Motherhood is the best gift for any woman. Giving birth to a life is always great but all great things have certain drawbacks. New motherhood brings lots of changes. Life, priorities, responsibilities everything gets changed. A girl usually goes through countless emotions after being a mother. A new mom can feel anything from joy to sadness. New mothers need to cope up with hormonal disbalance, lack of sleep, and even breast pain. What about a deep emotional pain getting added to it? Not the milder ‘baby blues’ but more serious than that. It is the ‘Postpartum Depression’. Are you a new mom and feel the same? If yes, then here is your solution. Postpartum depression is a serious thing and you need to get rid of it. So, here you get complete guidance about postpartum depression and how to cope up with it.
What is Postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen with some women after giving birth. According to DSM 5, PPD or postpartum depression is a form of major depression that begins within 4 weeks after delivery. Postpartum depression is linked to chemical and psychological changes that happen only after giving birth. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience.
Symptoms of Postpartum depression:
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be hard to detect. Many women have these symptoms following childbirth. The symptoms would be:
• Trouble sleeping
• Appetite changes
• Severe Fatigue
• Lower libido
• Frequent mood changes or mood swings
• Being uninterested in the baby or feeling like the special bond is not there.
• Being over-emotional for no reason
• Always has a depressed mood
• Severe anger and crankiness
• Loss of pleasure
• Fear and panic attacks
• Feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
• Suicidal thoughts
• Feeling unable to care for baby
• Low motivation and lack of interest in daily activities
• Feeling of pain like, stomach ache or headache
• Lack of appetite
• Thought of hurting someone else
• Trouble concentrating or making decisions
• Panic disorder
• Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that rarely occur in the postpartum period. About 1-3% of women suffer from this. The obsessions are usually related to concerns about babies or irrational fears of harming the baby.
There is no certain cause for postpartum depression but it is considered that sharp hormonal changes along with psychological and emotional issues can be the reason for postpartum depression. The chemical changes involve the rapid drop of hormones after delivery. Estrogen and progesterone – these two female reproductive hormones increase tenfold during pregnancy and drop sharply after delivery. After 3 days of delivery, these hormones drop back to the normal level. This dramatic change of hormones may lead to frequent mood swings. Hormones produced by the Thyroid gland also drop sharply for which new moms feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Also, genetic factors anxiety, lack of sleep due to a newborn may contribute. The followings may increase the risk of postpartum depression-
• Past trauma
• Added stress of wok
• Lack of sleeping
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Feeling unattractive
• Lack of free time
• Having breastfeeding difficulties
• Having substance use disorder
• Lack of support from family and friends
• Had complications during delivery
• Lack of care from the family
• Experiencing preterm birth
• Feeling the need to be a perfect mother but unable to achieve this
• Had an unwanted pregnancy
• Social isolation and financial burden
• Past history of depression or bipolar disorder
How to cope up with or get rid of postpartum depression:
Relaxation is a very nice and healthy way to overcome PDD. Try out some relaxing yoga poses on a daily basis. You can try meditation as well; because meditation helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Breeding exercises are helpful to be calm and composed.
• Daily habit of exercise
Exercise has an antidepressant effect on women with PDD. Slowly develop your daily exercise routine. You can begin with gentle exercise just a few days after birth, only if you had a normal delivery or uncomplicated vaginal delivery. But if you have had complications, then ask your doctor before starting your daily exercise routine. Start with walking with your baby in a stroller. Aim to be active for 20-30 minutes per day. If that is too much you can cut it down to 15 minutes at least. You can hit the gym or your fitness classes as well, with doctor’s consultation. Otherwise, you can do it by yourself too.
• Sleep well
Sleeping is very important for new moms. Lack of sleep can make you irritated and impatient. Lower quantity of sleep can lead to a severe form of postpartum depression. Take a nap for at least 6-7 hours a day. If you are breastfeeding at night, then try to go to bed early. Ask your family and partner to take care of your baby while sleeping. Remember, restlessness is a big cause of postpartum depression. So, try to sleep well and lead a healthy motherhood.
• Maintain a healthy diet
Try to have healthy food and maintain a healthy diet. Increase the intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fresh color vegetables, green leafy vegetable fruits, berries, proper animal protein, etc. According to recent studies lower dietary intake of omega-3s is associated with developing this type of depression in the first place. Try to eat food that contains Omega-3 fatty acids. It may also be a potential alternative treatment for PPD. The mother needs to hydrate herself often as she keeps on breastfeeding. You can take supplements as well or else increase the intake of oily fish. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 also help to decrease the risk of developing PPD. Riboflavin is the only substance that has an opposite effect on mood disorder. So, try to intake food rich in riboflavin.
• Care for yourself
Self-care is very important after delivery. You need to take good care of yourself along with your baby. Create time for yourself. Take some time out from your mom’s duties and take small steps to indulge yourself. Do whatever you like to do or activities that can be a stress buster. Catch up your favorite show or do something that can elevate your mood. Just go out in the fresh air and enjoy nature. Nature can be a great mood lifter for you.
• Build a secure bond with your baby
A secure bond forms when you tune in and respond to your child’s needs such as picking them up or soothing them and reassuring them when they cry. This can make a special bond between you and your child. Try to maintain regular skin-to-skin contact with them. Skin-to-skin contact relaxes both mother and child and decreases stress. You can try baby massage as well, to decrease the severe symptoms of postpartum depression. Do some fun activity with your child, smile towards them, or play with them. These can make you feel better and help you to create a great bond with your child.
• Build a support network
Having positive social interactions and emotional support may help to reduce stress and anxiety. New mothers can sometimes feel lonely and overwhelmed by their new role. Loneliness has also been connected with high blood pressure and sleep issues. You need to seek help and support from your family and friends. If you struggle to connect with your surroundings, do not give up, forging new connections and friendships. You can also use social media to connect with people facing the same issues as you. Try to communicate with people. Having positive and effective communication is good for you and your child as well.
• Psychotherapy and medication
If you are in an advanced stage of PPD, try to take psychotherapy. For severe cases, Brexanolon, Celexa, and selective serotonin can be prescribed. Some antidepressants are safe to take if you’re breastfeeding. Make sure that your medications are prescribed by the doctor. With the doctor’s consultation, you can take hormone therapy as well. You can consult your problem with any professional therapist or psychologist.
Remember you are not alone in this. Don’t be scared or ashamed to talk about your postpartum depression. If you are in the early stage, you can overcome PPD by a normal self-care method. Do not overlook your PPD symptoms. For your child also, you need to stay healthy and fine both mentally and physically. Enjoy your new journey as a mother and love yourself.