If you or someone you know has recently become a mother, please read this post. I know that right now you're probably feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, but do not stop reading! This post is brought to you by a group of women who have survived – and thrived – after childbirth.
In the first few days after giving birth, a new mother may feel joy and excitement. The next day she probably feels anxiety about caring for a newborn baby. Her hormones are going haywire. She's tired because her body is working overtime to produce milk – which also comes with itchy nipples, engorged breasts, and worrying thoughts of if baby is getting enough. She's in a vulnerable state, too, and likely to feel really low if she doesn't get enough support from friends and family.
For some women though, feelings of sadness don't go away. This can be known as postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum psychosis. Each year about one in seven women develop PPD, but experts believe many cases go undiagnosed.
PPD can happen to anyone—and it's not your fault if you end up depressed after giving birth. It can be due to a number of factors including hormonal changes, lack of sleep, stress or transitioning into motherhood. PPD doesn't only affect the mother — it can have an impact on your relationship and family as well. So it's important to recognize the symptoms so you can get help quickly.
Signs of PPD include:
• Feeling depressed or unhappy
• Experiencing extreme mood swings
• Struggling to bond with your baby, feeling numb towards them
• Feeling guilty about not feeling the way you think a mother should
• Struggling to care for yourself, your baby or your home
If you're struggling with any of these symptoms, talk to your partner or close friend. Then visit your doctor or midwife as soon as possible to get help. PPD is serious and can get worse if it's not treated early.
Mental illness is real and this article focuses on the importance of getting help. The message is serious, there are no distractions such as humor or any other tone of voice features to lighten up the post. This could make some readers feel disinterested in reading more, however it does make the message more clear.
Support from your partner or friends is a very crucial part of PPD. A robust postpartum support system. Consider your network to be a web of family, friends, and health care providers with which you can rely on and who should be called for assistance. Some may be able to assist you in person when you require it, while others may only need to contact you by phone or video chat. Any type of assistance that is available to you should be utilized.
Many new parents have a hard enough time adjusting to the changes brought by a new baby, but if a mother suffers from postpartum depression she may need more support than normal.
Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Take as much time as you need to recover from childbirth and adjust to being a mother. Many moms fear that they have harmed their baby because of postpartum depression, but this is not true at all. The most important thing a mom can do is talk to someone about what she's going through, no matter how hard that is.
As you recover from childbirth, remember to take care of yourself too. Women's bodies go through a lot during the birthing process and it is important to be gentle with your body as it heals. So pick one day out of the week and call it, "Mommy's day". A day for you to go to the Spa or try a new hair cut. Or if you're like me, you can get professional massages. So treat yourself to a day of pampering.
This allows you to not only take care of your baby, but yourself as well. And most importantly don't forget about who you are. Don't ever forget the things that make you happy because it's okay if being a mom doesn't fulfill everything for you from time to time. You can still be a kick-ass mom and love your old self.
By: April Carson