Take Steps Towards Managing Your Stress
Maintain realistic expectations
You’re not super woman, so you don’t have to be super mom. Young babies demand a lot of time. It’s not possible for you to achieve all the things you were achieving before your baby arrived. Rather than further exhaust yourself trying, it may be necessary to take stock of the situation and assess what is important.
You may need to ‘let go’ of a few things for now. Delegate or postpone anything that’s not essential to be achieved at this time. Your baby will quickly grow and become more independent Your depression will pass and you will find you have more time and more energy in the future.
Learn to say “No”
As women we are socialized from birth to put others needs first. Most of us genuinely enjoy caring for others. However, there may come a time when you need to set limits on what others are expecting from you and focus your efforts on your baby, yourself or your family. Learn to set limits and say “No”.
Use relaxation techniques
One of the most stressful times a parent faces is adjusting to life with a new baby. When you feel out of control or under intense pressure, you may experience many different physical, emotional, or mental symptoms brought on by negative stress.
Practicing relaxation techniques will assist you to manage stress, improve your health, release unwanted emotions, clarify your thoughts, increase your energy, feel more peacefulness, sleep better and more.
Three of the most popular relaxation techniques are…
Treatment For Postnatal Depression
If you are experiencing postnatal depression, practical and emotional support can be very helpful, to help give you some time, space and energy to devote to yourself. But often this is not enough to help you to recover, so accessing effective treatment for postnatal depression early, is an important step towards recovery.
Below is a range of effective treatment for postnatal depression. The type of treatment and time required will depend on a range of factors including your personal situation, the severity of your symptoms, and how you respond to treatment. Try and be aware that treatment can take time, energy and patience.
The best thing anyone said to me was this will end, and you will get through it. But there is no quick fix.
When To See Your Doctor
Although many women experience the baby blues in the first several weeks following delivery, PPD is marked by deeper and longer-lasting feelings of sadness and agitation. These feelings can get worse and become chronic depression without medical help.
Its a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor if you notice feelings of depression after birth, especially if they dont fade after a couple weeks or get worse with time. Only around 15 percent of women ever seek treatment for their symptoms, despite the importance of treatment. Your doctor can point you in the right direction to get the support you need.
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Eat Foods That Supercharge Your Healing Postpartum
Healing begins with what you put in your body. You may be thinking that its not that important. But what you eat during this time will affect how well and how quickly you recover.
The fact is, your body is able to do some pretty amazing things. Afterall you did just grow an entire human and then birth this new little baby.
But, it does require some very specific fuel to do its job well.
In my former life as a nurse, a big part of my job was to care for wounds.
We had extensive, yearly training, and it always started the same. Wounds will only heal if you have the right nutrients.
Calories are important, but nutrients are what actually help your wounds to heal.
The nutrients and vitamins most essential for healing postpartum wounds are protein, vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc.
Ideally, include lots of fruits and veggies, along with good quality protein. For protein, you can eat good quality meat, eggs, bean and rice or to make it really easy protein powder.
Also try to include lots of foods high in the vitamins and minerals discussed above, such as:
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better While Seeing A Doctor For Postpartum Depression
Here are some ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a health care professional:
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Dont try to do too much or to do everything by yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
- Talk with other mothers so that you can learn from their experiences.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor or nurse about groups in your area.
- Dont make any major life changes right after giving birth. More major life changes in addition to a new baby can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cant be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
It can also help to have a partner, a friend, or another caregiver who can help take care of the baby while you are depressed. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
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Build A Secure Bond With Your Baby
Emotional bonding is the secure attachment that forms between parents and children. Successful bonding allows the child to feel safe enough to develop fully, and having this bond will affect the way in which they communicate and form relationships throughout their life.
A secure bond forms when you tune in and respond to your childs needs or emotional cues, such as picking them up, soothing them, and reassuring them when they cry. Being that dependable source of comfort allows your child to learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors, which, in turn, helps to strengthen their cognitive development.
Postpartum depression can have a significant impact on early bonding, making it difficult get through each day and hindering your ability to look after both your baby and yourself.
