What Does Chiropractic Care Have to Do With Postpartum Depression?
We conducted an informal poll on our Facebook and Instagram social media pages asking veteran mamas what their advice for new breastfeeding mamas would be. A lot of the theme that was weaved throughout the conversation had to do with the mental health of the mom.
As new moms we are bombarded with images of peaceful parenting, easy breezy breastfeeding, and instagram-perfectly-put-together moms and their super trendy babies and toddlers. So much of actual motherhood is a far cry from that. It’s tears, frustration, cheerios smashed into the carpet. It’s yoga pants for the second day in a row and choosing sleep over working out (or working out over sleep).
Its slobbery kisses, six am wake ups on the weekend, and coffee that’s been reheated for the 3rd time before 11 am.
We are told that breast is best. But then see images that portray that moms are supposed to get up and get on with their lives. Go back to work full time, maintain the house, make sure the other kids are happy, fully entertained but also well adjusted and mindful. Mounting pressure to do it all.
Well-meaning providers, parents and grandparents provide well-meaning advice of “happy, healthy baby is all that matters”. But we have to ask, what about a happy, healthy mama? Because let’s face it, mamas are the backbone, they are the ship that keeps the whole show afloat. If mama is struggling, so is everyone else.
Since 2015, we have collected the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a screening tool we use to indicate perinatal mood disorders or postpartum depression and/or anxiety, on every one of our late third trimester and postpartum patients through 12 months postpartum. We do this because we see our pregnant and postpartum mamas more than any other provider. Often times, toward the end of their pregnancies we are seeing mamas 2-3 times a week, which continues into their postpartum period. Far more frequently than any obstetrician or midwife during the perinatal period. If we have the opportunity to follow these mamas throughout their pregnancies and postpartum, then we also have the opportunity to refer them to the appropriate services and provide support along the way.
We decided to take a look at the data we have collected since 2015. We found several patients who have been under care who have filled out the survey during their late third trimester, at their first visit postpartum, at their 90 day re-exam, and then 9 months postpartum.
What we found:
- Baseline scores taken in the late third trimester were higher than the postpartum comparison
- Towards the end of the “4th trimester” or around 3 months postpartum, indicators for postpartum mood disorders were slightly higher than they were in the initial postpartum time
- Good news, upon retesting at the 9 month postpartum mark, patients scores decreased, on average, to closely resemble baseline scores collected in the late 3rd trimester
- 5% of patients initially postpartum had results that indicated that mamas was struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety.
- That number dropped to 3% at their 90-day re-exam
- Of the patients who remained under care until they reached their re-exam at 9 months postpartum, only 1 had a result that confirmed they were experiencing continued postpartum depression/anxiety
What this means for mamas under chiropractic care
As the literature currently sits, rates of postpartum depression increases in the time between delivery and six months postpartum. While we did observe a slight increase in reported numbers, all but one of our patients had scores that were within the range of little to no indication for postpartum depression/anxiety.
Other factors besides having a new baby contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety such as how much sleep you’re getting, the outcome of your labor and delivery, at-home support and how much support you perceive you are receiving, if you also have other children to take care of, nursing struggles, health conditions, etc.
Getting adjusted is widely known to help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, mamas who were having their baby’s adjusted regularly were less likely to report feelings and symptoms of postpartum depression, which is what we’re seeing in the existing literature. Parents who have their infants under chiropractic care have noticed they have improved latching, preserved nursing relationships, improved digestion, less likely to experience colic, less likely to get sick and if they do get sick, their bodies progress that illness much quicker, etc.
What are our main takeaways?
Get adjusted. Not only during your pregnancy, but continue on into your postpartum period. The benefits are clear. Not only is it going to help you feel more like you after going through a major life event but also to adjust more quickly to no longer carrying a large baby bump. Let’s not forget to mention the elephant in the room, there is a global pandemic occurring where distancing is highly recommended. The last thing you want or need during your postpartum is to be distanced from much needed support. As a matter of fact, a recent study discusses the struggles for pregnant and postpartum people during the time of COVID, highlighting that rates of depression and anxiety are skyrocketing during this vulnerable time.
- Get adjusted
- Make sure your support is solid
- Sleep when the baby sleeps, no really. Laundry can wait.
If you’re not local to the Southwest Florida area, and you’re looking for an excellent chiropractor, trained in all the ways our doctors are, visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to find a doctor in your neck of the woods.