This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….
I feel like we need to talk about this topic at least every 6 months….and what a better time than right before Mother’s Day! So, I am posting this again so we all will be reminded that taking care of ourselves is a must in order to be good Moms. Sometimes we don’t feel wonderful and full of bliss after our baby is born. Those first few weeks and months are difficult! The lack of sleep alone can play havoc with a new Mom’s emotions. New Moms…take care of yourselves, and if you don’t feel like yourself or others tell you that you are not like yourself, ask for the help you need.
You have waited 9 long months for this. You survived the back aches, the weight gain, the heart burn, and the cravings. You went to prenatal classes, read books, watched the “Baby Channel” on cable for hours and the nursery is perfect. Everyone is thrilled…everyone is happy…everyone but you. You feel alone, guilty, not yourself. You try to “pull yourself out of this funk”; but you just can’t shake the feelings. Why?
Today I want to talk about just those often unspoken feelings of postpartum depression. Nearly 80 percent of new moms have the “baby blues”. Hormone changes after birth can cause many to have some mood swings, tears, feelings of being overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks after delivery. Overall, a mom who has the “blues” still describes herself as generally happy. Postpartum depression is different.
At least 20 percent of moms experience some degree of postpartum depression. That is 1 out of every 8 moms! There are probably more but because of guilt, many moms never seek help. I am sure someone you know has experienced this. It is the most common pregnancy complication! Postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first full year after your baby is born.
Some Signs and Symptoms:
- frequent crying
- sleep and appetite changes
- feelings of loneliness, helplessness
- mood swings
- repetitive, sometimes scary thoughts
- anger, frustration, irritability
- difficulty bonding with baby
- anxiety, panic, excessive worry
- feelings of being trapped
- lack of interest in life, fatigue, exhaustion
- feeling speeded up or wired
- fear of being alone with the baby
If you are feeling some of these signs and symptoms…or if people close to you are telling you that you are just not yourself. Please talk with your doctor. Seek the help you need to feel better. The good news is that you will get better, treatment works, you will be yourself again.
All new moms can do a few things to help themselves feel better.
- Sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in depression, and we all know that a newborn doesn’t sleep as much as we thought! We are not used to waking every 2 hours at night! Try to nap when the baby does. Ask someone to stay with the baby while you sleep. Listen to your body and rest.
- Eat healthy and remember to eat! A new mom can’t survive on a handful of cookies, and believe me often that is all you have time to eat! Keep healthy food in your house and accept those meals that are being offered!
- Exercise. Just a walk 3 to 4 times a week increases those “feel good” hormones. It is good for you and good for your baby to get out in the fresh air, even in the winter.
- Natural light, find the sun! Sunlight is a mood booster. Stand in front of a window whenever the sun is shining and get light on your eyes.
- Get out of the house. Even a trip to the grocery store is a trip out! Wow, the definition of going out really changes after kids!
- Ask for help. Being a new mom is lots of work. You do not have to be super mom! You can’t do it alone. Remember, being a mom is not like what you see on TV!
- Find other new moms. Look for support groups, MOPS groups, church groups, wherever there are other moms…being around other moms is essential. We all need to stick together!
Remember…ask for help.
You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with treatment you will get better and be yourself again….I promise.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.