Postpartum depression is not a favourite topic. However, it is a common complication of childbirth that can develop at any point within the first year after giving birth. Did you know? Postpartum depression affects 1 in 10 new mothers. It is important to be aware of the risk factors and take steps to improve your mental health to help prevent postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Your body and mind go through many changes during and after pregnancy. If you feel sad, anxious, irritable and hopeless, sometimes accompanied by postpartum rage most of the time, you need to reach out to help. Other symptoms include fatigue, a significant increase of decrease in weight or appetite, feeling agitated, sluggish, guilty and worthless. If your symptoms persist and making it difficult for you to function, care for yourself and bond with your baby, then you may have postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be prevented. And many women successfully recovered from it.
Postpartum Depression Risks
To help prevent postpartum depression, women need to be aware of their risks. If you have low self-esteem, marital problem, a poor support system and a history of depression or anxiety, you are at a higher risk. Women who are experiencing baby blues or stressful life events which are beyond their control, may be also at risk of developing postpartum depression.
Ways to Prevent Postpartum Depression
Focus on everything your body has done and is doing for you and your baby
Your body did an extraordinary job. Well done to you! Your body just grew a baby and brought him or her into the world. Your body has done a lot of shifting, changing and growing to accommodate a new life. After giving birth, your body needs to provide milk for the baby while undergoing recovery from the birthing process. Besides, it gives you the strength to hold and carry the baby. You are doing all of that while getting very little sleep. We know you cannot wait to go back to your pre-pregnancy size, but let’s stop checking your body and appreciate what it has done for you and your baby. Acknowledge any negative body thoughts when they occur, then reframe them into a thought of gratitude and appreciation. You need to give yourself time. Your baby loves you no matter what.
Exercise helps mommies achieve greater well-being during pregnancy and postpartum. Studies have shown that exercising can help alleviate depression symptoms and also help it them from developing. Besides, exercise can also improve sleep and memory, reduce muscle tension and boost your happy hormones!
Eat a healthy diet
Having a balanced diet and getting adequate nutrition is beneficial for overall well-being. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to postpartum depression. Making an effort to consume omega-3 fatty acids, either in the form of foods or supplements, can be beneficial in helping to improve your mood. You can find this nutrient in certain fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel), nuts and seeds (e.g. flax, chia, and hemp), edamame, and kidney beans.
Eating a healthy diet is especially important for breastfeeding women. If you are nursing, you need up to 500 additional calories per day. Breastfeeding mothers should also limit caffeine to under 300 milligrams daily, which is approximately two to three cups of coffee. If you are concerned about whether you are getting adequate nutrition, speak to your nutritionist or dietitian.
Take time to connect with your baby
Caring for a newborn can be overwhelming, especially for first-time mothers, which can make it difficult to initially bond with your baby. Taking time to connect with your baby can help you feel more attached to your baby, which can make mothering more pleasurable. Make an effort to give yourself some time each day to be present and connect, even if that means putting off chores or other responsibilities for the time being.
Talk to other mothers
If you are feeling lonely or isolated, you can reach out to a mommy friend, family member, or professional. You can also consider joining an online or in-person support group for postpartum mothers. These groups may be run by a peer or professional and allow you to speak with other mothers who have a similar experience.
Ask for help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help and receive help when it is offered to you. Caring for a newborn is a lot of work. Having help with errands such as cooking, cleaning, laundry or running errands can help you ease so much stress and burden.
Consider Practicing Equal Parenting with Your Partner
Studies have shown that equal parenting helps reduce the chances of postpartum depression. By sharing the responsibilities of caring for a child since birth such as feeding, diaper changing, laundry, handling tantrums and late-night crying, mothers get to rest and recover from childbirth and sleep deprivation.