Six weeks ago, you welcomed your first baby, a beautiful daughter, into the world. Since this momentous occasion, you’ve experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. While you absolutely adore spending time with her, you often feel sad and detached. If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately one out of every seven new moms suffers from post-partum depression. Understanding the causes of this serious mental issue is the first step to finding the right solutions for you.
Causes of Post-partum Depression
Decreases in Estrogen and Progesterone
During pregnancy, your body revs up its production of estrogen and progesterone. After the delivery of your child, you experience a drastic decrease in these hormones. This wild fluctuation can trigger post- partum depression.
If you’re a new mom, you might not remember the last time you enjoyed a peaceful, uninterrupted night of sleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can lead to:
Because a lack of proper rest can also affect your focus, you might encounter difficulties dealing with simple problems.
Feelings of Low Self-confidence
New mothers sometimes suffer from feelings of low self-confidence. For instance, you might constantly dwell on the baby weight you think you need to lose. If you’ve outgrown your pre-baby clothing, you may still be wearing maternity clothes. Or, you might lounge around in baggy sweatpants and t-shirts.
Anxiety about Taking Care of a Newborn
Caring for a newborn is an enormous responsibility. Each day’s multiple diaper changes, clothing changes, and feedings may have you feeling overwhelmed much of the time. Being anxious about your baby’s safety is also common. For example, you might fret every time you need to:
- Bathe your baby
- Sterilize bottles
- Burp your little one
- Retreat to your bedroom at night
Solutions for Post-partum Depression
If you’re battling post-partum depression, talking with a mental health provider might provide the relief you’re searching for. Counseling may help you:
- Discover productive ways to deal with your feelings
- Solve problems that arise
- Respond to frustrating situations in a positive way
- Establish realistic goals
In addition to one-on-one counseling, you might benefit from attending sessions with your partner or other children.
Depending on your personal situation, your physician might recommend antidepressants. It is your physician’s responsibility to provide safe, effective treatment for you, even during breastfeeding. Discuss with him/her any concerns you have about how a new medication might affect your baby as well as yourself.
Besides helping you whittle your waistline, working out can enhance your mood. When you exercise, your brain releases happy hormones known as endorphins. Strive to work out on most days of the week. A gym membership isn’t required to break a sweat. Simply taking a stroll with your baby in your neighborhood can get your heart pumping and improve your mood.
At mealtimes, fill your plate with energizing foods including:
- Lean sources of protein
- Whole grains
Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Drink plenty of water. Being even mildly dehydrated can make you feel fatigued and moody.
Becoming a new mom can be one of the most thrilling, rewarding, and memorable experiences in your life. Sadly, a staggering percentage of new moms suffer from post-partum depression. But when treated appropriately, most women recover from this debilitating mental disorder within six months.
If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to your primary care doctor, OB/GYN, or another healthcare expert at Ogden Clinic. Family members, friends, and your healthcare providers will be there to help you. They want you to be happy with your new bundle of joy as much as you do.