Natural strategies to avoid & treat postpartum depression & anxiety. Life-changing tips you most likely haven’t heard before, and how to stop postpartum depression before it even starts.
For many mums, the newborn stage is filled with both some of the highest highs and the greatest challenges of our lives.
For new mums, there can be enormous emotions involved as we traverse through uncertainty, self-doubt and anxiety. Combine that with recovering from birth, fluctuating hormones and often exhaustion, is it any wonder this can be a fragile & pressured time.
Many mums are at risk of developing postpartum depression & anxiety, but there are ways to address all the contributing factors to this.
Read on to discover how you can choose a different path & really thrive & enjoy this precious time.
Start during Pregnancy
There are certain factors that can set us up for post-partum depression & anxiety right from pregnancy, so let’s start here.
Stress during pregnancy is enormously common. It’s a time of huge life change & adjustment. High levels of stress during pregnancy is one of the leading causes of post-partum depression.
So tip number 1 is to learn how to manage & process through stress and learn to love yourself more. Self-care is a vital ingredient in the journey of motherhood.
Pregnancy is also the time to look at whether there is anything else driving inflammation & oxidative stress, such as an inflammatory diet, exposure toxins & electromagnetic radiation.
Go here to learn more about this
Also, consider what might help you to have a more positive & empowering birth experience. You can read this amazing interview with Debra Pascali-Bonaro for some great inspiration around this
Post Partum Healing & Emotional Recovery
Your body & soul have just been through the mammoth task of growing & birthing a baby into the world. Now you need some serious resting & healing time.
With the way our current standard practice of birth is so medicalised & very often interfered with, many women are coming out the other side with unacknowledged trauma, both physically & emotionally.
Hospitalised births tend to be very sterile and lacking in emotional support. They can be disempowering for so many women since it has become the norm to hand over control of the birth process to medical staff.
The message is that as long as both mum & baby come out alive & physically okay at the end of it then what goes on behind the closed doors of the birthing suit doesn’t matter.
But it DOES matter.
It means the difference between coming out of the experience feeling disempowered & often diminished somehow, or empowered and awed, supported & connected.
Many women are actually coming out of the birth experience carrying unacknowledged, unhealed trauma and I believe this needs to be acknowledged before it can be healed.
How do you feel about your birth experience?
- I don’t really want to think about it, my baby is with me now & that’s all that matters
- I never want to give birth again
- I feel like a train wreck
- I am disappointed with how things went but my baby is with me now & that’s all that matters
- I haven’t felt like myself since
If you agree with any of those statements, you are carrying a degree or more of birth trauma
We have not been taught how to deal with this kind of experience & trauma emotionally, so we tend to want to forget about it & move on. The problem with this is that when big emotions are suppressed we are very prone to depression & anxiety.
Moving through Post-Partum Depression & Anxiety
Depression is suppressed emotion, and there is just about always something we are angry about which we didn’t allow ourselves to fully feel, if we are depressed.
Let me just say that it’s okay to feel angry, and many women do actually come out of birth feeling angry to varying degrees, but very often suppressing this.
Because this is so misunderstood & generally not an acceptable way to feel when we’ve just been through the miracle of birth, right?
But the truth is many women feel angry with the way it turned out, angry with how they were intervened with, angry about feeling powerless, angry at their partners for whatever reason.
It’s OKAY! Let’s just be real about it!
Emotion is Energy in motion. We don’t stay angry when we just let ourselves feel it.
We don’t need to hang onto the reason, we don’t need to give the story of it any power at all. It doesn’t matter what triggered it, all that’s important is that we feel it. It’s only when it’s denied and pushed down that it becomes problematic.
The fact is that birth is an emotionally triggering event and most births take place in an emotionally unsupportive & unsafe environment so the feelings are suppressed
So, this is Step 1 Mumma’s! The first step to avoiding post-partum depression and anxiety, and THRIVING through the 4th trimester!!!
Would you like the rest of the steps???
Here they are, my 8 ways to avoid Post Partum depression & anxiety, and truly enjoying your 4th trimester with your bundle of joy
1. Honor how you feel
Whatever it is start by acknowledging it and either talking about it, just stating the truth of how you feel, or journal about it. Give yourself permission to express it emotionally in a safe space, as it emerges naturally for you.
Sometimes this is enough to slowly process through things in our own time, but if you feel you need additional support to move through something that has emerged for you, this is a vitally important gift to give yourself, and now is the time.
2. Address any oxidative stress & inflammation in your body from pregnancy or pre-conception
I recently interviewed paediatric nurse Grace Eliza, who has become very aware of the very important link between complications in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding & post-partum recovery with high levels of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress lies at the root of MOST chronic health conditions.
