Becoming a mother is undeniably a wonderful, one-of-a-kind experience. But what if depression gets the better of you in what's supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life?
Many women think that once the baby has been delivered, they will go right back to how they were pre-pregnancy - physically, mentally and emotionally. But what most moms quickly find is that it takes weeks and even months to feel like their old selves again - and even then, they may realize they aren’t truly their old self. They are someone new, someone they may or may not recognize. They are mothers.
Everyone adjusts to motherhood differently, but the American Pregnancy Association reports that 70 to 80 percent of all new moms experience the “Baby Blues” and can feel sad, anxious and weepy for up to two weeks after delivery. This is completely normal as your hormones begin to balance back out, but if the feelings linger or escalate in severity, you may be experiencing postpartum depression, which effects 10 to 20 percent of new moms in the first year. Reach out to your doctor right away to seek professional treatment if you think this might be the case.
While there is much to be learned about postpartum depression and there isn’t just one cause, diet has been identified as one of the risk factors, along with exercise, stress, lack of support and history of depression. Here are 5 foods that contain essential nutrients to help mitigate your risk and improve your mood.
1. Wild Salmon. You hear a lot about the importance of consuming Omega-3/DHA during pregnancy, but the benefits continue for you once you’ve delivered the baby. Fueling up on things like wild salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds helps with brain function and, as recent studies show, may help keep depression at bay.
2. Organic Eggs – bonus if they are enriched with DHA! Eggs are such a great staple for new moms – not only do they make for a quick meal or snack, but they are packed with protein, vitamin D and B-vitamins. Deficiency in these nutrients has been linked to depression in the general population due to the role they play in mood regulation.
3. Greek Yogurt. Full-fat Greek yogurt and other dairy products such as milk and cheese are great sources of protein and vitamin D. If you can consume dairy without any issues, incorporating these in your diet will supply you with a nutrient boost throughout the day and keep you feeling satisfied.
4. Lentils and Beans. The fiber, protein and iron found in lentils and beans are what makes this dietary staple such a great choice for new moms. They make a great protein source for vegetarian and vegan diets and can be added to almost any meal to pack a bigger, nutrient dense punch. Fiber ensures your digestive system stays on track and helps to regulate blood sugar.
5. Whole Grains. Whether you choose oats, brown rice or whole wheat pasta, whole grain foods give your body an energy boost and have been linked to increased levels of serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer that's also known as "the happy chemical." They also are chock full of fiber, iron and other key nutrients that will help keep your blood sugar, energy and mood stable.