Bye Bye Baby Blues – Becoming a mother is probably the most life changing time for any woman. Creating another human being is bound to bring up a whole load of mixed emotions. No one is immune from the baby blues, well-known celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson have both spoken out about suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety.
National treasure Adele opened up about her battle with postnatal depression last year saying “I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms”.
The Saturday’s Una Healy also opened up recently about her struggle with postnatal depression saying “I stayed in my dressing gown for a month and didn’t leave the house. I didn’t want to bother getting dressed. I isolated myself”
Postnatal anxiety affects 85% of women. However, it is worth remembering that these overwhelming feelings are our body’s normal reactions to having a baby. Postnatal depression is different however, it is estimated to affect 15% of women.
“Crying and confusion are experienced by most women and are partly due to the hormone changes experienced during the labor and can also be connected to when the milk comes through. But for some 15% of women, this despair and tearfulness continues and develops into post-natal depression”, explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading women’s health expert and author of Getting Pregnant Faster (www.marilynglenville.com).
Follow our five tips to help you relax, worry less and make the most of motherhood!
Get your zzz’s…
Yes, your baby will be your number one priority but don’t forget about yourself. Permanent sleep deprivation is the biggest cause of anxiety and low mood. Try to coordinate your rest periods with your babies, instead of finishing all of the housework. In doing so you’ll be able to make the most of rare quiet time. The more rest you have, the better you’ll be at looking after yourself and your baby. Marilyn Glenville tells us, “You may need to ask for help with the housework and other chores so that you can have time to rest, sleep, eat properly and also spend time getting to know your baby”.
All new mums need to adjust to having less control over their day-to-day lives, however some woman can find this a lot more stressful than others. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, you will be surprised at how many other women suffer from similar feelings. Make the most of your family and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not superhuman!
Marilyn Glenville says “it is a good idea to get out the house on your own; it can feel quite overwhelming to suddenly have someone depending on you twenty-four hours a day”. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor over any symptoms of distress you may be experiencing”.
We don’t expect you to be running a marathon any time soon. But if you’re able to fit in any light, easy exercise while caring for your newborn then both your body and mind will feel the benefits. A lot of women like to think of the first six weeks or so as the healing phase, aim for gentle walking to get started. Just getting outside and having some fresh air can make a huge difference on a new mums outlook.
Lynne Robinson from bodycontrolpilates.com recommends postnatal Pilates. “During pregnancy your abdominals have to stretch to allow for the bump to grow. Your waistline may increase by as much as 50cm! Once the baby is born sadly the two sides don’t just spring back to their pre birth state. It can take a few months and you will need to do some work. The good news is that Pilates is the perfect exercise to help encourage the sides to knit together again and to help you achieve a toned stomach. This is because Pilates helps you develop a natural inner corset that wraps around your middle giving you the streamlined silhouette you thought you’d never see again!”
Marilyn tells us “It is important that you make sure that you are eating little and often. Keeping your blood sugar in balance is crucial for helping you through this time as it directly affects mood and energy. Aim to eat complex and unrefined carbohydrates as part of your main meals – this means choosing brown instead of white (whole wheat bread, brown rice and wholemeal flour). Don’t forget about breakfast, porridge and oatmeal is a good choice. Do reduce and preferably avoid stimulants including tea, coffee, chocolate, smoking and canned drinks with caffeine”.
Nutritionist Cassandra Barnes says “Depression can occur during pregnancy, but is particularly common after giving birth. The cause is not certain: it could simply relate to changing hormone levels or, as for many of the other pregnancy problems we have looked at, could be associated with nutrient deficiencies. This is another reason for maintaining your nutrient-rich diet in the post-natal period, making especially sure that you are getting good amounts of healthy fats and two or three servings of protein foods per day (protein foods are meat and fish, cheese and yoghurt, seeds and nuts, beans and lentils)”
If you’re breastfeeding then remember what you’re eating will be passing through to your baby. So eat a nutrient rich diet to give them the best start!
Boost your immune system
Taking good care of your immune system is equally as important after pregnancy as during. Nutritionist Cassandra Barnes says “If you were taking a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral or an omega 3 oil supplement during pregnancy, it is ideal to continue taking these, especially if breastfeeding. I’d recommend;
- Quest’s Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000mg – great for supporting the development of your growing baby and providing you with essential nutrients for preventing and managing heart disease.
- Once a Day Pregna Multi – Provides a wide range of nutrients to make sure you’re both getting all the good stuff!
Superfood’s Shona Wilkinson strongly recommends Milk Thistle “Try to take milk thistle every day to support the liver and gallbladder. This powerful herb can help the liver to deal with toxins and process excess hormones from the body. In addition, it is an excellent promoter of milk production, so will help with breastfeeding as well’, Milk Thistle 150mg £9.95 from www.qnutrapharma.com supports the liver and detoxification pathways.
Oh and finally, don’t expect to be the perfect parent. No one is! As long as you just try to be happy and keep your baby happy then you’re doing a great job!