How to Deal with Postpartum Depression and Still Be A Rockstar
Becoming a parent is a life-changing event for everyone. And for first-time parents, there’s an overwhelming flow of emotions – from joy to excitement, to fear and sadness.
With mothers especially, drastic physical and emotional changes can trigger postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Unlike simple baby blues that last only a few days, postpartum depression can occur days or even months after the baby’s birth, and can last for several weeks or months if left untreated. This could have an adverse impact on both the mother and the infant’s overall wellbeing.
Some of the signs would include experiencing mood swings, having a hard time bonding with the baby, or having trouble making decisions or thinking clearly and generally feeling depressed.
In case you may be experiencing these things, you are not alone; as many as 1 in 7 women in the US report having postpartum depression.
The most effective way to address this condition is to get professional help. A specialist can diagnose your symptoms, and offer a treatment plan designed for you. They are the ones who can best decide if you will benefit from therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
The key thing here is not to go through it alone!
It’s not your fault that you have feelings of depression – it just happens. You did not intend to feel this way. Being depressed does not mean that you are a bad parent.
How to Deal with Postpartum Depression
Aside from getting proper advice and treatment from your doctor, there are also steps you can do at home to help you work through this experience.
- Take care of yourself
Yes, you have another human being to take care of now that you’re a mother. But being a mother also involves being the best version of you, who can nurture those around you.
If you don’t feel all right, how can you expect to make those around you feel great too?
This is one of the best ways you can counter postpartum depression and give back to yourself. Simple lifestyle choices can greatly improve your mood and wellbeing, and make you feel like yourself again.
- Build a support network
Having a newborn baby adds multiple household tasks that can be stressful. You may feel trapped and isolated with all the breastfeeding, cleaning and caring – all while you only get a few hours of snooze!
Instead of dealing with these issues alone, reach out to your family and friends. Ask your mother-in-law to babysit sometimes. Or let your partner handle some of the household chores. A few hours of rest can make a huge difference on how you can handle each day.
Remember that you don’t need to have so many people to get support. Even a few trusted family members, friends or even neighbours can be reassuring and helpful enough to get you going.
- Get some sunshine
Enjoying a few minutes outside to bask in the sunlight and fresh air can help improve your mood. Don’t worry too much about looking like a mess – do something comfy, wear your hair in a bun and you’re ready to go. You can even make this a bonding time with your baby if you want to.
- Pamper yourself
To combat postpartum depression, it’s very important that you are able to take some “me-time” for self-indulgence. This can be something as simple as a bubble bath, a trip to the spa, or just catching up on your reading or favourite TV show. Use this time to decompress and regain your sense of self.
- Make exercise a part of your routine
Studies have shown that exercise can help combat postpartum depression, as it releases hormones that can relieve stress and restore psychological balance. In addition, it helps you build strength and energy, promotes better sleep (even though you get less of it!), all of which can help you gain a better outlook in life.
- Eat omega-3 rich foods
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and afterwards have been seen to lower the risk of postpartum depression. Oily fish such as herring and salmon, or flaxseed oil for vegans are some foods you can include in your diet. If you’re not a huge fan of fish, take omega-3 supplements.
- Create an emotional bond with your baby
Emotional bonding is the secure attachment you form with your child. You may not readily notice its effects, but successful bonding allows the baby to feel safe enough to develop fully, and learn to communicate trust throughout their life.
For some parents, there’s an instinctive rush of attachment the moment they lay eyes on the infant, while for others, it could take some time to form that bond.
If you’re one of those parents who has not yet bonded with your baby, you don’t have to feel guilty at all. It’s normal for this to happen. Everyone is different, and it may take you longer, but you’ll get there in time.
Here are some ways to build that bond with your baby:
- Skin-to-skin contact
This can be easily done when you are feeding, cradling him or her to sleep, or generally bonding with the baby. You can also massage your baby to boost the bond between the two of you. Proven benefits for the baby include better brain development, weight gain, less stress and of course, better emotional attachment for you both!
Research suggests that when a mother sees her baby smiling, there is a sense of reward feeling in some areas of the brain, something akin to a “natural high”.
During your bonding time with your baby, hold him or her a few inches from your face, and give them a wide smile, and talk to them in a sing-song voice. You’ll both have a fun time for sure.
Postpartum depression, if untreated, can seriously affect your health and your relationship with the baby. Fortunately, there are concrete steps on how to manage this condition. Don’t face it alone; get help and consider these tips to fully enjoy the experience of motherhood.