10 Self Care Tips to Battle Postpartum Depression
Statistics show that at least one in every 5 women face symptoms of postpartum anxiety or depression (PPD) after giving birth.
Statistics show that at least one in every 5 women face symptoms of postpartum anxiety or depression (PPD) after giving birth. Think about that number for a second!! Basically it means that in a roomful of mothers, every fifth mother could be suffering!
But unfortunately when women suffer from PPD they are often gripped with a deep sense of shame and guilt which often prevents them from openly acknowledging the situation and seeking help which in turn worsens the problem.
Tip 1: Delegate Delegating tasks is a learned skill. It may feel odd or strange at first but you will get better at it. Please don’t fall into the trap of being ‘Super mom’. You may have heard this famous saying – ‘It takes a village to raise a baby’. You need to create your village to help you. You need to create a Support system. You need to Delegate!
Its important to Ask people to help you. Many mothers will tell me about how they feel that nobody helps them which over time feels like nobody cares for them. But when I say “ Did you ask” often I will hear “No”. Lets not assume others know how we feel or what kind of help we need. Please ASK! Be specific in how they can be of help. There is no shame in it! Ask those around you to do specific tasks for you and remember to be visibly and vocally grateful to them. If they feel you appreciate their help they will be more open to helping you in the future.
Tip 2: Sharing is Caring The guilt and shame that comes with PPD is perhaps the hardest to deal with. Motherhood is commonly associated with joy and happiness! You grew up thinking that it would be blissful to have a baby and caress and hold your baby in your arms! But in reality you may be feeling the complete opposite. While there are people who may frown upon your upsetness there may be some who may be willing to listen to you. Find that one person you can confide in. Maybe a friend, maybe your spouse, maybe your parents, maybe a colleague. Holding it in makes the shame and guilt grow even bigger and makes you feel worse. If you feel totally alone, go online, there are multiple support groups…join one and vomit out your feelings…you will find many empathetic ears there. It can be very therapeutic to share.
Tip 3: "Me" or "Alone" Time I know that the thought of "Me Time" (or "Alone Time") sounds impossible to achieve. You are probably thinking you have no time to even bathe in peace then where will you find Me time. I get it!
While you may not have even half an hour daily to yourself for Me Time…you will need to snatch small intervals of 10 -20 minutes a day. Many clients tell me that as they start structuring little Me Time zones for themselves they actually manage to squeeze it in 2 or 3 times in a day. Little bursts of Me Time is better than none. The key is to pre-plan what you will do in your Me Time. You could choose to be chilling with your cup of tea, reading a book, watching a short show...anything that makes you feel relaxed, joyful and recharged. Again..delegate some responsibilities to others so you can enjoy your Me Time with no distractions.
Tip 4: Good Sleep & Rest
Sleep is essential for all us. And when your body and mind go through the roller coaster ride of pregnancy and giving birth, your body needs a lot more rest to recover from that journey. While you can't stop an infant from feeling hungry you can however take steps to ensure you are managing your own sleep. a. If you are mix feeding your baby (bottle and breast) or are open to the idea, then consider sleeping in a room separate from your baby. Have your spouse or another trustworthy person help you do every alternate feed. That way you can at least get 4 hours stretches at a time. b. Rest when your baby does or at least as often as possible. Even if you cant sleep- Rest. Its ok if your house doesn’t look perfect as it used to before the baby. The perfect home days will come again – just not right now! Its ok if some chores are unattended…the priority is You! Rest!!! c. Get others to help you. See Tip 1 - Delegate!!! Your sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity for your body and mind to stay healthy. It is essential so that you be the best version of yourself.
Tip 5: You Are What You Eat A lot of focus is given to the mothers diet during pregnancy. Dietary intake post pregnancy is just as important. Small healthy meals several times a day! Focus on nutrient dense whole foods to meet the increased nutritional needs of your body.
Tip 6: Hydrate Yourself
I have found that often mothers do not consume adequate water. Its important to remember that breastmilk is composed of nearly 90% water. It is very easy to get dehydrated and not even realize it. Not being adequately hydrated can affect your mood, disturb your focus and make you feel down - after all 80% of your brain is also water. Have a sip of water before you continue reading!!!
Tip 7: Take Supplements Sometimes it doesn't matter how careful you are with your diet but you may still struggle to meet your body's growing nutrient requirement. Consult you doctor to find out if you should be consuming any vitamins or nutrient supplements to help your body cope.
Tip 8: Say Hello to the Sun
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain's release of serotonin - a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
Low serotonin levels are associated with a higher risk of major depressive symptoms. Try to squeeze in 10 -15 minutes of early morning or evening sun time daily. You could choose to include your baby in this ritual or make it part of your Me Time.
Tip 9: Move Your Body
There is a powerful link between physical and mental health. Once your doctor has allowed you to exercise, make that part of your regime - 3 -4 times a week. Just taking a walk is better than doing no exercise. In the beginning its more about moving your body than pushing yourself and burning calories. Tip 10: Get Professional Help For mild cases of postpartum anxiety/depression you may find that following the Self-care regime is enough by itself to make you feel better. However in some moderate cases it may be important to seek the help of a therapist along with following the above self-care regime. In moderate –severe cases of PPD, often times along with therapy, you may be asked to take the help of some medication to help balance the chemicals that manage your mood and emotions. This must be done only under the advice and prescription of a psychiatrist or qualified medical personnel.