Having a baby can be one of the most wondrous and stressful experiences a woman can go through. The stresses of pregnancy combined with intense emotions during the post-pregnancy period can make life for you and your new baby quite difficult. Postpartum depression is something that many women experience, but luckily, there are ways to cope with, and eventually beat the condition altogether.
In this guide, we’ll cover some ways to handle postpartum depression, including exercise, clinical assistance, and more. Symptoms of this condition usually appear within a few weeks to a month after your baby has been delivered. To start, let’s look at some common symptoms of postpartum depression, so you can tell it apart from post-pregnancy exhaustion.
Of course, the symptoms of postpartum depression and any mental health condition can vary from person to person. However, these symptoms are quite common and usually occur as several all at once or spread out over the course of your postpartum depression. Symptoms can include:
- Mood swings & irritation
- An “I don’t care about anything” attitude
- Periods of intense sadness
- Problems with appetite and energy levels
- Lack of focus or energy
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Uncontrolled crying
These symptoms can be impactful on everyday life, and may even have an impact on your relationship with the new baby and/or your partner. That being said, postpartum depression is a completely natural phenomenon and nothing to be ashamed of. If you experience these symptoms, don’t be afraid. There are treatment options available if these at-home tips don’t work for you.
One of the symptoms of postpartum is a lack of energy. This can leave you bed-ridden for days on end, unable to gather the energy to get up and do anything. During these times, you must get up and move your body. It’s essential for both your mental and physical health that you don’t become overly-lethargic. This can leave you feeling depressed, you can gain weight, and a lethargic lifestyle is no good for the cardiovascular system.
Utilize your partner to help you get of bed and at least walk around the house. If you can, leave the house and go for a walk in nature. Nature has its own appeal and healing abilities. In fact, it’s believed that spending more time in nature can actually improve your overall mental health.
Postpartum depression certainly isn’t something that will just disappear because you took a walk in the woods, but the calming effects of a natural, quiet environment can help you recenter and alleviate some of your symptoms. Getting the blood flowing is an important part of recovery, so don’t stay in bed!
Depression has a way of convincing us that our diet doesn’t matter. We’ve earned that pint of ice cream, right? One entire bag of chips won’t kill us, right? The problem is that we truly are what we eat. Unhealthy diets are the cause of much physical and mental woe, and in a population whose number one killer is heart disease, healthy eating should be more of a priority.
When you’re recovering from something like depression, what you eat can have a huge impact on your mood. Depression tends to make us eat too little or binge eat, which can cause weight gain and plenty of discomfort. The unfortunate truth is that we usually binge eat the worst foods available. When’s the last time you heard of someone binge-eating spinach?
Keep your diet as healthy as possible, but don’t beat yourself up, either. Sometimes, you just need a chocolate bar to keep it all together, and that’s ok. Just don’t make chocolate your diet staple during postpartum depression.
Your partner can act as a major pillar of support during your post-birth battle. They’ll be there to help you care for the baby, alleviating some of the burden that comes with being a new mother. If you don’t have a partner, you can look to family and friends to help. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to help you with the baby or even take the baby so you can have some alone time.
Speaking of alone time…
This is probably the most important part of dealing with postpartum depression. You absolutely must take time for yourself. Yes, your baby is important, but remember this: you can’t take of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first. There’s a common misconception that kids should always come first, and that’s simply irresponsible. Your mental health should be the number one priority, because if you’re not happy and healthy, how can your kids be?
Take time out to focus on yourself. You’re not neglecting your newborn, and it’s ok to ask for help. Everyone needs help sometimes.