It’s a subject that was taboo and is now more talked about, thankfully, as it is so important for women to know that there is no shame in having PPD and to feel supported.
The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable and manageable. With the right interventions and support, it is possible to get better and put it behind you.
Consider reaching out to your healthcare provider if you think your condition is more serious than the baby blues. If you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming your baby, ask your partner, friend, or family member to watch your baby and get professional help immediately. After getting guidance from your doctor, here are a few things you can do to help you deal with PPD:
1. Work on bonding with your baby.
A successful emotional bond between you and your baby is essential for the baby’s growth and development. Foster the development of this bond by responding to your baby’s needs and cues. Pick them up when they cry, soothe them, reassure them when they need it, and play with them.
You can further strengthen your bond by:
• Enjoying skin-to-skin contact. For example: breastfeeding or formula feeding them when their skin is against yours, and cradling them skin-to-skin.
Massaging the baby.
Smiling at your baby often.
Singing to your baby.
These moments can be precious, but they can also feel exhausting at times. As much as a bond with your baby is the most beautiful thing; do not feel guilty if it could at times feel like a chore. You are not a bad mother for having these feelings. In times like these, asking for help and support is so important.
2. Take care of yourself.
This is another great way of reducing the effects of postpartum depression. While this can also be triggering for some new mothers who don’t even have time to shower, consider how improving your health and mood will go a long way in helping you go back to feeling like yourself. Here are a few ways you can do that, even if it’s in small increments. Step by step:
• Sleep more. Major trigger, right? Napping while the baby sleeps may not always be possible, but consider enlisting the help of friends and family to take the baby off your hands once in a while while you rest your eyes. Perhaps go to bed at night at the same time as your baby for a little while, or an hour or so later until you get on a better sleep schedule.
• Get out more. Try to get some fresh air and sunshine for at least 15 minutes every day. Wear your baby, flip your hair and breathe it in.
• Eat a healthy diet. Omega 3, for instance, is a great alternative treatment for postpartum depression. Eat the right ingredients if you’re breastfeeding – you can read more about this here in my post about breastfeeding. There has been research that placenta pills would also help a lot with PPD.
• Pamper yourself. Watch a movie or take a nice, warm bubble bath once in a while. Ask your partner to switch with you or a family member. Spend some time being kind to your body, rediscover it and love it. For some of us, after giving birth, it can be really hard to feel like ourselves, not only internally but externally too. Forgive yourself for not liking the way you look or the way your skin feels, among other things. You will take care of yourself and gently allow yourself to feel what you want to feel.
3. Start exercising again.
You have to be careful about this one because your body is no longer what it used to be. Therefore, intense exercise routines are out of the question. Instead, opt for something simpler, like walking, dancing, pilates, or yoga until your doctor gives you the green light to return to higher intensity workouts.
4. Take advantage of your support network & make a plan.
Now more than ever, you need the positive social interaction and support that comes from having a good support network in place. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, this support can begin to help you deal with those feelings. The best part about all this is that your support network does not even have to be extensive. Simply talking to neighbours, coworkers, family members, or close friends can get you through a lot.
You can find mothers on your social networks, mama groups and mobile apps. Most importantly, talk to your partner! It can be daunting for your significant other to understand what you’re going through and they might also not be educated on PPD. It’s a good idea to offer them resources and be vulnerable and honest with them. For some of us, we might feel shame for asking for help, but it is so important and doesn’t make you weak or unsuccessful as a mother for reaching out.
This is why making a PPD plan before birth should be integrated like a birth plan. Consider making a plan with your family and partner, to discuss the possibility of having PPD. Listing doctors, therapists that work with your insurance, how you’d like to be helped, information to share of symptoms or what to look for during PPD, healthy food prepped before birth, frozen meals, a rough idea of a schedule/routine with your partner so you can rest, especially during the “4th trimester.” (The 4th trimester is the month after birth where the mother needs the most help and nurture to replenish and rest).
5. Get help
If self-help and lifestyle changes are not doing much to stop your postpartum depression, it may be time to get some professional assistance. Psychotherapy and mental health counselling have proven to be very effective for women with PPD. Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants and other medications if your condition is severe. Like Gabby Bernstein has said about her experience with PPD, “Don’t be a hero, go get help, get medication.” If you feel like you need that support from medication, don’t be ashamed. Get yourself that help.
Sometimes, women who feel depressed after giving birth may feel embarrassed or reluctant to admit it. However, it is important not to let your postpartum depression get in the way of caring for your baby. Connect with me on Instagram to talk more about dealing with postpartum depression.