I got an email from an old friend from college who is an OB/GYN and wanted resources to help moms with PPD. I thought I would put this together for everyone. If you have other ideas and links please add them to the comments section or email me to update the article. There are a few comments on here at the end directed at the MOTHERS Act as well.
Prevention and Treatment of Post-Partum “Mood Disorders”
Find the cause, fix the problem. See this short excerpt from Dr. Mary Ann Block’s website then see below for other tips and ideas.
“Postpartum Depression Is Not a Psychiatric Disorder.
A woman’s hormones change dramatically while she is pregnant. It should come as no surprise that the hormones would change dramatically again after the baby is delivered. This hormonal imbalance is often referred to as Postpartum Depression. However, this condition is not, as is commonly believed, a psychiatric disorder. It is a hormonal imbalance.
The connection between feeling depressed and hormone problems is very strong. I have seen many women in my practice that became depressed soon after a significant hormonal change. A common story is that shortly after starting menstruation in their teens these women began feeling depressed. Menopause and peri-meopause can also cause the depressed feelings. Many of these women have been prescribed different antidepressants over the years. None fixed their symptoms and in some instances the drugs made them feel worse.
More than 350 biochemical processes require the nutrient magnesium. Deficiencies can cause depression, asthma, cramps, calcification of small arteries, EKG changes, migraines and other headaches, kidney stones, muscles weakness, muscle tremors, muscle tics, heart attacks, neuromuscular problems, PMS and vertigo and many other symptoms. A deficiency in magnesium may be the cause of feeling depressed.
Drugs Used For Depression
The antidepressants and other drugs often prescribed for depression have some serious side effects listed by the manufacturer. To read the side effects of any drug you take or are considering taking, you can read the drug insert from the pharmacy or look up the drug in the Physician Desk Reference.
A list of side-effects for psychiatric drugs used to treat depression is included in Dr. Block’s upcoming book, Just Because You’re Depressed Doesn’t Mean You Have Depression—Depression is a Symptom Not a Disease.
Many of the drugs have potentially fatal side effect such as heart attack, sudden death, cardiac arrest or heart failure. The only way to make good, educated decisions about your treatments is to know what your options are and the risks of those options.
Find The Cause—Fix The Problem
Lifestyle changes may be in order. Long-term resolutions mean receiving real medical evaluations and developing a commitment to making necessary and recommended changes.”
Prenatal nutrition: http://www.wellnessresources.com/health_topics/prenatal_supplements.php
Avoid interventions in childbirth:
Home birth with qualified midwives or otherwise natural childbirth statistically results in far lower rates of PPD. Some factors involved in this may include natural Oxytocin stimulation of the brain as opposed to artificial pitocin, as well as the effects of pain killers, the amount of bonding versus separation that can occur at home versus in the hospital when baby is in the nursery.
Regardless of Home or Hospital, Mothers Can Avoid (Specifically):
1. Labor drugs, including pitocin which interferes with normal oxytocin stimulation of uterine contractions (oxytocin is the love hormone and sets off many chemicals in the brain associated with normal maternal bonding & protective behavior)
2. IVs with glucose water during labor which can lead to complications in the newborn like perceived excessive weight loss, hypoglycemia, thus creating “mommy guilt” from feeling as if she is unable to sustain her own baby’s survival due to perceived inadequate milk supply and subsequent breastfeeding difficulty when baby is inevitably given supplemental feedings
3. Avoid epidurals which can cause breastfeeding difficulties in the newborn and may be associated with mood problems (the anesthesia fentanyl in the epidural is derived from cocaine)
4. Avoid episiotomy which can lead to excessive blood loss and fatigue as well as significant pain leading to use of pain medications
5. Avoid restrictive dieting before / after childbirth which can cause preterm labor (not having enough calories and protein leads to low albumin and high blood pressure), low blood sugar and lack of energy
6. Avoid epinephrine, which is often necessary in labor because of fetal distress or maternal distress (trouble breathing, low blood pressure) which are potential effects in both mom and baby from pitocin or other augmentation as well as epidurals. Epinephrine is synthetic adrenaline and has been linked to mental disturbances.
How to Help in the Post-partum Period:
1. For many weeks moms will need someone to help with meals, chores, child care, etc. Without that, women are far more likely to feel “symptoms” of depression, anxiety, etc.
2. Moms may need someone to help with breastfeeding if they are inexperienced or have problems. They can contact a La Leche League Leader or an IBCLC. Loss of breastfeeding is sometimes associated with PPD due to additional hormonal changes in moms, while breastfeeding itself is thought to ease PPD due to numerous factors.
3. Moms and dads feel better if they cosleep because they will be well-rested and breastfeeding will be easier. For safety tips on cosleeping moms can use common sense or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Contrary to campaigns by the crib manufacturers SIDS is actually more common in cribs. You can also google safe cosleeping or check the askdrsears.com website for advice from renowned pediatrician Dr. Sears, or look up Dr. James McKenna’s research on cosleeping safety at http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/safe.html
Alternatives to Drugs:
1. Look for underlying medical conditions such as Thyroid disorders, anemia, nutrient deficiencies, etc. and treat those as safely as is possible. Thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism (or both – postpartum thyroiditis) are quite common and can cause depression or anxiety.
Often the first sign of hypoglycemia is depression which can be handled by eating often – 6 small meals per day helps keep the blood sugar level normal.
2. Omega 3 Supplements (From Fish Oil, Flaxseed, etc.)
3. See this link about postpartum nutrition: http://www.wellnessresources.com/health_topics/postpartum_nutrition.php
4. Talk to a chiropractor or integrative or holistic doctor about botanical adrenal supplements. Adrenal fatigue may be a common but overlooked cause of depression especially during pregnancy or after childbirth.
Medication shown to cause relapse, exercise MORE effective than antidepressant drugs
4. Some people feel that counseling is effective
5. Some people find alternative treatments effective, for example: chiropractic, homeopathy (even for PSYCHOSIS), accupuncture, energy work, etc.
6. MOMS can FIND A SUPPORT GROUP or helpful PERSON but NOT one that will push them to use drugs.
Alternative Ways to Support American Families:
If the government really wants to help moms, why not educate on these common sense strategies, push for better maternity leave allowances, improve obstetric cooperation with midwifery, or promote paternity leave or leave for grandparents who can help new mothers during their time of need?
Support groups for moms:
Postpartum Doulas can help a lot, especially when family is unavailable to help. Or moms could try to get help with meals and chores from a church or friends. Hiring a maid for a while is a nice help as well.