Women Health

Postpartum Depression: A New Mom’s Mental Health

The birth of your baby is the happiest moment that you have experienced in your life. But, initially, being a new mother brings a panel of challenges. An overdose of powerful emotions ranging from excitement, joy, anxiety, fear, and sadness overpowers a mother’s mental health.

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression

‘Baby blues’ is quite common with new moms that include a feeling of emptiness, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety immediately after childbirth. It lasts for not more than 2 weeks and goes off automatically.

Symptoms of Baby Blues

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Crying
  • Sadness
  • Appetite issue
  • Anxiety and feeling overjoyed

Unfortunately, for some mothers, it may elongate to a more severe form. The feeling of sadness that is commonly termed as postpartum depression is a long-lasting phenomenon. When you feel this type of extreme mood disorder is making your motherhood journey hard and bumpy, identify it as a symptom of postpartum depression. 

And not just identifying it would help; you need to know how to deal with postpartum depression. Always remember, it’s not a flaw or weakness. At times, it can just be a side effect of childbirth or a complication related to pregnancy. A simple treatment or counseling would help you to create the bond between you and your baby that might be taking time to build. 

Symptoms of Postpartum depression

If you feel depressed and the feeling of sadness remains for weeks, months, and even more than a year, it would create trouble bonding with your baby, doing household work, concentrating, or making decisions.

  • Severe mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hopelessness
  • Excessive crying
  • Anger, fear, and intense irritability
  • The feeling of worthlessness and mom-guilt
  • Feeling of restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts of harming your baby
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

Causes of postpartum depression (PPD)

If you feel that you have similar symptoms like PPD, you are not alone. Almost 1 out of 7 women get affected by this. And there is no reason why some mothers are suffering while many are not. The ideal way, when you are dealing with these types of low mood, irritability, and other physical sicknesses, is to seek for doctor’s help.

Although there is no particular reason for it, there are some interrelated causes and health conditions that may trigger PPD in some mothers.

1. Hormonal changes in the mother’s body after childbirth

Due to childbirth, hormonal levels in the body may drop. The levels of estrogen and progesterone may start fluctuating, creating a hormonal imbalance in the body. Similarly, the thyroid hormone levels may decrease during this period creating tiredness, fatigue, and depression.

These rapid hormonal changes that clubbed with immune system functioning and changes in blood pressure levels may create favorable conditions for PPD to arise. The metabolic rate in new mothers can also keep changing. 

2. Physical and emotional changes

Numerous physical and emotional changes occur in a mother’s body during pregnancy and after childbirth. You gain a lot of weight, for which you might feel physically and sexually unattractive.

The difficulties related to the loss of baby weight and the post-delivery may bring pain. All these insecurities and difficulties may create a lot of irritability towards the family and your baby.

3. Stress due to care for the newborn

Caring for a newborn baby is not a simple task. It often takes a toll on the mother’s health. New mothers are usually in need of sleep while they receive very less sleep as they need to take care of the baby even during the night.

Most importantly, new mothers feel anxious as to how to take proper care of the baby. This scenario gets even worse for first-time mommies, which in turn creates stress, anxiety, and depression. 

How to cope with PPD?

Whenever you realize that you are going through these symptoms, tell your partner or close relatives about it. From there, you can opt for seeking medical help. 

Along with the doctor’s help, you can also have the option for natural remedies to cope with PPD. But, before incorporating any of these, it is advised to consult with your doctor to start a holistic treatment plan. 

Maintain a healthy diet

When you are depressed, your nutrition tends to suffer, for which, concentrating on a healthy diet is a necessity. Try to eat your meals on time. Making it a priority would help you to attain the nutritional requirements of your body.

Eating nutritious food alone won’t help you to come out of PPD but it would help you to feel better. Some good and healthy options like sliced apples, chopped carrots, peanut butter, and cubed cheese are easy to grab.

Find your resting time

The most common advice given to all new moms is ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. Though it might make you feel annoyed, the fact is that only through that way, you would be able to take proper rest.

It is advised to have more than five hours of sleep during the night and 60 minutes of nap time throughout the day. Sleep deprivation is a huge cause of PPD. Try to involve your partner to feed your baby at night in intervals. It would be great if you could use a breast pump to store your breast milk for the night. 

Exercise or go for a walk

Exercising or going for a walk has an antidepressant effect on mothers. If you want, you can take your baby in a stroller and go for a walk in the park under the sun. Breathe fresh air and get vitamin D from sunlight would help you to feel refreshed and calm.

Make time for yourself

Take out ‘me time’ for yourself is highly essential. Whenever you feel stuck on the couch with your baby or household work, try to get help from a trusted adult at home for babysitting.

Ask your partner to take your baby for a short walk so that you can have your own sweet time. Watch your favorite show or take a short nap to feel good.

Analyze your breastfeeding method

For some mothers, breastfeeding can reduce the symptoms of PPD, while for some moms, it can create a situation of anger, agitation, and sadness. Identify your condition related to breastfeeding so that you can feel right accordingly.

Try having fish oil or flaxseed oil

The intake of omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oils helps in increasing the levels of DHA. This would help you to subside the effects of PPD.

Grab help and support from others

Depression escalates more if you keep yourself all bottled up with emotions. Try to get as much help and support from others as you can. 

Talk and avoid isolating yourself

Avoid isolating yourself and keep speaking to your partner or other family members regarding your problems. They might come up with brilliant ideas or sometimes it might help you to shift your mood.

Vitamins and herbal supplements

Along with fish oils and flaxseeds, you can also take chia seeds. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is considered the best way to reduce the risk of PPD. So, you can start taking vitamin supplements after taking advice from your doctor.

Practice mindfulness meditation

The best way to keep yourself in good health away from any sort of mental health issues is to practice meditation. Mindful meditation and yoga would boost your mind and body, helps you retain your energy and positivity.

With proper treatment of Postpartum Depression, it would get away within six months. Instead of shifting it to chronic depression, all new mothers should start initially with talk therapy with trained therapists. Speak out about your feeling to feel better.

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