Many women experience a “high” after giving birth, which carries on throughout the postnatal period. In about 40 per cent of these women, this “high” leads on to varying degrees of postnatal depression or “blues”. In most cases, this is manifested through one or two crying episodes, for no apparent reason, within the first three to seven days. This then clears up rapidly without further problems.
For some women, however, this could lead on to more severe and deeper depression, lasting two weeks or more. Should this happen, it is advisable to seek professional help. Below are some pointers that may help you:
What can cause postnatal depression:
1. Physical, social and psychological changes following the birth.
2. Dramatic hormonal changes.
3. Physical discomforts following the birth, for example, episiotomy, “afterbirth” pains caused by uterine contractions, breast engorgement, lack of sleep.
4. Failure to bond with the baby, due to separation for medical reasons, in the early days.
5. Difficulty in coping with a demanding and irritable baby.
Overcoming postnatal depression
Though the “blues” cannot be prevented, its intensity and duration can be reduced.
1. Get help with the housework, cooking and care of the baby. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
2. Make time for leisure. Plan an evening out at a restaurant.
3. Get as much rest as possible. Take a nap when the baby sleeps.
4. Be realistic about how much you can achieve each day. Caring for a newborn takes up a lot of time.
5. Discuss your feelings openly with your spouse. It is through the process of communication that the problems and depression of the early postnatal days can be corrected.
Lastly, make sure that you have enough nutrition in your diet. Check that you are eating sufficient protein, natural carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, trace elements and about 6 to 8 glasses of water. Of the minerals required at this time of your life, calcium is the most important. Are you having calcium deficiency? You may be surprised that increasing your calcium intake may help you calm down and reduce your postnatal depression. New mothers often get so caught up with the welfare of the baby that they forget to take of of themselves. Remember, just like in the safety instruction of the airplane, where they ask you to put on your safety mask first before attending to the child, you need to attend to your physical needs first in order for you to have the strength and sanity to take care of your child.
Learn what you can do to reduce the stress of new motherhood. Also find out how you can help your children cope with their new sibling.
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