Becoming a new mum, whether it’s your first, second or third time can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. During pregnancy and after childbirth, your body goes through quite a few physical, emotional and hormonal adjustments, and many women’s expectations of being a capable and happy mother can change to feelings of unhappiness as the reality of exhaustion, irritability, stress, low mood and sleep deprivation begin to take effect.
Postnatal low mood
Many women feel confused and uncomfortable about experiencing sadness or low mood after childbirth, after all, isn’t having a baby all about being happy and content? Not so for 1 in 7 new Australian mothers each year. Ongoing low mood following childbirth is quite different to the ‘baby blues’ which affects 8 in 10 Australian women each year. The ‘baby blues’ is a mild and short-lived mood disturbance where you may feel anxious or weepy between the third and fifth day following childbirth.
Postnatal low mood is quite different to the ‘baby blues’ and may start anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year after childbirth, taking many new mothers and their families by surprise. Postnatal low mood can affect women in many different ways, although the combination of hormonal influences and increased stress levels in conjunction with possible nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and breastfeeding have been implicated.
Signs & symptoms postnatal low mood
Signs and symptoms to look out for can be many and varied. If you think you have been experiencing any of these symptoms for a period of two weeks or longer, seek help from your healthcare practitioner. Early intervention leads to a faster resolution, helping to reduce the amount of time you suffer from postnatal low mood. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem
- Irritability and anxiety
- Sleep disturbances not related to your baby’s sleep patterns
- Crying or feeling sad without any apparent reason
- Fear of being alone
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Negative obsessive thoughts
- Feeling guilty and inadequate
Getting back on top
Other than seeking help from your family, friends or healthcare practitioner, there are some effective herbs and nutrients that can help to relieve stress and elevate low mood:
- Siberian Ginseng provides restorative and tonic activity, helping to support vitality and energy during times of stress while reducing feelings of exhaustion and tiredness. Siberian Ginseng, as an adaptogenic, helps your body ‘adapt’, resist and normalise your stress response.
- Oats seed is a traditional nervine tonic for the relief of nervous debility, often accompanied by insomnia, anxiety and episodes of low mood. Oats seed provides relief of nervous exhaustion and tension while its mild stimulating activity helps to improve energy levels while under stress. Both Siberian Ginseng and Oats seed can be used while breastfeeding your baby.
- Vitamin D, selenium & zinc are important for healthy mood. Many clinical studies show that low levels of these nutrients are associated with increased risk of low mood. Demand for these nutrients is high during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and many women with postnatal low mood may find themselves deficient in these mood elevating nutrients.