The period after you have your baby can be filled with countless emotions. You may feel anything from joy to fear to sadness. If your feelings of sadness become severe and start to interfere with your everyday life, you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD).
Symptoms usually start within a few weeks of delivery, though they may develop up to six months afterward. They may include mood-swings, trouble bonding with your baby, and difficulty thinking or making decisions.
If you feel like you are depressed, you aren’t alone. Approximately 1 in 7 women develop PPD. The most effective way to diagnose and treat PPD is by visiting your doctor.
They can evaluate your symptoms and devise the best treatment plan for you. You may benefit from psychotherapy, antidepressants, or some combination of both.
There are also things you can do at home to help cope with everyday life. Keep reading for more on how to deal with PPD.
Create time for yourself. You may feel stuck on the couch breast-feeding. Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by work, household responsibilities, or your older children.
Instead of dealing with these stresses alone, reach out for help. Take up your mother or friend on their offer of free babysitting. Let your partner or another trusted adult take the baby for an hour or two.
You may find it helpful to schedule some dedicated “me time” once a week. Even if you can only get out of the house between nursing sessions, you can use this time to decompress. Go on a walk, take a nap, go to a movie, or do some exercises.
Exercise when you can. A study revealed that exercise may have an antidepressant effect for women with PPD. In particular, walking with baby in a stroller might be an easy way to get in some steps and breathe fresh air.
If you can’t fit in a long exercise session, try working out for 10 minutes a few times during the day. Go for short, simple workouts that you can do without any equipment at home.
Make time to rest. You have probably been told to sleep when the baby sleeps. This advice may get annoying after a while, but it’s rooted in science. In the early days, your baby likely isn’t sleeping through the night. You may find it helpful to take naps or go to bed early. If you are breast-feeding, consider pumping a bottle so your partner can take care of an overnight feeding or two.
Maintain a healthy diet. Healthy eating alone won’t cure PPD, but eating nutritious foods can help you feel better and give your body the nutrients you need.
Plan the week’s meals on weekends and prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. Eat whole foods such as carrots, apple slices and peanut butter, that are easy to grab on the go.
Focus on fish oils. Now is also a good time to beef up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA. Seafood is an excellent dietary source of DHA. If you’re a vegetarian, flaxseed oil is another great source. You can also find supplements at your local grocery store.
Resist isolation. The days may blend together, making you feel isolated at times. New mothers had lower levels of depression after regularly speaking with experienced mothers who had previously experienced PPD.
You can get phone support and enjoy conversations with other struggling mothers because the power of social interaction is undeniable. Try your best to get out or at least chat with other adults and moms for support.