A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die.
Depression: An outcome of Dosha imbalance?
There are different reasons why depression makes its way into our lives. Many times, people have a million things to blame it on, from hormones to diet and life circumstances. Ayurveda believes that the reason for depression is due to a large imbalance among the three doshas, or being unaware of the inner self.
The majority of post-partum depressions are believed to be caused by Kapha imbalance, which eventually leads to the other two elements of Vata and Pitta becoming out of balance. Due to these imbalances between the basic body elements, feelings of negativity and hopelessness are generated, which causes abnormal functioning of the nervous system, which in turn causes depression. Also, certain deficiencies of nutrients in the body can cause depression to develop.
In my journey of motherhood, I went through my journey alone to handle my pregnancies. My family still lives in Bangalore, India, so I did not have the luxury of my mom being with me for my first and third pregnancies.
Ayurveda suggests prevention is better than the cure.
Here are some tips I followed for curbing post-partum depression before it could spring up and surprise me.
- Invest in Yourself: During the last few days of pregnancy, you spend a lot of time running to the potty or feeling heavy. This is actually the best time to prepare all that you need for later. As mothers we love taking care of all that a baby needs – from blankets to diapers – so we are completely ready for the newcomer. This would be a great time to invest in yourself, too.
- Arrange for fresh flowers every day. Make a list of flowers you like or want after you have delivered the baby, and give it to your partner or family members so they will know what to provide. Having fresh flowers to wake up to in the morning or after naps leaves you with a fresh feeling and really lifts your mood!
- Freshen up your bed: Pick out a new bed sheet and comforter and soak them in your favorite aroma oil. Ask your partner or helper to change the bedding before you arrive home with the baby. Finding your old bed made up with new, clean sheets gives a feeling of newness from within and helps you get some deep sleep on your new-looking bed. You will enjoy the clean feeling and sleep better.
- Stock up on essential aroma oils for their relaxation and calming qualities. Whenever your baby is asleep during the day, it’s less likely that you also would go to bed. Instead of watching tv or worrying about your chores, here is a chance for you to jump into the tub to spend some time with yourself. Ayurveda emphasizes that you should keep the water temperature warm to hot. It’s helpful in sweating water retained during pregnancy and also in keeping you warm without increasing Vata.
- Give yourself a warm sesame oil massage. This doubles the state of sleep, and your body enjoys the love and compassion you show after it has served you in creating your bundle of joy. You are most likely super tired between feedings, and massage helps make it easier to slip into deep sleep before baby awakens again to be fed.
- Avoid any processed frozen food. Without prana, it creates negativity. Avoid refined sugar, coffee, fast and junk food. Make sure to have a good breakfast; research has shown skipping breakfast can increase chances of depression. Do not avoid good carbohydrates and starch; it is noted that, to keep serotonin levels normal, skipping carbs can leave an empty feeling.
- Jot it Down: Everybody goes through a little duration of blues, so instead of making it a huge deal, sit with yourself and feed in positivity. This could be a great time to write down your memories or do some scrapbooking.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Nature is designed to accommodate us mothers to rest and relax! After you feed the baby, if you are tired just co-sleep with the baby. Your warmth is familiar to the baby from being carried inside you through the nine months. Falling asleep beside you helps the baby feel secure and gives you a longer dozing time.
- Rest…Rest…Rest: During the initial days after giving birth, keep yourself to bed and your room. Too much walking is not advisable, since your body is recuperating. You can extend yourself to walk outdoors soon, once you feel better.
- Soak in Nature: Open all the windows and gaze out, sipping warm water. Nature is always the best remedy to avoid any form of depression. Just gazing at the blue sky helps you unwind and changes your mood.
- Meditate at least five minutes a day, or even do mantra chants. This minimizes all those negative thoughts that you could create without awareness, and increases the joy of enjoying your blessing.
- Play with your older child: If you also have a toddler or older child, get down to play a little. Losing yourself in being a child again takes you away from thoughts that could haunt and hurt you.
- Immerse yourself in positive thoughts: Instead of creating thoughts, looking for reasons to be sad, and wondering what’s wrong at this moment, replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. Ask, “What is that one thing I am happy about in this moment?” This helps in bringing a new perspective and leaves you to count your blessings and feel gratitude.
- Enjoy the company of friends and family occasionally. When you are feeling alone, just a phone call can bring a few moments of laughter. Or ask someone to drop in to check on you. This will be a good time to ask them to bring some fresh flowers so you can fill your vase with new colors!
- Practice some yoga and breathing. Take a class beforehand, or buy CDs that teach a few beginners’ poses that are easy to do yourself. This will also help you along the journey, leaving you satisfied in having done something for yourself.
- Do not neglect your needs. Always be aware of how you are feeling. Any time you catch yourself in a loop of negative thoughts, write down some things for which you are happy and thankful.
For those women who do not reach their finish line in the journey of pregnancy: I understand that whole state of being could leave you devastated. There is grief and sadness around you. As a nine-year-old, I saw my mom go full-term into labor but not return with a baby three separate times. I have understood the pain it can leave an entire family with. Sometimes the universe puts you in a pause mode, and you cannot find ways to move ahead.
Enjoy self-love and appreciating your body. Your body hears everything. Give your body a heads-up with nourishment. Eat fresh, nutrient-rich food to regain the confidence and strength to prepare again. Show lots of love through massages, meditation, and a healthy lifestyle. Instead of creating “why me?” thoughts, pick yourself up and move on.
You never know how life can surprise you again!