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5 Ways to Reduce Your Postpartum Depression Risks

"I hadn’t realized the depths to which you can ache: limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurt — and it went on for 15 months. I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal. I wished I could have cried but there was no relief during that time; my version of depression is almost below crying, where there is just despondency." Alanis Morissette

Becoming a mother for the first or the fifth time can be challenging. In fact, did you know one in seven moms suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD)? Depression that occurs during the post-birth time is common, can happen to anyone, and may not develop until months after birth.

Many moms experience "baby blues" after childbirth - mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping - and this can last for up to two weeks after childbirth.

But some moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as Postpartum Depression. This mental state isn't a character flaw or a weakness and while there is not a single cause, there are several factors associated with increased risk in developing Postpartum Depression.

So how can you prevent it? Well, you can't... but you can take steps to reduce the risk. This is why we partnered with Doulas of Asheville to create a list of the 5 ways to reduce your Postpartum Depression risks.

Know You Are Not Alone

While the statistics say 1 in 7 women suffer from PPD, many experts believe this number is false and should be much higher. Postpartum Depression is still considered a majorly taboo subject. It was only recently some mothers felt they could openly discuss their PPD symptoms, but many continue to suffer silently - whether by choice or by not seeking proper help. Please know you are not alone and there are many professionals, groups, and individuals who want to help you through this stage of your life. Know you are not alone, this is normal, and you will get better with help.

If you live with depression or anxiety currently (or have in the past), you have a greater risk of developing PPD after childbirth. Plan with your medical care providers for how to address symptoms should they appear. Be proactive and create a plan to help you address your own personal needs after birth. Let your support team know your risks and fears; prepare yourself to have hard but needed conversations. If you start to doubt yourself, remember that this is normal, you are not alone, and you are prepared.

Build Your Village

Start building your support village, whether in real life or online, during pregnancy (or sooner). You are going to need help: friends, family, neighbors, and fellow mamas. Reach out to these people to ask for help during pregnancy & beyond. If you feel you don't have a village - or know a lot of fellow mamas - please reach out JessicaMaurer@FIT4MOM.com so we can introduce you to other Asheville mamas just like yourself.

Also, please join us at Athleta at Biltmore Square on Saturday, November 23rd at 9am for a free FIT4BABY class. Meet other area mamas who are TTC, pregnant, newly postnatal or well past the younger stage of motherhood while learning to move in a safe way for your personal stage of motherhood. At FIT4MOM Asheville, we welcome ALL ages and stages.

Find Local Experts

Besides personal support, you need a strong group of professional care as well. Past your medical doctor, consider hiring a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula. These experts in all things baby and new parent; they can bring a sense of calm and confidence to an otherwise unsettling time. They can even help with meal prep, light housekeeping, and care for siblings so you have time to bond with your baby.

Struggling with breastfeeding? Reach out to a lactation specialist. Worried, anxious, or overly nervous? Find a therapist who deals with perinatal mental health. Reach out to the village of support you have (see the tip above) and ask who they have used or know of in your community.

Catch Your Zzzz’s!

Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of developing postpartum depression and can make depression symptoms worse. When you’ve had several nights - or months - of too-little, fragmented sleep, it’s harder to handle even the smallest challenges. And for many parents, their adorable new baby is the biggest challenge they’ve ever met! Plan for how you’ll get rest once your baby arrives. (Because “sleep when the baby sleeps” is not practical). Enlist the help of friends, family, or your Postpartum & Infant Care Doula - who can even stay overnight so you can get some good, restorative sleep.

Move, Mama, Move

Yes, movement can help combat PPD as well! Yes, resting is important for immediately post-childbirth, but movement is beneficial during pregnancy and when you are ready afterward. Start slowly, build gradually, and be patient. Not sure how? Let us show you in our 6-week FIT4BABY course starting January 8th. This is a 45-minute movement class is designed specifically for mothers who are trying to conceive, pregnant, and immediately postnatal (after clearance from a doctor).

After each 45-minute class, we will have a community motherhood expert speak to the group for 30 minutes. These experts range from Doulas of Asheville, Prenatal Health & Wellness Coaches, Lactation Specialists, and more. We bet you have questions about your body, motherhood, and babies, and these local experts have the answers.

This class will be held on Wednesdays at 5:30pm starting on January 8th. The entire 6-week course is only $49 and will be held at the Attic Salt Theatre.

Let us help you with all of the steps listed above. We want to create a tribe of healthy and happy mamas across Western North Carolina. To find out more about FIT4BABY, please click here.