My son is now 11 years old, but I still remember how hard those early months were. Everyone always told me that nothing could prepare you for life with a new baby, especially emotionally, and boy was that true. What surprised me the most was how truly hard everything seemed to be – and in reality, it was. Luckily, I had a wonderful support system and a doctor who diagnosed me quickly with postpartum depression (PPD). PPD goes beyond the blues that many woman experience after giving birth. PPD can last weeks, months and sometimes never really goes away, if left untreated.
Approximately 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the “baby blues.” Many of these women will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression or a related condition. The reported rate of clinical postpartum depression among new mothers is between 10% to 20%.
One recent study found that 1 in 7 women may experience PPD in the year after giving birth. With approximately 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States, this equates to almost 600,000 postpartum depression diagnoses.
Women with new babies are often on their own when recovering from childbirth. Their lives are no longer their own and are based on the baby’s feeding schedule. There is a feeling of being isolated and alone. And as for sleep… well you can throw that out the window. But there are things that new moms can do that can help.
1. Ask for help. Call your mom, a friend, a neighbor and ask them to clean, cook or watch the baby while you take a power nap.
2. Join a mommy group. This can help so much. You will realize you are not alone. It helps to be surrounded by women who are going through similar experiences, and that you can relate to.
3. Get help early. Talk to your healthcare professional about how you are feeling. There are many resources available to you. Homeopathic or naturopathic doctors can help find natural options for lifting your mood.
4. Rest. Take a few days (or weeks) to recover before showing off the new baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t worry about dishes or clean bathrooms… that’s what your partner is for, or refer to Tip 1.
5. Exercise. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes per day. Studies have shown that exercise aids in relieving depression.
6. Essential fatty acids. A study of women taking 500mg of omega-3s per day showed a 50% reduction in PPD symptoms. Raw nuts and seeds are also yummy ways to get some good protein, as well as essential fatty acids. Bonus for baby: essential fatty acids help with baby’s brain and neurological development.
I look back at those first few months and I can’t believe I am the same person. It was a hard road, but I had help. If you are not feeling like yourself, get help now. The better you feel about yourself, the better mom you can be to your little one. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.
Photo from here, with thanks.