Here are some self-care strategies (in addition to counseling and, in some cases, medication) to both help prevent and care for PPD:
· * Eat a balanced diet: small frequent meals, limit sugar and caffeine, increase protein intake. This keeps your energy up and keeps blood sugar levels (and therefore mood) more stable.
· *Get as much sleep as possible: sleep deprivation is one of the greatest contributors to depression. Try asking your partner or a support person to take a shift with the baby at night so that you can get a longer stretch of sleep every once and a while.
· *Get regular exercise as much as you can; Nothing too strenuous; daily walks with the baby are good.
· *Get outside and get as much sunlight as possible: Keep you curtains open to let sunlight in the house.
· *Avoid using alcohol or other substances as a way to feel better; Alcohol consumption can exacerbate depression.
· *Try playing stimulating music during the day and calming music in the evenings.
· *Avoid being alone all the time: schedule visits and outings with family and friends
· *Tell loved ones what is going on for you, be honest with yourself and them about your feelings and your struggle
· *Take breaks from baby for about 2 hours a couple times per week to do something for yourself, loved ones will enjoy this time to bond with baby.
· *Limit activities that are very stimulating.
· *Go to a new moms' support group, one where talking about feelings and challenges is encouraged. Other mothers can provide first hand understanding of the challenges of being a new mother. Click here http://www.moniquerees.com/groups.htm for information on a weekly new moms' group
· *Consider consulting a nutritionist. Low levels of amino acids, vitamins B6, C, B12, folic acid, and magnesium can contribute to depression.
· *Psychotherapy: psychotherapy is incredibly helpful, and even essential in many cases of PPD. A relationship with an experienced Licensed Practical Counselor or Social Worker specializing in PPD can help you learn tools to cope with the depression and keep it from getting worse. As a therapist specializing in PPD, if you need, I can see you in your home during the first few weeks postpartum, and once you feel more mobile, I will see you in my office.
Bennett, Shoshana and Indman, Pec. Beyond the Blues: A guide to understanding and treating postpartum depression. Moodswings Press, 2006
Depression After Childbirth, Kaiser Permanente, Version 9.2.102713, Last Revised July 14, 2011
Natural Cures for Postpartum Depression, www.yourdays.com
Depression Remedies by Cathy Wong, About.com Guide, Updated May 28, 2012