One of the biggest struggles for me during pregnancy is depression. Not all of my pregnancies has this been an issue, thankfully, but there are some where it is a big struggle just to get up in the morning! You face all those hormones and limitations and then throw on top of if some major life changes - and lets face it in a family as big as mine those happen weekly, if not daily- and you have a perfect Molotov cocktail for major case of the blues.
So here are some strategies to combat depression, pregnant or not.
1. Get Moving
Was that obvious? You knew I was going to start with that didn't you? The thing is I am not just talking about going to the gym, which should be your eventual goal. I mean getting up out of bed, taking a shower, making breakfast, doing laundry. This is the first step and the hardest.
When you are depressed, the last thing you feel like doing is actually going through the motions. It actually can physically hurt to just face the day. The most mundane tasks can feel like an insurmountable mountain.
Make a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Plan outings on that weekly plan and no excuses - DO THEM. Take the kids to the park or the library. And eventually add on to that schedule going for a long walk with your iPod and some excellent music. Or go swimming, hiking, the gym! Anything.
There are of course limitations on exercise and you should talk to your midwife or OB about what exercises are safe for YOU. Just because Mom A can run her entire pregnancy doesn't mean you should. And if you are having certain pain issues like sciatica there will be some exercises that are better for that then others. So get advice if you are suffering from any painful complaints.
And get moving OUTSIDE. Sunshine is good for you. A deficiency in vitamin D can also lead to depression.
2. Eat Smart
But, unfortunately, eating nothing but ice cream and peanut butter cups are going to actually make your depression a whole lot worse. You need to eat clean. Avoid sugar like it is the devil. This includes lots of carbs. Carbs turn into sugar in your system. And too much sugar in your system can not only lead to freakish mood swings but other fun things like yeast infections and potty troubles. Yeast infections and constipation or diarrhea are not known to help improve the mood. And then add pregnancy to that. Scary isn't it?
Eat lots of fruit and veggies, whole fat diary (don't freak out on me, remember that vitamin D? your best source of that is from whole fat dairy products), and good meats. Add spinach to a daily smoothie and sweeten it with agave, honey, or maple syrup. You will not taste the spinach and, believe me, Popeye was right about spinach. It is a powerhouse of health!
Instead of adding carbs to your dinner have two different kinds of veggies. My midwife told me something the other day that blew my mind. Did you know that a small to medium potato is the equivalent of 17 sugar cubes?!?! Eat that with your dinner and you will be sluggish and miserable for sure. So save the white potatoes for special occasions.
And NEVER, NEVER, I mean NEVER use artificial sweeteners. They are very dangerous and Splenda has a lovely side effect... yup, you guessed it, depression! If you are diabetic, which can happen during pregnancy, try agave. I know it has some hype but it is better for you then Splenda and will keep your blood sugar stable.
What? Wait, you are saying, you just said....
I know, but hear me out.
If you are limiting your sugar and not getting it by eating bread with every meal, adding sugar to your coffee, and cereal every day you can afford to have a little chocolate. Chocolate is known to set off those happy little hormones... you know the ones that you get when you have some alone time with your husband? Yeah those. So, an ounce of chocolate a day might just help keep the blues away.
But do NOT over-indulge. Then the sugar will just counter-act the happy feelings.
Limit real deserts to once a week or only on special occasions.
This is HUGE. You have to know that when we lack strength and will. the best way to get some is to ask God for it. When you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, however, don't ask God "WHY?" That is not going to help one little bit. Ask God, "How do I overcome it?" and "What can I do?" Ask God to help you to do what you need to do to overcome these blues. You need to let God encourage you.
|23 weeks. Clean or gym? Going to the gym!|
Finally, and I guess this should be number 5, is if none of this works talk to your midwife or OB. They are your helper on this journey. You are not the only one that has ever dealt with depression. You can then discuss your next steps. There is controversy about medicating depression during pregnancy, so see if there is an herbal supplement that you might be able to take. Again, don't just look it up on the internet. Your OB or midwife will have the latest information to help you. Medication should be a last resort and if you need it, you need it. There are complications for you and your baby if you suffer from insurmountable depression during and after pregnancy.
Most importantly, remember, you are not alone. I am praying for you and hope you all will pray for me too. Depression can be debilitating and down right horrific. I want to leave you with these words from the Bible. Write them down, in your own hand. Place them somewhere you will see them often. Even carry it in your wallet or tape it to the bathroom mirror.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."