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Post-partum depression.

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It's not all that difficult really.

So there was this question on a mailing list for herbalists: "What herbal tea do you give for post partum depression?"

Here's what I replied. It's asked often enough, so here it is for everybody and their aunt, too:

OK, so first, the irritation, frustration and depression of pregnancy is almost always simply a mineral deficiency. Your kid skims the top of all your minerals and vitamins, you do not have enough of those to make dopamine, serotonin and so on for yourself.

Ergo, you cry at irrelevant things, you throw things at your partner because he squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle again, and similar overblown reactions.

Do:

  • the milk'o-magnesium+vinegar mix (1 tablespoon milk of magnesia, 4 tablespoons cider vinegar, mix, let clear, add 1 tablespoon of that to a bottle of water, drink that during the day)
  • the B vitamins, ie. a good blend with at least 50 mg of B2, B5 and B6 (plus the rest at whatever levels are in there)
  • vitamin C (over here I tell pregnant ladies to do local berries, 100-200 g a day)
  • vitamin D (personally, I take 5000-10000 IU (125-250 ug) a day. YMMV.)
  • iron (nettle tea, floradix, or similar)
  • zinc (15 mg a day, or a handful of sesame seed, sunflower seed or almond a day)
  • chromium (eat liver, preferably organically produced, or do 200 ug of chromium a day)
  • fish oil (1-2 tablespoons a day, or eat wild fatty fish 2-3 times a week)
  • vitamin E (found in most cold-pressed oils)
  • a general multivitamin, to get all the various co-factors
  • calcium ... if you don't add 500 mg of calcium daily you might lose one tooth per pregnancy.

Then, the kid is born, you're recovering after something akin to a train running over you, and your life isn't at all like the pink-clouded flowery picture painted by ladies' magazines.

It helps to tell everybody who wants to ooh and aah over the little one to bring their own pastries, and that you want this kind today. And oh yes, they'll be making the tea and coffee, too.

It helps to continue with the pregnancy vitamins and minerals. In fact, you have to continue with the pregnancy vitamins and minerals: the kid is still skimming what he/she needs off the top, in your milk.

It helps to lower expectations: you don't have to do anything at all about dust bunnies in the corner, they're not dangerous and won't breed all that explosively.

It helps to take motherwort (lets you relax about things), avena (ditto), and potentilla (you couldn't care less about the expectations of others).

But my take on post-partum depression? High expectations of life after giving birth, plus a mineral and vitamin deficiency. Keep the vitamins up for at least as long as you're sleep-deprived, stressed, and/or breastfeed.

Really.

And of course, things are far worse if you're on your second child, and haven't been doing any vitamins or minerals at all.

There's research pointing to the fact that keeping up minerals and vitamins reduce harelip and related birth defects by up to 80 %. (Harelip and the like is more often seen in the second child, precisely because mom is already depleted). Other birth defects are reduced by 60 %. If you're fertile with one child, do the minerals and vitamins. You might get preggers again ... and spina bifida etc. is best averted in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Comments

Thank you for this. It made me laugh (I have a 16month old, still breast feeding and nights are varied...). We had a hard winter full of cold and flu (well, I did) and after 3 months of it, what I would call a depression of depletion (which I also had in the first few months of motherhood), hit me.

It is said so often - mummies need to take care of themselves. And it's true. But I think what often isn't realised is we need a a list of things to do and ways to do it. When you are tired, depleted and slightly overwhelmed, thinking of good ways to care for yourself isn't the first thing that comes to mind. So again, thank you for this - very very helpful!

Susan

I stopped taking my vitamins because I thought they might be making my baby spit up . is this possible?

Anything is possible ... if baby eats nothing but your milk, try another brand of vitamins.

I just had my #4 baby on March 12. I had the most horrible PPD (with psychosis) after #1 child's birth. My experienced of PPD have been decreasing by atleast 2 months with each subsequent birth. And my nutrition has not changed dramatically - certainly not to account for the big change in experience of PPD. So, while I'm sure the vit and min DO make a difference... there is something about PPD that just IS for some women, I believe. JMHO, of course.

I'm definitely going to be more diligent about the supplements this time around cause I think the next baby is coming sooner than my regular 2 year span and I'm sure it canNOT hurt! ;)

I wanted to say, specifically, I LOVE the way you said, "you don't have to do anything at all about dust bunnies in the corner, they're not dangerous and won't breed all that explosively." I'm totally living this right now. But, I think, the bunnies are actually breeding at a seriously explosive rate!! ;) Or... maybe my daughters are bringing some bunnies in from the wild and they just look like the other ones... ;) However, I have given myself permission to NOT care about them TOO much until baby is 1 month old. And then I'll only care about it enough to get rid of some of them without freaking out about the rest - until baby is 3 months or (or so). I figure if I can get things back up to par on maintaining all things domestic by the time baby is 9 months old, I'll be doing GOOD! ^_^

Thank you for this GREAT post! It's certain to help me AND many others!!! ^_^



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