- Adjusting to life postpartum is difficult for most women, but it’s important to understand when your health is at risk.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or depression, don’t feel ashamed—but do seek professional help if they persist or worsen.
- And don’t forget about the help you can receive from those around you: your friends, your family, even strangers who just happen to be new parents too.
- Additionally, exercising and remembering to breathe are crucial to adjusting well during this transitional stage.
While the term ‘postpartum’ simply signifies the period of time following childbirth, tack depression onto the end of it and it refers to a distressing disorder. Therapist Emily Lockamy is here to explain that adjusting to life postpartum is difficult for the majority of mom’s, but there is a time to be concerned about your health and seek professional help if you show signs of postpartum depression:
“In the postpartum stage, it’s important for women to recognize all that they’ve endured and accomplished—pregnancy, labor, delivery, caring for a newborn. In our fast-paced society, greatly lacking in a culture of postpartum care, it’s common for women to try to push forward without much support and neglect their own needs in the process, which can have serious implications. New mothers who are struggling with feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and depression need to know that they are not alone and that experiencing these emotions is nothing to be ashamed of. When painful emotions persist or worsen, however, or you start having thoughts that scare you, it’s time to seek professional help. And it can be hard to reach out, so family and friends can help by being attuned to the needs of the new moms in their lives—encourage them to get support, urge them to accept help, and reassure them that they deserve to feel better and that none of these struggles make them a bad mom.
When a baby is born, everyone’s focus is naturally on the baby, but this means that struggling mothers can easily ‘slip through the cracks.’ Many moms experience the sense of losing themselves after having a baby and need to be reminded that you truly can’t pour from an empty cup, and while practicing self-care with a newborn/infant is certainly not easy, it’s essential for your physical and mental health to tend to yourself however and whenever you can.” Here are a few tips for taking it easy and adjusting well during this new stage of life, as recommended by Jared Heathman, a postpartum psychiatrist:
1) Join a mom’s group. “I often recommend that mothers join a mom’s group,” says Heathman. “These groups provide adult socialization and people to ask for tips/help with new struggles.” Not to mention these individuals, who understand what you’re experiencing, can offer additional perspectives on any given facet of parenthood.
2) Call a lifeline. Another of Heathman’s tips is to ask for help on occasion, so as to free up time for yourself: “Many new mothers feel that their newborn needs them 24/7, but this isn’t true. Other family and friends are qualified to temporarily provide breaks and naps to recharge,” he explains. “Raising a child really does take a village. No one can remain mentally healthy trying to handle all of the needs of a newborn by themselves.”
3) Keep in touch with friends. Furthermore, Heathman says you should stay in touch with your friends and try to spend meaningful time with them when/where you can: “While there is less free time, remember to keep in touch with friends even if less frequently.” Doing so is a form of self-care and will further strengthen your mental and emotional health.
4) Exercise often. Heathman’s next recommendation is to exercise… often. “Don’t forget to exercise. Exercise increases endorphins, which improves mental stamina,” which means the more you do it the better. You shouldn’t completely exhaust yourself, but if you have 20-30 minutes every couple of days that you can dedicate to exercise, you’ll benefit greatly.
5) Breathe. Heathman’s final tip is simple in theory, yet difficult for some to master at a time like this: “Lastly don’t forget to breathe,” he says. “While your life may seem like chaos, a few deep breaths can go a long way.” Making the valiant effort to do so every couple of hours can go a long way, as you will see first-hand.