Yesterday, I shared some interesting research that suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids may be your best defense against Postpartum Depression (PPD). As someone who does not eat seafood, I am guessing there are others like me who would like more options for preventing and overcoming PPD.
Exercise - Physical activity can play a big role in mental health and self-esteem. After pregnancy and childbirth, you may have difficulty recognizing your own body and may not like what you see. Most people suggest waiting six weeks after childbirth before starting exercise, and eight weeks if you had a cesarean section. If you are breastfeeding, you will likely feel more comfortable if you feed your baby before exercising. Exercise will help you lose the baby weight and feel more connected and in charge of your body. If you do not have someone to watch the baby while you are working out, find a gym with child care, workout at home during nap time, or take walks or runs with a stroller.
Rest - You have heard it before, but I will say it again: sleep when your baby is sleeping. Fatigue can increase depression and a myriad of other ailments. Even a newborn can require a lot of attention and energy. Make sure your physical energy supplies are full by getting as much rest as possible.
Eat well - Another way of building up physical energy reserves is to make sure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. If you are breastfeeding you will need extra calories to produce the milk needed for your baby's nutrition. Eat small meals throughout the day to keep your energy up at all times. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can both increase feelings of depression and effect your child if breastfeeding.
Seek the Sun - Sunlight can have a positive effect on your mood. Get outside as much as possible. If it is not warm enough to be outside, keep the curtains open and soak up that vitamin D.
Seek support - Many moms can feel isolated; although they are with a baby almost constantly, newborns are not very interactive. Visit friends and family or have them visit you. Join a mommy group in your community like MOPS or online. You will find understanding, answers, and advice in such communities. If you need help, ask for it. Many family and friends will be happy to be involved and included, even if you're just asking them to make a meal for you.
If these are not enough and you are still feeling not yourself, seek the support of a mental health professional who can help you through this transition.