“Being a new mother is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, but postpartum depression and anxiety strip that away for a time, but trust that it will not last forever.” – Judy Dippel
Post-natal depression affects more than 1 in 10 women giving birth each year. Feeling, anxious, overwhelmed and stressed out after birth can be a shock after hearing all the tales about how having a baby is the happiest time of your life.
Post-natal depression looks very different from case to case – we are after all unique. Some people experience it as a sense of profound resistance to looking after or being with their child, sometimes for fear that you will harm the baby. Other people experience it an obsessive sense of fear and inadequacy.
What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
According to the NHS, signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include:
- A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- Lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
- Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from contact with other people
- Problems concentrating and making decisions
- Frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
If you are struggling with feelings you did not expect, in addition to seeing your GP you could benefit from seeing a counsellor ( I would say that wouldn’t I ) to help get you back on track. As well as this there are a number of self-care options you can practice.
Find time for a break!
Permanent sleep deprivation is a massive contributor to anxiety and low mood, never mind about the chores, the house will be ok again, and your mental health is more important. Ask for help when you need it, if you can afford it pay for help.
It is quite a shock to the system to have someone depending on you 24 hours a day, it is important that you make a bit of time for you within all that.
When tired and depleted it can be super tempting to binge eat on convenient, processed foods, but this will wreak havoc with your blood sugar, sense of fatigue, and mood. Aim to eat complex and unrefined carbohydrates as part of your main meals –brown instead of white rice and bread. For breakfast, porridge and oatmeal is a good choice (also wonderful for breastfeeding). Avoid stimulants including tea, coffee, chocolate, smoking, fizzy drinks.
Take a good multivitamin
Mineral imbalances or deficiencies have also been proven to contribute to ‘baby blues’, so keep your levels topped up with supplements. Interestingly when you are pregnant, the copper levels in the blood can rise dramatically and remain high for up to a month after giving birth. This can cause what feels like depression: extreme fears, anxiety, sleep problems, and paranoia because it reduces the zinc in your system, so take a zinc supplement. Zinc deficiency can cause stretch marks, white spots on fingernails, decreased wound healing, loss of appetite and low mood.
Top up your fatty acids
During pregnancy, women are deprived of fatty acids because of the physical demands of the baby.
Omega 3 fatty acids increase levels of serotonin so they are really useful for those prone to depression and anxiety. You can find Omega 3 in foods like salmon, avocado, and nuts in your daily diet. It is also available in supplement form.
Being the best mum you can be requires that you get into practicing self-care as well as caring for your baby. Developing your self-care skills can be both fun and rewarding!