Wednesday, 9 April 2008

How to avoid Post natal depression and baby blues

According to Anne Buist, Professor of Women's Mental Health, University of Melbourne, postnatal depression is better termed perinatal depression as it often begins antenatally, although it may not be recognised until the postnatal period.

It is a common disorder, with milder adjustment problems and anxiety affecting some 30% of women while about 15% of women have more significant mood disorders, often with anxiety.

Women are reluctant to seek help, but it is important you do so, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy, as support from health professionals, friends and family is essential to minimise the long-term complications. These include chronic depression (which while rare can lead to suicide) and marital difficulties, and for the child, cognitive, emotional and behavioural problems. And as Professor Anne Buist points out, postnatal depression can start before your baby is born.

It is completely natural to feel anxious about the arrival of your baby, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown. Organising support is therefore essential – it isn’t a sign of being a bad mother or that you can’t cope - but in fact the opposite and your baby will enjoy interacting with friends and family and other carers. Support includes discussing how family members can help out if this is an option for you – so that you can catch up on vital sleep during the day. Joining an NTC class or ante and postal natal NHS class are a good way of meeting other mums who are in a similar situation to you. Plus there are often many classes you can join up to in your area such as ante natal yoga and post natal yoga and massage classes for you and your baby. A good website for activities for mums and babies in the London area is

Making sure you eat well prior to the birth of your baby and making sure you continue to eat well (e.g. without skipping meals) when you baby comes will also help reduce your anxiety levels. For example, a deficiency of omega-3 fats has been associated with post-natal depression and low blood sugar levels are associated with extremes in behaviour. Nutritional support can therefore be very helpful during your pregnancy to help avoid nutritional deficiencies which can compound an already stressful situation.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2.