Being a mother is an overwhelming experience. At the same time, mothers of newborns experience bodily changes and need to adapt to the new life and embrace new responsibilities. All this together leaves them feeling anxious, worn out, and morose as well. This phenomenon is commonly known as ‘baby blues’.
When this phase continues beyond a fortnight and requires the mothers to seek help, it turns into postpartum depression. It gets tough for the new moms to take care of the babies and themselves. The good news is, this can be completely treated and overcome.
The symptoms of postpartum depression may be summarized as loss of interest in oneself and baby, lack of motivation, sleep deprivation or too much sleep, lack of concentration, feeling of despair and continuous exhaustion, lack of appetite, detachment from family and friends, having frequent headaches, stomach aches or vision issues, and, in extreme cases, trying to cause self-harm.
The following are 10 effective ways to combat postpartum depression:
- Exercise: Physical exercise is an effective way to get over this mental state. With a baby, it might be difficult to find time for exercise. Mothers who have had a cesarean section might not be allowed to exercise as well. However, any kind of movement, like walking around with the baby stroller, or go for a long walk in the open for a while, or trying some simple yoga poses or light exercises for 10-15 minutes might have an antidepressant effect on the mind.
- Eat healthy: Healthy diet would provide nutrition to the new moms and ensure good health. When the new moms feel healthy from inside, it improves their mental health as well. A balanced diet with lots of veggies, protein, some cheese, and peanut butter and fruits would provide immunity and physical and mental strength.
- Rest: Many times, lack of sleep and rest cause fatigue and depression. New moms must make taking rest a priority. Seek help from other members of the family in this regard. Catch some sleep while they look after the baby. Else, tune in with the baby’s sleep pattern. Moms must try and get used to taking short naps whenever the babies are asleep. Rest would calm the mind and increase concentration.
- Fatty acid: Mothers on newborns must consume omega 3 fatty acids like DHA. As per a study conducted by the Journal of Affective Disorders, low DHA levels are associated with high postpartum depression. A great source of DHA is seafood. Adding seafood in diet could help to combat postpartum depression to a great extent. Flaxseed oil is rich in DHA as well.
- Breastfeeding: A study conducted in 2012 revealed breastfeeding helps reduce postpartum depression in some mothers. These mothers like breastfeeding and they must try and continue doing it as long as possible as it would help them overcome feeling the blues. However, a small percentage of moms might experience Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex, which is a sudden feeling of uneasiness or anxiety that occurs during the first few moments of milk coming out.
- Avoid being alone: Being among people and talking about depression with others make the new moms feel less vulnerable. Expressing always helps fight mental issues. This is no exception.
- Join a like-minded group: Joining a group of new mom mothers might be a great idea to get off the depression. The moms might exchange the worries and know the issues are not unique but quite common and might jointly discuss solutions.
- Me-time and music: However difficult it might be, the new moms must have some time doing things they enjoy. This would make them relaxed and would also make them feel life has not drastically changed. Music again is a proven stress buster. Listening to music or singing would have a soothing effect and fill the mind with joy.
- Going out and family support: Stepping out for a walk or going for a short drive would rejuvenate their mind. The family must realize the baby is not the mother’s responsibility alone. The moms must be made to understand they are doing perfect, they are great moms and babies would have both good days and bad days, which is perfectly normal. The family must allow the moms some time to relax, go out, and do things they like.
- Professional help: If the situations spin out of control or continue for a long time, moms must seek professional help. With psychotherapy and medication, if necessary, new moms would certainly bounce back to perfect normalcy and begin enjoying this beautiful phase of life.
Mom’s health and mental state directly affect the baby. If they are happy, babies would grow up happy. Postpartum depression is a condition that arises out of health conditions or situations. Moms do not wish it on themselves; rather they are the ones who suffer. The aforementioned ways to combat postpartum depression could be useful to these moms to a large extent and bring in happiness.