4 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Postpartum Depression

reduce the risk of postpartum depression
Image via Flickr/ Katie Tegtmeyer

After suffering from postpartum depression with my son, I was bound and determined not to go through it again with my daughter. During my son's babyhood, I was sad and anxious, and chalked it up to being a first time mom. After crashing in a fit of rage and tears almost eight months after my son was born, I decided I needed to finally address my feelings – and I never looked back.

I was nervous before I got pregnant that I would have to go without medication for anxiety, but fate intervened and presented me with a brand new OBGYN who just happened to specialize in PPD. She assured me that we would be able to manage my anxiety during pregnancy and beyond.

“I want you in tip-top shape when you deliver, so we'll be talking about this at every appointment. I can't help you if you don't tell me,” she said assuringly.

Postrpartum depression is real and debilitating, and the best thing a pregnant mom can do for herself is try to prevent it from rearing it's ugly head after delivery by getting in tip-top mental and physical shape before she gives birth. Here are a few tips for preventing — or at least lessening the risk of PPD.

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Image via Flickr/ Amanda Hatfield

Long ago, pregnancy hormones were thought to protect women from the effects of depression, but researchers have found this is not the case. If you suffer from depression, treating it is essential to your health and your growing baby's health.

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During my first appointment, my doctor told me the worst thing I could do is get online and Google antidepressants and pregnancy because there was a great deal of misinformation. She told me the risk of any kind of birth defect associated with antidepressants was statistically insignificant, which means it's no higher than if I wasn't taking anything. She also noted that it was important for me to be happy and healthy during pregnancy for the health of the baby. Her words were a relief and helped me make the decision to stay on my course of treatment.

Not all antidepressants are made equal, however. Antidepressants that carry the least risk are SSRIs (Celexa and Zoloft), bupropion (Welbutrin) and Tricyclic antidepressants (Pamelor.) If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your physician about which type of antidepressants are safest for you and your baby.

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Image via Flickr/ Gabrielle

Ok, I know that telling a pregnant woman to rest is like telling the sun not to shine, but getting at least a few hours of shut-eye every night for at least four hours in a row will help your brain rest. Lack of sleep increases the activity in the portion of your brain that is involved in emotional regulation, which can cause anxiety and depression to intensify. During pregnancy, stop drinking liquids early in the evening so you're not up in the bathroom all night. If you have other children who disrupt your sleep, ask your partner to pitch in so you can get a good chunk of restful sleep.

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Image via Flickr/ Brian Cantoni

What you eat can make a difference in how you feel. Eating a diet rich in protein can give your body the feel-good building blocks that can help you fight PPD after baby. Food that is high in tryptophan can literally lift your mood — this chemical is similar to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm. Some foods to consider: turkey, chicken, bananas, oats, cheese, and peanut butter … Yum!

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Image via Flickr/ Brad Fults

The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” has never been more true, but having a support system can also help you maintain your balance and keep the effects of postpartum depression at bay. Before you have your baby, discuss your feelings with your partner, family and friends so they will know what to expect – this is especially important if you've been through PPD before and have an idea what your own personal triggers may be. Ask for help, especially with cleaning and cooking. Emotional support is just as important; stay in touch with friends who may be your literal and figurative shoulder to cry on!

{ MORE: We Need to Talk About Depression During Pregnancy Too }

How did you help prepare yourself for facing PPD?

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4 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Postpartum Depression

Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day, a blogger and freelance writer by night, and a celebrity news junkie all the time! She's also mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip (and sometimes tries to scoop her!) Amanda loves coffee, fashion, nail polish, cats, and Tim Gunn (not always in that order.) For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda's blog, It's Blogworthy. ... More

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