10 Tips to Handle Postpartum Depression
The moment Shruti heard cries, her face lit up. Looking at the newborn, Shruti felt joy gushing through her arteries. She began smiling to her ears when her fingers touched the baby’s soft skin. The next couple of days turned out to be overwhelming for her. Most of the time was spent in feeding, changing diapers, and taking care of the baby. Embracing newly found motherhood was a daunting task and Shruti wanted to give her best to ensure she lived up to its definition. But as days turned into weeks, a strange feeling enveloped her. Elation turned to distress, submerging her into the sea of baby blues. Grappling with irritability, Shruti wondered as to the source of this powerful conflicting emotion that was slowly spreading across her body.
Postpartum depression, an extension of baby blues, is a severe long-lasting form of depression that occurs a few weeks post birth. While baby blues begin within the first two three days of delivery and may last up to two-three weeks or more, Postpartum depression generally starts after 4 weeks of delivery and can go on for a few months. Common symptoms of Postpartum depression are severe mood swings, crying spells, anxiety attacks, withdrawal from family and friends, excessive fatigue, irritability, insomnia, helplessness, and worthlessness. In extreme cases, Postpartum depression may also lead to thoughts of harming oneself or the baby or in worst case suicide. Untreated Postpartum depression may last for months too and wreak havoc on the psyche of the mother.
Several studies have found that there are multiple reasons for the onset of Postpartum depression:
- Family History of mood disarrays
- History of depression
- Limited social support
- Age of pregnancy
- Marital problems
- Distorted self-image
- Hormonal imbalance – Reduction in estrogen & progesterone
Several ways to cope with Postpartum depression are as follows:
1. Gradual reintroduction of exercise: Exercise provides an efficient mechanism to achieve optimal psychological and physical wellbeing. Mothers can start with upto 15 minutes of daily stretching and then slowly increase the same to 30 minutes as well as incorporate basic cardio exercises in the workout schedules.
2. Healthy diet: Consumption of diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids is recommended. Also replenishing the body by drinking fluids is essential in case the mother is breastfeeding.
3. Recreation activities: Indulging in creative hobbies like singing, writing, painting, watching favourite shows, and reading favourite books will help divert the mind from distress and help bring about a sense of much desired calm.
4. Adequate Rest: Mothers shouldn’t compromise on sleep and ensure that the body and mind are fresh every morning. It is also suggested to go to bed earlier than usual and adjust her sleeping schedule in accordance with that of the baby.
5. Interaction with other new mothers: Establishing a social group comprising of new mothers to interact with not only enables share of information but also fosters a sense of relief and comfort as the mothers have someone who understands the feelings of motherhood.
6. Formation of a secure bond with the baby: Close contact with the baby releases ‘oxytocin’, the ‘love’ or ‘cuddle hormone’, the increase of which makes the mother feel jovial and stimulates feelings of sensitivity and care that slowly becomes evident in other relationships too.
7. Support network: Mothers should be open to requesting support from family and friends without the fear of judgement and trust the near and dear ones with the fact that they will act in the best interest of the mother and the baby.
8. Setting realistic expectations: Creating unnecessary pressure on oneself to support the baby to the best of one’s ability often takes a toll on the psyche. The mother shouldn’t try to accomplish all the hurdles herself and blame herself for minor issues.
9. Seek professional help: Therapy helps to find better ways to cope with the feelings, solve problems, and respond to situations in a timely manner.
10. Practice creative visualization: Creative visualization involves the art of affirmations wherein a person is required to create mental images of positive events in the future and evoking the spirit of inner strength that gives confidence to deal with all the challenges that life throws.
Leveraging the above recommendations, new mothers can eliminate the woes caused by Postpartum depression and can build a healthy relationship with the new born.