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AUDIO: Mom's Health Matters, With Dr. Shosh - Episode #1

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Listen to Dr. Shoshana Bennett, EmpowHer.com’s host of Mom’s Health Matters talk about what new parents and mothers can do to prevent post partum depression.

Todd Hartley:
Hi, and thank you for joining us on the EmpowHer network. It’s time for Mom’s Health Matters with Dr. Shosh, a true rock star in the field of postpartum depression of caring for new moms. Dr. Shoshana Bennett is also the author of many great books like Postpartum Depression for Dummies and we’re honored to have her here on the EmpowHer network hosting her own show, Mom’s Health Matters.

Dr. Shosh, welcome.

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
Thank you, Todd. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Todd Hartley:
It sure is, well, we’re totally honored, and I want to talk with you today about prevention of postpartum depression. As you know, I have got a good friend at EmpowHer that is a survivor of postpartum depression. You have survived what, two bouts?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
That’s right, two life-threatening bouts, yes.

Todd Hartley:
Tell me if you could, what is the prevention side? I understand that women that set up for prevention are in much better position when they become new mommies than other women.

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
And you know Todd, all moms, all couples need a plan of prevention because whether we are high risk or not, there’s no one who is immune. This disorder can hit anyone, even without a history of depression or another mood disorder. So really, all couples should be talking about realistic expectations. For starters: what does it mean to have a baby in the house?

Many people think, "Oh, my life will be the same, just plus a baby," and oh my goodness, their life might go upside down, and it will and they’re not expecting it, they’re not prepared. So having a discussion about who will be on duty when, who is going to be on duty at night. It certainly shouldn’t only be up to the mom, and who will be bringing food and what will that food be, because wonderful nutrition is also very important in helping to prevent postpartum depression and keeping the brain chemistry well fed and protected.

Another way that one can help prevent is by setting up great emotional support. Who will she have to talk to? Who will she have to lean on when she delivers? I mean, just talking about the birth itself for starters. And then who are the other mothers or other people in her life who she can just be real with, you know, be herself with, not have to feel like she needs to pretend everything is going well.

Todd Hartley:
Okay, now one of the things that I get is that we all think we’re immune. "Oh you know, that can happen to somebody else but it's not going to happen to me. The odds of it happening to me are rare." How common is postpartum depression, Dr. Shosh?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
Postpartum depression happens to about 15% of us, that’s about one in seven. About 80% of women experience the very normal baby blues with a normal part of adjustment, but baby blues is gone about two weeks after the baby is born. But about 15% of women get something much more severe than the baby blues.

Either the baby blues doesn’t go away, it keeps going past the two week mark, or it's more severe and sometimes from the very beginning as it was in my case. That placenta was delivered and the hormones left my body, and I plummeted down to the bottom of that proverbial well, this feeling like I lost myself.

So we’re talking about 800,000 women just in the US alone might experience a postpartum depression just this year.

Todd Hartley:
Dr. Shosh, a moment ago you talked about the baby blues. You’re also the author of Beyond the Blues, Prenatal and Postpartum Depression. It’s really a treatment manual but if you could tell me, I understand that you said one in seven, about 15%, experience this. Could the number actually be higher and many women just not go diagnosed?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
Absolutely, Todd. And that’s a very, very good question. 15% is what we know, but in many of the pieces of literature we see, especially more recent literature in the past five years or so, we’re seeing numbers like 15-20% or higher, the data will say. So many women, they slip through the cracks, or they are afraid to come forward, or they are embarrassed or ashamed and they don’t come forward but they might suffer for years, sometimes ongoing and they’re not identified.

So the 15% that I mentioned are those who have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment.

Todd Hartley:
Wow, that is really surprising. Dr. Shosh, what exactly is postpartum depression? I know we talked a moment ago about the percentages, and we talked about putting together a plan, but before we get a little too far out of the basic of the basis of this conversation, what exactly is it?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
That’s a good question, and you know, depression in general is called a mood disorder. And postpartum depression is a clinical depression that happens after the birth of a baby. It doesn’t necessarily happen immediately, but it is associated with delivery.

Certainly, adoptive mothers can also have their version of postpartum depression. So can dads, but generally when we are discussing postpartum depression, we are talking about birth mothers, of reproductive hormones are involved we believe, and it’s a depression that happens after the birth. It can happen anytime up to the first year postpartum.

Todd Hartley:
Shosh, we are talking about some of the major symptoms that include anxiety, irritability, problems sleeping. Some women have problems with appetite or maybe low self-esteem. I have heard women feel even hopeless, frustrated.

