Bringing a new life into the world is an awe-inspiring journey, filled with joy and anticipation. It can however, become overshadowed in some cases by perinatal depression. Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of perinatal depression is crucial as it can help increase the likelihood of seeking out supportive care and treatment sooner. It is vital for healthcare providers to be actively screening for signs and symptoms of perinatal depression during appointments to help provide compassionate and effective care.
Perinatal depression (PND) includes both prenatal depression (occurring before or during pregnancy) and postpartum depression (occurring in the postpartum period). The global prevalence of PND is a startling 10-30+%, and it's essential for healthcare providers to help equip Patients with evidence-based recommendations to help prevent PND and to provide treatment whenever medically necessary.
A recently published meta-analysis of 48 studies explored the benefits of exercise based interventions in both the prevention and treatment of PND. The beneficial impact of exercise therapy was particularly noteworthy in the prevention and management of prenatal depression, where it demonstrated superior efficacy when compared to prevention and/or treatment in the postpartum period.
Choosing the Right Exercise:
Not all forms of exercise are equal when it comes to preventing and supporting the treatment of perinatal depression. A recent review suggests that certain exercises may offer unique benefits in this context. These include:
Yoga: With its gentle yet powerful approach, yoga has shown potential benefits in preventing and/or treating perinatal depression. The combination of physical postures, breathwork, and mindfulness creates a holistic experience that nurtures both the body and mind.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training: This targeted exercise not only supports physical health but also contributes to mental well-being. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can have positive effects on mood and overall mood.
Aerobic Exercise: The benefits of aerobic exercise extend beyond physical fitness; it may be a game-changer in preventing and managing perinatal depression. Activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling get the heart pumping and release those feel-good endorphins.
Aerobic and Resistance Training: A dynamic combination of aerobic and resistance training may offer a well-rounded approach to mental health. The synergy of these two forms of exercise enhances strength, stamina, and mental resilience.
Consulting Your Healthcare Team:
While the benefits of exercise in perinatal depression are encouraging, it's crucial to approach physical activity with awareness and consideration. Each individual's journey is unique, and factors such as pre-existing health conditions, medication use, pregnancy stage, and postpartum recovery must be taken into account. Therefore, it's essential to consult with your healthcare team to determine the exercise regimen that best suits your specific needs and circumstances. Since the treatment of PND is crucial to supporting quality of life and wellbeing for both mother and child, careful consideration is required by the healthcare team to determine the most suitable and efficacious treatment plan. In some cases your healthcare team may recommend medication, nutritional and lifestyle supportive counselling and/or adjunctive nutraceutical supplementation.
As you navigate the beautiful yet challenging landscape of perinatal life, remember that incorporating exercise into your routine may be an important protective lifestyle factor. Embracing the power of movement and exploring the various forms of exercise can help embark on a journey toward enhanced mental well-being. By working closely with your healthcare team, you can tailor an exercise plan that suits you, ensuring a healthier and more joyful perinatal experience. Always check with your Naturopathic Doctor to discuss safe forms of exercise tailored to your needs specifically.
This article is being shared as educational content and is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healthcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance and supervision.