Postpartum depression affects more new mothers than you’d think. After all, few life transitions are as world-rocking, identity-shifting, and downright complicated as the transition into motherhood, or, as researchers have coined it: matrescence. Major life transitions – even ones that are planned-for, wanted, and wonderful – are hard! The postpartum period is no exception.
Protecting your mental health during this vulnerable and exhausting time deserves just as much thought as the items on your baby registry.
Here are six things you can do to help yourself and your mental health through this big life change.
6 Ways to Manage Your Mental Health
I know, I know. Everyone says “sleep when baby sleeps,” but let’s be honest – that’s not always possible. Don’t totally laugh off the advice though. Try to sleep when you can, even if it’s just a 30-minute cat nap. Reach out to a friend, family member, or babysitter, to help you get some rest. Running on little sleep can seriously impact your mental health and make the difficult parts of the postpartum period feel even harder to manage.
2. Set boundaries.
Loved ones will be excited to flock to your home to visit you and the little one. Remember that you are in control of if, when, how long, and how often this happens. If you have a partner with you on this journey, talk about what these boundaries can look like and ways they can support you in setting and keeping these boundaries.
3. Adjust your expectations.
This period is unique for everyone, so be careful about creating expectations based on what friends or family have told you, or what you’ve seen in the media. Sometimes people are surprised that they didn’t have that warm, fuzzy, love-at-first sight feeling when holding their newborn, or that nursing is really hard and not something you just know how to do. These experiences are totally normal. Maybe this isn’t your first rodeo and you expect to be a pro this time around since you’ve done it before. Remember that every experience is different and it might feel newer than you expect this time around. Do yourself a favor: take a look at those expectations you have and toss them out!
4. Keep up with self-care.
Knitting, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, a few chapters of a book, a walk outside (once you’re medically cleared) – keeping up with small acts for yourself is so important. Some days that might just be managing to take a shower and that is a WIN.
5. Connect with others.
Connecting with other adults, having adult conversations, and generally getting non-baby interactions is vital. Take a look at your circle of trust and find at least one person that you know you can be REALLY real with about what life is like and how you are feeling. Want to connect with others who are going through exactly what you are right now? Online support groups can be a great option. Postpartum Support International has over 14 specialized groups that you can check out here.
6. Know your resources.
You may not have “schedule a therapy session” at the top of your to-do list right after welcoming a baby but consider checking-in with a therapist within the first few weeks. It’s normal to feel a little off for up to two weeks thanks to fluctuating hormones, but if you’re still not feeling like yourself past the two-week mark, a therapist can help you sort through what might be going on and offer some support. Scheduling with one of our Empowered Connections therapists can be done online or by calling (301) 690-0779. Emily Lamoreau, LCPC is a great therapist for this as she is passionate about maternal health and healing from postpartum issues.
Postpartum depression: you are not alone
Need more support? We got you!
For non-emergency situations:
- Call Postpartum Support International Helpline: 1-800-944-4773
- Text “Help” to 800-944-4773, or text in Spanish to 971-203-7773
- There is also a National Maternal Mental Health Hotline that can be reached at 1-833-943-5746
For emergency situations, please call 911 or 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Please know that we are here for you. We have worked with women with postpartum depression, disorders, and through the entire postpartum period over the years. We got you! You can self-schedule here easily 24/7 or call us directly at 301-690-0779.
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If you’d like to book with Emily, you can reach her by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, call her directly at 301-690-0779 ext. 714, or self-schedule an appointment now by clicking here.