PND & PNA are two very common conditions women experience after having a baby and we treat these conditions on a regular basis at the clinic.
Tiredness/exhaustion and sometimes even overwhelm can be a regular part of new parenting as you learn to adjust to your new role as mother, but if you have ongoing disturbing thoughts and/or feelings of worry and tension that are hard to live with and/or affect your ability to manage from day to day, then you may be experiencing postnatal depression or anxiety.
The first few weeks at home with a new baby can be very challenging and very emotional ones as post pregnancy hormones see saw and you adjust to a whole new lifestyle with your precious new little bundle.
Your baby’s body is formed and made entirely of nutrients donated by your body. Your child’s brain, eyes, muscles, bones, organs, glands, nerves, skin, tissues and fluids are entirely made from the nutrients taken from it your bloodstream via the placenta. If there is a lack of vital nutrients, the mother’s body is the first one that is deprived because her developing baby is Mother Nature’s priority.
So now that you have carried & grown this perfect little baby inside you for 9 months and given them all they need to grow & develop it’s time for some self love and nourishment. You may be deficient in some nutrients that are required for neurotransmitter or hormone synthesis.
We know that things like sleep are crucial for brain health, but realistically when you are up through the night feeding your newborn you need to be there for your tiny human and broken sleep is a reality. Rest when you can, the washing can wait.
Avoid stimulants, such as tea, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks. These beverages can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, causing nervousness and negatively impacting sleep.
Opt for caffeine-free alternatives or herbal tea. Lemon balm, lavender, chamomile and valerian tea are all caffeine free and have a calming effect on the nervous system, chamomile tea also helps promote a good night’s sleep.
Don’t forget to breathe. Poor breathing can increase anxiety levels. People suffering from anxiety tend to take shallow, rapid breaths; this is called chest breathing. Practice deep diaphragmic breathing in for 5 seconds and out for 7 seconds. Do this 20 times and instantly feel your body calm.
Omega-3, these good fats are needed to build the brain’s neural connections as well as the receptor sites for neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Research has shown people with depression appear to have lower levels of omega-3, in particular EPA , and supplements can improve symptoms significantly.
Eat more: Oily fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel and sardines. Flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also good sources.
Increase your intake of B vitamins
The adrenal glands love B vitamins in times of stress, B vitamins are important for nervous system function and the production of energy from food and are considered “anti-stress” nutrients, helping to relieve anxiety and treat depression. Niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid (B9) all work with the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical.
On that note boost your serotonin with amino acids.
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel content, is manufactured in the body using the amino acid tryptophan, which must be supplied through the diet. Tryptophan is also needed to produce melatonin, which is vital for getting enough sleep. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. In clinical trials, tryptophan augmentation has been shown to diminish depression.
Eat more: Lean chicken, turkey, beef, brown rice, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts, bananas, peas, pumpkin, potato, corn and spinach.
From one Mum to another I can tell you that being a mum is overwhelming and it is, at a certain level, entirely normal and appropriate for mums to be anxious or down from time to time.
What is not normal or appropriate is for mums to be anxious or depressed all the time or for these feelings to interfere with daily life. When this happens, it tells us that there is something else going on outside of the normal strains of being a mama.
Just remember you are always there underneath all this negative energy, this is all just surface stuff and not who you truly are. Nip it in the bud and relish in that beautiful little human that adores you.
We also have shares in Kleenex tissues in our clinic so bring all your tears!!!