Postpartum depression in a mild form is also known as the baby blues which happens due to the emotional and physical changes that occur in your body. The baby blues is not something to feel embarrassed about, it happens to approximately 50 to 85% of new mothers. The symptoms of baby blues vary among women; however the most common signs include unpredicted sadness, suddenly bursting into tears, exhaustion, restlessness and loneliness.
Most new mothers experience the symptoms for approximately two weeks. Some women do experience the symptoms for a longer period of time or they can increase in severity. When this happens it is considered to be postpartum depression and the symptoms include confusion, weight loss, insomnia, anxiety, and an emotional detachment from their baby. These more severe symptoms only occur in a low percentage of new mothers but typically will subside within two weeks following birth. If they seem to be getting worse you should consult with your doctor who will be able to help.
There are also lots of things you can try to help alleviate the symptoms and these have been outlined below:
- Extra rest is vital to combat depression as tiredness can worsen the symptoms. Sleep when your baby sleeps, eliminate house hold chores until you’re feeling up to it. Get extra help from your partner, family or friends.
- Reduce stress by setting yourself achievable goals. Focus on 1 simple task at a time.
- Practice relaxation exercises; remember what you were taught in your antenatal classes.
- Eat well and avoid all caffeine, and sugary foods and beverages. Eat more foods that consist of complex carbohydrates such as pasta, wholegrain breads and cereals, rice and potatoes.
- Nutritional supplements can also be very beneficial, why not try taking extra folic acid and selenium.
- Try to exercise every day, take a walk or maybe enroll in a yoga class.
- Get at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight a day. A lack of sunlight can lead to depression.
- Talk to your partner or family.
- Take time for yourself, read a book or enjoy a hot bubble bath.
- Go for a check up as depression can be caused by a thyroid problem or anemia.
Breastfeeding is good for your mental health
As a breastfeeding mum you will be happy to know that breast feeding is good for your mental health. The hormone oxytocin which is released by your body during breastfeeding is considered by scientists to be a powerful antidepressant. Postpartum depression has been found to be lower in those who breastfeed. It has been proven that women who breastfeed have lower perceived stress levels and fewer depressive symptoms. It is also important to note that stopping breastfeeding abruptly can cause hormone levels to change which can cause depression. If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression it is important that you continue breastfeeding.
When nursing your baby learn to appreciate the special one to one moments. Use the times you are feeding your baby to get to know her and by talking with her and making eye contact throughout the feeding. Breastfeeding is a wonderful and fulfilling time for you and your baby. The closeness you feel during the feeding times will help to alleviate many of the symptoms of baby blues but, if you begin to feel overwhelmed with these symptoms you should concentrate on relieving them in order to increase the bond between you and your child.