One of the many forms depression can take is postpartum depression.
Statistics Canada reports that in Ontario, up to 23% of new mothers experience symptoms that match either postpartum depression (PPD) or an anxiety disorder.
Although many questions around PPD remain unanswered, we know that magnesium is generally depleted in the postpartum months. One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency can be feelings of depression, even if you never experience full-blown PPD.
How Hormones Change in the Weeks Postpartum
Many of the hormones we rely on to feel “normal” or “well” drop immediately after giving birth, which means a whirlwind of mood changes and other unexpected feelings or symptoms.
There’s a marked drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after delivery, which is often the cause of your “baby blues” and mood swings. At the same time, your body is being filled with oxytocin, “the love hormone” to help you breastfeed easier and bond with your baby.
In some cases, women experience more serious hormone imbalance after delivery. You can take consolation in the fact that even if it feels uncomfortable now, your hormones will likely normalize within 10-14 days of delivery.
PPD vs Common “Baby Blues” — Why the Difference is Important
It’s important not to confuse “baby blues,” a common postpartum experience, with postpartum depression, a serious condition that requires treatment.
Although they may seem similar, the two conditions necessitate totally different treatments.
Many new mums (up to 80%) go through baby blues. Symptoms are difficult but not unmanageable, and will not last longer than two weeks. They can include:
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Difficulty sleeping
- Change in appetite
When you think about it, baby blues are normal and to be expected — your mind, body, life, and hormones have just been dramatically changed.
When Baby Blues Turn to Postpartum Depression
“The first six weeks after the birth of a child are traditionally considered the postpartum period, when a mother is settling into her new role and bouncing back from pregnancy. But after I had my son, it took my body and mind a lot longer than that to adjust. – Linda Knittel, Senior Editor, Organic Connections
If your baby blues persist past the two-week mark, you may have to consider options for postpartum depression treatment.
PPD can bring some mothers to a point where they are unable to care for themselves or their baby, which is why it must be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible. In most cases of PPD, the common “baby blues” symptoms will intensify. Postpartum depression symptoms can range in severity, but include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by motherhood
- Regularly bursting into tears for no apparent reason
- Doubting your ability to look after your baby
- Feeling disconnected from your baby
- Insomnia even if your baby is asleep, or oversleeping when your baby needs you
- Frequent mood swings; feeling calm and then sudden anger
- Keeping away from friends and family
- Losing interest in activities that you usually like
- Depriving yourself of food, or eating too much
- Suicidal thoughts
Like many mood disorders, the causes of PPD are unknown, but the fact that both estrogen and progesterone levels drop abruptly after delivery is likely related.
A new mother’s emotional state can be precarious. Sleep deprivation, overwhelm, anxiety about caring for your newborn, and feeling out of control of your life can all contribute to PPD.
The good news is that there are many treatment options and resources available to new mothers going through PPD.
As with treatment for other mood disorders, there are changes in lifestyle that may help you out of your PPD, as well as medications (only by order of your OB/GYN or family doctor), and natural solutions.
Using Magnesium for Postpartum Depression
Magnesium is essential for hundreds of biochemical processes. It plays a key role in fertility, healthy pregnancy and even DNA formation.
Given the known benefits of magnesium for many of the side effects of depression, magnesium can likely help alleviate some of the symptoms of PPD.
Magnesium for Breastfeeding
First, it’s important to know that magnesium needs increase if you’re breastfeeding, along with your body’s demand for a range of nutrients.
When breastfeeding, your body will drain magnesium stores otherwise available for your own tissues and bones and divert the mineral stores to your breastmilk.
Your body is smart about dispensing the right amount of magnesium to feed your baby, but your own needs may not be met if you don’t get enough through diet and supplementation.
If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety, tension, and finding it hard to sleep when you get the chance, it may be because your magnesium levels are too low.
Magnesium for Postpartum Energy
Magnesium is also vital to energy (ATP) production, which every new mother needs. If you experience low energy as a symptom of PPD, know that magnesium can help you get energized.
