Most people have a basic idea of what postpartum depression (PPD) is, but often fail to recognise how debilitating it can be.
Approximately 1 in 10 women will experience PPD after giving birth. Some go undiagnosed, while others still have trouble coping even if they understand what they’re dealing with.
Postpartum depression can cause intense irritability, changes in eating and sleeping habits, fatigue, anxiety, and guilt, and can even make it difficult to feel like you’re bonding with your baby.
The stress of being a new mother is often hard enough. When you add PPD symptoms on top of it, simply meeting your basic needs, much less of your new baby, can start to feel overwhelming. Thankfully, by prioritising your mental well-being, there are things you can do to cope with postpartum depression effectively.
Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can put into practice immediately to find the comfort and relief you deserve.
Embrace Your Body
Body dissatisfaction and post-natal depression are linked more than you might realise. It’s not uncommon to look at yourself in the mirror after giving birth and feel different. Your body has gone through major changes while carrying a baby and even more throughout the delivery process.
Seeing reminders of those physical changes each day can be difficult for some women, especially if they struggled with body confidence before their pregnancy. Things like stretch marks, weight gain, and even varicose veins are all common after giving birth and can appear “unsightly” if you’re critiquing yourself in the mirror.
There can be some lingering pressure from society, friends, and the media to “bounce back” quickly and somehow obtain the body you once had.
But, it’s important to remember your body isn’t the same. You’ve literally created life. Your body has been through an amazing journey and you’re stronger for it. By understanding why these changes are happening to your body and recognizing what they really mean, you can practice self-love and be grateful for what your body has done for you.
Learning to love your body after having a baby is only part of the equation. You have to learn to love your entire being. One of the best ways to do that, especially when dealing with PPD, is to practice self-care.
Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important – especially for new mothers.
Self-care doesn’t have to be anything expensive or luxurious. Rather, it’s about mindfully incorporating self-care in your everyday routine to reduce stress and improve your mental health. That might include:
- Getting enough sleep at night;
- Drinking more water;
- Staying physically active;
- Practicing meditation.
Spending time with friends, family members, or even other new mums can also help. It’s tempting to isolate yourself when you’re struggling with depression. Lean into your support system, including your partner and anyone offering to help. It’s a form of self-care that can be easy to overlook, but staying isolated and trying to tackle everything on your own will likely cause you to feel more overwhelmed.
Try Something New
You just had a baby and you’re dealing with postpartum depression. You might not think it’s the best time to jump into a new hobby. But, it could be just the thing you need to manage your mental health.
Plus, there are countless hobbies you can do from the comfort of your own home while your little one is resting. From reading and painting to knitting and writing, don’t be afraid to try something you’ve been interested in for a while.
Collection hobbies can benefit your mental health, improve communication skills, reduce stress, and foster healthy habits. But any hobby that sparks your interest and gives you something to look forward to can help.
Taking care of yourself after having a baby isn’t selfish. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re dealing with PPD, it’s essential to think about your needs, so you can give the best of yourself to your baby.
Remember these tips to cope with postpartum depression, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a doctor or therapist if you’re still struggling.
Some useful resources for you:
The PANDA helpline is open from 10am - 5pm AEST Monday to Saturday on 1300 726 306.
Mumspace has a link of resources.