Feeling blue? Here are 5 ways to fight postpartum depression
Article by Cherlynn Ng
It’s common for new mums to feel a little sad or down during and after pregnancy. After all, you are going through a huge transition in life and no one will fault you for finding everything overwhelming. Did you know that as many as 80% of women experience ‘baby blues’ after childbirth? The good news is these feelings, which are completely normal, tend to fade after a week or two. However, they should not be confused with postpartum depression.
Not only is postpartum depression much more severe, it also lasts longer and requires proper treatment. This is because the extreme mood swings, never-ending exhaustion and bleak sense of hopelessness take a toll on your daily life as well as interfere with your ability to care for your newborn. It can happen to anyone, but here are five helpful tips to cope.
1. Be familiar with symptoms
Knowing the symptoms and being able to identify them is the first step to recovery. While symptoms vary from person to person, here’s a list to pay attention to:
- You feel sad or cry all the time, sometimes for no apparent reason
- You feel an influx of negativity, such as guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness
- Your moods change suddenly and without warning
- You are exhausted but can’t sleep, or you sleep too much
- You binge-eat or show no interest in food
- You are constantly irritable, anxious or on edge
- You don’t feel connected to your baby
- You have unexplained aches, pains, or illnesses
- Your memory is poor
- You can’t concentrate or make simple decisions
- You have no interest in things you used to enjoy
- You withdraw socially and from loved ones
- You think about harming yourself or your baby
It might be tempting to withdraw into yourself out of a fear of being judged or because you feel like no one understands what you are going through. However, don’t be afraid to reach out and open up to someone you trust. Communicate with your loved ones and lean on them instead of letting your feelings simmer. The realisation that you are not alone can be tremendously helpful and give you the strength you need.
You can also consider joining a depression support group or one that is specifically for new mums. Not only will you be able to find like-minded individuals who might be in a similar predicament, being in a group can also help you focus on other things and combat stress.
3. Eat healthy
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. This is exceptionally true for pregnant mummies and those in confinement. A poor diet and junk food can cause you to become even more lethargic and listless, as well as wreak havoc on your sleep. Breastfeeding mums should also note that anything you consume, both good and bad, is passed on to your baby.
A nutritious diet accelerates your body’s healing after childbirth, improves breast milk supply, relieves stress and keeps you in top form (physically, emotionally and mentally) amongst other benefits. Certain foods such as salmon and dark chocolate are also known to fight postpartum depression. For a healthy body and healthy mind, confinement meals should be high in protein, vitamins, iron, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.
4. More rest, less stress
Cut yourself some slack during this stressful time and practice self-care. If you do not feel up for household chores and tasks, then so be it. Rather than trying to shoulder more responsibility than you can handle, enlist the help of your loved ones instead and you might be surprised at their enthusiasm! This will also allow you to divert and focus your energy on caring for your baby’s needs. A little ‘me time’ every day goes a long way!
5. Don’t afraid to seek help
Sharing your innermost thoughts and emotions can be daunting and leave you feeling vulnerable. But it’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with admitting that we need help. If anything, it makes you incredibly brave. Those looking for an extra pair of helping hands around the house can opt to hire a professional confinement nanny. She can assist with housework, preparing delicious confinement meals and caring for your newborn while you focus on your health. Most importantly, be sure to consult a doctor about your condition.
Fighting postpartum depression is by no means a bed of roses. But with proper care and prompt treatment, it’s definitely a battle that you can overcome.
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