As expecting parents, we often want to have as much information possible to have a great labor and birth. We take classes, read books, talk to other parents, research and, generally, gather as many details and stories possible so that we may have an informed, satisfying birth. One area that is often overlooked in the preparation for baby is the time that comes after baby is here. With 1 in 4 Oklahoma mothers being diagnosed with some form of Post Partum Depression or Anxiety, I think it is essential that all new parents have a plan in place to help ease this new experience. Let’s talk about a few tips that might help you have a great and peaceful post partum transition.
In a study conducted in 2005 by Cindy-Lee Dennis, RN, PhD, and Lori Ross, PhD , it is suggested that there is a correlation between baby’s sleep, mother’s sleep and postpartum depression. “This longitudinal investigation of maternal mood in the first 8 weeks postpartum revealed that infant sleep patterns and maternal fatigue are strongly associated with Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores indicating probable major depression.” So how do we cope with such a natural instinct as sleep in order to prevent depression occurring? Below are a few suggestions:
· Co-sleep- This can be as simple as sharing a room with baby or as extensive as bed-sharing. For safe co-sleeping habits, check out these tips via Safe Bed Sharing.
· Get help- Fathers in American take an average of 24 hours off for the birth of their child, even though 89% believe paternity leave should be given to all fathers, according to research conducted by Boston College in 2014. This leaves many new moms not only recovering from birth but trying to take care of a newborn, solo. A postpartum doula, close relative or friend who is willing to stay with you can help you get better rest and take care of things around the house that go by the wayside after birth.
· Stay home- Simply staying home and resting will give you a new lease on life. Order your groceries online and ask a friend to drop them off for you. Have a neighbor drop the dry cleaning off when they’re out running errands. Put off all non-essential trips away from the house until you have recovered fully and feel good enough to take short trips around town. Ideally, you would be resting in bed with baby skin-to-skin the first 2-4 weeks while others wait on you and pamper you. This is not a common occurance in America, but it should be!
In the study titled “Nutrition and Depression: Implications for Improving Mental Health Among Childbearing-Aged Women”, the authors discuss correlation between nutritional deficiencies and depression and how they would apply to postpartum women. “Childbearing-aged women are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor nutrition on mood because pregnancy and lactation are major nutritional stressors to the body. The depletion of nutrient reserves throughout pregnancy and a lack of recovery postpartum may increase a woman’s risk of depression.” Below are some suggestions that might help you stay on top of postpartum nutrition.
· Supplements and foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oils and anti-oxidants have been shown to help minimize depression.
· “Deficiencies of folate, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium tend to be more common among depressed than nondepressed persons.” Folate deficiency reduces the response to anti-depressants. Get adequate amounts of these minerals and nutrients daily.
· Eat! This is easier said than done, but it is an important reminder. Have prepared meals ready in the freezer before going into labor. Keep fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds handy for snacking in between meals. Stay hydrated, especially when breastfeeding.
In a study of first time mothers, there is evidence to suggest a correlation between social support and lowered postpartum depression, especially in those first 6 weeks postpartum. In order to better arm yourself with support, below are a few ways you can receive support while still maintaining the important mother-baby dyad immediately postpartum.
· Create a “meal train”- There are several websites that allow you, or others, to set up a calendar that others can volunteer bringing you delicious homemade meals, or even pick up your favorite take out. Meal Train is one such website.
· Have a list of household chores conspicuously posted so that guests can volunteer to fold some laundry or wash some dishes once they’ve dropped off a meal. Here is a printable chart you can hang on the fridge!
· Ask! Often, we are afraid to burden others who have lives and families of their own with helping us while we recover from birth. Remember, these are people who care about you. If you find yourself struggling, reach out and ask for help. Create a “check-in” list for friends, suggesting they call or text you on a schedule to see how you are coping. This takes the burden of asking away since they have likely volunteered for this task.
In conclusion, if you find yourself struggling, and none of the suggestions listed above are useful to you, please reach out to professional sources. Below are both local and nation wide resources for helping mothers who might be suffering with postpartum depression or anxiety.
Postpartum Support International-
Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services-
Mental Health Association-
Toll Free 1-800-969-NMHA(6642)
TTY 1-800-433-5959 http://www.nmha.org
Oklahoma State Department of Health-
Oklahoma Postpartum Depression Treatment
Bristol Two - Office Park
1985 W 33rd
Edmond, OK 73013
Balance Women’s Health-
1105 SW 30th Ct. Moore, OK 73160
Aimee Benton, M.A. LPC-
5225 N. Shartel Ave. #201
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
If you are seeking therapy offering a sliding scale fee based on income, or free counseling services, you might try the following:
Edmond Family Counseling-
1251 N. Broadway,Edmond, OK 73034
Postpartum Support International-
If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.
· Call your doctor.
· Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
· Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).