How Baby Wearing can Help Relieve Postpartum Depression

New mothers are quick to swap stories on breastfeeding, diaper changes, and lack of sleep, but not many discuss post-partum depression, or PPD. While some mothers sail right through the infant stage without an inkling of depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 15 percent of mothers suffer from PPD.

The symptoms of PPD typically include a feeling of general sadness for no reason, anxiety, compulsive thinking, fear, and feelings of not being good enough. Many new mothers experience some of these feelings from time to time–after all, being a new mother comes with a period of adjustment as your hormones get back in balance. Some women don’t even recognize their symptoms until three or four months after giving birth, when the feelings are still lingering after all that time, or have come back after a temporary disappearance. Postpartum depression doesn’t just happen right after childbirth–it can happen anytime in the first year postpartum.

Discussing these feelings with other mothers and seeking help in the form of counseling or talk therapy is extremely beneficial in combating post partum depression. Another therapy, within reach for every new mother, is skin-to-skin contact with your baby. It helps relieve postpartum depression through the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. The Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing found that mothers who got six hours of skin-to-skin contact with their infant in the first week, followed by two hours a day for the next month had fewer symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Saliva samples were taken to measure new mothers’ stress levels through the hormone cortisol. Mothers engaging in skin-to-skin contact showed lower levels of cortisol, meaning that they were less physiologically stressed.

The only practical way to get that much skin-to-skin contact is through baby wearing. From woven wraps to carriers that look like backpacks, there are many varieties of baby carriers available. The wonderful thing about being able to wear your baby is that you can get skin-to-skin contact while also feeling a bit more like yourself. As opposed to holding a baby in your arms, you are suddenly free to use both of your hands, to brush your hair, put on some makeup, make yourself a snack, or even read a book while baby naps without worrying you’ll drop the book on their head. It’s also a great way to take a baby that hates the stroller for a stroll, helping mom get some fresh air and release natural endorphins that come from exercise.

There are many different carriers for different ages and personalities, but remember a baby is never too young for the proper baby carrier.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. Visit her blog and website at JacquelineBanks.com

 

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