Upon the arrival of a new baby, most parents experience the usual: insomnia, anxiety, and general overwhelmingness. Due to shifts in hormones, however, the mother can feel entirely different waves of emotions; blissfully happy one moment and weeping or even angry the next.
Typically, these wild waves of “baby blues” are short-lived and subside anywhere between the two days to within the first two weeks. But the trouble lies when these symptoms last over months. When this occurs, it’s more likely postpartum depression, which is a form of clinical depression (that affects 11-18% of women). This also means it’s time to seek help.
However, new mothers can take care of their postpartum health and prepare themselves with all-natural, preventative steps that can alleviate this drastic shift in hormones before it becomes severe and antidepressants are necessary.
It’s important to note too that doctors will often prescribe antidepressants. But these are not exactly a natural solution and the thought is especially troubling for breastfeeding mothers.
This is why we want to offer you some tips on how to prevent and treat PPD.
Up Your Nutrients
Vitamins or Chinese Medicine herbal supplements go a long way to provide the extra nourishment new moms need, and there are several Naturna recommends for preventing postpartum anxiety or depression. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is excellent in aiding brain function. Nettle or Dandelion root (also Dandelion tea) boost iron and calcium, as well as improves overall mood. Don’t forget about Vit D for a better mood or magnesium for relaxation. If you’re nervous about taking supplements while nursing, however, acupuncture can be just as beneficial. A basic multi-vitamin also provides a boost.
Eat Nourishing Foods
Making sure your body gets the nutrients it needs to take care of itself is crucial. And most nutrients are taken in through a proper diet. Healthy fats help our bodies absorb nutrients, which allow for the storage of energy and also regulate our hormones; avocados, olive oil, hemp/chia seeds, and coconut are excellent foods to eat. And on the same lines of fish oil supplements, there is of course fish. Get in a good 2-3 servings of fatty fish (such as wild salmon) each week to boost those omega-3s.
Also remember to avoid processed foods and reduce the consumption of toxins (per usual!) as they have quite negative side effects on our brains and ultimately our mental health. This means eating organic and avoiding dairy, refined sugar and wheat. Last but not least, eat stews and soups with bone broth, small amounts of meat and veggies. They are very easy to digest and super nourishing. Salads and raw foods won’t provide the same sustenance and will give your baby gas if breastfeeding.
Get Good Rest
Allow your brain to get the rest it needs, as Melatonins and Serotonins are crucial for our mental health. We realize it’s almost impossible to get a full night’s sleep with a newborn in the home—whether you’re worried and continuously checking in or due to their cries and feeding needs. Some solutions to getting sleep are to have you and your partner take shifts. You can also have a friend watch the baby for an hour while you slip into some decent REM. Also use some of Naturna’s recommended holistic sleep alternatives. If your cycle has just gotten way off course, acupuncture also alleviates your sleep deprivation.
Another way to get good rest is to get daily exercise. Go for an easy stroll outdoors (to boost that mood-improving Vitamin D!). Not only will you get some fresh air, but it gets your blood pumping, and lowers your stress hormone, Cortisol.
Self-care is also important. To take care of a baby, you need to take care of yourself too! Take a long bath to relax, or try meditation and deep breathing. Avoid caffeine too, if you’re not already for breastfeeding.
Surround Yourself With Others
Avoid isolation and remember to ask for help! As a new parent, you have every intention of doing everything right. But sometimes this can also feel as if everything’s riding on your shoulders. Leave the house or have people over, but make sure to keep yourself social. If family and friends want to visit the baby, don’t be afraid to ask for help in tidying up or bringing food. You can also hire a postpartum doula or baby nurse (read about the differences in our blog’s post).
If you need to talk to someone who understands precisely what you’re going through, consider participating in a Postpartum Depression support group in your local area/online or reaching out for support via phone/text. Knowing you’re not alone and having a sense of community can do wonders for new mothers with PPD. Visit Postpartum Support International to find local support groups or text/speak to someone in-person.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
There’s no denying that some women do need antidepressants. And this is especially true for new mothers with a history of mental illness or anxiety. If you do have a history of mental illness—or even PCOS or PMS, which is already known to cause hormonal imbalances and mood swings—postpartum will make those emotions even stronger, which can become a danger to you and your child.
Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about these issues. There are safe antidepressant options like SSRIs and SNRIs (that can sometimes even be reduced when taken alongside acupuncture and herbal supplements). The point is, you have options!
And speak to Naturna as well! We can offer natural alternatives to prepare you for postpartum “baby blues” before it becomes postpartum depression.
Remember to take care of yourself!