Mothers experience a whirlwind of emotions after giving birth - from pure unbridled happiness to sudden sadness or frustration. Hormones are raging here, there and everywhere, and with it comes waves of unexpected ups and downs.
This is especially true of first-time moms. In fact, almost 80% of new moms fight some sort of postpartum depression. And while this is supposed to be one of the happiest times in your life, it can be clouded with what has affectionately been called "the baby blues." So how do you handle it all?
Here are 15 ways to beat postpartum depression so that you can enjoy your new little bundle of joy.
15 Talk It Out
Talk about it. Don't keep it bottled up inside. When your friends or family peel themselves away from the baby and ask how you're doing, tell them. Really tell them. You'll find comfort in venting, and you'll likely discover that some of the women in your own life have battled these emotions.
It can be comforting to know that you're not alone in your feelings and that others (especially those whom you look up to and respect) have endured similar challenges after giving birth.
If you don't feel comfortable confiding in your family and friends, seek a mental health professional who specializes in treating PPD.
14 Accept Help
Accept other people's offers to help out. Family and friends are prone to offer help with all kinds of things in those first few weeks after you've had your baby, so say YES!
"Can we bring you anything?" "Can I make you something to eat?" "Want me to take the baby for a little bit so you can take a nap?" YES YES YES! Don't try and be superwoman, or you'll crash and burn. If people are offering their help, accept it.
There's no failure in accepting help from your family or friends. Your life has changed in the matter of a few moments and it will take a while for the pieces to make sense and to know what you need to do. Not to mention getting to know your new baby can take some time too.
13 Keep Busy
This may seem like an ironic piece of advice given you have a new baby (who is likely keeping you busy), but babies sleep... a lot... and this isn't the time to seek solitude.
Isolation will only make your postpartum depression worse, so catch some Z's yourself, fix yourself a meal, or do something that you have always loved doing, like reading, catching up on trashy TV shows, or doing anything that keeps your mind off of the negative feelings you're trying to overcome.
Consider taking up a hobby that will occupy your mind and hands. If it helps to give you peace of mind or to calm the angry feelings inside, go for it. Coloring books have been known to destress adults and give them a sense of accomplishment. So indulge your inner artist and get coloring!
12 Cry If You Need To
Cry it out. Do you feel like crying? Go ahead! Sometimes, a good cry can be cathartic and will help you to get the emotions out, even just a little bit. Again, nothing is worse when it comes to the baby blues than trying to hold back the emotions that you're experiencing.
Acknowledging your feelings is one way to move on from the sadness. Stopping yourself from crying when you need to results in retaining toxic chemicals like cortisol from being released from your system. Tears actually contain toxins that get released when you cry. The release of these toxins results in the ultimate release of feel-good chemicals in the brain.
So don't hold it back, let the tears flow and allow yourself to feel any self pity, frustration or anger you might be feeling. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step to feeling better.
11 Love Yourself
Be kind and gentle to yourself. Yes, we know you love your baby - having feelings of sadness after giving birth doesn't diminish the love you have for your little bundle. And yes, this will be the happiest time in your life (raising a small child), but maybe not in those first few weeks.
You've just put your body through the most jarring, shocking experience it will ever endure. It took you nine months to get to this point, and you're not going to "back to normal" the moment your baby arrives. Don't put pressure on yourself or push yourself too hard.
Realize that what you just did is a thing of heroic proportions, and let your body and mind have some time to heal and recover.
10 Get Outside
Get some fresh air. It's easy to forget that you've been cooped up in your house for days playing "mommy," and a nice walk or some time in the sun could really help to improve things. Sunshine and fresh air could do you a world of good when you're feeling down, even if it's just for a few minutes.
In fact maybe a change of scenery is just what you need as well. Fresh air and some gentle walking will help your body to produce and release more endorphins, the happy chemical, in your brain. We're not saying you should go for an intense walk, but even some movement outdoors should help to improve your mood.
9 Look After Yourself
Take care of yourself. In those first few weeks of motherhood, it's easy to avoid things like blow-drying your hair or keeping your pedi up. But sometimes we also let basic things go, like showering and putting on actual clothes instead of sweatsuits, and these "normal" things are what can really make a world of difference when it comes to recovering from a bout of postpartum depression.
