Postpartum depression, it will sneak into your happiest day like a thief in the night. I am a positive person, so I thought postpartum depression wouldn’t touch me, yet I experienced postpartum depression during my last pregnancy. Looking back, some things have helped me to deal and heal from the blues.
What is a postpartum depression by the way?
A majority of mothers feels tearful, detached or sad after delivery. These negative feelings gradually fade sooner or later. For most moms, this phase is just a passing moment, but for others, it can get out of hand. Around 10% of new mothers experience more than the usual blues, going into full-scale depression.
Postpartum depression is a clinical form of depression than may begin immediately or within six months after delivery. Don’t ever dismiss this condition as just due to hormones or the weather. It feels so fucked up like there everything suddenly loses meaning. Back then, all my emotions are gone. “What’s the point of living?” I asked. Like a dead battery, I see no reason why I must eat, move, bathe or dress up. There are also times when I just want to cry, for no reasons at all.
Postpartum Blues / Depression: The Symptoms
Baby blues and post-partum depression exist in varying degrees. Most women can easily overcome it, but for others, it is debilitating. Symptoms of postpartum depression are a cocktail of telltale signs including:
- Feeling worthless or inadequate
- Overwhelmed and tearful
- Feeling guilty or anxious
- No energy to get out of bed, too much fatigue
- Shows no interest in things that previously interest you
- Disinterest/difficulty bonding with the baby
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Anger, outbursts, anxiety o panic attacks
Dealing and Healing Postpartum Depression the Natural Way
If you or someone you love is suffering from postpartum depression, consult your doctor before anything else. Medication and talk therapy is still the best option for treating depression. To help with your healing process, try these tips.
- Laugh, cry and laugh some more
Laughter and a positive mindset are the best medicine, regardless of illness or disease. Watch a comedy and feel-good shows. Browse funny videos. Set some time for you to unwind. Laughing can trick your body into producing more feel-good brain chemicals. Meet with your friends or play with your pets. You need all the support network that you can get. Don’t keep yourself bottled up, let those emotions flow.
- Sunshine and a little exercise
Sunshine is nature’s antidepressant. Take a walk to bask in the sunshine every morning. Stroll in a nearby park. If you can walk barefoot on the grass, do it. Being in commune with nature is a great stress-reliever. If you can’t walk daily, just open your windows in the morning. Let in the fresh air and meditate for 10-20 minutes. Bring your little one in his stroller and walk around. Just keep moving to loosen up those blues.
Breastfeeding is one of the most fulfilling activities for me during those dark days. All my insecurities and anxieties dissipate during the simple act of nurturing my child. Providing your child this golden nourishment will calm you, as breastfeeding releases feel-good brain chemicals. For some mothers, breastfeeding is a cause of anxiety especially if they can’t provide enough milk. If you can’t figure out this breastfeeding thing, talk with a lactation consultant. Try to pump your milk to stimulate more milk production. There are a lot of ways to work around breastfeeding so don’t let it discourage you.
- Sleep and relaxation
Treasure your sleep like your life and sanity depended on it (because it is!). This may sound impossible for new moms but trust me; you can find a way around that. Talk with your partner or family. Get a babysitter. Try to schedule grandma or hubby to take over feeding baby at night. Try to co-sleep to save yourself some precious time as you can now sleep as your baby sleeps.
Exhaustion and diet is a vicious cycle. Your body will suffer if you are too tired to prepare some food yourself. You’ll also feel like shit if you aren’t eating right. You might not have much energy to make your food, let alone to think straight but don’t turn to processed or junk food. To help your body to recover, it pays to eat right.
- No to sugar and wheat
Forego sugar as it can just make you more depressed and fat. Sugar can crash and burn your energy level. It also helps if you could stay away from caffeine for the meantime. Try a gluten-free diet if you can. If not, just remove sugar and wheat from your diet until such time that your depression symptoms are resolved.
- Go raw
Increase your intake of raw and plant-based food. Snack on fruits and veggies such as carrots, celery, and cucumber instead of munching on chips, cakes or ice cream. If you can’t munch on too much stuff, just put everything in the blender.
- Eat lots of fatty fish
Increase your intake of oily fish such as salmon, sardines, halibut and tuna. Pregnant and nursing mothers need fatty acids (DHA) to help regulate mood and increase the brain’s feel-good chemical which is serotonin. If eating fish is not your thing, invest in a good Omega-3 supplement. Eating flax and chia seeds are also better alternatives to get your much-needed dose of fatty acids and essential nutrients.
- Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D
Calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D are all nature’s tranquilizers. You can get calcium not just from milk but more so with eating your greens. Kale, spinach, watercress, okra, collard, beet greens, bok choi, spring onions and leeks are all good sources of calcium and lots of other vitamins. These greens are also an excellent source of fiber and minerals. Foods rich in magnesium are avocado, leafy greens, beans, banana, dried figs, whole grains and blackstrap molasses. Vitamin D3 supplement can also help. You can get your natural Vitamin D from cod liver oil, fatty fish, mushroom, tofu and fortified cereals.
Iron-deficiency can make new mothers feel tired all the time. Shortness of breath and fogginess can be relieved with taking in iron supplements and eating foods rich in iron. These include organic grass-fed meat, blackstrap molasses, raisins, dates, apricots, dark leafy greens, lentils, and beans.
- Herbs for depression
Check with your doctor before you take in any of these herbs.
- John’s wort
- Ylang ylang
- Licorice root
- Ginkgo biloba
Postpartum depression is not “just in the brain.” It is a real illness that needs immediate medical attention. Invest in a healthy lifestyle and a sound diet. Make small changes and progress daily. A mother needs all the support that she can get. If you or your family member has postpartum depression, ask for help. Do not stress so much about sacrificing yourself to be the ideal parent. Prioritize your needs first, and the rest will follow.