Importance and prevention of postnatal depression

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Feeling overwhelmed after the birth of your baby is quite common. There are so many challenges to take care of and a lot less sleep! So, what you are feeling is quite common and you should look after yourself as only then can you look after your baby. However, about 80 percent of women suffer from sadness and mood swings, known as the “baby blues” after their pregnancy. While these last from days to weeks after birth, sometimes in some women these result in postpartum depression.

So, what is postpartum depression? It is a severe form of clinical depression related to pregnancy and childbirth and is more common than you think. Some women are more likely than others to suffer from postpartum depression. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Past postpartum depression or past clinical depression
  • Mental illness or depression within the family
  • A traumatic life event such as a death in the family, either during or after pregnancy
  • Drug abuse and the abuse of alcohol
  • Issues with the baby’s health
  • Trouble during childbirth
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • Lack of a strong support system

Prevention of postpartum depression

It is important to get educated about this once-taboo topic. It is also important to create an environment that prevents or lessens the severity of postpartum depression. There are certain things you and your doctor can do to prevent postnatal depression. Some of them are:

  • Join a support group: You should certainly join a support group as isolation results in anxiety. You can share your experiences and difficulties about being a brand-new mother with other mothers in the group. Knowing that others are going through the same mix of joy and frustration will set your mind at ease. There are several support groups offered by community organizations and hospitals for new mothers. These groups provide relief from the isolation that new mothers often face and also provide a valuable perspective.
  • Talk to your doctor: Your gynaecologist, obstetrician, and paediatrician have frequent contact with new and expectant mothers. They can help detect symptoms of postpartum depression. It is important that you choose the right doctor to guide you through your pregnancy and beyond. Your doctor should not only be interested in the health of your baby but should be interested in your mental health as well.
  • Get help at home: You should ask for and accept household help from friends, relatives, and even neighbours. Do not wait for them to offer but ask when needed. This is especially so if you feel overwhelmed and resentful.
  • Make time for exercise: Studies have shown that expectant mothers who exercised before and after the birth of their baby felt better emotionally and were also more social than women who did not exercise. Taking a brisk walk outdoors, enjoying nature, and getting fresh air can significantly improve your outlook. However, you should not indulge in strenuous exercise, such as aerobics. During pregnancy, exercise is more about blood flowing rather than burning calories.
  • Put everything into perspective: You should remind yourself that your baby will settle into a routine soon, that your life will be back on schedule, that breastfeeding will be second nature and that your diaper bag will be always full. You will soon be able to get outside the house quickly, baby in tow. So, while between hormonal swings and all the challenges of being a new mother it may be difficult to be remain confident and centred, always focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Follow a healthy diet: If you are eating the right foods, this can help prevent postpartum depression and can also give you the nutrients you need. You can plan your weekly meals on the weekend and can also prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. You should make preparing meals easy not hard and should prepare whole foods, such as cubed cheese, apple slices, peanut butter sandwiches, and carrot soup.
  • Create time for yourself: You may feel overwhelmed by breastfeeding, by work, by household responsibilities, or by older children. Despite all these responsibilities, it is important to schedule some “me time” during the week. You should try to get out of the house between nursing sessions by taking up your mother’s offer to babysit. During this time you can decompress by taking a walk, going to a movie, or doing some yoga and meditation.
  • Make time to rest: Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, otherwise you can be more prone to postpartum depression. This particularly applies to women who get less than four hours of sleep during the night and fewer than 60 minutes of nap time during the day. You should try to get as much sleep as possible by sleeping when the baby sleeps. You can also sleep early and can try to nap during the day.
  • Focus on fish oils: You should increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Those women who have low levels of DHA have higher rates of postpartum depression. Seafood is an excellent source of DHA. If you are vegetarian you can get your required dose of DHA by consuming flaxseed oil.
  • Examine your breastfeeding: A 2012 study shows that breastfeeding your baby can reduce the incidence of postpartum depression. This supposed protection can extend to the fourth month after delivery. So, if nursing is something you enjoy do keep at it.

It is important that you speak to your doctor about postpartum depression during your pregnancy. At Harsha Hospitals, we take good care of our patients and educate them about postpartum depression. Even if you do suffer from postpartum depression, we work closely and empathetically with you to treat you and help you feel better.

Our doctors are among the best and we boast of the best gynaecologist in Hyderabad, India. We concentrate completely on women’s health issues and treat our women patients as individuals with dreams and not merely as clinical cases.

So, if you are planning a pregnancy, are already pregnant, or are suffering from or concerned about postpartum depression, do consult with Harsha Hospitals and rest easy, knowing that you have consulted the absolute best of the best in the field!

For more information about postpartum depression and other women’s issues consult Harsha Hospitals at +91 7799565793 or at or go to our website for more information.

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