What to do When You Have Postpartum Depression
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Oh wow! You just had a baby, congratulations! What a miracle and blessing this child is. You may be feeling stressed out and wondering if you have the baby blues or postpartum depression. The first step would be to recognize your feelings. You can’t deny your feelings away and you don’t want to wait for it to get worse. It’s okay that you’re not feeling like the happiest person in the world right now. You don’t need to feel guilty. Seek out extra support from family, friends, and your doctor. If other people can help you, don’t feel guilty, let go of the control, and accept the help. Talk to your doctor and trust his or her advice on medication. Take care of yourself. It’s nobody’s responsibility but yourself to have self-care. You need to stay strong for your new baby. Your baby needs you. So get better for your baby.
Burnt out and hormonal
In the beginning, you are running on no sleep, just pure adrenaline. You’re so in love with this new baby that you don’t even notice the changes in your body. Then a couple of months pass by and you start to get burnt out. The adrenaline goes down. Your energy is low. Your hormones are everywhere. Your body is still healing. Your body has changed. Your relationship with your husband has changed. He’s working harder and getting less sleep and worried about the baby too. You don’t get the intimate time and that’s what keeps the deeper connection. You don’t shower or put makeup on. You feel a mess but you don’t have the energy to fix it. This is how I felt when I experienced postpartum depression.
I felt like the luckiest woman alive to have this beautiful family. But I felt like I was stuck under a dark cloud. I wanted to cry for no reason. I had irrational feelings of being alone, not good enough, worthless, insecure, and thought that people would be better off without me in this world. I had all these negative emotions connected to my past, memories coming to the surface. Old bad feelings are coming back. I was stuck in every bad experience. Little things seemed huge. These feelings were overwhelming and sometimes too much to handle. I went to see my doctor and she recommended I go back on the antidepressant I was taking before I got pregnant. But I didn’t want to take it because I didn’t want to take the chance of it affecting my baby. I was breastfeeding and didn’t want to stop and the doctor didn’t want me to stop breastfeeding either. I didn’t get better over time. So I finally gave in and took the medication. Once the medication was balanced I felt so much better. I could breathe again. I could see the world again. My reality was warped under depression. I felt better which made me a better mother. The next time I got pregnant, I started back on the medication immediately so I wouldn’t have to go through that experience again. My children are happy and healthy and so am I.
Hopelessness, worthlessness, anxiety, fatigue
Baby blues or postpartum depression
Is it the baby blues or postpartum depression? According to betterhealth.com, baby blues lasts about 2 weeks after birth. Your OBGYN and your baby’s pediatrician will ask you questions about depression during your follow-up appointments. The doctor usually gives you a questionnaire to fill out and with those results tells you if you need to follow up with your primary care for postpartum depression. Postpartum depression affects 10% of mothers, according to betterhealth.com. Symptoms can include insomnia, sleeping too much, fatigue, change in appetite, hopelessness, worthlessness, mood swings, crying for no reason, anxiety, trouble focusing, not bonding with the baby, harmful thoughts, and suicidal thoughts. The EPDS 3 question version that screens for postpartum depression asks these three questions: (womensmentalhealth.org)
I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong
- I have been anxious or worried for no good reason
I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason
If these symptoms sound like you, then you may have postpartum depression. You would have to see your physician get a true diagnosis.
It’s okay to not be okay.
The first step to fixing yourself is to accept you are not doing well. I know, every mother wants to be perfect and have it all together, all the time. But we’re human. We’re not the Stepford wives. Once you recognize your feelings are feelings of depression then you can start asking for help. Sometimes keeping a journal helps. Or if you don’t have time to journal then use google docs on your phone and jot down information that way. Write down the different feelings you have throughout the day. Share this information with your doctor.
Be honest with your husband about how you’re feeling.
Get a support system. This could be your husband, mother, best friend, sister, and doctor. Let these people in your life, that you trust, know your struggles so they can help you. Maybe, your mother stopping by for 30 minutes to talk and listen to you and watch the baby while you shower, is all you needed to get out of the funk. If you don’t have a support system, make sure you establish a good support system with your doctor. Try and let go of control. If someone offers you help, let them, even if they do things differently than you. Let people support you.
Be honest with your doctor.
Seek medical advice and treatment
When your doctor tells you your options and tells you what is safe while breastfeeding. Trust them. The doctor is there to help you. I know you don’t want to do anything that could hurt your baby. Your baby is more important than you in your mind right now. But if you don’t take care of yourself then you won’t be able to give your baby your best. Your baby deserves a happy mother. You deserve to be a happy mother. You can feel better. If your doctor recommends medication then this may be the thing that fixes your chemical imbalance that may be caused by genetics or hormones.
You deserve to relax without feeling guilty.
You are taking care of your new baby 24/7. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Do your best to get some sleep. People tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps and this is true. You don’t have to keep the house perfectly clean right now. Your sleep is more important. Get outside and get fresh air. This makes such a difference. I know it’s hard to get out because you’re scared to take the baby out of your just too exhausted. You have to get all the baby stuff, change the diaper, change clothes again, and then, oh, he’s hungry again, change another diaper, change clothes. It’s like you get nowhere after doing a million things. Push yourself to get out of the house. It will help. Make sure you’re eating well. Especially if you’re breastfeeding. You can’t say that you don’t have time to eat with the new baby. You and the baby need the nutrition to stay strong and healthy. Have lots of fruit around for snacking. Leave a large jar of overnight oats in the fridge for when you get hungry. When you cook, cook enough to have leftovers, so there’s always food ready in the fridge. Meet your body’s needs by getting enough sleep and nutrition and exercise by going out for a walk.
Get better so you can truly enjoy your little angel.
You are going through such a beautiful time in your life. It’s also challenging, transforming, confusing and exhausting. You are not alone. Ten percent of new mothers will experience postpartum depression. Seek medical advice to find out if you have baby blues or postpartum depression. Trust your doctor’s recommendations and education on what you can take while pregnant or breastfeeding. You need to be well to take care of your little angel. Gather together a support system to help you through this challenging time in your life. Take care of yourself. Your baby needs you to be strong, healthy, and happy. You deserve to feel good again.
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