Postnatal low moodAs many as 1 in 7 Australian new mothers will experience postnatal low mood each year. It can occur quite unexpectedly, anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year after childbirth, taking many new mother’s by complete surprise. Postnatal low mood is quite different to the ‘baby blues’ which is a mild and short-lived mood disturbance that affects 8 out of 10 women between the 3rd and 5th day following childbirth.
Causes of postnatal low moodPostnatal low mood can be mild or severe and may last anywhere from a few weeks to a number of years. Causes of postnatal low mood vary from woman to woman, although the combination of hormonal effects and increased stress levels with possible nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and lactation are heavily implicated. Other causes may include:
- Previous history/family history of low mood or anxiety
- Previous reproductive difficulties/loss
- Difficult or complex pregnancy
- Birth trauma
- Premature or sick baby
- Challenges with feeding or settling
- Sleep deprivation
- Pre-existing physical illnesses
- Stress – financial, relationship, reality vs expectation of parenthood
Symptoms of postnatal low moodSymptoms can be many and varied. If you think you have been suffering with any of these symptoms for 2 weeks or longer, you should 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. Symptoms may include:
- Sleep disturbances, not related to your baby’s sleep patterns
- Crying or feeling sad without any apparent reason
- Feeling overwhelmed, out of control or unable to cope
- Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem
- Negative obsessive thoughts
- Feeling guilty and inadequate
Help is at handOther than seeking help from your healthcare practitioner, there are 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’ and normalise your stress response.
- Oats seed is a traditional nervine tonic used 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.
- Nutrients - vitamin D, selenium and zinc are important for healthy mood and general wellbeing. Many clinical studies show that low levels of these nutrients are associated with increased risk of low mood states. Demand for these nutrients are high during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding, and many women with postnatal low mood may find themselves deficient in these mood elevating nutrients.