Pregnancy & Postpartum Depression Prevention
Pregnancy and postpartum depression prevention can be as important as treatment. Most mood disorders, such as the baby blues and postpartum depression, can be minimized with preventative care and proper support. If you do notice that you are not feeling like yourself, speak to your healthcare provider. You are also welcome to join WellMama’s support groups.
Remind Yourself of the Following Truths Each Day:
- I am not alone. All women are at risk for depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the first year postpartum.
- I am a good mom. The mere fact that I am trying to stay well means that I am a good mother.
- Taking care of myself is essential. My needs are as important as my baby’s. The healthier I am, the healthier my baby will be.
Find Supportive People
Surround yourself with supportive people. Support can come in many different forms. People can go shopping for you, help with the housework, bring food, listen to how you are feeling, open the mail for you, or watch your baby while you sleep.
Write a list of people and places that form your support network so you know who to call on when you need help. Your list can include family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, professionals, hotlines, support groups, postpartum doulas, or Internet forums. Keep the list handy so when you start to feel overwhelmed, you know exactly who to call.
Focus on Nutrition
Our culture tends to under-emphasize the importance of nutrition on our emotional and physical well-being. Try to eat as many whole wheat grains, lean proteins such as chicken and fish, and whole foods as possible, especially fruits, and vegetables. Avoid sweets, starchy carbohydrates, and caffeine. Also drink plenty of water.
When you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, you may go hungry because preparing your own food seems like an insurmountable task. Ask your partner or another trusted friend to keep your refrigerator stocked with ready-to-eat nutritious foods.
Studies have shown that taking between 1000-3000 mg of EPA and DHA through fish oils is effective in treating depression and anxiety in pregnant and postpartum women and is considered safe during pregnancy and nursing. Some healthcare practitioners recommend up to 9000 mg. Ask your healthcare provider for more information regarding the best dose for you.
Try to Get As Much Sleep as Possible
Taking care of a new baby who wakes up every two-three hours can be difficult. Make arrangements with a partner or friend to care for baby part of the night a few nights a week. Getting at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep to complete a full sleep cycle is important.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is important to our mental and physical well-being. After just a few minutes of exercise, our bodies release important endorphins. We tend to feel better about ourselves, and our bodies feel more energized.
Don’t listen to people who tell you to go to the gym or go jogging if you hardly have any energy. Instead, think about exercise more broadly: walk around the block or to the mail box.
Take Breaks from Baby
Newborns require a lot of care and attention, and they can be exhausting! Try to get regularly scheduled breaks. Ideally, you should get at least two hours at a time, three times a week. During your breaks, take time to reconnect with yourself and other adults. Take a long bath. Go for a cup of tea with a friend. Surf the Internet. If you have no energy to leave the house, someone could take the baby out for a few hours so that you can have the quiet house for yourself.
Go outside of the house at least once a day, even if you just step outside on your balcony or patio. Sunshine and fresh air are essential to helping us stay healthy. Some women find taking a vitamin D supplement to be very helpful. Speak with your healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter medicine.
Recognize Your Limits
Remember, you are recovering from your pregnancy and/or childbirth. The idea of “supermom” is unhealthy and unattainable. Be gentle to yourself. Find ways to nurture your spirit. Drinking a cup of tea while reading a magazine, taking a bath, or calling a friend are simple ways to recharge even if only for a few minutes. You need time to yourself each day.