You may have heard how new moms often get the baby blues. “Oh, it’s sure to go away once she gets back to normal.” Thing is, too often it doesn’t go away.
When depressive symptoms and tendencies persist for more than a month at the time for a new mom, then it’s clearly a case for postpartum depression (PPD). Sadly, most providers will just prescribe an antidepressant and do nothing more. Yes, there are cases where this is certainly a blessing for many suffering mothers.
However, there are many natural things that new moms can do in order to hopefully prevent and treat their PPD. All hope is not lost!
What Causes PPD?
PPD is caused by extreme hormonal shifts in your body that end up staying imbalanced after your baby is born. All of the molecules in your body are ramping up or down so much during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Because of that it’s easily understood why around 15% of mothers end up with it.
Most likely, you’ve been diagnosed with PPD or feel that you may have it. So I won’t dig into the risk factors, causes, and all of that. You’re here for solutions. Yes! There are many natural solutions for postpartum depression that you can do to help treat and get you out of your depressive state.
Train Your Mind
If you’re very intentional about how you treat your mind and area aware of what’s happening in it, you can quite often change your mental state. Tony Robbins teaches a technique called “swishing” in his book Unlimited Power that helps to trigger positive brain patterns from negative ones.
You’ll have to check out the book to learn the details. But basically, whenever you’re stuck in your depressive state, you can use mental imagery to think about the most joyful and happy moments that you want to experience with your baby and motherhood.
You can close your eyes and picture it. What does it look like? How does it feel? What are you hearing? Then whenever your depressive state starts to creep up on your, you mental replace what you’re experiencing now with that positive imagery you just created for yourself. It’s amazing!
Practicing this on a daily basis will help train your brain to move toward the positive state of mind and feelings that you want, rather than staying stuck in the negative ones.
When your body is moving, your brain creates feel-good hormones and endorphins that soon flood your body. These are the same molecules that you had all over inside of you when your baby was born helping you to bond with them.
Movement does the same thing. You know how marathon runners often say they get a runner’s high? It’s because of these endorphins that they love feeling when they run. I’m not saying that you have to go out and run marathons after just having had a baby. But you can do things like:
- Walking or hiking in the great outdoors
- Do some yoga while playing with your baby on the floor
- Enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood while pushing your baby in the stroller
- Dancing in your kitchen while you prepare a meal
Sunshine & Vitamin D
Along with getting outside to exercise, having the extra sunlight triggers similar positive emotions in your brain. Can you honestly think of a time when you went outside to play, garden, relax, or stroll along and NOT feel better?
Vitamin D is made in your very skin from the sunlight that hits it. Vitamin D also acts like a hormone in your body than any other vitamin. Vitamin D is also connected with decreased pain in the body when your natural levels are higher.
So when you’re feeling blue, don’t stay cooped up inside. Get out into the sunshine when possible and soak in those warming rays for a great pick me up.
Omega-3s and Vitamin B12
Hopefully you’re still continuing your prenatal vitamin regimen even though you’re not pregnant anymore. Most likely though if you’re suffering from PPD, your dose of omega-3 fatty acids and B12 aren’t high enough. Both of these nutrients are directly connected to brain function.
Omega-3s are the fatty acids that help create the sheaths around the neural connections in your brain. When you do not have enough healthy fats in your diet, the signals in your brain cannot get sent from one place to another very easily.
You can increase your omega-3s by:
- Adding more high quality omega-3 supplementation to your daily intake
- Eat more fish that is not high in mercury levels (avoid swordfish the most)
- Eating avocados more often
- Sprinkling chia seeds in your salads, baked goods, or smoothies
The same goes for B12. It plays a key role in brain function and health. Most people who have any sort of mental disorder like anxiety or depression are deficient in this this essential vitamin. Get a completely separate B12 supplement that says it provide over 1000% of the needed daily dose.
There are many natural oils that can help lift your spirits and brighten your day through the natural properties that you possess. You can diffuse your oil or blend of choice as often as you want. We recommend exploring:
- Clary sage
- Orange oil
- Any citrus blend
Try as many as you like. Just because one may not seem to make a difference doesn’t mean that another one won’t.
If you want to dive deep with using essential oils in your care plan, we suggest contacting an aromatherapist in your community.
When considering an herbal therapy protocol for such a complex condition as PPD, it’s wise to choose appropriate herbs in conjunction with nutritional, social and psychological interventions.
Selecting a variety herbs that have the following actions will be of most help; adaptogen, anxiolytic, antidepressant and nervine relaxant. The herbal formula below is also safe for breastfeeding.
Herbal Tea Recipe
1oz Blue Vervain
Please see our other blog post on Tea Tips for making herbal tea.
If you prefer an herbal extract instead of herbal tea, check out The Good Mood extract.
Massage & Acupuncture
Homeopathic remedies are known to give many women fantastic results. My mother has a neighbor that swears by acupuncture for your anxiety and depression. So it’s definitely worth a try if nothing else seems to make a difference for you.
Massage is just plain great for relaxation, helping your body to detox, and release those feel good hormones again. Acupuncture helps release nerve blockages all over your body that may be preventing your happy hormones from getting where they need to go.
Eliminate Grain and Junk Food
Eating well is crucial for mental health. All of the toxins and garbage in a lot of modern day food processing are messing up our brains. Wheat, gluten, grains, and dairy have all been shown to cause negatives effects on the mental health of many people. The same goes for processed food.
Now, quitting cold turkey if you love your sandwiches and pasta may be too difficult all at once. But work in decreasing the grains in your diet and see how it affects you over a week or two. Instead, focus on:
- Healthy lean proteins
- Bounteous fruits and vegetables
Those first few months with your baby are very taxing. Throw in the exhausting of not sleeping, the possible pain of breastfeeding, feeling like your body is falling off your bones, and you have a recipe for disaster.
I know it’s SO hard to even think about taking care of yourself at a time like this. But I promise that when you make it more of a priority, your mental state will be MUCH stronger for everything else. Make sure to find the time to do the things you love.
- Pamper yourself with personal care products you can relish
- Soak in a hot bath while you watch your favorite movie
- Read your favorite novel with a special treat to eat
- Journal or scrapbook all the happy memories you’re creating
- Meditate and ponder on the miracles in your life
Seeking Help From Your Provider
I know that you’re a mother that prefers an all natural solution to dealing with such things like PPD. But it’s also wise to let your doctor know if you suspect having PPD. They can help you find resources in your local area and with in person or online support groups that can make a huge difference!
Creating A Plan To Beat Your PPD
It’s hard to know exactly what is going to make a difference for you. But please don’t give up! Maybe only one of these things will make a big difference for your mental health. Maybe you’ll need to try ALL of these things in order to see something happen.
It’s a lot to consider, especially when it seems that the postpartum phase with a newborn will never end. But it does. You’re not alone. Get someone to help you. Speak up. Don’t stay silent and suffer alone.
There is help. There is happiness ahead. You’ll get through this. We recommend that you do everything we’ve talked about today for your best chances of overcoming PPD. Keep going, find joy in your new baby, enjoy your family, and you’ll have a better tomorrow.
What helps you with your postpartum depression?
- American Psychological Association