Postpartum depression can be a scary and challenging topic to talk about. No mom wants to go through 9 months of pregnancy only to be left feeling depressed. Motherhood is supposed to be beautiful, isn’t it? Aren’t those first few months supposed to be the happiest months of your life? While this may be the case for some, it’s not the case for everyone.
So first off, what is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition where the new mom experiences some form of depression after childbirth. postpartum depression can occur any time in the first year after the birth of a child and can be experienced by both moms and dads (although it more commonly occurs in mothers). It can leave parents feeling miserable, anxious, resentful, and unable to enjoy their newborn. Anyone can get postpartum depression even if you don’t have a history of depression and it’s more common than you’d think. Roughly 50-80% of new moms experience baby blues and nearly 10-15% of women experience postpartum depression.
*For more information on postpartum depression, you can check out this article on WebMD.
There are many risk factors that can determine if you’ll end up experiencing postpartum depression such as a history of depression, family history of postpartum depression, lack of support from partners and/or family, unhealthy habits, fears and doubts, difficulty transitioning to the new role of being a mom, etc. It’s a topic that greatly needs to be discussed so that new moms can find the support and resources needed to help their mental health. So here are seven easy ways you can tackle postpartum depression before it arises.
Gather Your Resources
When I was probably 32 weeks pregnant or so, I started to talk to my doctor about postpartum depression. I’ve struggled with depression in the past (as well as during a vast majority of my pregnancy) and the thought of getting postpartum depression terrified me. So I made sure to sit down with my doctor and gather my resources should the issue arise. I wanted to know the best way to go about getting a therapist and I wanted to know what classes were available to me as a new mom. Anything that could possibly help me after Allie’s birth. I thankfully ended up not having to use any of these resources, BUT the point is that I had them readily available if needed. Even if you’ve never experienced depression in your lifetime, it’s important to prepare yourself just in case.
Build Your Tribe
This is crucial. In general, your tribe should include anyone you have in your life who loves and supports you and is there to help you succeed. This can include family members, friends, neighbors, and even doctors. If you work outside the home, then this can also include your boss and co-workers.
The role of your tribe is to love your little family and to help make parenthood less stressful on you whenever possible. They can help by babysitting, covering your shift at work, dropping off home-cooked meals on your rough days, helping with the cleaning, taking overnight shifts with the baby, giving you more time to sleep, etc. etc. etc. These are going to be your go-to people for when things get challenging.
If your little one hasn’t been born yet then take this time before their arrival to really take a step back and reevaluate your relationships. Take a look at each and every person you have in your life and make an executive decision on who stays and who goes. Seriously. This may sound harsh, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with positivity and support. And this goes for life in general. Not just when you’re having a baby. Surrounding yourself with people who are negative and/or those who don’t love and support you isn’t helpful in any way. It’s toxic. So it’s really important to eliminate the negativity ASAP.
Focus On Your Health
Sleep deprivation and not eating properly can really take a toll on one’s mental health. And while I know it’s perfectly normal to not get as much sleep in those first few weeks (or even months), it’s still so important to find a way to keep it all under control as best you can. If you need a nap, take one. If you need a night off from tending to the baby then call in your spouse or someone from your tribe to help you out. If you’d rather relax on the couch than do the dishes, then lay on the couch. You cannot be the mom you want to be if you’re not taking care of yourself. You just can’t. You’ll get worn down very quickly and that, in turn, will affect your little ones and the way you parent. You absolutely need to be “selfish” and put yourself first to ensure that you’re happy and healthy. So be aware of this and be sure to make your health a top priority.
Get Yourself Out Of The House
Like everything else on this list, this is an important one. Do not, I repeat, do NOT lock yourself away in your house just because you have a baby. Fresh air is good for not only you but for your baby as well. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant outing or anything crazy. It could just be a simple walk around the neighborhood or going to the park or even taking a drive to Starbucks for a coffee. Or if you want to get really crazy, you could even plan a lunch date with a friend or family member! Something to get yourself out of the house and interacting with other people. I recommend doing this daily, but a few times a week is just as good!
Weed Out Negative Comments
It’s so easy to get caught up in everyone’s comments and advice. It seems the moment you announce you’re pregnant, everyone and their mother thinks it’s necessary to give advice. And the truth of the matter is that not everyone’s advice is wanted or positive. I had so many negative comments regarding us sleep training Allie or our choice to formula feed. It’s hard but important to take advice with a grain of salt.
Related: Why We Chose To Formula Feed
Pick and choose those that you trust to seek advice from and stick to those people. For us, the only people who have a say in our family and parenting decisions are me, Zack, our pediatrician, and Allie herself. We have certain family members that we’ll ask advice from here and there, but at the end of the day, very few opinions are taken into account when making choices for our daughter or for our family.
Learn When and How To Say ‘No’
You do not have to do absolutely everything. I repeat: you do not have to do everything. It’s okay if you don’t want to grab drinks with the girls or take your newborn out to a large group gathering during flu season. It’s okay if you don’t get to the laundry or forget to take something out for dinner. And it’s more than okay if you don’t feel like entertaining in your home and want some time to yourself with your little one. Life goes on and everyone else will have to learn to deal with it. Only focus on what matters most you and I promise you’ll be much less stressed and exhausted.
Continue Your Usual Habits and Routines
This might sound like it’s easier said than done, but I swear by this one. I remember people telling me when I was pregnant to do everything I liked doing while I could. As if for some reason having a baby meant I couldn’t do those things. Things like going to Target or picking up sushi on a whim or hitting the gym or whatever it may be. And I remember feeling slightly discouraged even before Allie was even born over this “fact”. But let me be the first to tell you, that having a baby does not mean you cannot continue your routines.
Is my routine a little different these days? Of course, it is. But I’ve always made it a priority to continue my life regardless. I continue to work out and I continue to hit up Target whenever I want to. I continue to grab lunch with friends or spend a day exploring the city. I still wake up and do my hair and makeup and I still take full 20-30 minute showers. I even still go to the bathroom! *gasp!* Anything I used to do prior to having a baby, I still do to this day and I’ve found it to be really important for my mental health this past year.