Being forewarned about this once-taboo topic allows you to create an environment that prevents or lessens the severity of postpartum depression. In fact, whether you're at risk for PPD or not, the following strategies will make the transition to motherhood easier.
- Join a support group. New-mommy groups offered by community organizations and hospitals provide relief from the social isolation that comes with having a new baby, as well as perspective, notes Meg Spinelli, MD, director of the maternal health program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University. A woman can hear whether new moms are feeling what she is feeling or not. There are also numerous Web sites where you can meet other women who are at different stages of parenthood. The Postpartum Stress Center's site, www.postpartumstress.com, is a good place to start.
- Talk to your pediatrician and ob-gyn. Because these health-care providers have frequent contact with expectant and new mothers, they are in an excellent position to detect signs of PPD. It's important that you choose people you can talk to, who are interested in your welfare, as well as the baby's, points out Karen Kleiman, author of This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression (Bantam, 1994).
- Get help at home. If hiring help isn't economically feasible, ask friends, family members (as long as you get along well), or even volunteers from your church to lend a hand. If you're not nursing, plan for your partner to feed the baby during the night, if possible. If you are nursing, consider pumping for one of the night feedings once breastfeeding has been established so your partner can take a shift. Above all, don't avoid asking your partner for help.
Reviewed 11/02 by Elizabeth Stein, CNM
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.