Postpartum depression is very common, but there are some specific things you can do to beat the baby blues–naturally and holistically!
Guest post by Jenna Orme of Wholesome Bits
It caught me off guard. Coming from out of nowhere. I felt alone. Helpless. Hurt and worst, feeling I had no hope.
These are the emotions that came when I experienced postpartum depression (PPD).
My first three pregnancies were all followed by PPD. I was fearful of ever becoming pregnant again because of this. But, by God’s grace with our fourth child, I was free of depression.
Here are the ways I discovered how to beat the baby blues naturally:
1. Realize the importance of rest and keeping stress levels low.
Chronic sleep deprivation often causes serotonin (a hormone that regulates mood) levels to drop. At the same time, the more stressed we are, the more adrenaline we produce. Overproduction of adrenaline makes it hard for the body to make enough serotonin to keep up. Rest and finding ways to lowering your stress can bring serotonin levels back to a healthy balance. It can be very challenging to do this while pregnant if you have little ones to care for, but make it a priority and creatively find ways how.
2. Eat a whole foods based diet.
Everything you eat during pregnancy should be chosen wisely. A diet that is centered more on plant-based foods will help to increase energy, support healthy skin, and promote overall health. This is also a time to cut out all processed foods. If it’s boxed, bagged, canned and has a long list of ingredients on the label, it’s processed. Stay away from hormone-laden foods such as cheeses, meats and milk. If you are concerned about your calcium intake, you can find it in other sources such as seeds, broccoli, beans, dried fruits and nuts.
Make sure you are taking prenatal vitamins too… specifically, adequate amounts of Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and iron – a deficiency in any of these can lead to depression.
Side note: During my last pregnancy, I also chose to go gluten-free and abstain from coffee. My main objective in doing this was to maintain more of an alkaline ph in my body. Our bodies thrive in an alkaline environment. It helps to prevent disease, improve immune responses and provides a pregnant woman with energy throughout the day.
3. Focus on fatty-fish oils.
A pregnant woman is constantly being depleted of fatty acids (DHA) because of the physiological demands of a growing fetus. Depression has been linked to low levels of DHA, since omega-3 fatty acids help regulate mood by increasing levels of serotonin. The oils found in fish, specifically salmon, halibut, sardines and tuna, contain high levels of DHA. If you don’t like fish, choose a trusted, name-brand omega-3 supplement and take daily for the rest of your life.
4. Shun sugar.
PPD hit me worst with my third child. I don’t know for sure, but I have an idea why. I craved sugar throughout most of this pregnancy. I fell in love with McDonald’s McFlurries. My sweet husband did what every father-to-be would do and ran several nights a week to help me indulge in this craving of mine. Thinking I was doing something good for my baby by consuming all that “good calcium,” I unknowingly was downing 510 calories and 73 grams of sugar!
A diet full of refined sugars and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, and rice) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little nutrients, but they also use up mood-enhancing B vitamins.
5. Walking will do wonders.
It may be the last thing you want to do while you are pregnant, but going on frequent walks (or any aerobic exercise) during pregnancy will benefit you in many ways. Not only does it get your body ready for delivery and carry oxygen to vital organs, it also works to increase your mood by triggering the release of endorphins as well as increases serotonin levels. Keep walking after baby arrives to continue these benefits.
The baby blues can hit anyone and from out of nowhere, but it doesn’t have to. How you carry out your prenatal period is key in forecasting your chances of suffering from PPD. Arm yourself with these tips and celebrate the new life that’s before you.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that these findings are from Jenna’s personal experience. Your safety and the safety of your baby is of utmost importance so if you need additional support, please seek professional help.
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What are your ideas for beating postpartum depression naturally?
Jenna is an unconventional, holistic in health, thinker, listener, sometimes sassy, fan of under-dogs, mercy lovin’, always questioning, never settling, a reader and researcher, nurse by trade, proud mama, undeserving wife, and daughter of Christ. Check out her blog–Wholesome Bits!