Depression is a common feeling after giving birth. There are changes in life and a woman’s physicality before and after a baby arrives that can cause someone to feel depressed or have the “baby blues.” Most of the time, the depression will last only a few days. When it continues for a longer period, it is called postpartum depression (PPD).
One in nine new moms has postpartum depression. In fact, PPD is one of the most common medical conditions after childbirth. It affects women of any age, ethnic background, financial status, number of children, or marital status. This includes women who had easy pregnancies and women who had problem pregnancies and brand-new moms.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with PPD without self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or nicotine, which can be harmful to the baby and possibly lead to addiction for the mom.
Keep reading to find out what they are and how they can benefit you or someone you care about.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that PPD is a condition in which a woman will have intense feelings of sadness, despair, or anxiety that prevent them from performing daily tasks. PPD can begin up to one year after having a baby, but it usually starts about one to three weeks after childbirth.
Different factors in a woman’s life can cause PPD. Some of these include family or personal history with depression, added stress, and hormonal changes related to pregnancy. Hormonal changes occur right after delivery. The levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease significantly hours after childbirth. These changes can trigger depression.
How will you know if you or someone else has PPD? There are signs or symptoms to recognize for PPD. The Office on Women’s Health notes that these signs or symptoms should last more than two weeks to be considered PPD.
- Feeling moody or restless
- Feeling sad, overwhelmed, or hopeless
- Crying more than usual
- Having no motivation or energy
- Eating too little or too much
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Trouble focusing or making a decision
- Memory problems
- Headaches, stomachaches, and other aches and pains that will not go away
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or like you are a bad mother
- Loss of interest in activities you once found pleasure before
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby
- Feeling a lack of connection with the baby, not connecting or bonding with the baby, or feeling like it is someone else’s baby
If you recognize some or all of these symptoms, please consult with your healthcare provider right away.
Positive Ways to Cope With Postpartum Depression
Counseling: There are different ways of coping with postpartum depression. Talk therapy is one. Talking with a counselor can be quite beneficial. They listen to the patient and offer suggestions about what one can do to ease their PPD feelings.
Connect with other moms: Humans are social beings who need interaction. Connect with other mothers who are having the same thoughts and feeling the same way. There are several online support groups for mothers that can be very helpful. The organization Postpartum Support International can help one find a group in their local area, as indicated by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health & Human Development.
Increase Physical Activity: Find time to take a walk and get some exercise. Walking is known to help ease depression. You don’t have to walk for miles and miles. A short stroll around the block or neighborhood will do. If you can’t manage this, try doing a quick 10-minute workout at home. Try stretching, using some light weights, or marching in place.
Get Outside and Enjoy Nature: Just breathing in fresh air and getting some sunshine can boost moods. If time allows, or if you have some help at home, go outside and take a walk. Inhale and exhale fully. Let the sun warm your face and body. Enjoy your surroundings.
Block Out Some “Me” Time: Find time to block out just for yourself. Take a bath, visit a friend, sit in a quiet room with the door closed, and read or listen to your favorite music. Ask your husband or partner to be with the baby. Do something to pamper yourself.
Ask for Help: It seems that so many women think they can “do it all.” However, that is not realistic, and less so when a new baby is involved. Infants can be demanding. If you need help, ask for it. Your family and friends would love to help you. They can make some meals, clean the house, babysit, keep you company, and help with other tasks. All you have to do is ask. They are standing by eagerly.
Get Some Needed Rest: Rest is often in short supply when a new baby arrives. The best advice moms get is to rest when the baby is sleeping. There is no need to use that time to tend to household chores. Take time throughout the day, evening, and night to catch a short nap. Thirty minutes of rest can help you feel refreshed.
Eat Well: Healthy eating benefits the body and mind in many ways. Make and eat something healthy several times a day. When you eat more frequently, it helps maintain blood sugar levels, too.
Try Holistic Therapies: If you have tried everything to alleviate your PPD symptoms, why not try something holistic? Meditation and yoga have helped many people cope with trying situations in their lives. PsychCentral, a 25-year old mental wellness site, says, “Mind, body, and soul connection is important for mental health.”
You Are Not Alone With Postpartum Depression
Below are a few facts to remind you that you are not alone in having postpartum depression.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 3,791,712 babies were born in 2018, which means there were that many moms who brought them into the world.
America’s Health Rankings notes that 12.5 percent of women who had a live birth reported feeling depressive symptoms.
There is nothing shameful about having PPD. Millions of women in the U.S. experience the same symptoms, yet many don’t report it to their healthcare provider. Physicians and other medical professionals can provide a screening for PPD. Medication does not have to have a role in the treatment of PPD. Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or nicotine is harmful to both the mother and the baby and could lead to a substance use disorder.
There are better, more natural ways to cope with postpartum depression.