No one knows for sure why some women have postpartum depression, but it is commonly thought hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger its symptoms. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone increase significantly. Then, in the first 24 hours after childbirth, estrogen and progesterone levels drop rapidly and continue decreasing to the levels they were before pregnancy. Researchers surmise these changes in hormones may lead to depression, just as smaller changes in hormones can affect a woman’s mood before her period.
Symptoms of PPD can range from sadness and mood swings to irritability, sleep changes, and excessive worry or lack of interest in day-to-day life, including her baby. For many women, these symptoms last only a few days, with the majority feeling better within a week or two of becoming a new mother. For others, the situation may be more severe, and the symptoms can last much longer.
1) Define postpartum and discuss what it means for women
2) Review the pregnancy hormone cycle and the changes which lead to labor, delivery, and postpartum.
3) Discuss specific hormones which influence postpartum; not just Estrogen and Progesterone, but also the other influential hormones which help readjust and stabilize the body after birth
4) Examine the most trustworthy and reliable testing options for healthcare practitioners to evaluate and offer insight into postpartum hormones
5) Look at ways to support women struggling with PPD and offer treatment strategies to achieve optimal postpartum health
Debbie Rice, ND, MPH is a naturopathic doctor who maintains a part-time practice where she focuses care on pediatric health, hormone health, thyroid health, and adrenal health. She has had experience working with communities in need, both in the United States and internationally. Dr. Rice’s training has been primarily in women’s health, pediatric care, hormone therapy, and hormone function, as well as complimentary adjunct care. She utilizes multiple modalities including diet and lifestyle, botanical medicine, and conventional approaches which meet patients where they are at on their health journey. Dr. Rice serves as the Assistant Medical Director for Precision Analytical Inc., the creators of the DUTCH Test. Her passions include activism for access to health care, doing yoga, and exploring nature.