Self-Care and the Prevention of PPD
The following is a guest post by Isabel F. William, Body&Mind Balance Consultant. Lover of literature and philosophy, runner, and Tai Chi master. She believes that sometimes it is just enough to enjoy a really good book, smooth jazz and a cup of coffee to travel somewhere else.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common mood disorder among women after giving birth. Although many women experience sadness and moodiness after childbirth, this period of “baby blues” passes after several days. PPD, on the other hand, is characterized by feelings of anxiety, despair, sadness and exhaustion that interfere with a woman’s ability to perform everyday tasks and take care of her baby and herself. In order for a woman to be diagnosed with PPD, the symptoms need to last at least for two consecutive weeks. Since this is a serious disorder that can result even in suicide, it’s of the utmost importance that mothers educate themselves about PPD and its prevention. It’s important to stress that some women are at greater risk of developing PPD, especially if they’ve already experienced it during their first pregnancy or had a traumatic experience during pregnancy. In such cases, it’s essential that these women take all the necessary measures to ensure their well-being.
Nurture your relationship with your partner
Staying connected with your partner is crucial for your mental, physical and emotional health. A strong, affectionate and open relationship with your partner will give you a sense of security and support that will help both of you enter parenthood prepared and emotionally stable. It has been shown that a poor relationship with a partner is a major factor in antenatal anxiety which is connected to postnatal mood disorders. Thus, it’s essential that you nurture and strengthen your relationship, talk openly or even try couple’s counselling if you’re experiencing serious relationships issues. Remember – you’re stronger as a couple.
Try to get more sleep
Sleep deprivation is one of the factors that can cause PPD, so it’s essential that you get enough quality sleep, especially after giving birth. Being sleep-deprived and exhausted will only intensify your negative feelings. You should take naps throughout the day and try to go to bed early. Don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends to look after your baby while you get some rest. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby.
Do some light exercises
Exercise is proven to relieve stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and putting you in a more positive mood, which is why you should try to be as active as possible. You can start by taking walks with your baby and soaking in the fresh air. Later on, you can gradually start jogging, cycling or doing yoga. Not only will this help you relieve stress, but it will also help you get in shape, which will boost your self-confidence. Studies have found that exercising regularly for 16 weeks is as effective as antidepressant treatment in inactive adults who suffer from mild to moderate depression.
Have a healthy diet
A healthy diet is crucial for your well-being, especially after giving birth when you can barely find time to eat. However, this is the time when you need to provide your body with all the necessary nutrients in order to eliminate the risk of depression or anxiety. In addition, unhealthy diet can weaken your immune system and, consequently, make you more susceptible to diseases. You should stay hydrated throughout the day and eat healthy and balanced meals. There are super foods for moms that are easy to make yet rich in nutrients. You should always have a healthy recipe within your reach and make time to prepare healthy meals.
If you feel more depressed and negative than usual, or you believe that you have certain risk factors for developing PPD, you should consider consulting a professional counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. They can suggest different books you can read to learn more about PPD, its symptoms and treatment. A mental health professional may even suggest a specific type of therapy depending on the general practice in a particular country, such as psychodynamic therapy in Sydney or supportive psychotherapy in Spain.
Another possible method of depression treatment is the application of antidepressants. While studies have been researching the effectiveness of antidepressants in the prevention of postpartum depression, the results are still inconclusive. Antidepressants might be effective in preventing PPD if the same type of medication has previously proven to be successful in treating depression episodes, but there’s no firm evidence. In addition, there are certain concerns regarding the effects of antidepressants on a new-born baby, which is why many mothers refuse to take them while breastfeeding.
Educating yourself about PPD and taking these preventive measures can help you ensure your and your baby’s well-being.