The birth of your baby can spark a mixture of all different emotions. Besides adjusting to your post-baby body, you might find yourself dealing with emotional lows. The good news? Research has a tool to help you cope, and it could prevent postpartum depression.
Family support: A key to prevent postpartum depression
Women who receive strong social support from their families during pregnancy may have a lower risk for developing postpartum depression, finds a study from the University of California, Los Angeles. Researchers interviewed 210 women about familial support and their emotional states during their pregnancies and after giving birth; they also analyzed blood samples for levels of the stress hormone pCRH, which is released during the placenta and associated with postpartum depression.
Turns out, the participants who received the most support had the lowest levels of PCRH—and were less likely to get PPD. Here’s how to get more of what you need from your family and prevent postpartum depression.
How to prevent postpartum depression
Start with the people closest to you
In the UCLA study, mothers whose families and partners made them feel accepted, listened to, cared for, and valued were more likely to engage in healthy behaviors (like eating well) that contribute to healthier babies and lower incidences of postpartum depression.
Bring your partner to doctor visits, take a class, or read a pregnancy book together to keep your bond strong and help him understand all of the physical and emotional changes you’re going through.
Keep the lines of communication open with him and with other family members, too: Share when you’re upset or frustrated about something, and talk about any worries you might have about becoming a mom.
Think outside the box
If you live far from your family, prevent postpartum depression by finding support from other places. Take a prenatal yoga class, or join a local new mom group. Joining a forum or message board like JustMommies.com or CafeMom.com can help, too: It’s all about having your feelings validated by people who can empathize.
Take a prenatal class
Whether it’s Lamaze or a course on healthy pregnancy, experts say support from prenatal classes could help prevent postpartum depression. After all, these women know exactly what you’re going through and hopefully, the friendship continues after you both have your babies.