The 9 months leading up to birth are a uniquely beautiful and challenging time. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. There is a lot of anticipation, planning, and uncertainty during this time. Much focus and attention goes into the 9 months before birth, but the truth is that the challenges don’t end there. Whether this is your first or your fourth child, there is no way to fully prepare for the months after birth. Kids have a way of keeping things interesting, and even the most experienced mothers can struggle to manage life with littles. It’s a beautifully, exhausting season of life. If you are struggling in pregnancy or in the postpartum period, there is help. You do not have to figure it out on your own. Read on to learn more about postpartum disorders, their symptoms, and treatment.
How do I know if I have Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?
Postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety can show up in many different ways. The symptoms of PPD are not always obvious and are sometimes difficult to detect when they first begin. In fact, postpartum disorders don’t always show up right after birth. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear right away. PPD symptoms may manifest as late as 6 months after birth. Regardless of when the symptoms begin, here are some common signs of postpartum depression:
- Tearfulness, sadness, feeling “blah”
- Easily overwhelmed
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive worry and guilt
- Easily agitated
- Uncontrollable rage
- Trouble making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
How to prepare for birth with postpartum depression in mind
The months leading up to birth are full of preparation. Rooms are made ready, maternity leave arranged, and you may even prepare your body with prenatal vitamins. If you have experienced depression or postpartum depression previously then you are at a greater risk of developing postpartum depression. This is a good time to learn how you rest and recharge. Work on communication with your partner and practice asking for & accepting help. When the baby comes, these skills will be helpful.
If you are experiencing depression or anxiety before birth, find a counselor who works specifically with women. Prenatal counseling can help you navigate the stress and worries of childbirth. Your counselor will help you learn positive coping skills to manage the months ahead.
What is Self Care for Postpartum?
Self-care is different for everyone. When seeking out self-care, check-in with how you are feeling. The best activities will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to take care of yourself. Whether you have 10 minutes or a few hours, here are some self-care ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:
- While the baby sleeps, step outside and take some deep breaths. Notice the warmth of the sun, drink some tea, or close your eyes for a short meditation or catnap.
- Cozy up on the couch and read a good book or do something that feels like it’s just for you. Watch that cheesy rom-com and revel in the “me time”.
- Find 10 minutes a day to meditate. Whether you are listening to a guided meditation on simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, this is a time to practice disconnecting from the busyness of your mind and the responsibilities of the day. It’s okay if your mind wanders, just notice the thoughts and come back to your meditation.
- If you can’t bring yourself to disconnect and relax, try journaling. You can write about your thoughts and fears, or even make a list of all the things you think you need to do. Regardless of what you journal, it is therapeutic to get the thoughts out of your head and on paper. If you wrote down a to-do list, take a second pass and prioritize according to what will make the most impact on your daily life or cross out the items that aren’t essential. Give yourself permission to be selective of how you want to spend your time.
- Take a shower, put on real clothes (or at least your nicer pairs of yoga pants!). You don’t have to find time for the whole get-ready process. If you only have time to put your hair into a nicer bun and put on a new comfy outfit, that’s okay. You are taking the time to take care of yourself, and you will feel better for it.
- Take a walk with the baby in a stroller. Listen to music, a podcast, or just enjoy the scenery; the goal here is to connect with what brings you joy and peace.
- If you have older kids, plan a playdate. Let the kids keep each other company while you talk with another mama in your same life stage.
You’re not alone in your postpartum journey
If you are struggling with guilt and worry and you don’t know how you can keep going on and taking care of your new baby, you are likely experiencing Postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a result of hormonal fluctuations and the many changes and new responsibilities that come along with having a new baby. It’s not your fault. There is help, and you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The first thing you should do is let your partner or another adult know that you are struggling. If you can start practicing self-care, then make that a priority. But if you cannot, then start with a trip to your doctor or a counselor. Depending on your situation, postpartum depression and anxiety can be treated with medication and therapy. Your doctor and counselor will help you decide what route to take.
Everyone’s birth experience is different.
Both moms and dads can struggle with adjusting to life with a new baby, and it’s okay if you aren’t loving every minute of life with a newborn. Postpartum depression can make it difficult to bond with your baby. If you are struggling to connect with your baby, talk with your partner. Not only can they help you find outside help, but you may find that they are experiencing the same struggles. If you are struggling to find someone to connect with, call the National Postpartum Depression Warmline ( 1-800-PPD-MOMS). They are available 24-7 to listen and get you in touch with someone who can help.
How can a counselor help?
A counselor can help support you in many ways after childbirth. Whether you need a safe place to talk or you need help coming up with strategies to make life a little easier, counseling can help. Regular counseling appointments carve out time for you. During your counseling sessions, you and your mental health are the focus and goal.
If you are struggling, this quick 10 question quiz can help you determine if counseling is right for you. It’s important to remember that not all postpartum depression can be managed with therapy and the above tips. Sometimes medical or other interventions are necessary. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Talk with your partner and find a counselor who can walk this journey with you.
What we offer here at The Well House Group in Southlake, TX
Here at The Well House Group, we are here for you in every part of life’s journey. Whether you are a new mom or you have been down this road before, we are here to provide you with the tools and support to create your best life. Couples counseling can be helpful if you are struggling to communicate with your partner.
We offer both in-person and online telehealth sessions for individual counseling and couples counseling. You can schedule a session with us today either in person or via telehealth connection by emailing us, texting us, or giving us a call today. Take back your postpartum journey with us here at The Wellhouse Group.