There is strong evidence linking oxidative stress as a contributing factor to many newborn diseases such as respiratory distress syndrome, bronchial asthma, nutritional stunting, as well as poor mother-child interaction & even autism.
There is even a link to effective lactation in breastfeeding, and Grace has observed that mothers who address oxidative stress have less morning sickness & other pregnancy complications, better recovery for premature babies, less incidence of depression & anxiety, and more effective lactation.
If only I had learned 3 years ago how important it was to address my oxidative stress before we conceived our little guy, we could have potentially avoided my morning sickness & possibly our bubs tongue tie too. And maybe I wouldn’t have needed all those lactation cookies!! 😀
To learn more about oxidative stress go here.
I’m not recommending antioxidants (for a few reasons), but to actually activate the body’s own biochemical pathways which produce these powerful antioxidants. We can do this with a natural herbal activator.
Go here to learn more about this powerful natural healer, the Nrf2 activator.
Please note that it is always best to speak to your health practitioner &/or obstetrician before introducing the Nrf2 activator during pregnancy or lactation.
The ideal time to commence the Nrf2 activator is actually during pre-conception.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this.
3. Finding the balance
Us women have been taught that to love means we must self-sacrifice. But we need to find the balance between our babies needs and our own. Your own needs are just as important.
Yes, the 4th trimester is a time where our babies needs are highest to support them to transition into this world.
And yes, forming a secure attachment is really important. But not at the expense of our own wellbeing
This article explores how to provide secure attachment in a balanced way, without burning ourselves out.
4. What nurtures YOU?
Self-care and being kind to yourself is SO vitally important during this time.
Go here for some ideas & inspiration.
5. Letting go of perfectionism & high expectations
Lower your expectations & go with the flow!
Your baby doesn’t need to be in a routine or sleep trained yet and they are not ready to self-soothe so don’t worry about creating bad habits.
He is transitioning into this life & needs you to just go with his flow and follow his lead. Relax & let your baby show you.
But at the same time, you are his guide too so we need to trust our instincts.
You will be a nocturnal creature for this period of your life, and it WILL change 🙂
Let yourself live in your jammies & look like you’ve just had a midnight pillow fight. It’s okay!
I felt pretty much like a milk machine living in a bed for the first months.
Whatever it is that works for YOU go with that.
Like this Article?
6. Coping with exhaustion
Every mum goes through sleep deprivation, in these early months especially.
It can be so intense for some mums that they can find it hard to function. I know I suffered with exhaustion & fuzzy brain.
But I believe that with the right supports, the broken sleep doesn’t have to hammer us so hard.
- Nap whenever you can.
- Regular exercise, even 5 minutes of opening yoga stretches can get the energy flowing again
- Eat superfoods (concentrated nutrition) & whole foods.
- Avoid junk food, overeating, alcohol & sugar. All of these things deplete us.
- Accept all offers of support.
- If feelings of exhaustion are extreme & become debilitating talk to your health practitioner as there may be an underlying cause
7. Spend time getting to know this new person
This big soul in a little body!
I remember making this little shift inside of myself where I decided that when my baby needed me through the night it was a beautiful opportunity to bond with and enjoy some special quiet time with him.
Instead of thinking about how exhausted I was and the sleep I was missing out on, I decided I was going to go with the flow & I started to really enjoy being there for my baby when he needed me.
It was precious time, in the peaceful, slow, quite dark of night.
This is precious bonding time for you and your baby. Enjoy getting to know your little one by gazing into each other’s eyes, cuddles, singly softly to him, just spending as much time as you can rest up with him.
8. Welcome the tears
Or at least try not to stress about them 😉
Just know that when your baby cries, this is 2 things:
1/ The only means your baby has for dealing with sensations that are overwhelming to him at this point, & communicating his needs.
2/ His way of processing trauma and his environment.
Outside of communicating & meeting his needs, I knew intellectually that my baby needed to cry but emotionally felt an overwhelming compulsion to help him feel better. I felt I needed to do SOMETHING to ease his suffering.
Nothing prepares you for how strong this compulsion is but just know that babies need to cry.
We need to learn to listen and watch the early cry cues because often your baby is communicating a need (hungry, tired, needs burping or uncomfortable somehow).
The Dunston Baby Language method is really interesting to check out and can help to take out some of the early guesswork.
Outside of these basic needs, sometimes your baby just needs to process through trauma & stress, and once they have, they will often be happier, more peaceful & sleep more deeply.
There you have it Mumma’s!
Enjoy thriving through that precious 4th trimester!
Like this Article?