will fuel your body in the right way, your body will start to intake the vitamins and minerals it requires. Whole foods such as spinach, carrots, apples, and peanut butter are excellent sources of rich nutrients that will keep you going throughout the day. If there’s no time to cook a super hearty, fancy breakfast, a smoothie with kale and lots of fruits will do wonders for your gut.
In addition, many women like to focus on fish oils because they are often rich in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other omega-3 fatty acids. It’s known that women who have lower levels of DHA have higher rates of postpartum depression. You can acquire your intake through supplements or seafood. Before choosing to increase your DHA dosage, make sure to consult with your doctor.
Postpartum depression can seem unending and very isolating at times, especially when you have a lot on your plate. But it’s so important to remember to take care of yourself and remember you’re not alone. There are thousands of women all over the world who have experienced PPD. So give yourself credit where it’s due, and keep pushing forward. As always, reach out for help. Talk to your loved ones and consult your doctor about what you’re going through. The road may seem dark, but it’s not a dead end.