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Postpartum depression is a life-threatening condition both for the mother and the child. It is a mix of emotional and behavioral changes that happens after a woman gives birth.
It is a form of major depression that occurs within 4 weeks after delivery.
This is one life experiences that I’ll never forget. It is a huge part of me and one of the hardest ordeals that I’ve faced.
I’m happy to share my experience on how I got through it and also help other moms out there who are fighting post-partum depression.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is the effect on both social, chemical and psychological state of a woman after giving birth.
The mother experiences physical and emotional changes linked to having a baby.
On the chemical side – it’s basically the rapid drop of the pregnancy hormones after delivery.
During pregnancy, your estrogen, progesterone, and the female reproductive hormones are at an all-time high. These hormones plummet when you give birth.
During the few days after delivery, these hormones try to get back to the levels that they were before you got pregnant.
According to my ob-gyn, it is not just the hormones. It is also the overall stress of the pregnancy and the entire idea of becoming a new mom. Especially if you’ve been emotional or you were facing difficulties during pregnancy.
On the first few days of becoming a mom, we don’t sleep regularly. It’s like your brain is tired from it all and it’s giving in. Most of all, you need rest, among other things, but sometimes a 12-hour sleep doesn’t cure the baby blues.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Symptoms may include
- excessive fatigue
- mood changes
- suicidal thoughts
- self-harm or hurting someone else
- loss of appetite
- thoughts of impending doom
- difficulty sleeping
It may also include other symptoms of major depression, such as:
- feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- no affection felt towards the newborn child (this is typically not normal)
I saw my newborn child like she was a stranger. I had no appetite and I did not sleep for days.
I thought that the world was ending. I felt so hopeless and nothing could cheer me up. In addition, I wanted to hurt myself.
It was really alarming, so I told my doctor what was happening and she told me that it’s a good thing I came forward.
At that time, one of her patients was checked into a psychiatric ward because she was about to harm her newborn baby.
She prescribed some over the counter medicine to me so I could sleep for 12 hours straight for three consecutive days.
Aside from that, I did several things to counter postpartum depression, which I share below.
Postpartum depression tips
1. Try to go outside for a walk or light exercise
Staring at the four walls of a bedroom 24/7 in a sleep-deprived state can drive anyone mad…
Take a walk in the park or at a nearby beach. It is scientifically proven that nature, especially green spaces, can provide stress relief.
Do brisk walking and put your baby in a stroller. There’s nothing more wonderful going through this journey with your baby.
As mentioned above, exercise brings out the happy hormones. Therefore, exercise could make you feel happier and help ease the symptoms of postpartum depression and boost your mental health.
2. Make friends with other new moms
Like finding a gym buddy, you can look for someone who has the same goals as you and offer each other support and encouragement to reach them.
Finding other new moms, most definitely, you feel or experience some of the same things. You can join support groups online or make friends with someone who is also a new mom like you.
Someone who goes through the same thing as you will most likely be empathetic because she totally understands and you both need the same thing: SUPPORT.
This also increases your social interaction and it makes you feel that you’re not alone.
3. Make easy-to-prepare meals
You can prep your meals for several days and store them in the freezer for reheating. You can do this while your baby sleeps.
Remember, you just delivered a baby and your body needs to recover, so you still need a well-balanced nutritious diet, especially when you’re breastfeeding.
Pizza and instant meals are convenient, but not beneficial to you and your baby.
Prepping meals ahead of time will lessen the burden to cook.
4. Love yourself
Don’t forget – superheroes get tired, as well.
And, because you are also a human being, it’s okay to feel tired.
Pamper yourself, get a facial or a massage to ease your nerves. Take a long nice warm bath and fill your bathroom with calming scents such as lavender and chamomile.
Go to a nice restaurant where you would feel good, get some ice cream or a steak. It doesn’t matter as long as it makes you feel like yourself.
5. Ask for help
It’s okay to get help if you feel overwhelmed. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness- it is actually a sign of bravery.
Admitting to yourself that you need help is being brave, whether getting a night nurse or seeking help for counseling.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and there’s nothing to be ashamed of it. You don’t have to be perfect. No one is!
Opening up your heart, increasing vulnerability to others, and talking about it is the way you can truly help yourself. Ask for help and help yourself.