Postpartum depression and how I dealt with it
Some time ago, I talked about my traumatic birth experience and how it was one of the things that led to my postpartum depression. The response to that post was overwhelming! I thought I'd expound that subject a little bit and highlight some of the things I did to make it through those dark times.
For a lot of moms, childbirth comes with anxiety, fear, and depression. If this is what you are going through, the most important thing you need to remember is that you are not alone. And you are stronger than you think. This too shall pass.
Postpartum depression can be crippling in every way. I remember having no energy to care for myself, my family, or my infant. Those feelings of helplessness can quickly become even more sinister when you start having thoughts of self-harm or harming your baby.
If any of this sounds familiar, you might be going through postpartum depression. Here are some of the things I did to get through mine:
1. Focus on creating a strong bond with your baby
When you are dealing with depression, bonding with your baby is harder than ever. However, there are a few simple things you can do to jumpstart the process.
For example, simply responding warmly to your child can go a long way in helping you bond. You need to be consistent with it for the best results, though. Soothe her when she cries, smile back when she smiles at you, and soon, you will start to notice changes in yourself.
Being positive when dealing with your child releases endorphins in your brain, making you happier and more confident.
2. Have a social life
Well duh, right? The truth is, it is really hard to have a social life when you have a baby to take care of. It is even harder when you are also dealing with postpartum depression.
That said, the most important thing here is to lean on others for support. This is the easiest way to feel better. Here are some of the things I did:
- Stay connected with family and friends and let them know how you would like to be supported
- Talk to your loved ones about what you are going through. Do it face-to-face if you can
- Join a support group. Your doctor can recommend the best ones in your area
3. Take care of yourself
This applies to both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Here are a few things you can do:
- Skip the housework if you don't feel like doing it. You have more important things on your mind now that the baby is here
- Exercise a little. Don't overdo it. A daily 10 minute walk can go a really long way in helping you deal with postpartum depression
- Try meditation to feel calmer and more energized
- Get enough sleep (8-10 hours) every day
- Eat right. Sure, your appetite is not what it used to be, but eating well does improve your mood
- Get out and get some sun
4. Connect with your partner
Your postpartum depression will put a lot of stress on your relationship. Communicate with your partner and talk about your feelings and your new roles now that the baby is around. Be sure to intentionally set aside some couple time to reconnect with each other as well.
5. Seek professional help
If you've tried everything an nothing seems to work, it might be time to get some additional professional help. Trust me, it can work wonders!
Adjusting into motherhood is not a simple thing. You need the right support system around you to help you cope. If you are dealing with postpartum depression, you are not alone. Talk to your loved ones about it and ask for their support. And if things are really tough for you, do not be afraid to seek professional help.
You've got this, mama! Good luck!