Many mothers all over the globe experience clinical depression after giving birth, the condition is better known as postpartum depression. World Health Organization has stated that the prevalence of this condition is as high as 13% among new mothers worldwide. This issue needs to be addressed immediately because it greatly affects not only the mother’s life, but also her child and family, even the whole community.
Problems Related to Postpartum Depression
Some women may be more prone to depression after childbirth than other women. Various studies have found that upsetting life events, anxiety during pregnancy, low social support, and history in clinical depression are the strongest predictors of postpartum depression. The other predictors are stress of childcare prospect, solo or single pregnancy, and low socioeconomic status.
Mothers with depression after childbirth tend to neglect their own basic needs. They may not pay attention toward their nutrition intake and personal hygiene. This usually leads them more vulnerable to illness which hinders their daily functions. The condition will most likely affect the quality of childrearing that they provide. Problems with breastfeeding, attachments, and basic infant cares usually occur because of mothers’ mental distress. Children of troubled mothers are usually found to be less developed than their peers. Some studies also reveal the negative effect of postpartum depression to marriage or relationship. It is said that women with this condition will have difficulty communicating with their partners and ultimately lessen the intimacy between couples.
On most extreme cases, the condition may inflate the risk of suicide by mothers. Suicide is said to be the leading cause of death among women after childbirth. According to a study, the reason is suicide ideation combined with several risk factors like symptoms of anxiety and childhood trauma. Mothers with postpartum depression may also develop some psychotic tendencies. Many have thought of harming themselves or their newborns. The cases of infanticide, though rare, are not unheard.
Possible Natural Treatments for Postpartum Depression
It is important to detect the onset of postpartum depression as early as possible. One of the most widely used screening tools is Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale which measures maternal affective side. If a mother’s depression is detected later, the case may get more severe. The severity of the condition may determine the type and duration of the intervention.
These mothers may get referred to professional therapists. Common intervention methods for this type of depression are psychological debriefing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication. However these methods do not always work. Some mothers have reported that they have troubles opening up to professionals about their distress. There is also fear to be seen unfit as a mother if one is seeking for professional help regarding their mental wellbeing. Experts have suggested several natural treatments to treat postpartum depression.
Mothers are suggested to exercise after child delivery. The recommended time is usually six weeks after birth, especially for those who delivered through C-section. They can start from small aerobic activities like walking in the beginning before moving toward heavier exercises. The main focuses of exercise after birth is stretching and toning. It is crucial not to overdo the exercise because the body may not be ready. Thirty minutes exercise for five days a week plan seems to yield the best result. In addition, exercise is said to reduce fatigue. It will also help with losing weight and releasing endorphins. It is suggested that exercise will lower the risk of developing depression after birth.
It is good to practice deep breathing at least five minutes a day, especially for new mothers. They are encouraged to try breathing slowly through lower abdomen while facing open air. During that process they will learn to connect with their inner self. Meditation lets people to capture their negative thoughts and releases some existing tensions. If mothers are doing meditation regularly, they will easily calm themselves when stressful events happen.
3. Keeping Healthy Diet
To help recuperating from childbirth and lowering the risk of postpartum depression, mothers are reminded to watch their nutritional intake. It is necessary because nutrition deficiency may lead to increased risk of depression. Protein is very important in the earlier stage because it helps mothers restore their body cells after birth. New mothers also need to consume dark greens, whole grains, and other kinds of fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate input of minerals and vitamins. One of the most recommended supplements for mothers after child delivery is omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have found that mothers with higher level of omega-3 will less likely show symptoms of depression after childbirth.
Many studies have supported aromatherapy as additional treatment for anxiety and depression symptoms. It has relatively low risk and most of the time yields satisfying results. There are several types of essential oils commonly used by mother to help treating postpartum depression. Wild orange, lemon, and grapefruit oils are known to elevate mood. On the other hand, chamomile and lavender oils help calming restless mind. Mothers can choose the type of oil to use depending on their preference and needs. However, it is important to use certified oil for safety reasons.
As we know, sleep is perhaps the most important remedy for depression after birth. A woman with newborn may not be getting adequate sleep time because of infant care duty. The loss of sleep will result in increased irritability and is often linked with depression. A new mother needs to have as many opportunities as possible to sleep. There has to be a support system surrounding the new mother, like perceptive husband and family. By delegating some home workloads to other people, new mother will have more opportunities to rest their body and mind.
As we have discussed, it is important to address the issue of postpartum depression immediately. However, as some studies have suggested, professional interventions may not always solve the problem. The five alternative treatments mentioned above are quiet possible to be done at home by the new mothers.