How to Handle the Blow of Postpartum Depression
The joys of motherhood and entry into the club of parenting can often be overshadowed by irrational feelings and behaviors during the postpartum period. For some mothers, the “fourth trimester,” as it is often referred, can be an array of downward emotions defined as postpartum depression (or simply PPD).
Statistically, one in seven new mothers experience postpartum depression, albeit many women attempt to hide their bout due to feeling shame, according to the American Psychological Association. Postpartum depression is not symbolism for inadequacy or bad parenting. It is not a weakness or a flaw in character. These extreme feelings are brought about through the extremities of going through the birthing process. To battle with PPD is not easy; however, it can be managed in an array of ways.
Admit to Having PPD
Because women are often experiencing parenthood for the first time, it’s difficult for them to even realize whether or not they have PPD immediately after giving childbirth. After all, lack of sleep and a new crying baby can lead anyone to feel unlike themself.
In fact, most new moms experience what’s been dubbed the “baby blues,” which the Mayo Clinic describes as commonly including mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can start within the first couple days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks. But if they are more severe and longer lasting, it’s likely to be postpartum depression. And prompt treatment is the answer to helping you manage the symptoms while still building a relationship with your baby.
Take a Bath with Essential Oils
A bath is one of those activities that does not exert much energy, but can aid in the PPD period. “Town and Country Magazine” tells us that baths can elevate your mood, aid against sleep deprivation and relieve muscle pains.
With the help of essential oils, a bath can also be a stress reliever creating a tranquil environment by breathing in the aroma.
Take a Walk Outside
Having just had a baby, time spent within the confines of four walls, can be daunting and repetitive. Oftentimes, more vigorous exercise is advertised as being supremely beneficial, and simply taking a walk will do the trick.
Women who average about 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, socialized more, felt better emotionally and weren't as limited by their depression, according to “Scientific American.” Walking outdoors gives you the opportunity to get fresh air and light cardio.
Verbalize Your Feelings to Your Partner
It sounds so simple, but communication can often be tough. Verbalizing how you’re feeling to your partner can make a huge difference in how he or she reacts to your condition.
Opening up and communicating creates a better awareness of how someone can fully support you in this moment. Doing weekly or even daily check-ins can help get you both in the habit of sharing your experiences as a new parent.
Have Someone Else Do It
Yes, you just may be in your nesting phase; however, the feeling of needing to do everything can cause a feeling of overwhelm. Find a way to get family, friends, partners or other children involved by helping with the laundry, cooking, cleaning and baby watching.
It’s totally okay to take a moment and do absolutely NOTHING!
Make Naps a Priority for You, Too
Naps are not just for baby. You need a nap, also. The National Sleep Foundation says that a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
Not getting adequate sleep is something that many parents battle with, but it can also exacerbate PPD. If you do not have as much support, try your best to sleep when the baby does.
Get a Mani/Pedi
Pampering yourself is not selfish, but an actual act of self care. A professional manicure and pedicure exfoliates your skin, improves circulation of blood flow and adds a boost to your self-esteem.
If they’re not in your budget, you can add them to your gift list or do them at home.
Have a Ladies' Day or Night Out
If the mani/pedi isn’t a part of your ladies' day, then find some other activities that you and your group can enjoy. Have brunch at a nice restaurant. Grab tickets to a play. Find a nice paint-and-sip event in your town.
Groupon is always a good option for having a fun time without breaking the bank.
Buy Something New for Yourself
Retail therapy is a thing and has been proven to have emotional benefits. And we’re not talking about a spree, but rather a snack or some knick-knacks.
Scott Rick, associate professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, says that shopping brings about choice that’s easier amongst other choices needed to be made throughout the normal day to day. He also stated that it can “restore personal control” in one’s life.
Create Positive Affirmations and Say Them to Yourself
An affirmation is a positive statement that you make to yourself to help fight against negative thoughts. Posting sticky notes on a mirror, computer monitor or car dashboard are ways to surround yourself in words that’ll boost self-esteem.
Psychology Today gives proven steps on how to make affirmations work for you.
Find a Support Group
Sometimes, it is imperative to have the support of objective, unbiased opinions. It is even more heart-filling to be surrounded by people who are actually listening to your hardships because they can fully empathize with your situation. Support groups foster a well-rounded structure of people who are going through similar struggles.
Being able to talk to other moms and parents dealing with the postpartum period can truly be a release in knowing you are not alone in the world. It’s important to know that what you’re going through has normalities and ways to overcome it, knowing that it is a passing phase.
Or Find a Moms' Day Out Group
Similarly, joining a moms' day out program or even just a low-key group of moms taking turns caring for each other’s kids can be a good way to free up some time for you to go do errands, work or simply take some time for yourself.
While you may not feel comfortable leaving your newborn in a moms' day out group, it’s especially helpful to have one for any other kids you may have. That way you can focus on one kid at a time, making the whole new baby thing a bit less overwhelming.