You’ve been anticipating this day for months – maybe even years – and it’s finally here. Your new baby has arrived, but things don’t feel quite the way you thought they would.
Whether you’re finding bonding difficult, feeling isolated, struggling with anxiety about you or your baby’s safety, or even having paranoid thoughts, postpartum depression is much more than just a wet blanket on an otherwise happy time.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is often used as an umbrella term to describe the perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, which encompass everything from more classic depression, to anxiety and panic disorder, and a whole spectrum in between.
at least one in five women experiences postpartum depression within the first year after having a baby
Feeling terrified when trying to care for your own child is a crippling state to be in, and it’s actually more common than you might think. In fact, postpartum depression is one of the most common mental health disorders today, with at least one in five women experiencing it within the first year after having their baby.
Yet, even though many women deal with postpartum depression or anxiety, no one solution works for all women, and a multifaceted approach is a key to treatment.
Common Postpartum Depression Symptoms
PPD has many different symptoms, but the most common include uncontrollable or paranoid thoughts, anxiety or panic attacks, fear of being alone with the baby or of being a bad mother, repeated thoughts of harming the baby or self, lack of interest in the baby, friends or family, inability to sleep or sleeping too much.
Prenatal Massage Reduces Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Research into natural methods for treating this debilitating condition has found that massage therapy is a promising option. One study of women who received regular massage for 12 weeks during pregnancy showed not only reduced depression during pregnancy, but also lasting effects into the postpartum period. Newborns born to these mothers also had healthier birth weights and lower cortisol levels (an indicator of stress) than the babies of mothers who did not receive massage.
massage can be used as a preventative measure during a pregnancy to reduce the risk of PPD after birth
Another study found that a combination of yoga and prenatal massage reduced depression and premature births for pregnant mothers. This evidence suggests that massage can be used not only as a relaxation method after a mother is diagnosed with PPD, but also as a preventative measure during the pregnancy to reduce the risk of PPD after the birth.
Forming A Support Group As An Antidote for Postpartum Depression
Low social support is known to be one of the indicators for postpartum mood disorders, so creating a community for new mothers is essential. If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, support groups like Postpartum Support International are a place to form a community and get support.
Even engaging with your own friends or acquaintances and opening up a dialogue about mental health and self-care can make a world of difference. Who knows, you may meet other moms struggling with the same issues who want to do a regular self-care check in with you.
Whether you gift an in-home massage for all of your girlfriends or start a book club, forming meaningful connections can help when times are hard. Women can even support one another by swapping childcare while a friend receives their massage, or rotating hosting a regular “massage circle” where one therapist works on each of the women in back-to-back sessions.
It does require creativity to fit in a massage while caring for a newborn, but when you establish a support network it becomes easier to prioritize your own self-care.
Postpartum Massage Fosters Deep Relaxation And Reduces Stress
Creating a lifestyle with as little stress as possible is helpful when managing PPD, and massage is a great way to manage stress.
Massage has been proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol by up to 31%. Research suggests that up to 90% of illness stems from stress, and massage is an excellent treatment for both anxiety and depression because of its ability to alleviate the toxic stress load that many people carry.
Natural Options For Postpartum Depression Treatment
By forming a solid support network and incorporating massage as a natural treatment, postpartum depression symptoms may be reduced in some women. If you’re ready to try massage, but don’t want the stress of finding a convenient massage location, bring the relaxation to you with an in-home massage.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your medical professional if you or someone you love needs medical advice and support. If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.