The objective of this article is to help women identify their risk factors for Postpartum depression before its onset, during pregnancy and to suggest some ways to offset it.
By: Susan Adams M.Ed.
Summary: The most common time for postpartum Depression to set in is after the l last regular clinical office visit with the obstetrician which is the six-week exam.
The most practical way to help women is to identify who is more likely to develop a Postpartum Depression and to suggest some remedies BEFORE onset. This article is aimed at doing that.
The signs that Postpartum Depression may occur may first be looked for in sleeplessness accompanied by depression. Many women experience fatigue and ambivalence in the early months of pregnancy. They may show fears and nightmares in the middle months, and impatience and body aches in the later months. This latter makes sleeping difficult. So, being awake, possibly, at three in the morning, she worries abut the baby who is growing in her womb and her changing life.
Most women think of the above discomforts as Minor and transient. However, others develop some level of depression. They call their doctor with aches and pains and make increased visits to the office with complaints of nausea, pelvic pain, lack of sleep, or may just come in exhausted and tearful. Women with depression in pregnancy are especially likely to develop postpartum depression.
Another place to look is at women with a history of depression or treatment with tranquilizers. Also, women with a family history of this disturbance.
Family problems are at issue as well. Women with relationship problems with a mother or other family problems are at risk. Needless to say, marital problems make a big risk.
Women who have had previous pregnancy problems constitute a risk. Those who have struggled with infertility may develop postpartum depression. Many infertility clinics include counseling as a part of their treatment. Other issues may be a prior stillborn birth, late or frequent miscarriages, and babies born with health problems.
Then there are the women with careers. They live by their appointment books and may have significant problems with the unpredictable nature of pregnancy, labor, and the management of newborn babies.
Survivors of abusive families are also at risk. These women did not have adequate care and protection–they are often still children themselves and not prepared for the caretaking and emotional output that a newborn needs. If you couple this history with the rather large possibility that such a woman also has marital problems and other relational problems due to emotional underdevelopment, you have a pretty good recipe for postpartum depression and possible child abuse as well.
What can be done for these women? First, identify a supportive person in the community to help you plan ahead for the period when the postpartum depression is likely to set in. If you cannot find such a person, find a good therapist who deals with family relationships and pregnancy issues to help. Don’t try to go this alone.
Spending a half hour daily exercising is important. Do a form of Yoga and think about the upcoming birth, your hopes for the baby and how realistic they are. Think about fears of labor and plans for family adjustments after the baby is born and have someone with whom you can discuss these.
Remember, that proper exercise promotes a state of well-being, keeps blood sugar at good levels, improves circulation, aids digestive issues, and promotes good sleep.
Eat properly. The best idea is to eat 6 small meals a day that are high in protein and carbohydrates. Take regular rest periods and get enough sleep. If sleeping is a problem consult your doctor. One aid to sleep if it is a problem is to do something boring or that you dislike before bed.
Develop a support system like a mother’s group or a new-parent group. These may be found in religious arenas.
If it is possible, get someone to help you with the baby in the early weeks. Especially if you lacked nurturing growing up and caretaking of a newborn is overwhelming to you don’t try to do this alone. If there is no family member to help, call a religious organization for some aid.