Post natal depression usually appears in the first few days after delivery, and may last only a few days or for a few weeks. Hormonal changes may be one cause of depression after child birth. After delivery, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop. The mother experiences a similar change during PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
Exhaustion from strenuous labour, too little sleep, painful stitches, sore nipples, often give the feeling that she will not be able to cope with motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it.
Accept mild depression as a normal part of childbirth and the mother needs to take special care of herself by taking adequate rest, eating a nutritious diet, exercising in moderation and having a social support system.
Trying a nap during the day when the baby is asleep helps. Adequate rest has a major impact on her emotional and physical well being. Babies need well-rested parents to care for them. Accepting assistance from others is sometimes difficult, but she may need to do so to maintain a positive and realistic emotional perspective.
Good nutrition helps the body recover from childbirth. A few small meals a day may be more manageable than three larger meals. Choosing healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables help in weight control.
Light exercise can also be helpful, like taking a brisk walk at a pace that slightly elevates her heart rate. Stretching and flexing while playing and talking to the baby will help tone her muscles and the mood may improve as the body starts feeling better.
As with pregnancy and delivery, a strong social support system is valuable. The fatigue, emotional upheaval and interruptions a new baby brings can strain even the best of relationships. After the baby's birth, the partner may feel left out since all the energy is focused on caring for the baby.
Having easily handled family and work obligations in the past, she may now feel incompetent and overwhelmed with the new responsibilities. Being patient during this transition greatly helps.
Medical help and guidance can be reassuring that there are many others in the same situation. Depending on the nature and severity of the problem, medication by the doctor may help.
Early intervention can lead to a more rapid recovery. Treatment varies according to individual needs. It may include, counseling, anti-depressant medication and hormone therapy.