Postpartum Depression: What It Is & What to Do About It

Having a baby is an amazing, life-changing experience — whether it’s your first child or your eighth. It presents unique challenges for many mothers. 

After giving birth, as many as 80 percent of new mothers deal with the “baby blues” — which includes Feelings of sadness and feelings of sadness.  

These emotions usually disappear within a few days or weeks. But for as many as 15 percent of new mothers, the negative feelings don’t go away and ultimately end up worsening, leading them to develop a condition called postpartum depression. 

What is Postpartum Depression? 

Some mothers are affected by postpartum depression, also called postnatal depression. For this group, it’s a side effect or complication of giving birth that impacts the way they see the world and process their lives after giving birth. 

New mothers who have postpartum depression will feel the effects of mood swings, anxiety, sadness, and other symptoms. They have a difficult time bonding with their baby, struggle to think clearly and withdraw from friends and family. They are also concerned about their ability as new parents to raise a well-adjusted child. Some people become parents after major life changes. Anxious, frustrated, and irritable. 

How can you avoid postpartum depression? 

While you can’t necessarily avoid postpartum depression altogether, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood it happens. 

For example, new mothers are more like to suffer from postnatal depression if they’ve previously suffered from depression, have a history of mental illness in their families, or experience trauma during their pregnancy (e.g., one of their parents dies).  

Postpartum depression is also more likely to impact new parents who abuse drugs and alcohol, were unsure about whether to have a baby in the first place, or don’t have a solid support system in place (e.g., no family and no financial security). 

Given these risks factors, here are some steps you can take to increase the chances you’ll avoid postpartum depression:  

  • Good nutrition, exercise, and quality sleep are key to staying healthy.  
  • Planning your pregnancy and making sure that you are ready for major life change.  
  • Do your best to build a strong foundation Support system so you have fewer things to worry about after you give birth and have friends and family to lend a helping hand. 

Even if everything is perfect and you are ready for the next chapter of your life, postpartum depression can still happen. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. 

How to treat postpartum depression 

Now that you have a better idea of what postnatal depression is and some ways to avoid it, let’s examine some of the tactics you can employ to overcome this condition and become the best new mother you can possibly be.

1. Prioritize your own feelings

As a new parent, you’re going to be laser-focused on the needs of your baby. That’s perfectly normal. But when you’re dealing with postpartum depression, it’s critical that you spend more time on Your feelings and emotions. 

At the end of the day, it’s perfectly okay to ask your partner, friends, or family if they wouldn’t mind chipping in to help a bit while you focus on improving yourself. After all, when you’re suffering postnatal depression, it’s impossible for you to be the best parent you can be.  

By prioritizing your feelings, you can start to overcome this depression — and become a better parent because of it.

2. Accept your new reality, and make the most of it

You’ve had a baby. Whether it’s your first child or not, the fact of the matter is that your life is still going to change. Your body has gone through many changes during your pregnancy and birth. That’s a lot to deal with, and adjusting isn’t always easy. 

The sooner you start to accept your new reality, the faster you’ll be able to make the most out of it. Although it might seem difficult or impossible, accept the new chapter of your life and move forward as a human being.

3. Exercise more and improve your diet

If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, do what you can to improve your diet and exercise more. You’ll want to add fruits, vegetables, and good proteins to the mix, and you should try to stay as active as you can without overdoing it. These will help you heal. 

Don’t forget about liquids, either. Breastfeeding mothers need to drink 12 to 14 glasses water to stay hydrated and ensure the baby gets enough milk.

4. Seek out support from therapy as well as a larger community

It’s not uncommon for parents experiencing postpartum depression to feel isolated and alone (more on this in a bit). Instead of trying to navigate this difficult time on your own, you might consider seeking out a therapist to help you. You might also find local support groups that can also help you confront and conquer the challenges you’re dealing with. 

Additional Mental Health Challenges that can be associated with a new baby 

Unfortunately, postnatal depression isn’t the only condition that new mothers might experience after giving birth. Keep that in mind. Here are some mental health issues that new parents may face after giving birth. 


With babies waking up for feeding throughout the night, it comes as no surprise that many new mothers have problems getting a good night’s sleep. 


Some parents are able to hold a baby for hours and have a great experience as new parents. touch overload — the feeling that you just want to be left alone by yourself and given space to stretch. 


When you’re stuck at home with a baby all day — and up with the baby all night — you can become isolated as your partner goes to work and your friends and family members do activities you might not be able to (e.g., see a concert). 

Lifestyle changes 

New mothers must adapt to many lifestyle changes, based on this idea. You might have the need to leave your job, stop exercising, and spend less time socializing with your friends. Even the most experienced parents may find it difficult to adjust to such drastic changes. 

Adjusting to having a tiny new human in your life can be hard — even if you aren’t experiencing PPD. But you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Talk to a therapist right away to get the help you need to respond positively to this major life change.  

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