“I thought I was going to avoid [postpartum depression]. When I gave birth, the doctor told me about postpartum, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m doing good right now, I don’t think that’s going to happen.’ But out of nowhere, the world was heavy on my shoulders.” — Cardi B.
Bringing a baby into this world can be a beautiful and wholesome experience unless you’re one of the 6.5 - 20% of women who experience postpartum depression (PPD).
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects women after having a baby.
In the first 2 weeks after giving birth, most moms experience the baby blues. However, with PPD, these feelings of sadness, loneliness, relentlessness, worthlessness and anxiety exist for more than a few weeks.
It is characterized by a blend of not-so-pleasant feelings such as fatigue, guilt, exhaustion and poor sleeping patterns. All these get in the way of the mom’s ability to take care of the baby.
Considering that giving birth arouses a lot of emotions, it might be difficult to recognize the existence of PPD. And, in cases where you might have noticed the depression, you might not know exactly what to do. After all, you have this little baby whose whole life is dependent on you (at least for now).
Read ahead and find tips that can help you cope.
The symptoms of PPD include (but are not limited to):
While these are common symptoms of PPD, it is also a bit different for every person. When asked what PPD felt like, 6 moms had different explanations. Do not undermine your experiences and feelings because they are different from those of the person next to you.
Moreover, PPD can’t be attributed to just one cause. It is a product of a lot of complex interwoven issues.
Factors such as marital problems, history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), experience with traumatic encounters, anxiety and having a child with special needs can increase the likelihood of PPD.
Now that you know some of the signs of PPD, the next step is to get an idea of how you can cope with the condition.
This can be done in person or online. Most parents will opt for virtual therapy as it comes with a wide range of benefits such as flexibility, it is economically considerate as you do not have to commute anywhere, it is ideal for those with social anxiety, it is affordable and easily accessible despite geographical location.
The tips below have worked for other moms. You can incorporate them into your lifestyle as well.
Sometimes you might be skeptical about therapy, especially if you’ve never done it before. You might think the therapist or other people might be judgmental. Well, that’s fine and common. Consider talking to a trusted friend about how you are feeling.
Having a new little family member at home means there will be a lot of changes in your routine and how you do things around the house.
You’re not expected to be a super mom. Don’t be shy to reach out to people who can provide services such as childcare, household chores and running other errands for you. You carried a baby for 9 months and deserve to rest. Asking for help does not make you a lazy and terrible mom.
Remember, what you eat directly impacts how you feel.
Try to have the healthiest diet possible and avoid consuming alcohol.
You might feel like your sole purpose is to take care of the baby and make sure they are comfortable. In doing so, chances are high that you might start neglecting yourself.
Set some time aside for yourself. In that time, do what you enjoy and what makes you happy. Read a book, soak in the bath, go for a walk. Pretty much anything that focuses on you.
Not only is this a great outlet for your emotions and feelings. Journaling will also help you keep track of any changes in how you’re feeling.
It will take you on a personal journey that will help you figure out what makes you feel better.
This will likely be difficult at first.
But once you know your child’s schedule, you can adjust your sleeping times so that you get sufficient and much-needed rest.
Talking to other moms who have gone or are going through the same thing as what you’re going through will help you understand that you’re not alone.
It will improve your self-esteem and also help you know how other moms are coping.
Not everything will go your way and sometimes you might feel like a total failure.
However, in those failures are some wins that we often ignore. Focus on those seemingly small achievements and celebrate them.
If any of the points in this article sound like anything you or a loved one are going through, don’t beat yourself up.
PPD is not your fault and having it does not mean you’re not a good parent.
It is estimated that 1 in 7 women experience PPD. Clearly, it is a common but treatable condition. Do your best to take care of yourself so that you can also take good care of the baby.
Surround yourself with supportive people who understand or at least try to understand what you're going through.
You’re not alone!