Pregnant women who have not had enough exposure to daylight during their last trimester would be at greater risk of developing postpartum depression.
While it is well known that the sun is beneficial to the health and morale of human beings, it is still unclear to what extent it can impact the mental health of pregnant women. However, according to an American study published Thursday, September 27 in the Journal of Behavioral MedicineWomen who lack natural light during their last trimester of pregnancy have a much higher risk of developing postpartum depression than others.
Deepika Goyal of the University of San Jose and her colleagues at the University of California analyzed the cases of 293 Californian pregnant women of their first child who had participated in two clinical trials on sleep after pregnancy. The amount of daylight participants were exposed to during their last trimester, their "depressive past", their age, their socio-economic status, and their sleep patterns were specified in these data.
The researchers found that exposure to natural light during the last month of pregnancy and immediately after birth had a major influence on the mental health of pregnant women. For example, those who had the longest sunny days had the least risk of depression after delivery (26%), while those who gave birth in the shortest days had 35% more risk.
Postpartum depression affects 10 to 15% of mothers
"In women who had their first child, the length of a day during the third trimester, especially when the days were short, was associated with depressive symptoms," said Deepika Goyal, lead author of the study. This is why the latter suggests exposing women to maximum light during their third trimester in order to avoid a risk of postpartum depression during the first three months of their baby's life. On the other hand, women who are already feeling depressed in the last weeks of their pregnancy should go out as much as possible or follow light therapy, advises Deepika Goyal.
Not to be confused with simple baby blues, postpartum depression is a postnatal disorder that affects 10 to 15% of mothers. Affected women tend to have difficulty falling asleep, and therefore to be permanently tired, irritable and anxious. This affliction occurs most often within four to six weeks after delivery. Its symptoms should be taken seriously and treated as quickly as possible otherwise, they can last one or two years and increase the risk of relapse in subsequent pregnancies.
Practice outdoor physical activity as much as possible
Therefore, in order to avoid this, "women should be encouraged to be regularly exposed to daylight during pregnancy to increase their level of vitamin D (essential for the calcium of the mother and the child) and to suppress the hormone of melatonin (the rate of this hormone related to double sleep in the pregnant woman and in large quantity it tends to cause fatigue, vertigo, drowsiness, headaches and even temporary depression), "says Goyal, who says doctors should also recommend that their patients be more physically active, to the extent that is reasonable, of course.
"Daily walks during the day can help improve the mood much more effectively than shopping or running on a treadmill in a gym." A walk at dawn or at night can also relax but will less effective in terms of vitamin D or melanin ", she explains.
However, remember that pregnant women must protect their skin in the sun. To avoid the mask of pregnancy (pigmented plaques that appear on the forehead, around the eyes and above the upper lip), and the appearance of stretch marks, remember to nourish your skin and hydrate it. And if there are traffic problems in your family, protect your legs to the maximum to prevent the appearance of varicose veins.