Today we’re focused on prevention of postpartum depression, so let's now focus on what a woman has to do, and earlier we discussed putting together a plan. So what is the most beneficial way of preventing postpartum depression for new moms?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
For new moms, in general, again a talk about realistic expectations of what it means to have a baby in the house. They need a good sleep plan so that they get good, solid, uninterrupted hours, you know, chunks of sleep at night and yes, even a nursing mother can do this. And in the Dummies book I outlined that in detail, so I won’t go into this, that here but it is very possible, at least a few nights of…

Todd Hartley:
And how many hours are you recommending that moms get during that uninterrupted time?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
Well, depending on which piece of literature you pick up, you might see it a slightly different way, but six hours is great. Six-hour chunk of uninterrupted sleep will give a person, a new mom, a full sleep cycle, but even if she can get five, it’s a lot better than anything less than that because she needs a REM sleep. She needs the alpha waves, the delta waves, all of the components of a sleep cycle.

Anything less than that, you know, chronic sleep deprivation, interrupted sleep every two hours or so, that can actually cause, Todd, a postpartum depression.

Todd Hartley:
Wow. Well, you know, two of my sisters just had babies this year, and what I would think if I told them they should get six hours of sleep. They both would probably tell me they can run a marathon on six hours’ sleep.

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
That’s right, I know. I mean people listening or new moms possibly listening to this right now might go, you know, "In what lifetime am I going to get six hours straight?" And it doesn’t necessarily need to be every night and yes, I know there are concerns about nursing and women are worried if they are nursing, "If I sleep that long, will I, my milk supply drops."

Again, there are ways to get chunks of uninterrupted sleep at night without dropping milk supply, so again, sleep is very important. Physical support throughout the week, also a very important part of the prevention plan, Todd. Women need to make sure that they don’t lose themselves, that they don’t get lost in the shuffle, so to speak, once they become moms.

They need a few times that are planned, that are scheduled. Regular times where they get to do whatever is important to just them, as a person, having nothing whatsoever to do with being a mom, with being a wife, just to nurture themselves.

So if it’s a manicure and pedicure or hair or massage or meeting friends or seeing a movie or reading a book, whatever is important to her, she needs to make sure that there is someone else on duty with her child or with her children so that she can regularly nurture herself.

So that is part of a prevention plan. Often women come to me, and they have lost themselves. I mean they feel, even if they had no depression at all at the beginning. They’ll come to me sometimes years after their child was born and say, “Dr. Shosh, I don’t feel like me. I hate my life. I am snapping at my toddler, I feel so guilty when I do that. I am yelling at my husband; I know he doesn’t deserve it, what is wrong?”

One of the first things I’ll ask her to do is to take her calendar out and I’ll say, "Where are you in your own life? What days or what hours in those days do you have just to focus on you?" And often there’s this silence. I mean, they are wide-eyed, they are going, "Oh my gosh, I am not even there. I am not in my own life." Well, that will deplete them, that will burn them out and that can also make them depressed.

Todd Hartley:
Unbelievable, you know I was, my wife and I baby sat on Saturday nights so my sister could go out with her husband to go see the Indiana Jones movie, right, and when they came back they were like new people.

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
You know, it doesn’t take a lot. If a mom gets like 6 to 8 hours spread out throughout the week for herself, she can feel renewed, recharged and often that runs into one of the myths of motherhood. That’s part of the realistic expectations, getting rid of the myths of motherhood. "I should be able to do this all myself. I shouldn't need breaks." You know, all of that stuff, it's so important to recharge and yes, as a couple, very important to keep the couple relationship alive and well. I mean, regular dates are also necessary.

And Todd, I wanted to mention also for our listeners that often depression, clinical depression can begin in pregnancy, and the book that I am just finishing now, that will be on the shelves January 2009 is called Pregnant on Prozac and…

Todd Hartley:
Oh wow.

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
Yes, I am very excited about it, and that’s a part of the literature that really, there’s been a void that really hasn’t been like one resource where women can go to know what their treatment options are in pregnancy, not always medicine that they need. There are alternative treatments; there are complimentary treatments, things that can be used to boost medical treatments.

So what I do is outline in the book what we know is safe, what we’re not sure but what the data says so far, so women who suddenly find themselves pregnant, and they’re already on a medication, and they want to do the right thing for their baby and for themselves, they can refer to the book.

Those who know they’re high risk but they’re not pregnant yet, but they want to start researching what their options are, the book is also for them, Pregnant on Prozac. I am hoping to be the reference for those who know they’re high risk, those who find themselves pregnant even if they feel that they’re well but they want to know whether to stay on their medication, to switch to something else.

So I am really hoping it will serve this purpose, and I have a good feeling it will.

Todd Hartley:
Dr. Shosh, why don’t we do an episode down the road on Pregnant with Prozac? It would just be fascinating for so many women, would you mind doing that for us?

Dr. Shoshana Bennett:
I would love to. Let's count on that. That will be one of the Mom’s Health Matters shows.

Todd Hartley:
Yeah, most definitely. She is Dr. Shoshana Bennett. This is Mom’s Health Matters, and for more information on Dr. Shosh, you can go to her website drshosh.com.

Your healthy podcast is brought to you by EmpowHer.com, that’s E-M-P-O-W-H-E-R [dot] com.

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