Postpartum or postnatal depression – when new moms (or Dads) feel depressed after the birth of their baby and that feeling doesn’t let up. Sad, teary, tired, being unable to sleep though exhausted and irritable… It’s hard.
I developed awful postpartum depression. That’s the truth.
I was very, very unhappy after the birth of my second child. It’s not an easy thing to write about, or put on the internet, but I think Moms need to know they aren’t alone.
Here’s the thing: there was no rhyme or reason behind it. I thought my life was beautiful: we owned a lovely home, had amazing jobs and were overjoyed by our sweet baby. Except – I felt miserable. Totally miserable. It was so tough. I loved my precious baby so much – but truly despised myself. But – as someone who experienced awful postpartum depression, who managed to come out the side, this is what you need to do:
Book an appointment to see your doctor.
Having a doctor to tell how I was feeling and to make an action plan with really helped me feel like I was going to overcome postpartum depression. Your doctor will go through strategies and things that may help from a medical point of view, such as suggesting you go see a therapist (which is a smart move, by the way).
Seeing a therapist gives you a chance to chat about how you’re feeling and they can give you strategies that you can use in your day to day life. Another thing: a lot of moms are scared to talk to their doctor, fearing they will need anti depressants that aren’t safe to take while breastfeeding.
(Not true, by the way – there are plenty of safe medicines that won’t harm baby. Your doctor will listen to your concerns and figure out a baby safe solution. Lots and lots of moms need the help of anti depressants, and there is no shame in that.)
Keep up with connections
When you are in a bad spot, isolating yourself is the easiest thing to do. You don’t want to get out of the house or move – it just takes energy you feel you don’t have. But don’t give into that – isolating yourself only makes things a hundred times worse, and further reinforces thoughts like ‘Nobody likes me’. Be kind to yourself – but I really want to encourage you to keep meeting with friends and heading to play group.
I did this – I didn’t want to see anyone so I didn’t. I kept cancelling plans over and over and I can truly say it did me no favors. What really helped was forcing myself to go meet people and maintain friendships; even when I didn’t want to go I was always glad I did. If you aren’t sure how to make mom friends, I have some handy tips here.
Make time to exercise.
Again, exercise probably doesn’t feel high up on your priority list, but it’s going to really uplift when you complete it! You can do it! For me, my exercise was just taking the dog for a walk with the baby in the pram every morning for 20 minutes.
Being outside with nature (I know it’s a cliché!) getting fresh air actually really did help, and I always felt accomplished when I got back home. When I started getting my mojo back, I was able to start doing more intense exercise which really got my heart pumping and helped me feel much better! Try online courses like this if it’s hard to get baby, or for a cheap option, just browse youtube for some easy yoga.
Schedule a self love treat every week.
Every week. You time. Doing something you love, something that feel luxurious and reminds you that you are Queen and deserve this. If you’ve got the coin, this could be something like a facial or a massage. If you’re on a budget, arrange for someone to watch your little one for an hour a week, and take yourself with a book to a café and enjoy a cup of coffee. Get lost in that book, Mama!
I found journaling incredibly therapeutic for me when I was dealing with postpartum depression. I wrote it all down like word vomit. I wrote the good bits, the bad and the ugly. My tear stained journal was my safe place to say whatever I needed to say without repercussions, and was probably the most helpful thing on this list.
Change your phone look screen to something that reminds you how incredible you really are.
Scroll pinterest for a cute motivational message – there are about 50 million out there.
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. Sleep is a luxury and you don’t get much as a new mom. However, it’s totally okay to express some milk if you’re breastfeeding and to ask Daddy to take baby for a night so you can get some sleep.
It’s also okay if they have formula – you’re going to be a better mom if you’re a happier mom – and part of that is getting sleep. If bub is still little and you are feeding, you may need to wake up to express once for comfort (mastitis is not fun) – but getting a full unbroken nights sleep if you’re really struggling can be a true changer.
When you have a new baby, it’s really easy to be so exhausted that you truly forget to eat, or you’re just too tired to prepare yourself food. Eat an apple. Have a handful of grapes or nuts. Particularly important if you’re breastfeeding. You need fuel to make someone else’s food, so it’s super important to keep hydrated and your tummy full.
You are going to overcome this. You’re just incredible and your baby is so lucky that you are their mommy. When you’re feeling terrible, it’s easy to think the world is against you. You think things like “Nobody likes me” and “I’m an awful mom”. Honey, it’s not true – that’s postpartum depression talking, not reality. Truly. If I was there with you, I would make you a pot of tea and give you the biggest hug. I just want to remind you that this isn’t forever. Repeat after me: you are not going to feel like this forever – and you are just amazing. You’re raising and caring for another human being, which is no small achievement!