Are There Ways to Prevent Postpartum Depression?

Did you know?

Some 80 percent of new mothers experience severe mood swings, known as baby blues, and 10 percent suffer major postpartum depression (PPD) in the first year.

Can you cut down on the risks? Maybe…

Because postpartum depression (PPD) may be related to fluctuation of hormones after childbirth, prevention may not be possible. However, several approaches may help guard against the condition. One of the best things to do is learn as much as you can about what to expect physically and psychologically during pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. This may help you develop realistic expectations for yourself and your baby. ~WebMD

Manage Expectations

It’s great to have a good attitude and positive expectation but be careful not to set yourself up for a big letdown.

That TV baby with the flawless face at birth? He’s not really a newborn — who are actually blotchy, bumpy, and wrinkly — but an older baby. Those movie moms who look calm and beautiful as they push their baby out with nary a labor pain? They don’t exist. (Even those impossibly slender celebrity moms often have trainers, chefs, and nannies…not to mention Photoshop.) Having unrealistic expectations about delivery and motherhood can lead to sadness, disappointment, or both. So help yourself get in a realistic mom-to-be mind-set: Enroll in childbirth or parenting classes, read as much as you can about labor and delivery, and talk to other pregnant women and new mothers about their experiences. Knowing what to expect (and understanding that things never go exactly as expected) will help you avoid a letdown. ~WhatToExpect

Find Ways to Calm

Many studies have shown that newborns bond better with calm mothers. New moms who spend at least 15 minutes every other day relaxing — whether by deep breathing, meditating, or soaking in the tub — cope with the stresses of motherhood better than those who don’t, says Diane Sanford, Ph.D., author of Postpartum Survival Guide.

In the course for new mothers she teaches in St. Louis, Dr. Sanford asks each student to report what she’s done to create her “moments of self-preservation.” Telling women to take it easy seems to relieve their guilt, Dr. Sanford says — perhaps because they see it as an assignment instead of an indulgence.

Stay Nourished Physically and Emotionally

Nutrition and Protein:  Our brains need healthy nutrition and protein to function adequately. In fact, the “feel good hormone” serotonin is not naturally occurring in our bodies and therefore it requires important building blocks (amino acids/ tryptophan) that come from the food that we eat.  A well-balanced diet with adequate protein intake is required for optimal emotional wellbeing.

Water: There is some research out there that suggests a connection between dehydration and anxiety.  Moms who are pregnant, who deliver babies, and who breast feed are at an especially high risk for problems associated with inadequate water intake.  Drink up.

Pampering and self-care: Yes, this is even important once your baby comes. Please remember that self-care is NOT selfish and that your baby needs you to be well. Nourish yourself all that you can with breaks when needed, baths, time with friends, and whatever else your brain and body need to feel grounded. ~PostpartumProgress

Taking care of yourself includes getting extra sleep when needed too.



Monitor & Evaluate

…your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. He or she may have you complete a depression-screening questionnaire during your pregnancy and after delivery. Sometimes mild depression can be managed with support groups, counseling or other therapies. In other cases, antidepressants may be recommended — even during pregnancy. ~MayoClinic

Stay Informed and Be Your Own Advocate

Studies show that your involvement and active preparation will lower your risk of PPD. Be informed. Be proactive. Do the groundwork. Take steps to understand and deal with areas of vulnerability.  Go to therapy to gain insight and self-awareness. Prepare your marriage. Fully engage in this process.

Bottom line: Be your own best health advocate. Let your doctor and your partner know what risk factors concern you the most. ~PsychologyToday

This post is for you information only. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider.

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