After giving birth, many women suffer from depression; it’s a very real, scary, and, unfortunately, common condition. A new study reveals that “mindfulness” training and classes during pregnancy reduce symptoms of postpartum depression. It may sound hokey, but there are a few reasons why this method may be substantiated.
Research, last year, out of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center revealed that reduced pain during labor is linked to reduced risk for postpartum depression. Women who had opted for an epidural had a lesser chance of becoming depressed after giving birth.
That study wasn’t necessarily suggesting women have an epidural. The findings showed, however, that those who experienced less pain during delivery felt better afterwards.
This year’s study at the University of Wisconsin discovered similar results. Their research, however, focused on mindfulness. The researchers noted that the women who had taken mindfulness training classes before giving birth had fewer postpartum symptoms than women who took a standard childbirth course.
How Does it Work?
The experts involved in both studies speculated on why either meds or mindfulness kept fewer women from becoming depressed after delivery. One theory is that pain creates inflammation, and inflammation in the body can lead to feelings of depression. So, with relieved pain comes a lesser chance of inflammation.
Another thought was the fear factor. Many women are scared of childbirth. In fact, those participants in the study who took a “regular” childbirth class left with their fears even more heightened.Those deep feelings of anxiety (and perhaps for a prolonged time) could lead to postpartum depression. The study out of Wisconsin revealed that women who trained in and practiced mindfulness had reduced fear; hence, their risk of depression was also reduced.
The ability to cope with childbirth was greater for the women with mindfulness skills. Additionally, during those first few months after delivering, they experienced overall better mental health. They were better able to adjust to “mothering” as well.
One in eight women are affected with depression after giving birth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Excessive crying
- Severe mood swings
- Overwhelming tiredness
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Trouble bonding with baby
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Reduced interest in doing what you formerly enjoyed
- Perceiving that there’s no support
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Following a healthy, daily routine can help minimize some of the more negative feelings. New mothers need to rest. Eating a nutritious diet and getting fresh air and exercise are also paramount to an improved state of mental health. Letting others help after the baby is born is a sign of strength.
If you fear you are suffering from postpartum depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, friend, or relative for guidance and support. And, of course, if you are having thoughts or harming yourself or your baby, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
If you are an expectant mother, it may be a helpful idea to take a mindfulness course. Another discovery made in the recent study was that fewer women opted for opioid-based medication during labor. They were better able to manage the pain. All of these options, of course, are highly personal. You and your loved ones will, no doubt, make decisions that best fit your specific needs.