During the third trimester of pregnancy Progesterone is produced at a rate of 3-400mg per day. There are marked alterations of the binding sensitivity of brain GABA receptors in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. This is linked directly to psychological changes accompanying these states. The metabolically stable anxiolytic steroids of Progesterone appear to be very specific and effective in alleviating both mild and severe cases of both postpartum depression and premenstrual syndrome depression. After the birth of a child, 1 in 10 mothers may develop symptoms of Postnatal illness that she is unable to control.
These symptoms can include:
- Mood swings
- Hotflushes/Night sweats
- Rejection of longed for baby
- Low energy levels
- Foggy thinking
- Low libido
- Heart palpitations
At the delivery of the baby the placenta (which produces Progesterone) is also delivered, and there is a sudden alteration in the levels of all hormones. The new mother must abruptly adjust to the complete absence of Progesterone after nine months of continuous plentiful supply. (300 to 400mgs produced in the third trimester of pregnancy) It is suggested that some women find this alteration of Progesterone level difficult to tolerate (Progesterone is your anti-stress, anti-anxiety hormone) hence the development of postnatal depression. This is especially the case for women in their thirties and forties.
If there is a family history of PND ie Mother or Sister, or ladies has experienced PND previously there is a 68% chance of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies. An international trial of prophylactic (giving Progesterone to mothers prior to the onset of PND symptoms) Progesterone has shown that it is possible to reduce the recurrence rate to 7% thus saving the whole family the trauma of PND and the need for Mothers to cease breastfeeding in order to begin antidepressants.
While this is commonly known as Postnatal depression (PND), it is more accurate to call it Postnatal Illness (PNI), because depression is not necessarily present, nor is it the main symptom. Unfortunately, due to low levels of Progesterone in both conditions, women who have had PMS (Prementsrual syndrome) are prone to develop PNI, but the good news is that PNI can be prevented and/or effectively treated with natural progesterone supplementation. It is also safe to take whilst breastfeeding and in fact enhances lactation.
It is essential to also be taking a good Multivitamin and Mineral as Vitamins B3, 6, 9, and Zinc, Magnesium, Iodine and Selenium are critical for a healthy emotional state.
Ref: Dalton K. M. D. "Once a Month"
Martin R, Gerstung J. "The Estogen Alternative"
Lee J.R. M.D. "What your Doctor may not tell you about Premenopause"
Pregnancy induced alterations of GABAa receptor sensitivity in the maternal brain: an antecedent of postpartum blues. Majewska MD et al Brain Research 482 (1989) 397-401.