Becoming a new mother is an extraordinary event. There are so many emotions that come along with motherhood: happiness, love, joy, and excitement. But there also could be mixed emotions – especially around the holiday season – such as feeling being overwhelmed, sad, moody or anxious. These mixed emotions are not unusual, and most new moms have temporary mild symptoms of depression mixed with feelings of happiness after having a baby.
The “baby blues” is a short-lived period of mild depression postpartum and it is extremely common among new moms, affecting up to 85% of new moms, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Alarmingly, one in ten of these women will experience the most severe form of the baby blues, postpartum depression (PPD).
Postpartum depression can surface anytime up to six months after childbirth, and if left untreated, can last a year or even longer. Common symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy and motivation
- Increased crying or tearfulness
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, restlessness, irritability or anxiousness
Recent studies have shown staying active and exercise after birth can be helpful in reducing symptoms of depression. A study in Maternal and Child Health Journal, concluded that “better maternal well being” was found among mothers who maintained or increased their exercise both during pregnancy and post baby when compared with mothers who had no or a decreased level of exercise (Maternal and Child Health, September 2004, Volume 8, Number 3).
Exercise after pregnancy has positive psychological effects, and can lead to a more positive mood. As a trainer, I see women’s body language change as they progress through a fitness class; they’re uplifted, more lively and energized by the end of class. Exercise relieves symptoms of stress and can lead to an increased self-esteem.
Active Moms’ Club new moms workout combines exercise with a supportive group environment – it’s a mom and baby class. In addition to classes, moms have opportunities to socialize and further foster relationships outside of class with events – such as lunch, playgroups, or nights out – organized by moms in the Club. Having peer support is an effective way to encourage moms to continue exercising which can lead to a happier and healthier mom. Visit AMC’s website to learn more and to register for upcoming classes.
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. If you have any of the other symptoms noted above lasting for two weeks or longer, contact your physician. Exercise can be a helpful part of a comprehensive treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, but should not be thought of as a single and exclusive treatment for postpartum depression.