If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, you’re not alone
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects women after they’ve had a baby. It’s often a result of several physical and emotional factors. There are a lot of hormone changes in a woman’s body after childbirth. These can overwhelm her along with the stresses of raising a new baby. Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling fatigued
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Having physical aches and pains
- Feeling moody, irritable and restless
- Having trouble bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing from friends and family
There are several things you can do to help lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression. These tips can help you get back to feeling like yourself again.
Take care of yourself
The stresses of life with a new baby might be added onto your household responsibilities, work, caring for other children and doing other day-to-day tasks. This can make your postpartum depression symptoms worse. Focus on yourself and make sure that you’re not overwhelmed. Set aside some time every week just for yourself. Even if it’s just for an hour out of the week, this gives you enough time to unwind. You might:
- Go for a walk
- Catch a movie
- Take a long nap
- Read a new book
- Work on a craft or hobby
Exercise and a healthy diet can also help lessen your symptoms of postpartum depression. Exercise can have a depression-busting effect. Strap the baby in a stroller and head out for a walk in the park. Eat nutritious foods, especially those rich in omega-3s. These are natural substances that may help lessen anxiety and lower your blood pressure.
Bond with your baby
Bonding during infancy is important for your baby’s development. Unfortunately, postpartum depression can disrupt this bonding process. Moms tend to interact less with their babies when they’re feeling depressed. That means that you need to make an effort. Don’t be hard on yourself though. The bonding process doesn’t happen overnight. In some parents, it can take weeks or months.
Some ways to bond with your baby include reading books aloud every day, singing and smiling at your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is also important. Whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed or formula feed, make sure that your baby’s bare skin is against your own. This relaxes your baby and enhances the bond.
Reach out to your support network
When you have postpartum depression, it’s natural to want to retreat and spend time alone. Resist this urge and reach out to others. Lean on friends and family during this time. Make sure you speak with your partner about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through.
You can also join a support group. Speaking with other mothers who are dealing with the same emotions as you can help you feel less isolated. Getting this kind of support helps you work through your own feelings and boosts your self-esteem.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When life gets overwhelming — and it will — ask for help. Having a clean house can do a lot to lift your mood. But, when you have depression, keeping up with the housework is difficult. Ask your partner for help. Reach out to a friend to spend time with you as you do laundry or take care of the dishes.
Many grandparents, friends and other family members are also excited to spend time with a new baby. If you need some time to yourself, ask someone to come over and take care of the baby. You can have time to yourself to get things done.
Talk to your doctor
Some women might get over their baby blues in a few weeks. Some experience these feelings longer. If you’re not feeling relief from your symptoms through rest, diet, exercise and time, talk to a doctor. Your doctor can give you advice for handling symptoms of postpartum depression. They can also make a referral to specialist if you need one. It’s important to remember that postpartum depression is a real condition. You don’t have to deal with the symptoms on your own.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call emergency services immediately. Postpartum depression affects nearly one in seven women, according to the American Psychological Association. Symptoms can last for weeks or months. They often require treatment, and we’re here to help. Visit Mercy.com to make an appointment with a specialist who can help get you on the road to recovery.