One study of 14,000 children in the United States found that 40 percent of the children lacked strong emotional bonds with their parents. This lack of strong parental attachment made the children more likely to experience behavioral and educational problems.
Some parents feel an instant rush of love the moment they set eyes on their baby, while for others, it takes time. If you have not yet bonded with your baby, do not feel anxious or guilty. Sometimes, it can take weeks or even months to feel an attachment, but it should come with time.
Here are some ways that you can strengthen the bond with your baby.
What Causes Postpartum Depression
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest theyll ever be. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels. Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression.2 This is similar to hormone changes before a womans period but involves much more extreme swings in hormone levels.
Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell whether this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.
Other feelings may contribute to postpartum depression. Many new mothers say they feel:
- Tired after labor and delivery
- Tired from a lack of sleep or broken sleep
- Overwhelmed with a new baby
- Doubts about their ability to be a good mother
- Stress from changes in work and home routines
- An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Grief about loss of who they were before having the baby
- Less attractive
- A lack of free time
These feelings are common among new mothers. But postpartum depression is a serious health condition and can be treated. Postpartum depression is not a regular or expected part of being a new mother.
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How To Help Your Wife Or Partner
Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Listen to her without judging or offering solutions. Instead of trying to fix things, simply be there for her to lean on.
Offer help around the house. Chip in with the housework and childcare responsibilities. Dont wait for her to ask!
Make sure she takes time for herself. Rest and relaxation are important. Encourage her to take breaks, hire a babysitter, or schedule some date nights.
Be patient if shes not ready for sex. Depression affects sex drive, so it may be a while before shes in the mood. Offer her physical affection, but dont push if shes not up for sex.
Go for a walk with her. Getting exercise can make a big dent in depression, but its hard to get motivated when youre feeling low. Help her by making walks a daily ritual for the two of you.
Anna Glezer, M.D. is a Harvard-trained clinician with joint appointments in the reproductive psychiatry and OB/GYN departments at UCSF Medical Center. She is the founder of Mind Body Pregnancy.
Exercise And Postpartum Depression
Exercise can help lift your spirits. Once you’ve recovered physically from giving birth, try to get some exercise every day. One study has shown that vigorous exercise after recovering from childbirth is associated with an increased feeling of well-being. Your doctor can help you plan an exercise program that’s right for you.
What Is The Difference Between Postnatal Anxiety And Depression
Both anxiety and depression are more common after the birth of a baby. Many people who have postnatal anxiety will have postnatal depression at the same time. Some symptoms are similar, but anxiety and depression are different conditions that may need different treatments. In postnatal depression, your mood is usually affected, while in postnatal anxiety, you will have feelings of worry or fear that are difficult to control. In both conditions, you may struggle to cope with your daily activities.
Why Is Treatment Important
Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. 1 in 4 mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old.13 However, this can mean a lot of suffering. PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well. PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended.14 So the shorter it lasts, the better.
The treatment you need depends on how unwell you are. You should be told about all the likely benefits and risks of treatment so you can make the best choice for you.
Treatment includes: 15
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Maintain A Healthy Diet
Healthy eating alone wont cure PPD. Still, getting into the habit of eating nutritious foods can help you feel better and give your body the nutrients you need. Try planning the weeks meals on the weekend and even preparing healthy snacks ahead of time. Think whole foods, such as chopped carrots and cubed cheese or apple slices and peanut butter, that are easy to grab on the go.
Pharmacological Treatments For Postpartum Depression
A small but growing literature suggests that postpartum depression can be thought of as a variant of major depression that responds similarly to antidepressant medication.46,47 Concerns unique to pharmacologic treatment of PPD include metabolic changes in the postpartum period, exposure of the infant to medication in breast milk, the effect of depression and treatment on the ability of the depressed mother to care for a new baby, and the perceived stigma of being seen as a bad mother for requiring medication.4850 These factors, as well as the womans level of distress, access to care, and experience with past treatment may influence the decision of the patient and her caregiver regarding the choice of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments for PPD. Data comparing the effectiveness of medication against other treatment modalities for PPD are scarce, though do suggest that medications are at least as effective as most psychological interventions based on effect size.51 To date, four randomized controlled studies on the treatment of PPD with antidepressant medications have been published, along with several open trials. Additionally, two randomized studies have looked at the prevention of PPD with antidepressant medication.
