The Baby Blues
Hormonal fluctuations are normal during pregnancy and after delivery. There are increases of some and decreases of others leading a woman to feel unstable and not quite herself.
Postpartum depression is common after the birth of a child. The official definition is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or within the first year. Post partum commonly happens within the first 3 months after delivery.
Feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness, and restlessness are common in the week or two after pregnancy. These feelings are often called the postpartum or “baby blues.” These symptoms almost always go away within 1-2 months and without the need for treatment.
Postpartum depression may occur when the baby blues do not fade away or when signs of depression start one or more months after childbirth. Any symptom of depression could manifest during postpartum and symptoms are typically unique to the individual woman.
In addition to hormones, there are other non-hormonal factors that can also affect mood during this time frame:
1. Body changes from pregnancy and delivery
2. Changes in work and social relationships
3. Creating a “new” life balance, this involves putting an infant first.
4. Having the new responsibility of being a parent
5. Lack of sleep
6. Worries about being a good mom
7. Feeling like a “milk machine” and having “milk brain”
8. Pushing your needs to the back of the list as the baby takes center stage.
In society today, conventional doctors are quick to prescribe pharmaceutical medications for a woman’s emotional ups and downs. Pharmaceuticals are aimed at keeping us functional and safe for our families and ourselves. Pharmaceuticals can be used in acute situations when a woman is just barely treading water. Long term there isn’t much of an exit strategy in trying to wean a woman off these medications. In fact, I commonly see women who have been on either an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety drug for 5+ years after having postpartum symptoms.
Luckily for many women, natural medicine offers some really great alternatives to assist with brain chemistry, and hormone balancing. There are many tools in the toolbox of a naturopathic doctor including homeopathy, lactation safe herbs, nutrients, and dietary recommendations. All of these can work together to bring a woman back into balance naturally without having to reach for pharmaceutical drugs.
I recommend that any woman struggling with post partum depression find a Naturopathic Doctor to work with who can help guide her through this difficult time.
-Be Healthy, Happy & Holistic!