A strenuous delivery and round the clock demands of caring for a newborn, plus body and hormone changes, can add to feelings of depression or anxiety postpartum. If you find yourself frequently crying or feeling restless, here are some quick tips that may help you clear the baby blues:
1) Lower your expectations. Yes, really. Many women run on the philosophy that they can “do it all” and feel horrible if they start to fall short. Remember that you are one person and that it is unrealistic to assume you can do everything yourself. Stop and breathe a moment. First of all you are not going to be able to go at the speed you used to pre-baby. Secondly you are primarily focused on caring for your child, which takes a lot of serious time and energy. It’s okay to let other things go for awhile or bring in outside help or support. No one can do everything themselves, and everyone deserves to have rest breaks. Let the house cleaning go for awhile, and congratulate yourself on the one or two things you did accomplish.
2) Meet up with friends and other mothers. Being isolated in at home day after day isn’t good for your emotional health. Sure, your friend’s baby may have a different nap schedule than yours, but if you don’t make a point to get out the door and have some adult interaction, you are going to eventually feel the effects. Talk on the phone, invite friends over, meet up with other mothers in the park. Just get out of the house and remember that you aren’t the only one going through this adjustment period.
3) Plan self-care time. Whether it’s just as simple as a shower, or a little “you” time at the gym, self-care time is vital to handling the daily onslaught of dirty diapers, spit-up laundry, and mounting housework. It doesn’t make you “uncaring” or “irresponsible” to purposefully make time for yourself. Enlist a friend, neighbor, family member, or spouse to support your need to get an hour or so away to take care of your physical and mental needs. Even treating yourself to a pedicure, massage, or hot bath from time to time can be a way of reminding yourself that a happy mom is better and more present parent.
4) Remember to eat and exercise! With so much focus on the baby, it’s easy to forget that you haven’t eaten a thing or moved from that rocking chair for half of the day. Don’t let your caring focus highjack your own daily basics. Snack regularly on fruits and pre-cut veggies, buy easy-cook meals, have a jug of water by your side, and put the baby in a jogging stroller if necessary!
5) Cry, and this too shall pass. You may still have moments where you just need to cry, and that is totally fine. Let yourself cry, and remember that this too shall pass in time. Appreciating all that you do, what you have been through, and all that you have yet to learn may be part of your journey. If you feel hopelessly alone or unable to find the kind of support you need with friends or family, understand that there are many people that have gone through what you are experiencing, and many others that have dedicated their professional lives to providing you with the kind of specialized support you need. The investment in caring for your health for the long-term is very much worth the cost, and will also be helping your entire family system to function more smoothly. Remind yourself that investing in your health is investing in your baby’s health, since he or she relies on you.
If you are interested in a free 20 minute phone consultation aimed towards getting you more support, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 415-448-6478.
—Copyright © 2015 Jennifer Norstrom, LMFT