Monday, July 18, 2011

Reducing the Risk of PPD and Other Postpartum Emotional Issues

Planning, hoping wishing and dreaming and now the big event finally happened… I just had a baby! So why am I not thrilled? Sadness after pregnancy may come as a surprise to many people who expect to be glowing with joy and bursting with pride, but it doesn’t always feel that way. For one thing, you've got a flood of hormones running through your body. You're also physically exhausted, maybe in pain from birth, and now you have a new responsibility that is wonderful, yes, but still a lot of work!
Mother and Newborn Baby Boy
Photo Credit: Jon Ovington
But don’t worry; it is normal to be a little overwhelmed, scared, sad, or confused.
According to The National Institutes of Mental Health, studies show that the childbearing years are when a woman is most likely to experience depression in her lifetime. Approximately 15% of all women will experience postpartum depression following the birth of a child. 
So What can you do?
  • Continue to take your prentatal vitamins! Some symptoms are caused by imbalances that can be helped by vitamins.
  • Eat Healthy- A healthy diet can also help to balance your body's chemistry. It is also vital to take in enough calories when nursing so your baby gets enough nutrition and you don't suffer physically. Talk to your doctor about setting up a diet plan. TOO HARD? Try these simple guidelines: eat a good balance of all the important nutrients! Include dairy, bananas, soy based, folates (leafy greens), and turkey (good source of tryptophan to help your body's production of serotonin). Also citrus foods for vitamin C!
  • Support groups can be very helpful. Often talking to other moms who are experiencing similar feelings can not only show you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE but also give you some SUGGESTIONS on what worked for them- different ideas on how to get PAST your sadness .
  • Be sure to have some Daddy time! Allow daddy to spend time with the baby so you can take a nap, take a hot bath, go to a cafe , or go for a walk. Don't feel like this is taking away from your bonding time. Being with baby is important, but so is feeling happy about yourself. It is also good for dad and baby to bond. Even if it's just 10 minutes in hot shower or sipping tea while you read a magazine. You are a mommy, but you are also still YOU and will always be you. A woman, a person, an individual.
Teen Depression, The Illusion of the Beauty Queen
Photo credit: Tollie Schmidt
Remember that sadness after the birth of a baby is normal but it also affects everyone in your household, from your spouse, to your baby, and even other children if you have any. It is important for you to be proactive in dealing with this sadness.

Every day you need to:
And DO SOMETHING FUN! (Even if you don't want to!)
Go write that down on a notepad now and stick it somewhere where you can see it every day. 

These activities will not only reduce the period of sadness, they will help to prevent a more serious form of depression from occurring.
Parenting may not be all sunshine and rainbows, but enjoying the miracle of your baby, taking care of yourself, and realizing that you’re not alone will help you immensely throughout the journey.
Happy Mom
Photo Credit: Tara Hunt

 -Written by Jill PhD, MSpsy, MPA, CHt


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