Postnatal Depression

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I’ve wanted to write about Postnatal Depression for a long time as it is such a hidden illness – so many women come out of the woodwork and admit that they have suffered AFTER going through it, but many will rarely put their hands up and admit they are not coping at the time – somehow it isn’t right, isn’t acceptable, is admitting defeat – aren’t we meant to totally adore being a Mum? I have struggled with depression and anxiety in my life so know how utterly terrifying and isolating it can be and feel it is very important to talk about it – to not let it be a taboo subject. I did a huge amount of reading around the subject when I was training as a massage therapist – indeed baby massage has often been prescribed for Mums with PND to help with bonding and socialising. Certainly the raised levels of oxytocin when giving and receiving massage are beneficial. There are other key factors that help too.

Breastfeeding

For increasing oxytocin levels (the feel good hormones in the body) and for one-to-one bonding.

Sleep

We all know that lack of sleep can affect our mental health and the recommendation to sleep when the baby does is a very good one, though not always easy. If you can achieve an uninterrupted four hour stint at night, with a one hour sleep during the day then you are doing well.

Support

Get all the help you can – from your partner, family, postnatal doula, nanny, cleaner, friends etc. Whoever offers!

Nutrition

Making sure we eat well is important, but emphasis on Omega oils has been proven to improve mental health.

Exercise and fresh air

Physical activity is proven to boost endorphin levels, and fresh air is good for Vitamin D levels in the body too (another key vitamin for mental health). Exercise can also be a good social activity, which is great if you are prone to isolate yourself. There are so many Mummy-friendly exercise options out there, or you could just meet up with a friend for a walk and a chat!

Talking

Birth and having a new baby can bring all sorts of emotions to the surface so it is good to talk these through. If anyone ever wants to talk through their birth or postnatal experiences I am more than happy to volunteer a listening ear but am not a qualified counsellor (yet! Working on that one!)

And finally

There is plenty of help out there in terms of medication and/or therapy – sometimes we need to pursue these options and it is by no means admitting failure.

An excellent website for more information is http://uppitysciencechick.com/ and also the Association for Post-natal Illness, based in Fulham, which has free telephone help lines, http://apni.org/