From excitement and joy to anxiety and fear, becoming a parent elicits a wide range of emotions. New moms aren't immune to the baby blues, but how do you overcome postpartum depression, a long-term and severe mood disorder?
Around one in every seven women suffers from postpartum depression. It can be harmful to both the mother and the child's health, but 1 in 5 women keep silent about their experiences and go untreated as a result.
Postpartum depression, unlike the baby blues, rarely goes away on its own. The illness can develop days or even months after your kid is born, and it can linger for weeks or even months without therapy.
Postpartum depression is a psychological condition that can be treated. It can be effectively managed, and you will feel happier as a result.
But, first and foremost, you must contact your healthcare professional and request assistance.
You're not alone if you're suffering from postpartum depression. You are not to blame for being depressed, and being unhappy does not imply that you are a lousy parent.
Here are some medically established methods for overcoming postpartum depression that you can utilize in conjunction with your doctor's supervision and advice.
1. Create a strong bond with your child
The stable attachment that develops between children and parents is known as an emotional bonding. Bonding successfully allows a child to feel safe enough to fully develop, and this bond will influence how they interact and build relationships throughout their lives.
Massage for your infant is one way to help strengthen the link for both you and your child.
When you pay attention to and attend to your child's demands or psychological cues, such as cuddling them, calming them, or consoling them when they cry, you develop a strong bond. Being that steady source of happiness allows your child to learn to control their own emotions and behaviors, which aids in their cognitive development.
Postpartum depression can have a substantial impact on early bonding, finding it challenging to get through each day and hampering your option to take care of both your baby and yourself.
According to a survey of 14,000 youngsters in the United States, 40% of the children did not have significant emotional relationships with their parents. Because of the lack of strong parental bonds, the children were more likely to have behavioral and educational issues.
Some parents experience an immediate rush of love when they first see their infant, while others take longer. Do not be concerned or guilty if you have not yet formed a bond with your child. It can take several weeks — or even months — to develop feelings of attachment, but it should happen over time.
Both you and your child gain from trying to bond with your newborn. The "love" or "cuddle hormone," oxytocin, is released when you are in direct contact with your baby.
Increased oxytocin levels help you feel better, more caring, and sympathetic to other people's feelings, as well as make it easier to recognize nonverbal messages from your kid.
Here are some ideas for strengthening your bond with your kid.
Make direct contact with your baby
Whether you're breastfeeding or formula-feeding your infant, attempt to do so with their bare skin against yours. Wrap a blanket across your baby's back and keep them warm if the room is cool. You can also skin-to-skin cradle your infant.
Skin-to-skin contact relaxes you and your kid while also strengthening your bond.
Longer periods of rest and wakefulness, less cold distress, better weight gain, improved brain development, less crying, and an earlier departure from the hospital are all benefits of skin-to-skin contact.
Give your baby a massage
Touch is a crucial element of your child's growth and development. The process of bonding helps reduce the intensity of symptoms in postpartum depression mothers
Sign up for a class, look up material or videos online, or read a book to learn how to massage your infant properly.
Don't forget to smile
Between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks, your baby will lose their reflexive smile and offer you their first actual smile. When a woman watches her baby smile, parts of her brain connected with reward light up, according to research.
The areas that are aroused are related to the dopamine neurotransmitter and are the same regions that are activated in those who are addicted to drugs. Seeing your infant grin is akin to getting a "natural high."
Hold your infant 8–12 inches away from your face so that they can see you clearly, smile broadly, and say a warm "hi" in a cheerful tone to elicit a smile.
Sing a song to your child
Singing to your baby has many benefits, regardless of the tempo, key, or whether you are the best or the worst singer in the world.
In terms of holding your child's attention, singing is equally as successful as reading a book or playing with toys, and it's even more effective than playing recorded music.
Singing to your infant not only gives them the sensory stimulation they need to focus their attention, but it also gives you a break from the negative thoughts that come with depression while also empowering you as a parent.
2. Look after yourself
One of the most effective methods to cure or avoid postpartum depression is to take care of yourself.
Simple lifestyle changes, some of which are listed below, can help you feel more like yourself again by improving your health and mood.
Consume omega-3 fatty acids
During pregnancy, eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish like herring and salmon, may reduce the incidence of postpartum depression. It could also be a viable therapy option for postpartum depression.
Take a rest
"Sleep when the baby sleeps," is a common term used by folks offering new parents advice — advice that most parents scoff at. Getting any kind of sleep while caring for a baby is, after all, a difficult undertaking.
