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9 Tips for Every New Mom
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects up to 16% of all new mothers in the United States according to the American Psychological Association. It doesn’t matter if you have a history of depression or if you’ve never been diagnosed a day in your life. The sex of your baby does not make you more or less likely to be depressed after birth.
Researchers still aren’t sure what causes postpartum depression. What is agreed on though, is what to do about it.
Ask for help-Postpartum Depression Is Easily Treatable
If you think you have postpartum depression the first thing to do is to tell your doctor or OB/GYN. They know your specific health history and whether or not you’re on any current medications that may be affecting your emotional and physical health. Postpartum depression is an easily treatable condition, but only if you tell someone what’s going on. Check Postpartum Support International for more specific information in your area.
Ask for help from your friends and family. Sleep can be a luxury for a new mom so why not call over a friend that will let you get a few hours of sleep. If that doesn’t feel like a good idea, then hire a Mother’s Helper. A Mother’s Helper is the same as a sitter, except you’re home. They’re less than sitters because you’re home and usually cost $5 less per hour. If you need help finding a good helper or sitter, visit SitterCity.com or Babysitter.com. Just make sure to not “micro manage” and do everything while you’re helper is there. Take advantage of the time you have and do something just for you-take a much needed nap!
Take A Test – Postpartum Depression Scale
If you’re not sure if you have postpartum depression, take the postpartum depression scale. Simply Google “Postpartum Depression Scale” and a few will pop up. The Edinburgh scale is a good one that often comes with instructions.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
As with all cases of depression, many of us will feel like there is something wrong with us, we’re bad people or bad mothers for not being able to “handle” motherhood. First off, that’s a myth. Depression is a medical condition just like any other medical condition and requires treatment. It is not about you as a mother, it is about your emotional health. Medical doctors often focus on your physical health during pregnancy and as the focus of postpartum care. Your emotional health is equally as important. It will take several months for your emotions (your hormones) to go back to their pre-pregnancy state. Throw in lack of sleep, new responsibilities, fatigue and several other changes to your life when you have a baby, and it’s natural for your mind and body to need some additional support. You are normal and a part of a community of women who would love to support you through this transition.
You want to eat foods that do not stress your body or mind and foods that will give you more energy. Keep lots of fresh fruits and veggies around and make sure to include raspberries (helps you heal quicker, excellent for reproductive health), bananas (fights against depression), ginger (great to cook with and in tea), and kiwi fruit (helps you digest foods easier). For your veggies, all are great but make sure to have avocados (contains tyrosine which fights against depression), mushrooms (good source of zinc) and radishes (helps your body heal, removes toxins). Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Ever wondered why you see so many moms walking in your neighborhood babies in tow? It’s more than exercise, the fresh air is good for you and your little one. Exercise, even though you may not feel like it, is a natural reducer of stress and depression. Stroller Strides and Stroller Fit are popular for moms who want a workout where they can bring their kids along. If it’s cold where you are (I live in AZ) check out events going on in your community. Most community centers will have special, sometimes free events for moms and their babies.
Make sure to keep taking your prenatal vitamins and also check how much zinc you’re getting. Low levels of zinc have been linked to increases in postpartum depression. After delivery your body is low on virtually all vitamins and minerals. Make sure to keep taking your prenatal vitamin or multivitamin regularly.
Write, Blog, or Tweet
Writing can be very therapeutic and now there are many ways for you to express what’s going on. You can keep a journal, blog, use twitter, visit online communities and chat away. Babycenter.com has message board visited by thousands of moms and parents every day. They’re Mom Confidential page is one of my favorites!
The point is, you’re never alone. If you’ve found this article, there are several mom blogs, blogs on postpartum depression like PostpartumProgress and many others. Be connected. If you don’t see anything that fits you, start your own.
Join A Support group
Much like the tip above, there are numerous support groups available. If you live in a rural area or don’t think there’s anyone close to you, let your fingers do the typing and start your own group either online or in person. Several moms in my community meet at Starbucks once a month with and without their kids, they host date nights, and get togethers. Most hospitals hold postpartum support groups as well. Ask your doctor if there’s any he or she recommends as well.
Did you know that stress management exercises (meditation, guided imagery, yoga, breathing exercises, etc.) practiced for a minimum of 10 minutes a day can reduce stress, anxiety and depression? Many sites will teach you meditation, yoga and guided imagery online.