It’s not uncommon to experience the “baby blues” after giving birth. The sudden shift in hormones, the lack of sleep and the transition into parenthood can all contribute to feelings of anxiety – even sadness, or being overwhelmed. Postpartum depression can be more than just a serious case of the blues; it can interfere with your ability to take care of yourself and your little one. Seeking help and support to alleviate these feelings is paramount to feeling better.
Caring for yourself and baby through touch can help alleviate symptoms of depression. Whether cradling your naked baby against your bare chest, massaging or simply caressing your baby’s face, ample skin-to-skin contact is critically important for both you and baby. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby can raise your levels of oxytocin, a “feel-good” hormone, which will help lift your spirits. A recent study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing showed that skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby could be an effective alternative to medication in alleviating symptoms of postpartum depression. Another study showed that skin-to-skin contact with baby at least three hours a day reduced baby crying by as much as 43 percent. Those same babies not only fell asleep faster but for longer too, which means more sleep for mom and less stress from being overtired.
Even in cases where medication is needed to help relieve postpartum depression symptoms, finding ways to incorporate skin-to-skin time with baby can be part of an integrated approach to feeling better. A routine including baby massage is an excellent way to ensure extra daily touch for both mom and baby. You can massage her lightly with a natural, unscented massage serum to help support baby’s skin barrier properties, further boosting the health benefits of skin-to-skin moments with actively healthy ingredients like essential fatty acids and probiotics. Keep in mind, it is important to avoid mineral oil, proteins and artificial fragrances in all skincare products for mom and baby.
A professional or partner massage for yourself is also a valuable management tool to help reduce the stress symptoms that typically accompany postpartum depression.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations
Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.