Low energy can be a symptom of depression, and feeling tired can make feelings of depression deeper. That’s why making rest a priority postpartum is key, and magnesium can help.
Magnesium is neither a sedative or a stimulant, which is important in the postpartum months. When it’s time to sleep, you don’t want to be wound up! Magnesium is inherently calming, but you can take it during the day and it won’t affect your alertness.
Magnesium for Postpartum Anxiety, Stress & More
Magnesium can also calm your nervous system, often quelling feelings of fear or anxiety. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, a little magnesium boost may be just what you need.
Magnesium works to downgrade our body’s reaction to stress, boosts happy hormones, and supports parts of the brain responsible for replacing fearful, anxious memories with new memories, “extinguishing” anxiety.
Postpartum depression often includes feelings of overwhelming fear, and magnesium can help.
Paternal Postpartum Depression (New Dads Can Feel Down, Too)
The feelings of being anxious or overwhelmed by the prospect of raising an infant are not limited to new mothers.
Some new dads experience the same overwhelm, fatigue and sadness that mothers with PPD do. Younger dads with a history of depression are more at risk to develop what is sometimes called paternal postpartum depression.
Paternal postpartum depression can have the same negative effects on relationships and the development of the baby as maternal postpartum depression and must be taken just as seriously.
Much of the same resources and treatments that are available to mothers who struggle with PPD are also available to fathers.
As a father, you can help to balance your mood by supplementing with magnesium for postpartum depression.
If you’re a father experiencing unusual mood swings, feelings of anxiety, or changes in eating and sleeping patterns, reach out to your health care professional for the support you need.
When to Seek Further Care for Postpartum Depression
Consult a doctor immediately if your symptoms…
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Remember that asking for help does not make you weak. If it’s a step you need to take, it will be better for you and your baby in the long run.
Your doctor, psychiatrist or OB/GYN may recommend antidepressants. These can help lighten your mood but must be taken with caution by mothers who are breastfeeding.
Generally, the risk of antidepressant medication transmission from mother to baby is quite low, so whether or not to nurse your infant while taking medication is a mother’s choice.
Natural Treatments and Supplements for Postpartum Depression
It is possible to lift your mood naturally during the postpartum months.
Below are a handful natural strategies for balancing your mood during the postpartum months. We’re grateful to Linda Knittel, Senior Editor at Organic Connections magazine, for her contributions excerpted with permission from Natural Vitality.
“Staying calm in the face of new motherhood can be challenging, now that your own needs come second to your baby’s. But, just as you’re reminded on an airplane to put on your own oxygen mask before tending to your child, you have to take care of yourself to have the reserves needed to meet the demands of your new bundle of joy.” – Linda Knittel
Make Sleep a Priority
New moms get a lot of advice, but perhaps none as ubiquitous as “Sleep when your baby sleeps.” Even if you’re able to nap when Junior does, a baby’s short sleep cycles and frequent feedings will likely leave you feeling exhausted.
As if feeling tired weren’t bad enough, sleep deprivation can contribute to a host of other postpartum symptoms, such as depression, weight gain and low milk production; so it’s important to try to make up for the hours of shuteye you are losing.
Naps help, as does establishing an early bedtime. It can be tempting to stay up and spend time with your spouse, read or do almost anything that does not involve feeding or changing a baby, but sleep has to be a top priority.
Before you climb into bed, make sure you’re not hungry and that your room is dark and quiet. Don’t be afraid that you won’t hear your baby: mothers tend to be attuned to their babies’ cries and will wake up when it’s time for them to be fed. If you’re worried, or if the nursery is far from your bedroom, keep a baby monitor nearby.
Take care of yourself during the day by getting some exercise, avoiding stimulants, and making sure you get enough magnesium. This will translate to better sleep at night, which will make for a happier mom.
Another step to heading off postpartum complaints is to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet.
