A friend of mine is a first-time mom and she reached out because she was struggling with emotions and feeling overwhelmed. She reminded me of myself 10 years ago. Almost 10 years ago, I had my son. He makes me laugh, keeps me busy and amazes me with his adventurous spirit and kind heart. But 10 years ago it was a different story. Everyone always told me that nothing could prepare one for life with a new baby, especially emotionally, and boy was that true. What surprised me the most was how truly hard everything seemed to be, and in reality it was. Luckily, I had a wonderful support system and a doctor who diagnosed me quickly with postpartum depression (PPD). This type of postpartum blues goes beyond the depression that many woman experience after giving birth. PPD can last weeks, months and sometimes never really goes away, if left untreated.
Apparently, 10 to 15% of women experience PPD, but personally I think the numbers are much higher. Women with new babies are often on their own when recovering from childbirth. Their lives are no longer their own and are based on the baby's feeding schedule. There is a feeling of being isolated and alone. And as for sleep... well you can throw that out the window. But there are things that can be done that can help new moms.
Tips to Reduce Postpartum Blues
1. Ask for help.
Call your mom, a friend, a neighbor and ask them to clean, cook or watch the baby while you take a power nap.
2. Join a mommy group.
This helped so much. You will realize you are not alone. It helps to be surrounded by women who are going through similar experiences that you can relate to.
3. Get help early.
Talk to your healthcare professional about how you are feeling. There are many resources available to you. Homeopathic or naturopathic doctors can help find natural options for lifting your mood.
Take a few days (or weeks) to recover before showing off the new baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Don't worry about dishes or clean bathrooms... that's what your partner is for, or refer to Tip 1.
Even if it's 10 minutes per day. Studies have shown that exercise aids in relieving depression.
6. Essential fatty acids.
A study of women taking 500mg of omega-3 per day showed a 50% reduction in PPD symptoms. Raw nuts and seeds are also tasty ways to get some good protein in, as well as essential fatty acids. Bonus for baby: essential fatty acids help with baby's brain and neurological development.
I look back at those first few months all those years ago and I can't believe I am the same person. It was a hard road, but I had help. If you are not feeling like yourself, get help now. The better you feel about yourself, the better mom you can be to your little one. I am enjoying my son so much now, thanks to a lot of help from a lot of people. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.
Photo from here, with thanks.