Postpartum meditation helping new mothers

LOS ANGELES First-time mom Ashley Bell thought motherhood would be like a fairy tale. But soon after she gave birth, reality hit.

"I was really sad," said Bell. "I remember just sitting there and crying, just sobbing, because I just couldn't get happy and I wanted so badly to be."

Extreme hormonal changes occur after birth. Experts say four out of five moms experience negative feelings for the first two weeks, known as 'baby blues.' But if these negative feelings persist it could turn into postpartum depression.

"We say that someone has postpartum depression if they have persistent negative feelings for almost all of the day for at least two weeks," said OB-GYN Dr. Kerri Parks.

Dr. Parks had a history of postpartum depression, but after her fourth pregnancy, she went through an especially difficult time when she lost her husband in a fatal car crash. Dr. Parks tried various treatments, but she felt meditation helped her the most.

"There are clinical studies that prove that mediation will help with most mental disorders," said Dr. Parks.

She helped develop the guided imagery program "Mommy Meditations."

"It teaches you to separate yourself from the craziness that you're surrounded by," said Bell.

Just 10 to 20 minutes a day can make a big difference. But meditation can't replace medical treatment.

"If someone's truly diagnosed with postpartum depression they should take medication. And Mommy Meditations is not a substitute for medication," said Dr. Parks.

Another piece of advice that many new moms can benefit from is simple, just take it slow.

"You just do it day by day, step by step. And know that you're going to get through it eventually," said Bell.

Dr. Parks says women who've experienced postpartum depression in the past are 70 percent more likely to experience it again than those who've never had it.

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