Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Please seek help from a doctor should you feel any symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Now that my precious baby boy is 3 months old I can gladly say that this has been a wonderful journey so far. I am having so much fun watching him grow and develop a personality. It’s just as exciting as watching my first baby grow. Having my first child was very different however. At that time having a newborn was one of the darkest, most depressing, and scariest times of my life. It wasn’t until I was out of that darkness that I realized that I indeed had postpartum depression (PPD). I was exhausted but because I was so anxious about everything (her not gaining enough weight, painful breastfeeding, and just being a new mother) I couldn’t sleep. I felt as if I was barely existing, and I felt so alone. I was highly irritated with my husband who was not the most supportive person at the time. I had no family nearby once my parents went home. Being a military wife who just moved to a new state with my husband, I had no friends.
This time I can happily say that Post Partum Depression did not come visit me. Although it may not have been in the cards for me this time, I took some steps to avoid it at all costs. These are the steps I recommend if you’re a new mama and you’re not feeling like yourself.
1. Tell Your Doctor
Things are different this time around. Every doctor screens for anxiety in the mother including the pediatricians. Be truthful on those surveys that ask how you feel. If you’re depressed and anxious, say so. Don’t be afraid. Don’t wait for things to get better. Because I knew my history I talked to my doctor during my pregnancy so that we could come up with a preventative plan. This made a big difference and fortified by support system.
2. Keep in touch with your support system a.k.a. your tribe
Let your true friends know that you’re not yourself if you feel out of sorts. Go out with them to lunch or have them come over and vibe with you. They can raise your vibrations or listen. Make sure that these are girlfriends that you trust. After the fact, I told a few people about my depression and they actually laughed. Many people don’t understand this type of illness.
If you have no one, join Babycenter.com. They have many different groups and it feels good to express yourself to strangers sometimes. I’ve also joined groups like the Babywearing International lending library for baby wearing moms and dads. You can check out a new sling or wrap every month, and you get to hang out with other parents. Click this link to find out if there is a chapter near you. Babywearing International
3. Keep your routine as normal as possible
One thing that kept me grounded was watching my reality and house hunting shows, playing games on my tablet, listening to my Audiobooks. I went on quick shopping trips with my mom, yet I was careful not to over do it. I just made sure to keep the things that I loved in my life, including watching the foolishness unfold on Babycenter. For me it was important to get out of the house!
4. Talk to someone
My mother and father saved my life. I would call my mom and tell her how horrible I was feeling and she realized that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t just having problems adjusting and things had gone far beyond baby blues. She said “I’m sending your father up there.” My dad and baby brother came up here and would stay up with the baby so I could rest. My dad is an excellent cook and kept the kitchen spotless. He’s also funny and fun to have around. My brother stayed for a few weeks to help out after my dad left. Within a week of my dad being there I felt like Valarie again.
In order to stay grounded, I have my husband take the baby so I can get a few moments to check in with my spirit and quiet my thoughts. This keeps me grounded and it is in these moments of silence that I sometimes find solutions to my problems.
6. Know that you haven’t done anything wrong.
I felt embarrassed and like an awful person when I was going the PPD. I was supposed to be in bliss. I was supposed to be in love with my beautiful baby, but instead I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be a mother. The embarrassment that I felt kept me from calling a doctor. I didn’t want to be labeled as a bad mom. I was even irrationally scared that they would take my child. Now I know that being a good mother means getting help if you need it.
7. Let people help you.
Last time I think I was too proud for help. I told my mom that we wanted to enjoy the baby by ourselves. This time I said, “stay as long as you like.” I allowed my mom to do anything she wanted to assist. I allowed myself to be spoiled. The spouses club from my husband’s squadron set up a meal train and I welcomed it. We ate well for a long time.
8. Get a lactation consultant
One huge source of anxiety for me was my issues with breastfeeding. I had trouble getting my daughter to latch. I had sore and cracked nipples, I had clogged milk ducts, and my baby wasn’t gaining weight the way the doctors wanted her to. In the hospital I had no lactation consultants, and although the nurses tried to assist it just wasn’t working. I finally gave up and when I did I felt guilty which added on to my depression. This time I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding another try, but I also knew that my little man would be just fine if I wasn’t able to breastfeed. This time breastfeeding started off just as hard as before even though I watched a million YouTube videos on how to get newborns to latch. So when he was 1 week I called a recommended lactation consultant that my insurance now covered and within five minutes I was nursing like a pro. I truly think that lady is an angel.
9. Sleep when the baby sleeps
I didn’t take this to heart the first time. I was running around the house trying to sterilize her bottles and my pump parts after every feeding and doing other unnecessary chores. Now I sleep whenever my baby sleeps, which is often. If something doesn’t get done, oh well. My husband is fully capable of doing the dishes and cooking something simple.
10. This too shall pass.
Before you know it. Being a mother will be second nature and you will barely recognize that depressed you. As your hormones return to normal and baby grows and starts smiling at you, you will find yourself in complete bliss.
You got this. Are there any tips that I missed? Please Comment below.