5 Tips to help ease Postpartum Depression
Motherhood is a complex emotional rollercoaster, especially in the beginning. From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital to the weeks following, you feel both excited and anxiety-ridden. “Am I doing this right?” “What do they need from me?” “When was the last time I showered?” “When am I going to feel normal again?” These thoughts and feelings are common, but not often talked about, even when they linger long past their welcome.
Although Postpartum Depression is a serious condition that can feel isolating at times, it's something so many women can relate to. Find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, it is treatable, and definitely something you can learn to manage.
Build the connection with your baby. While breast (or bottle) feeding your baby, try a bit of skin to skin contact. Feel the warmth of their skin against yours while you talk or sing to them. They may not know what you’re saying, but they can definitely feel your calm and soothing presence. After all, this little human was in your stomach for 9 months, so it’s safe to say they can connect with you the best. Close your eyes and enjoy those quiet moments of deep connection with them, you both deserve it.
Talk to someone. Keeping the lines of communication open between you, your loved ones and doctor is going to be key here. Lean on your support system to lift you out of the hole you’ve fallen in and to give you a hand when you happen to stumble. I promise you they won’t mind. If you happen to reach a point where it all becomes a little too much to handle, there is zero shame in reaching out to a medical professional for help. In fact, it’s probably one of the more courageous things to do! Know your limits.
Self-care is not a one size fits all. This is a biggie! As a new mom, your brain is filled with “Baby! Baby! Baby!”. That’s all you really have time to think about, right? Well it isn’t wrong, but that mindset could use some tweaking. You know the rule that says, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”? That’s right, it applies here too! If you’re running on an empty stomach, two hours of sleep, with a depression cloud looming over you, it makes taking care of a baby pretty difficult. We don’t like to think of putting ourselves first, especially when it comes to our child, but it’s absolutely necessary. Ask yourself, “what does self-care mean to me?” It may look like taking a bubble bath twice a week or scheduling a daily nap. It may be putting on a sheet mask and doing your makeup. Or it may even be dedicating time to picking up an old hobby of yours! Whatever self-care looks like to you, make it a priority. Make yourself a priority.
Get movin’. Piggybacking on the previous tip, this is an excellent form of self-care with added benefits! "When you exercise, it increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid -- these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain," Health Psychologist, Dr. Kelly McGonigal says. Exercise can be limited during the first six weeks postpartum, but once you are cleared from your doctor it can be anything from weight training and zumba to a brisk walk, kickboxing, or our personal favorite - yoga!
Mood boosting meals. We all know that food has vitamins and nutrients, but did you know certain foods can aid in managing postpartum depression? Consuming Omega-3’s like the ones found in Salmon, Herring, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, and Soybeans, have been shown to help brain function and can help ease depression. Vitamins D and B have been shown to help improve depression, especially in those who are deficient. Salmon, egg yolks, leafy greens, mushrooms, and legumes are all wonderful sources of both of these vitamins! Lastly, whole grains, because who doesn’t love a good carb? Whole grains give your body a boost of energy and increases serotonin levels, otherwise known as the mood stabilizer or “happy chemical.” Eating a diet that regularly consists of these foods can help your overall mental health!
While these tips are not the only thing you can do, they are an amazing start to managing your depression so you can enjoy motherhood!