May is Postpartum Mood Disorders Awareness Month. As a pediatric sleep consultant and researcher, it seems fitting to write about postpartum depression and anxiety since they are so often linked to sleep deprivation in parents. Very often, when parents reach out to me to make sleep changes, they also have symptoms of depression or anxiety or both.
In fact, depression and anxiety are so common in postpartum that up to 15-20% of women will experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of their child, making mood disorders the most common postpartum disorder. In addition, new research is showing that up to 10-15% of fathers will experience a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression following the birth of their child.
My post-partum body brings out all my worst body issues. The truth is,I like to be skinny. I really like it. My excuse for obsessing about this is that since I don't have money or time for nice clothes, fancy hair, or getting my eyebrows tweezed it is fine to allow myself the vanity of worrying about my shape.
Still, I know I should not be so vain. I should find some joy in that soft, curvy and yes, bumpy and scarred, body that my pregnancies have given me. In that light, here are some things I find wonderful about the chubby side of having babies.
If you've already had a baby, you know it's coming and you dread it: postpartum hair loss. Still pregnant or breastfeeding? Sorry, mama: those gorgeous locks you got while pregnant thanks to all those hormones are only temporary. You, too, will soon experience the dread of watching your hair fall out after baby.
Shedding hair in postpartum is completely normal. As your pregnancy hormones wind down, hair becomes dry, brittle, and dull.
But you are not powerless in the fight to keep that hair. Here's are ten things you can do to reduce or prevent hair loss after pregnancy...
Editor's Introduction: We get a lot of questions about the benefits of ingesting the placenta after giving birth, particularly placenta encapsulation. But did you know that there is a lot more to the placenta than just that? For starters, the placenta is the only temporary organ created by mamals. And, the placenta has been celebrated and honored throughout history by cultures around the world.
And yes, it can be eaten, too.
In this primer, you'll learn about this amazin organ. As a bonus, you'll find instructions for how to encapsulate your plancenta at the end of this article. Read on!
There are all different sorts and levels of depression and Post Partum Depression(PPD). Some "baby blues" are normal after a baby is born. Your hormones dramatically fluctuate. If you notice that everything is irritating you; life seems to heavy to bear or you find yourself thinking things you never thought you would, you may have postpartum depression.
Here are some symptoms you should be watchful for....
- Feeling sad or down often
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life
- Loss of appetite
- Less energy and motivation to do things
- Difficulty sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feeling like life isn't worth living
- Showing little interest in your baby
You know that some of those things are normal, if you are not sleeping, but if it continues for a long period of time and you have no happy days you may have an issue that needs to be addressed.If you ever consider hurting yourself or others, it is time to get help now.
But what does getting help mean?
- It can depend on the level of depression you are suffering from.
- You may need to force yourself to get out of the house and get some support from other mothers.
- Counseling (talk therapy…talking to someone about some of the stress you are under, maybe your birth did not go the way you planned, your husband lost his job, your husband is gone, your baby does not nurse well…the list goes on) can really be helpful.
- Medication can sometimes be needed as well, but I have seen mothers avoid talking about PPD,because they assume that is the only option available to them.
Here are a few things to start with to see if you can get through this without medication:
- Find someone to talk to- this might be a friend, but most often, a professional who knows how to deal with crisis.
- Get in touch with someone who can help you figure out some things that relieve some of the burden on you.
- Establish a strong social network. This is hard for many people! You had a new baby; you don’t feel like yourself. A postpartum body is hard to adjust to, and none of your clothes fit. You are struggling with breastfeeding in public. I think what many people don’t realize, is that there are many, many moms who struggle with the same things. When we get out there, we will come away realizing that our feelings are normal and it is okay to struggle.
- Your friends, if you are honest with them, can tell you if you need to talk to someone else.
- Find time to do something everyday for yourself, even if it is just 15 minutes. This can behard when you have little ones. It might mean establishing a quiet time, where they take a nap, watch a movie, read books, spend time in the crib where you know they are safe, while you take a bath.
- Journaling- this can be a great way to process some of your feelings you are having. If there was something about motherhood, birth or the whole transition that has been hard to comprehend, write those down and get it out on paper. The relief can be great!
- Talk to your care provider. If you used a doctor or midwife during your pregnancy, give them a call and set up a time to go over how you are feeling. It might be time for some blood tests, and a physical exam to make sure there is not another reason you are feeling so tired.
Realize that you are not odd for feeling this way. It happens to most women! You are not expected to be perfect or super mom. Remember that if you do not care for yourself, you will not be there to take care of your children. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, but a requirement for good mothering.
You can start with some small things to help yourself feel better:
- Good diet- Many times when we are tired and exhausted we may not be eating the foods we need to for proper nutrition. Focus on stocking your house with simple; easy to grab foods, that are healthy for you. For example, apples, oranges, string cheese, Greek yogurt, cucumbers, hummus, canned beans, grated cheese, whole grain tortilla, bags of salad. These foods can be easy to grab a snack or make up a meal and can help you feel better.
- Exercise- this does not have to be anything strenuous. It can be as simple as putting your baby in the stroller and walking around the block or going to the end of your road to get the mail. It can be putting the baby in the cart and walking around the store at a good pace for 20 minutes. If you have access to a computer, there are many fun, short exercises on YouTube and other places online.
- Fresh air: Just step outside and breathe in deeply for 5 minutes.
- Find a hobby that you can do with having a baby. It can be as simple as nurturing a plant in your house, or as complex as detailed scrapbooking. Find something that will work with your likes and is reasonable with having a baby.
- Vitamins and supplements: Fish oil, flax seed oil, Vitamin B formulas are some of the vitamins and minerals that can help your body to work properly. Ask your care provider for a list of vitamins that they recommend you take daily.
- Medication- there are some anti-depressants that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers take. There are some risks involved, but the risk of a depressed mother to her baby is also great and only you and your care provider can evaluate the safety of both. Do some research on the safest ones. Here is a link to some of the studies and info from Thomas Hale’s book on pregnancy and breastfeeding with anti-depressants.
A book I recommend is called: The Postpartum Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Postpartum Depression
You can read my full review here.