So, you’ve survived pregnancy, and labor & delivery,
congratulations! Now you are home with a
tiny, awesome new person you love more than the air you breathe. But what happens if you are struggling? What happens if you aren’t as in love with
your baby as you expected or hoped? What
does it mean if you have ugly thoughts that creep in during the way-too-late
hours of the night?
First of all, talk to your doctor, spouse, friend, ANYONE
and get some help. It’s normal to have
hormone fluctuations and mood swings as your body begins to regulate to the new
normal of being a mommy, no matter how many children you already have. It is NOT normal to be depressed, or have
thoughts of suicide or hurting someone else.
Don’t be afraid to speak up at your post-partum appointments, or before
if things feel really bleak to you. Your
doctor will be able to help you determine if you are suffering from “baby
blues,” postpartum depression or something else, and will help you figure out
the best course of treatment. Great
Plains Women’s Health Center also screens moms for symptoms of postpartum depression
at their 6 week post-delivery visit with a standardized screening questionnaire.
Symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) include:
anger, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or
pleasure in activities, mood swings, or panic attack
fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness
depression, fear, or repeatedly going over thoughts
crying or irritability
lack of concentration or unwanted thoughts
weight gain or weight loss
If you feel any combination of these
symptoms, please speak to a trusted friend or relative immediately, and make an
appointment with your doctor. PPD is
serious, but can be overcome with the right treatment.
Once you have met with your doctor and ruled out PPD, be
sure to take care of yourself. We know
that being a new mom can be tough, exhausting, exhilarating, joyful, and
draining all at the same time.
Get some sleep, if you’re exclusively
breastfeeding, this can be tough, but try pumping and have someone else give
the baby a bottle (once Ok’d by a pediatrician), so you can have a couple hours
of uninterrupted sleep.
Get some exercise. After you have been cleared by your doctor
for exercise, take walks around the park or neighborhood, it’s a great way to
introduce your baby to his or her new world, and fresh air is good for
Eat well- let your friends and neighbors help
you prepare meals, take advantage of prepared meals from the store, do some
meal planning, keep menus of your favorite delivery & takeout places close,
and make double or triple batches of your favorite dishes and freeze for next
Lower your standards- your cleaning standards,
that is. It’s ok if laundry piles up a
bit, and the dishes are stacked in the sink for a few hours longer than
usual. Switch to paper plates for a few
weeks, and embrace the “steam freshen” cycle on the dryer for wrinkle-free
Say YES to help- All those visitors who offer to
come over to help you? Take them up on
it- and get them to fold a basket of clothes or put some dishes away, THEN let
them hold your sweet little bundle of joy so you can take a nap.