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Postpartum Depression - Prevention

Keeping your body and mind strong and healthy will help reduce the effects of hormone changes and stress that come with childbirth.

  • Ask for help from others so you can get as much sleep, healthy food, exercise, and overall support as possible.
  • Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs or medicines unless recommended by your doctor.
  • If you are worried about postpartum depression, have your first postnatal checkup 3 or 4 weeks after childbirth rather than the usual 6 weeks.

High-risk women

Women whose risk is higher for the reasons listed below may want to take extra steps to prevent postpartum depression.

  • A history of depression. If you have no depression symptoms late in a first pregnancy, watchful waiting is recommended. But if you have a history of severe depression, some experts recommend counseling and support before childbirth. You and your doctor may choose to start antidepressant medicine after the birth, particularly if you have had postpartum depression before.
    Depression: Should I Take Antidepressants While I'm Pregnant?
  • A history of postpartum depression. After childbirth, don't wait for symptoms to appear. Start with counseling and support (some women start counseling a couple of months before childbirth). You and your doctor may choose a combination of counseling and an antidepressant.
  • Depression during your pregnancy. If you took an antidepressant medicine during pregnancy, continue taking it after the birth to reduce your high risk of postpartum depression.
  • Domestic violence. The potential for domestic violence increases during a woman's pregnancy and when a couple is adjusting to a new baby. If your partner is violent or emotionally abusive, you and your baby are physically at risk, and you have a higher risk of postpartum depression. Now more than ever, it's crucial that you protect yourself and your baby. Seek support and help. For more information, see the topic Domestic Violence.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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