Adding a new member to your family is lovely, but it’s also stressful. Many questions flood your mind, and it seems like a guide would sure be helpful.
There should be a guide for understanding infants, a guide for saving for college, a guide to buying health insurance for your new baby, and instructions for every part of life.
The fact is that there are guides for all these things, but your situation is unique. Your life won’t fit every mold. There will be times you’re unsure of what to do.
But in addition to the expected life change-induced stress a baby brings, a mom can experience emotional upheaval. Hormones surge and plummet, and you may not feel full of joy like you expected you would. In fact, you might be feeling just plain terrible.
What you’re feeling may be harmless and passing, or it may be dangerous or anywhere in between. No matter how you’re feeling, you’re not alone. Help is available, and there is no shame in getting the help you need to make it through tough times.
Don’t beat yourself up for feelings that you can’t help, but please get help if you need it. In addition to whatever your healthcare provider recommends, there are some easy things you can do to help yourself through the postpartum period.
Learning to Be Gentle With Yourself
Being a good mom doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. It doesn’t mean you feel the way others think you should feel. It doesn’t even imply feeling the way you expected to feel.
Bonding with your child is an essential part of your baby’s development and affects their entire life. And if you’re detached and aloof, the best thing you can do is let go of your fear of what others will think of you. Let go of whatever is holding you back from getting help.
Admitting to yourself that you need help can be difficult. It may make you feel like a failure. You’re not. Admitting you need help is brave, and it’s the best way to help yourself, your baby, and your relationship.
If you’re dealing with emotional waves, but you, your healthcare provider, and your family agree it’s part of the expected postpartum fluctuations, allow yourself to accept your emotions as passing feelings. Don’t add to your stress by punishing yourself for it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in eight women deals with postpartum depression. That’s a lot of moms. If you’re struggling, you are not alone. You probably know several other women who have worked through it themselves.
Realizing When You Need Professional Help
Postpartum care usually only lasts for six weeks. You go to your healthcare provider for one final checkup, and they give you a once-over and tell you you’re good. Sometimes, depression sets in after that six-week visit.
There is no concern too small to bring up. If you’re within your routine care window, you can bring up your emotional wellness with your provider at your visit, but if your need is urgent, you can contact them at any time between visits.
Maybe you’re feeling off and you’re not sure if it’s something to worry about. Your healthcare provider has dealt with many women feeling like you, and they will be able to ask you questions and ascertain if you need more help.
There are many ways to treat depression. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication for you to take to help with depression or anxiety, or they may tell you to keep them posted because it’s not worrisome right now, but they want to know if it progresses into something more.
Babies see their pediatrician at regular intervals through the first year of their life, and more and more pediatric practices have begun screening for postpartum depression.
Since the mother’s wellness is a vital piece of the baby’s wellness and development, it makes sense that a pediatrician would be concerned.
While it’s helpful that pediatrician offices are being proactive, don’t wait and wonder if yours will offer a screening.
Call your healthcare provider. Their job is to care for you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already finished your postpartum care. They know you, and they’ll be able to help you through postpartum depression and a host of other issues that may arise such as increased life insurance rates with depression.