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Can postpartum depression be prevented?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Post partum depression (PPD) is not a preventable condition. Pregnancy and parenthood are life changing experiences and can become overwhelming. To help the woman adjust, there are a number of life-style changes that can be initiated during pregnancy and continued after birth, to help promote overall well-being and early diagnosis of the signs of PPD. These actions are to:

  • Make healthy choices including eating healthy foods, avoiding alcohol and getting exercise.
  • Set realistic expectations and ask for help. Pregnancy and the first year of parenthood place new demands on the woman’s time and energy. Don’t expect that everything will get done or be perfect. Do what you can and ask for help when you need it.
  • Schedule time yourself; get dressed and leave the house. Spend time with a friend or do something just for yourself like a manicure or a massage. Also take time to nurture your relationship with your partner.
  • Avoid isolation by talking to your partner, family and friends about feeling and your new roles. Spending time with other new mothers is an excellent support for women prone to depression.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

There are a few things you can do to help prevent depression after delivery. You can let others help you and not try to do everything yourself when it comes to caring for your newborn. Talk to your partner or someone close to you if you are experiencing depressive feelings. Try to get adequate sleep by resting when your baby does or by asking others to babysit. Don't spend all day in bed, but get dressed and spend time outside to elevate your spirits.

Dr. Christina Hibbert
Psychology Specialist

Because postpartum depression is so heavily influenced by factors outside a woman's control (including genetics and hormones) postpartum depression cannot necessarily be prevented. What can be prevented, however, are the severe symptoms that can come without proper support and treatment. Couples who prepare for the emotional changes that accompany pregnancy and postpartum are usually in a much better position than those who don't.

How can you prepare for postpartum emotional changes? 1) Educate yourself on pregnancy and postpartum emotional health and mood disorders; 2) Create a support plan for after the baby is born, including practical support (like babysitting and help with housework) and emotional support (someone you can talk to); 3) Set up your resources—a postpartum support group, counselor who specializes in postpartum mental health, and knowledgeable physician are key.

Prepare, put your plan in place, and take charge of your postpartum emotional health. Though you may still experience emotional shifts and changes, you and your family will be much more likely to prevent extreme symptoms and ensure a smoother postpartum adjustment!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.