A mother’s body needs more nutrients in general after birth than it does during pregnancy. Newborn babies are built entirely from nutrients donated by their mothers. If these nutrients are not replenished, chances of postpartum symptoms greatly increase.
Because new moms are usually sleep deprived, their bodies tend to crave quick energy sources such as sugar and refined carbohydrates. While these foods might help you through a long night of feedings, they can set you up for a blood-sugar roller coaster the next day.
Aim to eat lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole plant foods, while avoiding alcohol and processed foods.
Yes, it’s hard to prepare fresh foods when you’re constantly occupied with the baby, but you’ll feel better if you eat foods that keep your blood sugar levels steady, and support healthy hormones and healing. It’s not just your baby who needs nourishing!
“The months immediately following the birth of a child can be hectic. It’s easy to neglect yourself while caring for a new baby, along with the rest of your family and your home. But taking great care of your body can make a huge difference in your health and mood, both early on and for years down the road. I know it did for me.” – Linda Knittel
Connect with Loved Ones
Whether you share feelings with your partner, other moms like you, or friends and family, interacting with others will help boost your mood and lessen feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and depression. Talk through what you’re experiencing and stay connected to your best supports!
If you know someone who may be experiencing PPD, remember to reach out and sensitively offer your support.
Although post-partum depression and anxiety often feel like a permanent reality, PPD can usually be eliminated within 6 months with proper care and treatment. Every woman is different, so listen to your body, and ask for help when you need it.
Please remember that postpartum depression is not a weakness. It’s not a failure and it’s never a mother’s fault. There’s a stigma around PPD because new mothers are expected to be filled with joy and excitement, and while those feelings are definitely part of having a baby, it is not uncommon to also experience the transition as extremely difficult.
Exercise absolutely lifts our moods. Getting outside to walk or run, in the sunshine if possible, boosts your body’s production of happy hormones. Plus, exercise improves your energy, helps your muscles pull back into place, and speeds up the process of losing any extra baby weight.
However, you might notice that exercise feels different postpartum. During pregnancy, your body is also producing relaxin, a hormone that loosens and eases movement of ligaments and joints, particularly in the pelvic area.
After delivery, it takes some time for your joints to firm up again, and for the hormone to lower its levels. During that time your joints may feel sensitive, so you should take extra care of them, and stick to low-impact exercise — if that’s your jam.
Magnesium will help you ease back into fitness by improving your energy, relaxing muscles, reducing exercise pain, and speeding exercise recovery.
Natural Calm Magnesium for Postpartum Depression
It’s always a good idea to eat more magnesium-rich foods because they tend to be the healthiest kinds. Nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, some fish, leafy greens, and dark chocolate are all good sources of magnesium.
However, most people don’t get enough magnesium through diet to meet daily needs, so you may need a boost.
If you’ve decided to supplement magnesium for postpartum depression, you’re probably wondering where to start.
Magnesium is depleted from the body daily, naturally, which is why it’s important to replenish your levels of magnesium daily. Starting and maintaining the habit is easier with a magnesium that’s enjoyable to take.
Natural Calm magnesium supplements come in delicious, organic fruit flavours, available as a powder that you dissolve in hot water and drink as a tea (a soothing replacement for caffeinated drinks) and as a gummy that’s easy to take.
Magnesium citrate is highly absorbable, which means it’s proven to enter the bloodstream rapidly, where magnesium can be used by every cell of your body.
Many experts recommend women post-childbirth get 350 mg to 500 mg daily. You can obtain 200mg in just 1 tsp of Natural Calm magnesium powder, and it is safe to use while breastfeeding.
Customers have shared incredible stories about using Natural Calm for pregnancy and postpartum. We hope it’s just as helpful for you!
PPD/baby blues/paternal PPD – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617
Baby blues and treatment – https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/week-3/baby-blues.aspx
Hormones after delivery – https://flo.health/being-a-mom/recovering-from-birth/postpartum-problems/hormones-after-birth
Antidepressants while nursing – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267169/