Also, make sure you are eating enough (and choosing healthy options to get your body back on track) and drinking plenty of water (especially if you're breastfeeding).
8 Treat Yourself
Do you love chocolate, ice cream, or a specialty coffee from the local cafe? Then treat yourself! If anyone deserves a little indulgence, it's this new mommy! You've likely deprived yourself of certain things throughout your pregnancy, so now's the time to cash in. That double iced mocha cappuccino may be just the thing you need for a quick pick-me-up.
You might have had certain foods you had to avoid due to your hyper sensitive nose during pregnancy, but now you're free to indulge in those past loves of chicken, eggs and anything else that you put on the list during pregnancy.
7 Pick Your Battles
Is it really that imperative to have clean floors right now? Probably not. Focus on important things, like taking care of yourself and your new baby, and put errands, chores and housework on the back burner, just for a little while. Don't put pressure on yourself to maintain everything.
This goes back to accepting help. If someone offers to do a task or chore for you, you don't have to feel guilty about accepting their help. If a clean house still matters to you, you can hire a weekly housekeeper to come in and do the things you're not able to do. Some women hire postpartum doulas to help them and their family adjust to life with a newborn.
So don't feel like you're being judged on how well you handle having kids and staying on top of household chores.
6 Date Nights with Your Significant Other
Spend time with your spouse. If you have the luxury of available grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., ask them to watch your little one. Even for an hour, so that you and your spouse can spend some time together. Even if it's just to go for a drive to get a coffee, you'll appreciate the quiet alone time together to reconnect, albeit brief.
Reconnecting with your spouse can bring a sense of normalcy back to your life, and this might be just the thing you need to stop feeling overwhelmed or alone.
5 Get Moving
Exercise or do something active. Exercising is something that you really need to ease into after having a baby, but when your body is ready, it can do a world of good. Just a walk, some light stretching or even a bit of yoga can completely change your mindset.
You can consider this the pampering you give yourself if you're not a woman who likes getting her hair and nails done. Instead indulge in something that gets you moving and out of the funk you feel you've been in since entering motherhood.
4 Non-Talk Therapies
Seek out alternative treatments. Things like massage therapy, acupuncture and meditation can be a huge help when battling postpartum depression. In some cases your insurance carrier will even pay for you to have a massage therapy session. So if you think this might be what you need after having a baby to help you change your inner dialogue, take an appointment today.
These ancient medicinal practices might be the step in the right direction that you've been needing, whether it's because it gets you out the door, or give you something to look forward to, it's worth looking into.
Sleep deprivation can weigh heavily on new mothers, especially if they're breastfeeding and are "in demand" more than anyone else. So, as they say, when baby sleeps, you sleep too. Catch as many Z's as possible as often as possible.
If you don't try to rest when you can, you'll fall into sleep debt. This is as bad as financial debt since you can't pay it back or store up sleep, instead your body constantly runs on empty desperately seeking more REM sleep. So for your baby and your mental health, ask someone to watch the baby while you sleep or ask your husband to let you sleep when you feel you need it most.
2 Find a Support Group
Find a support group. Whether you use meet-ups or even seek out online discussion groups, there are lots of other moms who are going through the baby blues or have already dealt with it - these fellow mothers can provide you with the comfort and camaraderie you've been craving.
Not only will you have someone who understands what you're going through, but it also provides you with a group of women who are actively engaged in helping you to feel better. What could be better than a community of mothers concerned for one another's health?
1 Counselling or Medication
Sometimes, you can do everything possible to ward off the baby blues, and after a few weeks you still find yourself feeling, well, blue. If that is the case, then maybe it's time to seek out some professional help.
A therapist can help you work through these overwhelming emotions, and there are numerous medications that are on the market and are aimed specifically at new moms (and hence won't interfere with breastfeeding, etc.). Don't suffer for longer than you should - ask your obstetrician or family doctor for advice if these feelings persist.
The sooner you receive help for your postpartum depression, the sooner you'll get better. Women who don't receive help continue to be plagued by PPD, so seek help today!