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Postpartum Depression (cont.)


Although you can't prevent the postpartum hormone changes that cause postpartum blues, you can take steps to prevent ongoing postpartum depression (PPD). If you have a history of depression or postpartum depression, you and your doctor have some other prevention options.

Basic prevention measures for every woman

To minimize the effects of postpartum hormonal changes and stress, keep your body and mind strong.

  • 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.
  • Close monitoring after childbirth is important. If you are worried about developing PPD, have your first postnatal checkup 3 or 4 weeks after childbirth rather than the typical 6 weeks.

Prevention measures for high-risk women

If you have had depression or postpartum depression before, you and your doctor can plan ahead to reduce your higher risk of postpartum depression. Think about the following options if you have:

  • A history of depression. If you have no depressive 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 to prevent PPD, particularly if you have had PPD before.
    Click here to view a Decision Point.Depression: Should I Take Antidepressants While I'm Pregnant?
  • A history of PPD. After childbirth, don't wait till symptoms develop—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 pregnancy. If you are taking an antidepressant medicine during pregnancy, continue taking it into the postpartum period to reduce your high risk of postpartum depression.
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