Postpartum Depression and How to Prepare
The emotions that occur when having a baby are commonly centered around the happiness and love that comes with a new bundle of joy. We often forget the anxiety and negative emotions that can arise after giving birth. Childbirth is a difficult process that generally focuses on the newborn rather than the mother.
Whether a new mom has experienced a traumatic birth or she is simply adjusting to a new way of life, many new moms will experience a period called the "baby blues", occurring 2-3 days after giving birth. The baby blues are associated with feelings of anxiety, sadness, and can be accompanied by mood swings from lack of sleep. If symptoms of the baby blues lasts longer than two weeks, she may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression affects about 1 in 7 new parents and can last up to a year after a child is born. Symptoms of postpartum depression can range from loss of energy, sadness and anxiety, to more serious symptoms such as thoughts of self harm.
Experiencing postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or a flaw. It is simply a disorder that can occur after childbirth. It is imperative that a mother experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression seeks help immediately.
When trying to understand postpartum depression, we must acknowledge that a mother's life was drastically changed overnight. Her time and energy that was once spent solely on herself has shifted into a routine that focuses her care on another human being.
Here are a few ways to prepare for postpartum, even before a newborn arrives.
Arrange for Help
You've heard the old saying, "It takes a village", and it really does. If able, we highly recommend taking a few weeks off work, asking friends and family for support, or even hiring a postpartum doula. Asking for help will look different for each family. Even something as simple as having someone fold your laundry can make a huge difference.
Whether you make a few freezer meals before childbirth or ask friends and family to drop off takeout, having extra time for yourself and your baby (rather than worrying about what's for dinner) can be super helpful. We recommend mealtrain.com - a website where family and friends can arrange to drop off meals. The best part, it can be shared to social media! You just might be surprised at who saves your dinner plans.
Setting healthy boundaries has never been more important than it is postpartum. The reality is, some family members and friends may not have the same level of comfort to certain habits and behaviors as you. If you know there are things that will not be helpful to you and your new family after baby arrives, have those conversations before bringing baby home.
Bringing a new baby into the world is truly a feeling like no other. While it is important to focus your time and energy on your newborn, we must remember that a new mom's well-being and health is just as important.