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Are There Problem With Talking Treatments
Talking treatments are usually very safe, but they can have unwanted effects. Talking about things may bring up bad memories from the past. This can make you low or distressed. Psychotherapy can put a strain on relationships with people close to you.
Make sure that you can trust your therapist and that they have the necessary training.
Another problem with talking therapies is that they are still hard to get in some areas. National guidelines state that women with PND should be seen within a month. Sometimes there are long waiting lists. This means you may not get any treatment for quite a while.
What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
- Your baby blues dont go away after 2 weeks
- Symptoms of depression get more and more intense
- Symptoms of depression begin within 1 year of delivery and last more than 2 weeks
- It is difficult to work or get things done at home
- You cannot care for yourself or your baby
- You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby
Ask your partner or a loved one to call for you if necessary. Your doctor, nurse, or midwife can ask you questions to test for depression. They can also refer you to a mental health professional for help and treatment.
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How Does Postpartum Depression Affect The Infant
Because depression has significant negative effects on a mothers ability to interact appropriately with her child, there is an adverse impact of postpartum depression on the infant. Depressed women have been found to have poorer responsiveness to infant cues and more negative, hostile or disengaged parenting behaviors. When the mother-infant interaction is disrupted in this way, studies have found that there is lower cognitive functioning and adverse emotional development in the child, which appears to be universal across cultures and economic statuses.
Mothers with postpartum depression also increases the risk of experiencing issues with infant feeding. Research shows that depressed mothers have difficulty breastfeeding, with shorter breastfeeding sessions that can impact the babys nutrition. There is also beginning evidence to suggest that depressed women may be less likely to initiate breastfeeding and stick it to.
A study conducted at the Research Institute for Childrens and Womens Health in Vancouver found that chronic depression in mothers places children at a higher risk for behavioral problems and psychological issues, such as anxiety, disruptive and affective disorders. But remission of depression in mothers was associated with a reduction or remission in the childrens psychiatric diagnoses.
Will It Happen Again
If you have an episode of postnatal depression you have a greater than average chance of it happening again if you have another baby. About 3 in 10 mothers who have postnatal depression have another episode of depression if they have another baby. However, you and your doctor are more likely to be aware of the possibility in future pregnancies. This means that you are more likely to be diagnosed and treated promptly should it come back.
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Causes Of Postpartum Depression
Studies have looked at possible causes of postpartum depression, including hormonal fluctuation, biological vulnerability and psychosocial stressors, but the specific cause remains unclear.
Many psychological stressors may have an impact on the development of postpartum depression. Recent studies conclude that the majority of factors are largely social in nature. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the greatest risk for developing depression after pregnancy is in women with a history of depression or other affective illnesses, and in those who have experienced depression during past pregnancies. Postpartum depression causes significant suffering in women at a time when personal and societal ideas of motherhood are feelings of joy.
When a new mother doesnt feel gratification in her new role, and she doesnt feel a connection with her infant or have the ability to carry out the often overwhelming task of caring for a new baby, this often leads to a sense of isolation, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness that characterize a depressed state. Because postpartum depression exists as part of the spectrum of major depression, researchers suggest that women with significant risk factors should be followed closely in the postpartum period.
How Can I Help My Wife
If you are the partner of a woman suffering from PPD, you can help by encouraging her to seek help from a medical professional. Your goal should be to reduce her stress and anxiety in any way you can, while also paying attention to your own mental health. Taking on extra responsibilities can helpwhatever will allow her to make more time for sleep.
It’s hard when you have a newborn, but if you can strategize to help with feedings overnight to make sure that mom is able to get enough sleep, that can be a way to try to protect against some of those mood disturbances, Dr. Taljan says.
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