Having a baby is no easy feat. Not only does something the size of a watermelon has to be squeezed out of a hole the size of a small lemon, but there are also emotions. Preparing and having a baby can be an anxious time for both of you, but how do you know when she is dealing with more than just the baby blues? And how do you take care of her?
There is actually a physiological cause for postpartum depression. After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. Also, most new moms don’t get the rest they need after giving birth. Sleep deprivation can lead to body pain and exhaustion, which may also contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.
70 to 80 percent of new moms may feel depressed, anxious, or even angry a few days after giving birth. These “baby blues,” as they are called, are normal and they usually go away within a week or so without treatment.
For some women – more than 10 percent of mothers -- postpartum depression is a serious disease that can last a year after childbirth. It can interfere with her ability to take care of and bond with the baby, as well as harm his development and safety. In rare cases, new mothers have harmed themselves and/or their babies.
So how do you know if it’s baby blues of postpartum depression??
- Timeline. The baby blues occur for a few hours each day and should disappear within fourteen days after delivery. Postpartum depression onsets within four weeks to several months after childbirth, and can last up to a year.
- Symptoms. Some of the symptoms of baby blues are irritability, fatigue, and sadness. PPD symptoms are often more severe and include aggression, extreme stress, and potential feelings of detachment from the baby.
If you think it might be postpartum depression it is essential that you seek the help of a professional. That said, MAKE SURE you do your research on the side effects of anti-depressants and do a thorough evaluation on whether that’s the route you want to go. No judgment either way.
In the meantime, here are some natural remedies that could be amazingly effective:
- Cognitive therapy- help her find a qualified psychotherapist who practices CT. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and cognitive behavioral therapy have great track records of mitigating postpartum depression. Try it a few times to see if things are heading in the right direction
- Exercise - Sounds simple enough but it’s actually really effective. If she isn’t feeling great mentally you will almost have to force her to get up and move around, but even a brisk stroller walk with your baby can do wonders for mental health.
- Light Therapy - Light therapy has been proven effective for treating both seasonal affective disorder and non-seasonal-related depression. Light therapy involves exposure to bright light for 10 to 20 minutes per day in the morning. Light therapy positively affects mood, sleep, circadian rhythms, and HPA axis activity. Look for a light therapy device on Amazon and shine it on her for 20 minutes in the morning.
- Acupuncture - This is an ancient Chinese therapy that can potentially improve most ailments. Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or "life force", flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi. When Qi does not flow freely through the body, this can cause illness- physical or mental. By sticking thin needles into the body practitioners can restore the flow of Qi.
- Probiotics - Brain and gut health are tightly connected, and taking a high-quality probiotic helps restore gut health. The gut microbiome drastically shifts during pregnancy, and if that shift ventures towards gut dysbiosis, it could predispose some women to develop postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a really serious condition, so it’s important you provide the most amount of support to your girl if you suspect she may be suffering from it. The good news is that in most cases it resolves in due time and life becomes normal again.