· Get into the regular habit of intimacy with yourself and your baby well prior to birth. Regular Yoga Nidra and / or meditation are the best opportunities for this. Plenty of times for closeness will encourage early bonding and remove any tendency towards post-natal "shock" at finding yourself a new mother with a difficult baby to support.
· Practise a range of yoga asanas for pelvic health and pregnancy fitness. This should include those most beneficial for hormonal balancing and moodiness.
· The yoga breathing techniques are most important for helping to sustain high energy levels during pregnancy and labour, and also give you a storehouse of prana for the post-natal period.
· And lastly, try to set up as natural a birthing situation as possible, a venue and support team which affords you the greatest chance for active birthing, drug free birthing and a relaxed supported recovery period. Be sure to make a Birth Plan which sets out the way you would like your baby's birth to be arranged and assisted, whilst at the same time preparing yourself for a flexible approach on the day, or even an imperfect result.
Not surprisingly, all of the above suggestions are included in the general recommendations for pregnancy in preceding chapters. What is good for a happy pregnancy is also good for a happy post-natal period.
Following the birth, should you at any stage detect indications of mild depression, you should straightaway begin to address the physical, mental, domestic and social factors which contribute to any imbalances in your self or in your lifestyle.
The following issues may need to be ad-dressed and the following yoga techniques adopted to help restore mental and physical equilibrium after the birth in the event that and level of PND becomes evident.
· The single greatest contributing factor to depression is lack of sleep. In addition to broken sleep at night, many women suffering PND became unable to relax or sleep even when the baby is asleep. Chronic tiredness leads to dysfunction in decision making when dealing with your baby, disturbs your emotional relationship with your baby, and directly affects your ability to provide the best quality breast milk. This then results in a baby who is irritable and not easily consoled, thereby leading to even greater maternal stress
and feelings of inadequacy. The solution here to breaking such vicious cycles - rather than resorting to bottle or formula feeding - is regular Yoga Nidra each morning and night for stress management; sleep supplementation; resolution of birthing traumas; removal of worries, fears or anxiety; general psychological wellbeing.
· There is no doubt that the dramatic change in hormones in the post-natal period is closely linked with a tendency to PND and that the initial symptoms often begin to manifest around the time of a woman's milk coming in, 2 to 3 days after birth. A woman's body is designed to breastfeed a baby and allowing this milk production and its accompanying hormonal mechanisms to flow, is the most sure way to remain balanced. This breast food will keep him happier too, whilst the contact and closeness is also a means to help normalise depression and develop better bonding with your baby.
· Try to create a balance of time spent in company and alone. Neither too much of one nor the other is healthy for a new mum. Limit unnecessary or inappropriate social interaction.
· Tap into (or create around you) a network of like-minded women who will be there for you when you need practical help. Mothers of high-needs babies (e.g. premature, disabled, chronically ill) are more likely to suffer PND. Women with older babies are usually agreeable to help their less experienced sisters through a difficult time. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
· Trust in yourself and your intuition as it relates to new motherhood. Know that nature has given you the brains and tools to be a great mother. Empower yourself and, when in doubt, take responsibility.
· Remove any sources of high stress, even if this means distancing yourself from certain people or places.
· Keep up a quality diet, with regular meals rather than snacking.
· Particular yoga asanas help to restore pelvic function, balance hormonal function, balance milk production, and relieve soreness and stiffness.
· The yoga breathing techniques will help keep your energy levels higher than otherwise, and help to keep the mind clear.
· Regular meditation will create a time of self reflection and inspiration. Also important for a new mother is the ability to witness any emotional fluctuations without getting too caught up them.