Postpartum depression has long been known as a condition that besets a significant number of new mamas. It can cause major attitude changes including negative feelings towards your newborn, worrying that you could hurt your newborn, a feeling of worthlessness, erratic sleep patterns, change in appetite, lack of self-care, lack of pleasure and recurring thoughts of death or suicide. As the knowledge about PPD grows, there has been more alertness on the part of our healthcare providers to spot risk factors, beginning from mamas first prenatal visits.
Postpartum depression often fades away on its own within three months of giving birth, but if the ‘baby blues’ lasts longer than two weeks you should immediately seek treatment. Report your symptoms to your health care provider, doula or midwife.
If diagnosed, there are a number of holistic ways to treat PPD:
Proper Diet – new mamas have to adjust to a new baby and sometimes eating healthy or self-care is the last thing our minds. There is so much pressure in our society about what a postpartum body should look like and some mamas dying to get back to the pre-pregnancy body resort to dieting. Dieting while breasting or attending to a newborn will fluctuate your energy levels leaving you fatigued. Being fatigue adds to feeling overwhelmed, leaving mamas susceptible to depression. New mamas should eat a diet which includes whole grains, lean proteins, leafy vegetables and foods that are a rich source of iron such as seafood and dried fruits.
Exercise – Exercise has been shown to have a very positive effect on the emotional stability of new mamas. As soon as you able to, spend some time every day exercising. Vigorous exercise will trigger endorphins a hormones that gives you an increased sense of well-being, helping to combat PPD. Talk to your health care provider, they should be able to help you plan an exercise program that is right for you.
Support Groups – Some mamas find it hard to acknowledge that they are not alone in the postpartum depression, and the mere acknowledgement of that fact will help get them on the right track to overcoming PPD. Support within our family or a close friend is a great way to deal with PPD. Most of us have aunts, cousins, friends and even our own mamas who have gone through PPD and can help guide us on how to cope. The best support is that internal support our internal ‘village’, never be afraid to reach out to your family or close friends.
Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy is often prescribed alone or along with anti-depressants. A therapist who specializes in treating postpartum depression will be able to understand your feelings and provide emotional support, helping you develop more realistic goals that are very important in order to completely overcome PPD.
Medication – not a holistic way but I like to think it’s the last step in treatment. It helps with immediate issues such as sleep or appetite disorders. Anti-depressants are usually very effective for this purpose, you and your doctor should make a careful and thoroughly considered decision about which anti-depressants to take. Some can be secreted in small amounts while you are breastfeeding, and some constituents have been linked with complications. If you’ve had an episode of postpartum depression in the past, you may be asked to take preventive medicine shortly after your baby is born or during pregnancy. This too, poses some risks, and should be thoroughly considered.
Did you suffer from PPD, how did you cope? Let us know below.
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