Becoming a mom is a big life event, right? It is one of the most fulfilling feelings a woman can experience when holding their baby for the first time. Yet, sometimes, becoming a parent isn’t always as joyful as you would have imagined. In fact, it can trigger an array of emotions from joy to excitement to anxiety and fear.
Postnatal depression is a condition that many women struggle with after giving birth. In fact, data shows that around 3 in 10 new moms may experience postnatal depression. And, approximately 33% of them also experienced depressive symptoms during their pregnancy.
Here’s how to cope with postnatal depression if the “baby blues” prolong after you give birth to your baby.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body suffers many changes including gaining weight. And, sometimes, these changes can make a woman experience negative thoughts about her body’s appearance. Which, unfortunately, can also be a factor that contributes to postnatal depression.
Yet, researchers in Australia found out that exercising has an antidepressant effect for new moms suffering from postnatal depression. And, as you may be guessing, exercising can also have a major impact on improving your body image.
Now, you may be thinking that as a new mom, you are pretty busy with caring for your baby and don’t have time to go to the gym, right? however, you don’t even have to. A study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity shows that walking is a great way to ease depression. So, even as much as walking your baby in a stroller is a great way to get out of the house and get in some steps.
When was the last time you thought of yourself as the center of your universe? For at least nine months, you have shared everything with your baby and your habits were highly influenced by your pregnancy. So, perhaps you’ve forgotten what it feels like to eat, drink, and do whatever you like without fearing that it will affect your baby’s health.
So, sometimes, maybe the only thing you need to find yourself is to actually spend some time with yourself, doing everything that you enjoy doing. And, even if you will start experiencing guilt that you want, just for a couple of hours, to not feel stuck on the couch breastfeeding or doing other house chores, there is nothing to feel guilty about that. Plus, trust us on this one, the Universe won’t end if you give yourself some “me time”.
Not sure what to do in your free time? There are a number of things you can do from doing your hobbies to going to the spa, getting a massage, meditating, or practicing yoga. Simply put, do any type of activity that will improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.
You know what they say “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. And, although this advice may seem extremely unrealistic to the point that it actually annoys you, you should follow it.
We get it, just like any other mom you think that your baby’s sleeping schedule and nighttime crying is the worse and no one understands. However, every new mom is going through exactly what you are going through right now. So, the advice couldn’t be any more accurate. In fact, it is also rooted in science. Why? Because a 2009 report points out that new moms who got the least sleep experienced the most depressive symptoms. To be more precise, women who sleep less than four hours between midnight and 6 a.m. or had less than 60 minutes of napping during the day.
So, considering the fact that in the first month, your baby isn’t going to sleep much during the night, you may find it useful to nap during the day or go to sleep at early hours. Also, if you don’t want to wake up every night to breast-feed your baby, you can, for example, pump a bottle so that your partner can feed your baby overnight while you get to sleep a little bit more.
Baby blues isn’t a condition to worry about. Most women experience it in the first several weeks after giving birth. The “baby blues” may be caused by the anxiousness and fear of being a parent and by feeling that you have lost the connection you had with your baby during pregnancy. Yet, if you experience those emotions for more than a couple of weeks and you also start experiencing persistent low moods, overwhelming anxiety, lack of appetite, feelings of guilt, and difficulties bonding with the baby, you may be suffering from postnatal depression.
Unfortunately, data shows that approximately 58% of new mothers experiencing postnatal depression did not seek medical help. However, without professional postnatal depression counselling, the problem can only get worse and prolong. Only a professional counselor can point you in the right direction to get the support you need to overcome this condition and enjoy being a new mom.
As a new mother, you may be experiencing isolation for multiple reasons including dedicating all your time to your newborn or avoid letting visitors inside your house to protect your child from viruses and bacteria. We get it, you are tired, you don’t want a lot of noise and mess around the house after you just put your baby to sleep, and you don’t want every relative to hold your baby before their immune system strengthens. Yet, you may be doing yourself a lot of harm by not allowing your closest peers to spend some time with you and your baby.
A study published by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry points out that discussing your feelings and experiences as a new mom with others can help improve your mood. Researchers also found out that new moms experienced lower levels of depression after regularly discussing with experienced mothers who also experienced postnatal depression. So, don’t lock yourself inside your baby’s room but rather do your best to get out or at least regularly speak with other moms and your loved ones for support.
Although postnatal depression can make you experience a number of negative emotions and disrupt your joy of being a new mom, it is a treatable condition if you get the right help.