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Part 3 - Mood Enhancers: "Preventing" PPD

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

One of my girlfriends vowed that one of the best things about pregnancy was not having a monthly visit from her "friend" and “suffering” from P.M.S.

While I’m sure many women feel this way, others now have a whole new acronym to deal with, PPD (postpartum disorder).

This post parental condition strikes nearly 80% of moms (in some way) and often starts in the pre-parental stages of pregnancy with hormone and emotional changes known as the “baby blues”.

Traditionally, professionals proclaimed blame on stresses on the body due to chemical imbalances and changes during pregnancy. While partially true, it may not paint a completely accurate picture. While physical and chemical changes are a natural “side effect” of our new state of existence, there has been no explicit evidence directly linking these chemical culprits to this concerning condition (otherwise ALL women would suffer the consequences).

Recent research however indicates that women with PPD exhibit signs well before the birth of the baby, and in fact perhaps even prior to pregnancy….many potentially with a history of depression and life coping complications. In fact, studies show that most skilled and astute healthcare professionals can detect those women most at risk well in advance, thus helping them prevent the PPD experience.

According to medical officials, many women have unrealistic expectations of pregnancy and motherhood and are not well prepared for dealing with it, which (besides the “discomforts” of pregnancy) leads to additional stresses which may ultimately trigger PPD.

Women with postpartum depression often suffer from similar symptoms during pregnancy. They are anxious, stressed, and distressed and have little (adequate) control over their day-to-day lives and the implicit changes associated with pregnancy. Since however these “fears”, concerns, changes and “anxieties” are deemed normal by professionals, many professionals overlook the woman’s “cries for help”

One of the key elements to prevention is awareness and education. Women should remain open and honest about their feelings and work toward achieving realistic expectations. Maintaining contact with your doctor, other moms, friends, family, and your spouse as well as effectively accepting and implementing necessary thought patterns and lifestyle changes is essential to the health and sanity of both you and your baby.

1. Compose Yourself: Stay cool, calm, and collected. Studies show that newborns bond better with calm moms. According to research, moms who spend at least 15 minutes per day “pampering” themselves (meditating, praying, soaking in a tub, taking a soothing walk (with baby), deep breathing etc) are better able to handle the tension of parenthood.
2. Give Baby and Yourself a Time-Out: While most moms are inclined to play “catch-up” while baby naps, experts agree that it’s one of the most damaging modern-day concepts and practices. Being a mom, especially a new mom is hard work, mentally and physically. New moms need to allow themselves to catch-up (instead) on much need replenishment, rest and sleep. In fact, studies show that well-rested moms are less likely to feel depressed
3. Move and Groove: Recent research revealed that socially active and physically fit moms were also more mentally fit and more emotionally stable. Experts say even “simple” activities such as walking; getting some fresh air, and reveling in the splendor of nature can significantly boost your outlook and morale. If you are ready, willing and, above all, able to handle more “vigorous” exercise, consult your physician and go for it…but don’t push yourself…take it one (aerobic) step at a time.
4. Embrace Parenthood As A Promotion: While this doesn’t mean you’ll HAVE to quit your day job (at least not forever…many of you may not want to…and some studies show that working moms are a positive influence on their children and their desire for accomplishment and achievement), remember, parenthood IS a full time career. According to professionals, many men and women alike expect the first few months of a new job, at a new office to be uncertain, “experimental”, and stressful, but for some reason they expect parenthood to be a simple and pleasant transition. There is no doubt lots of ambivalence and tension associated with motherhood, but then again nothing good ever comes easily. Make your life easier and happier by staying positive. Remember, you are not giving up your career, you are simply beginning a new one….consider your children your new full-time position and responsibility and be PROUD of your “promotion”.
5. Cut Yourself Some Slack: Most women who go through PPD are generally perfectionists and overachievers. They are use to accomplishing what they set out to accomplish and often within a predetermined time frame. Newsflash! Your babies are your new boss and all that has changed. You are now working for them and on their time schedule. Realize that many of your new duties are exactly that….NEW and you DON’T have to achieve perfection all at once. In fact, you don’t even have to live up to your old standards. You might even consider “doing” less but accomplish more….and actually achieving the goal of being a content and happy parent.
6. Loose Control: Instead of kicking and screaming, stressing, whining and crying, consider letting go of some control. Don’t be too proud to admit you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Besides giving YOU (and your family) peace of mind and a better attitude, it may also make others feel important, needed and wanted…and who knows, you may just enjoy motherhood and even learn something.
7. Write Your Wrongs: Sit down with your spouse and not only discuss, but write down (list form) all your fears and concerns. Then have a practical, open-minded discussion on how you (both) plan to address your respective concerns individually and together. Not only will this help with your “anxieties” but it will also give you and your significant other quality time together.
8. Go With The Flow: Maintaining flexibility is another ingredient for success. Remember, your time schedule may need a bit of fine-tuning. With baby’s needs now first your morning beauty regime may not officially happen until noon or until dad get home. Refuse to stress over the “chaos” and instead thrive on and appreciate the spontaneous unpredictability.
9. Become A Groupie: Well, so to speak. Consider joining a group and affiliating yourself with other parents in a similar situation, and with similar concerns and interests. Do this whether you feel like it or not. According to professionals, the sheer act of changing your environment is a mood booster. Not to mention that it also good for mental stimulation and self esteem. Besides realizing that you are not alone you will (especially if you were a working woman before you became a mom) feel needed and important, and increase both your and your child’s social circle.
10. Look Back To A Promising Future: Think about the first year of marriage. It was probably NOT anything like you expected. In fact, it was probably much less “fun”(and more work) than you anticipated with both of you assimilating into each other’s rules, rituals and lifestyle. But think about how happy you became (over time) with patience, persistence, love and understanding….so happy that you decided to have a baby. Well, a adding a third (or fourth) person to the family is no different than adding a spouse…it can be “trying”, even difficult, especially in the beginning when things are both exciting, new and often “frustrating”. Think outside the box and into the future. Soon your baby will settle into a set schedule, breast-feeding will be second nature and you’ll have a comfortable routine that will allow your to enjoy your baby AND your day.

Next: Baby Yourself >>

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