Women suffering from postpartum depression have a harder time falling asleep and sleeping for a shorter period of time than people who do not have the disease.
Furthermore, the poorer their sleep quality, the more serious their depression is likely to be.
If you have family members or friends who can watch your baby while you nap, take advantage of their assistance.
Go outside and enjoy the sunshine
Your mood will be substantially improved by exposure to the sun and fresh air. Take the stroller for a ride and aim to get out there for at least 10–15 minutes each day, even if your hair is a disaster or your baby has to throw up on your best pair of yoga pants.
Treat yourself to something worthwhile
Take a break from your motherly obligations and enjoy yourself in tiny ways. Take a warm bath, or light some relaxing scented candles while you watch your favorite show.
3. Reintroduce exercise gradually
Exercise during the postpartum time is an effective strategy to improve psychological well-being and alleviate postpartum depression symptoms.
To ease some of your depression symptoms, go for a 20-minute walk with your kid in a stroller every day.
Exercise, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, helps to strengthen abdominal muscles, decrease stress, promote better sleep, and increase vitality.
If you had a healthy pregnancy and an uneventful vaginal delivery, you can start mild exercise just a few days after giving birth.
Walking is an excellent place to start because it allows you to push your stroller at the same time. Aim for 20–30 minutes of physical activity per day. Even ten minutes of exercise can be beneficial to your body.
Ask your doctor when you can start exercising if you've had issues or cesarean delivery.
Dance, Pilates, or yoga courses may be offered at your local fitness center. Certain postpartum classes are occasionally available at gyms, and you may even bring your infant to these programs.
If traveling to the gym isn't your thing, there are a variety of fitness DVDs and online workout programs that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
4. Create a support system
Humans are social animals who need to engage with others. Positive social contacts and moral support may have a protective role in reducing stress and coping with life's challenges.
To share your similar experiences, look for other women with children the same age as yours through organizations, classes, or apps.
New mothers may experience feelings of isolation and overwhelm as they adjust to their new roles. That loneliness can lead to severe emotions of isolation, a sense of being cut off from people, and a sense of not belonging.
Loneliness has also been linked to high hypertension, sleep problems, weakened immunity, and heart disease risk factors.
Getting help and support from others can boost your self and sense of independence, allowing you to better cope with issues on your own.
To gain social and emotional support, you don't need a large network of close friends and relatives.
Some people gain from getting a small circle of friends and neighbors, such as neighbors, coworkers, or other parents they've met through parenting organizations or mommy classes.
If you're having trouble connecting, don't give up; new friendships and connections can be made. Seek out other women who are going through a similar experience with parenthood. It can be encouraging to know that you're not alone in your feelings, concerns, or insecurities.
To meet other parents in your area, try baby and toddler classes, join a mom's support group on Facebook, or download mommy apps.
Your pediatrician can also make recommendations for local resources.
5. Go for Psychotherapy and medicine
If you've tried self-help, made changes in lifestyle, and sought advice but still don't feel better, your doctor may recommend medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
Psychotherapy, also known as mental health counseling or psychological therapy, can assist you in discussing your worries and thoughts, setting realistic objectives, and learning to respond constructively to situations.
If your depression is serious or other therapies have failed to relieve your symptoms, antidepressants may be prescribed. If you are breastfeeding, your doctor will take this into consideration when prescribing your prescription.
The effectiveness of a particular antidepressant in addressing postpartum depression may be explained by research.
Citalopram, which belongs to a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and is marketed under the brand name Celexa, was discovered to help reestablish connections between cells in brain regions disrupted by stress during pregnancy.
According to other research, if you can't handle going to face-to-face talking therapy sessions, Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy can help you dramatically reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.
It's important to remember that postpartum isn't your fault. It's a medical problem that needs to be addressed. Postpartum depression can make the already stressful experience after a baby is born much more challenging.
The sooner you get treatment for your depression, the earlier you can enjoy your baby and motherhood.
Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can affect new mothers. If you think that you are suffering from the illness, know that you aren't alone.
If you have gone untreated and have called out to family and friends for assistance, but haven't gotten the help that you need, know that there are resources available for you.
If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or are worried about how to manage the illness, don't hesitate to seek help. You deserve to enjoy your baby and feel better.
If you're thinking of hurting yourself or your child, put them in their crib right away and phone a family member, a friend, or one of the PPD helplines in your region.