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How Yoga Helped Me with Postpartum Depression (PPD)

by Annabelle Carter Short

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After I gave birth to my son, I started to feel very depressed. I wasn’t sure why - I’d waited 9 months for him to get here, I was so excited! I shouldn’t be sad at all! This was when I learned about postpartum depression and, honestly, after that, I wasn’t sure what to do. 

Then I discovered yoga and it helped to bring me out of my depression and enjoy life and time with my son. 

What Is Postpartum Depression?

woman under blanket depression

To start off, I want to address exactly what postpartum depression is. When I first started feeling the symptoms of postpartum depression, I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening so I feel that it is important that everyone knows exactly what postpartum depression entails. This way, we can all watch out for ourselves in others in this way.

Postpartum depression, or PPD, is a mental illness that, as the name suggests, occurs after a woman gives birth. It should be noted that it isn’t uncommon for mothers to feel a little down after birth but this becomes a concern when it becomes severe and lasting. Normally, mothers right after birth experience mood swings, might lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping or concentrating. These feelings are normal and you might feel them for around 10 days after you deliver.

Things step into more concerning realm when these feelings get unusually strong and last a while. This doesn’t always happen right away either! PPD can be seen to start anywhere within the first 6 months after childbirth.

PPD comes with a slew of symptoms. I, personally, was prone to sadness, crying, guilt, anxiety, sleeping too much, I wasn’t motivated to do anything, and, honestly, I’d lost a lot of interest in the things I loved before. It’s also common for mothers to feel restless and irritable, experience weight loss or gain, or even not showing as much interest in your little bundle of joy as you’d expect.

What Did I Do About PPD?

woman doctor talking in front of camera

The first thing I did was visit my doctor but I wanted to try to find some ways to deal with my PPD alongside the clinical.

First, I took a look around for natural supplements that might help. I’m prone to lean towards natural medications when I can so I checked with my doctor. With his okay, I added Omega-3 fatty acids and some nootropics to my routine. Thanks to some new research about the benefits of EPA on mood, I made sure to find one that had more EPA than DHA.

I also tried to sneak in teas that are meant to help keep you healthy. I would suggest green tea because it tastes great and has some caffeine, so I can use it instead of coffee in the morning for a helpful, healthy choice!

Finally, though, I wanted to find something I loved and I wanted to find something that would help me get more exercise. I tried a few different ideas out at the beginning such as hiking and even rock climbing. However, these weren’t quite what I was looking for.

At the advice of a friend, I gave yoga classes a shot. After a little bit, I realized this is exactly what I needed and it’s become an integral part of my life since then.

It Gave Me Something of My Own

woman with hands in the air in fitness clothing

A huge part of the reason that I was looking for a hobby, in the beginning, was to find something of my own. I wanted to exist outside of the house. As much as I absolutely adore my son, I wanted to make sure I existed as more than just “mom”.

With yoga, I got that. At the end of the day when my husband gets home, I get the chance to leave the house for a bit and go to my yoga class.
That’s another point I want to make. It’s very easy to pop a yoga DVD in or look up online videos to guide you. I would suggest a class, though. For one, this allows an instructor to give you advice on form in a way that a video can’t. The bigger aspect for me that helped was meeting other people with similar interests.

Mindfulness is Key

woman in child pose on yoga mat

If you go to therapy for PPD or any other problem, you are likely to hear the word mindfulness. If you’re like me, though, when you first hear this word, you aren’t really sure how to incorporate it into your life.

Mindfulness is the ability to step back, center yourself, and take a deep breath. This is supposed to help you handle stress. I’ve learned this helps not only with PPD but with everyday life as well.

There are little ways you can be mindful throughout the day but it’s also important to take the time to center and focus on yourselves. Many choose to use this time to meditate to reach their mindfulness.

I found that yoga helped me find this meditative center. Moving through poses that I’m confident in and focusing on my breathing helps me release the stress of the day. During particularly stressful days, I might even sneak in an extra, private few minutes of yoga in my own home. For instance, if everything seems to be going wrong in a day and I’m getting frazzled, I’ll break out my yoga mat and run through a few poses while my son is down for his nap.

It Helped with My Anxiety

woman stressed out hovering over her work desk

As I mentioned earlier, my PPD came with a generous helping of anxiety. I was nervous about everything. If I was alone away from the house, I was worried about my son. If I was laying in bed, I was anxious that I’d forgotten something absolutely crucial throughout the day. I began to question everything that I’d do.

Once I started yoga, I noticed that I felt less anxious. Later, I learned that there’s a science behind this - it isn’t just me! Yoga can actually help pretty much anyone struggling with anxiety.

To simplify things, yoga can help increase the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain which helps us relax and step away from always feeling alert and on-guard. Even after only an hour of yoga, you will feel the benefits of the session on your anxiety.

It Improved My Energy

woman jumping in the air

Finally, I want to point out that yoga helped me feel energized. Once I really got into yoga, the oversleeping that my PPD gave me decreased to a manageable level. As I got healthier due to yoga, I started to feel my sleep cycle regulate. Getting up when my son calls for me early in the morning isn’t quite as impossible as it once was. 

Want to give yoga a try for a chance to a more balanced life? A yoga retreat for beginners is the ideal place to start. 

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