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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Health Unit Highlights Baby Blues Coping Tips During Mental Health Week!

Postpartum Mood Disorder affects one in five new and expecting mothers. Sometimes termed'Baby Blues, PPMD is a serious form of depression.
“The birth of a baby is supposed to be a time of joy, but PPMD can make the experience a very sad and stressful time for new mothers,” says Jennifer Kurpjuweit, a Family Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit “Untreated depression of any kind has devastating effects for the mother, baby and the entire family.”
The Health Unit is highlighting the risk of PPMD during Mental Health Week www.mentalhealthweek.ca, which runs May 7-13. PPMD can affect women at any stage of their pregnancy, and up to a year after their baby is born. Researchers are unsure of the cause, but believe PPMD is related to many factors, including stress, financial worries, hormonal changes, past depression, relationship problems and lack of support. While PPMD affects each woman differently, Kurpjuweit says the condition generally brings out feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, panic and frustration. Mothers can also lose interest in their baby, and, in extreme cases, may hallucinate and suffer delusional thoughts, she adds.
“Mothers should not feel ashamed if they are experiencing PPMD or be blamed by others, since it can strike anyone without prior notice,” says Kurpjuweit, who helps local mothers to cope with their depression.
Family support for women with PPMD is very important, as is seeking medical care.
“Speaking to a physician or another health care professional in an open and honest way can help determine a course of treatment that is best for the mom and her loved ones, and that gets everyone on the road to recovery,” she adds.

Self-Care Key to Alleviating Baby Blues

‘Self-care,’ or the mother taking care of herself, is another key part of the recovery process, according to Kurpjuweit. For example, getting enough sleep is important to avoid depression, and new parents need to consistently get at least six hours or more per day. “Anything less is worrisome,” she notes.
Eating nutritious meals and snacks is another way for mothers to stay healthy since it helps them get the nutrients and energy their bodies need to feel their best. Following the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide is a good way to plan healthy meals and snacks, she says. Studies also show physical activity is helpful for the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses, including PPMD.
“Walking your baby in a stroller, taking part in a mom-tot fitness class, or doing tummy time exercises with babies by placing them on their bellies on the floor are great ways to be active and stay healthy,” Kurpjuweit says.
For more information on PPMD, call the local Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 and speak to a Family Health Nurse.

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