You just gave birth, and you have the most amazing little miracle that you love so much. You are trying to enjoy this time, but you don’t feel the way you think you should. Everyone is so happy and excited, but you feel down. You may ask yourself, “what is wrong with me? Why am I not feeling happy?”
If you find yourself in this position, I’m here to tell you; you’re not alone. Many women find themselves feeling the “baby blues” after giving birth as their hormones go into a tailspin. However, up to 20% of women see their baby blues go further into postpartum depression. If you are in the latter category and are looking for tips on dealing with postpartum depression, keep reading.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after childbirth and is very common, generally resolving within a couple of months. It requires a medical diagnosis and often prescription medication. There are different levels of severity, from mild to severe, with the majority of women experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. Unlike the “baby blues,” postpartum is a medical condition requiring follow-up care with a doctor or medical professional.
How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?
The only way to be sure if you are experiencing postpartum depression is through a medical professional. There are a few common symptoms to look out for if you suspect you may be suffering from PPD. These include insomnia, intense irritability, loss of appetite, extreme sadness, and difficulty bonding with your baby. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor immediately.
Coping With Postpartum Depression
If you have been diagnosed with PPD, you can do things to help yourself feel better and ease some of your symptoms. Remember to be patient with yourself and don’t rush your progress. Every mom recovers at a different pace, and that is perfectly fine. There is no time limit to how long it should take you to feel better. If you are feeling suicidal, call your doctor immediately and call 911. The number for the national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
Talk to someone
Whether you talk to a therapist, partner, a friend, or support group, make sure you have someone you can call upon when your thoughts and emotions feel out of control. We may often think what we are thinking is true, but in reality, it isn’t. Having someone who can help guide you back to a correct thought pattern is so important. It’s also helpful to express our emotions, so they don’t build up.
When you have depression, a lot of times, self-care gets thrown out the window. The effort to get through the day doesn’t leave much extra for things like showering or brushing your teeth. Try to prioritize one act of self-care every day. It doesn’t have to be something big; start small. Taking care of yourself will help your mind heal and get you on the path to recovery.
Set one daily goal
Your daily goal can be anything. Maybe you get the mail or make dinner; some days, that goal is to just get out of bed. No matter how big or small, having a goal and achieving it will give you a sense of accomplishment and remind you that you’re on the right track. You can even set a reminder on your phone if you’re having trouble remembering to do things. However you get it done, allow yourself to feel pride that you accomplished your goal for the day.
Be kind to yourself
This is a big one. We’re always harder on ourselves than we are on others. Try to take yourself out of the situation and imagine it’s happening to your friend. Would you feel disappointed in them for not showering that day? Would you celebrate every accomplishment they achieve, no matter how small? Of course, you would, so you should do that for yourself as well. Give yourself the grace to have setbacks and the determination to never give up!
It may seem silly, but getting out of the house into the sunshine can do wonders for your mental health. We can’t live bottled up; our bodies need the vitamin D created by the sun to function correctly. Try going on a short walk or sitting in the backyard. Turn your phone off and enjoy the sounds of nature. If you don’t live in an area with much outdoor space, maybe a friend can take you to a park. However you’re able to get fresh air, you’re mental health will reap the benefits.
Postpartum depression doesn’t have to define you, and there are steps you can take to help you not just overcome but thrive again. Make sure you have someone to talk to, prioritize self-care, set a daily goal, be kind to yourself, and get outside. As with any medical condition, make sure you talk to your doctor before making any changes. If you are feeling suicidal, call your doctor immediately and call 911. The number for the national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.