1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression.
I don’t want you to be part of this statistic.
I spent 26 long months with PPD and no one even knew it.
Isn’t that amazing?
So, how can we recover from pregnancy faster and overcome PPD naturally?
But, first. Always ask for help if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your child.
When does Postpartum Depression start?
- PPD can come on gradually anytime in the first year; you may notice symptoms as early as two weeks postpartum; however, it can occur at any time in the first year and may last up to a year or longer.
- I particularly noticed insomnia began after I stopped breastfeeding the twins. The twenty-four months of sleep deprivation led to anxiety, stress, and depression.
Postpartum Depression Causes
There are lots of theories.
- One theory is the hormone shift that rapidly occurs during the postpartum period, which can trigger a cascade of neurochemical effects.
- And, Thyroid function can go from hyperthyroid to hypothyroid in a matter of months.
Why is autoimmune thyroid disease so common after birth?
When the normal immunologic changes that kept you from rejecting your baby as an alien being while she or he was in your uterus start to revert back to normal after birth, they can play some nasty little tricks on your own body tissue leading to autoimmune disease that targets the thyroid, especially in women who are already genetically susceptible.- Aviva Romm
A second theory is sleep deprivation
“Some research suggests that in the first year postpartum, the average sleep debt of Mothers is 700 hours.” ~ Dr. Oscar Serrallach M.D.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding can all leave your body depleted, as the baby takes the nourishment she needs.
Postpartum women often have inadequate levels of essential fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and protein, all of which have been associated with PPD. ³
**Iron is one of the most critical nutrients to replenish post-childbirth, especially if blood tests showed anemia during your pregnancy. The immense loss of blood during childbirth can dramatically deplete your iron stores and eat a healthy diet or take your prenatal vitamins may not be enough to make up the difference.
This is worrisome because anemia triggers the kind of fatigue commonly associated with depression.
And the lack of social and emotional support that most American mothers face also plays a critical role. The support from family members during the postpartum period allows for the greatest care of mother and baby, it places importance on bonding the new baby with the community.²
>>One of the most important things you can do is ask for help. Join a mommy group and call a friend over for tea.
Do you really have PPD? What are the signs?
Postpartum Depression Signs
I felt as if I was living outside of my world, looking in and I couldn’t recognize myself.
You may experience any or all of these:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty relaxing
- Feeling inadequate
- Inability to cope or function with daily life
- Irrational concern for the baby’s well-being
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Memory loss
- Poor concentration
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby ·
Note: You should report all of these symptoms to your doctor, especially if you’re struggling with thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby. The vast majority of women with PPD will not harm their babies. But the fear that you might be can be petrifying and all-consuming. Professional help is available. NYC health lists.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
- There is no single magic solution.
- Postpartum depression is a multifactorial problem requiring attention on all different levels.
- Personally, I’ve found a healthy diet, rest, self-care, art therapy, and adaptogens helped pull me out of postpartum depression.
- Want to know how I overcame PPD? Watch this video
The first shift occurred when I added adaptogens.
What are adaptogens?
- Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help us adapt to stress.
- Herbs like Panax Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Astragalus, Licorice, and Rhodiola can reduce adrenal fatigue or this burnout we experience from sleep deprivation.
- Essentially, the HPA Axis (or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis ) is how our brain and body communicate with each other — and when we’re stressed out, it sets in motion a series of hormonal and neuroendocrine responses that control our body’s primary alert system, known as the “fight or flight” response.
- When you’re in fight or flight, you may experience increased heart rate, increase blood pressure, a sudden need to pee, or dilated pupils.
- Sounds smells, and colors may all become more vivid because all of our senses go on high alert as well.
- You may notice you have intrusive thoughts as well.
The problem is that many of us live in a chronic state of fight or flight, especially in the postpartum years when you’re being woken up at all times of the night, or constantly having to jump up every time a baby cries.
- Over time, this can lead to dysfunction. The HPA Axis loses its ability to shut off and leaves us in fight or flight mode all day long. If you’re struggling with PPD, you’re probably stuck in this mode as well.
- A category of herbs called adaptogens can help regulate this stress response.
- In traditional medicine systems, these are also known as “tonics” and their purpose is to help restore adrenal health, ease anxieties, and reduce cortisol levels.
The safest adaptogen to take while breastfeeding is Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha While Breastfeeding
My favorite adaptogen while breastfeeding is Ashwagandha.
known as the “strength of stallions” as it strengthens the immune system, reduces cortisol levels and balances thyroid hormones. (It’s considered a Level 1 category, in the herb/risk during lactation categories and considered safe to take when you’re breastfeeding.)
If you’re not breastfeeding, you may consider…
- Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
- St. John’s wort
- Kava Kava may help as well
If you are struggling with PPD, know that you are not alone. This is not your fault. Diet, community support, and botanicals can help begin to nourish your body and help you overcome this feeling of hopelessness fast.
The first and hardest step is to ask for help. Your friends your loved ones and your community want to help you, all you have to do is ask.
Ready to heal PPD? Start with one of my mini-courses here: https://taragregorio.com/shop/
- ¹ Romm, Aviva; Botanical Medicine For Women’s Health. Pg. 418
- ² Andrews, Dr. Lia; 7 Times A woman; Ancients wisdom on health and beautify for every stage of your life
- ³Romm, Aviva Jill; The Natural Pregnancy Book