It has been estimated that 10-20% of women will experience postpartum depression. New moms are pressured by the media and society to be happy and have that new “motherly glow” after they’ve given birth to a child, but the truth is that a new baby brings added stress that can overwhelm a new mother very quickly. Fortunately there are many ways to help prevent postpartum depression.
One: Participate in Parenting Classes
The best parenting class to take would be a class that is sponsored by your local hospital. Usually when you begin meeting with an obstetrician you will receive information about available parenting classes. They can help to reduce stress during pregnancy because they prepare new parents with what to expect when the baby eventually arrives.
Two: Share Responsibilities in the Care for the Child
New mothers who have a spouse or live-in partner should talk with them prior to giving birth to develop a plan that allows both parties to care for the child. Duties including diaper changing and feeding. Waking up in the middle of the night with the baby is inevitable and the duty should be divided up so that it isn’t left to one parent (usually the mother).
Single mothers who do not have a partner or spouse to help out with child care duties shouldn’t be afraid to ask family members or friends to help out once in awhile. You’d be surprised by how many people really enjoy taking care of children and those who have their own children will understand that a little help goes a long way.
Three: Consider Taking Music Lessons
Jonathan Rigby, the Ontario Music Society Chairman, announced at a press conference in 2008 that a study in Augsburg, Germany showed that “music lessons undertaken by pregnant and new mothers are more than 90% effective in staving off those “post-partum baby blues.” The actual study can be viewed here. If music lessons are hard to come by where you live or you simply cannot afford them, consider doing art or any activities that allow you to be creative. They are said to have similar calming affects as music lessons.
Four: Have Some “Me” Time
Crying, feedings and diaper changes can create added stress and this is especially true if you aren’t taking a time out to recoup. You just need a few minutes to yourself and during this time you’ll want to try and relax as much as possible without worrying about your baby or anything else that is going on in your life. Take some time and listen to music that soothes you, read a book or your favorite magazine or just relax in the bathtub for 10-15 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after having just a few minutes all to yourself.
Five: Get Together with Other New Moms
Getting together with other new moms will allow you to communicate your feelings and experiences with other people who are also going through the changes of having a baby. You’ll be able to relate to each other which can help you realize you aren’t alone, and that there are other people going through the same things as you. There are groups you can join and the best way to find one may be to ask your obstetrician or local hospital.
Six: Start an Exercise Program
Exercising is a great way to prevent postpartum depression because it releases endorphins from the brain. These are mood-elevating chemicals that can raise morale and boost self-esteem. It has been estimated that only as few as 15% of Americans say they exercise on a regular basis. Exercise is something we should all be doing on a regular basis to maintain a good level of health and if it can help to prevent depression then it’s definitely worth a shot.
HuffingtonPost.com: “PBS’s This Emotional Life: Prepartum Healthcare Can Impact Postpartum Mood Disorders” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-zucker-phd/pbs-this-emotional-life-p_b_484825.html
Health.USNews.com: 7 Steps to Stop Postpartum Depression Before It Starts” https://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sexual-and-reproductive-health/articles/2008/05/21/7-steps-to-stop-postpartum-depression-before-it-starts.html
PRLog.org: “Can Music Lessons Prevent Postpartum Depression?” https://www.prlog.org/10050013-can-music-lessons-prevent-post-partum-depression.html
UMM.edu: “Postpartum Depression” https://www.umm.edu/pregnancy/000118.htm
Serendip.Brynmawr.edu: “The Effects of Exercise on the Brain” https://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro05/web2/mmcgovern.html