Meet Charlie. She loves baking, running, and new adventures with my family. She’s a mother of two little ones and work full-time as an athletic trainer. Since becoming a mom, she’s battled depression and anxiety. She even blogs about running, motherhood, and positive living to help other moms live a happier and positive life.
I never thought I would be the one to get the “baby blues.” Who could be sad when you have a new baby to cuddle? Nobody expects it to be them, but it happens in 10-20% of mothers. That’s 1 in every 5 mothers who suffer from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is hard in many ways. You just don’t feel sad; you feel hopeless, exhausted, helpless, and guilty. You feel like you can’t bond with your baby or love your baby. You blame yourself and you feel like a bad mom.
If you’re a first-time mom, you’ve been thrown into this whole new world with lots of changes, and everything just seems to suck when this was supposed to be the best years of your life.
It’s hard, but you’re not alone. You can find ways to cope and feel happy. Here are 11 different ways to handle postpartum depression so you’re not so overwhelmed.
1. Don’t Feel Guilty and Don’t Blame Yourself
Don’t you DARE feel guilty. This is not your fault. You are not a bad person, and you are definitely not a bad mom. If you aren’t bonding with your baby, or if you don’t feel like being around them very much, it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not your fault, and it will pass. It seems so hopeless at first. The fact that you feel guilty is a sign that you are a great mom. Give yourself credit and be patient with yourself.
2. Diet and Exercise
Get on a regular diet and exercise regimen. I’m not saying to go on a crazy no carb diet or do anything extreme, but try to eat healthily. Don’t put a lot of sugars in your diet, don’t overeat, don’t eat late at night, and try not to eat your feelings. Also, put the time in your schedule to exercise. You can do it during the baby’s nap, or at night, or get a membership at a gym that has babysitting. Find that “me time” to move your body. Do something you enjoy. Exercise helps with depression, makes you feel happier, and helps you lose the baby weight.
3. Don’t be Afraid or Ashamed to get Help and Don’t wait to Do it!
Don’t be afraid to get help. Don’t think “it’ll pass, I’m fine” or “I’m not THAT sad, I’m sure it’s just because I’m tired”…WRONG! Even if you are in doubt, there is no harm in talking to your doctor about it. If you aren’t getting the answers you want, talk to a different doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask, and then don’t be afraid to get the proper treatment. Be an advocate for yourself. Getting on medication or seeing a therapist is not a bad thing. These are good things to help you. And, if you’re hesitant about medication, remember it does not have to be a permanent thing. It gets you back to where you need to be. You have to see them as tools to get you to where you want to be.
4. Stay on Schedule
I have a love/hate relationship with schedules. I hate having to stick to a schedule, but I’m so much happier when I do. You can still be flexible and spontaneous and have a schedule. Find something that works for you and try to stick with it. The structure will help with your feelings of accomplishment, make you feel happier, and your baby will be happier too. Babies thrive off of the structure, and you will too!
5. Open Communication
This might be a hard one, but be open about how you feel to your spouse/significant other and friends. Let them know what’s going on and let them help you. They love you and most of the time don’t know how to help. Opening up to them could give them an idea of what to do and how to be there for you, even when you don’t know. You will feel like a burden has lifted once you start to open up about it.
6. Adult Communication
Join a mommy group, find mommy friends at the park or library, and get together often. You need adult interaction. You need people who are going through motherhood too. You don’t have to open up to all of them, but just be a friend and let them be your friend. You’d be surprised how much better you can feel by just talking with people and being in society.
7. Get out Every Day
Get out of the house every day! This includes showering and getting ready for the day. Don’t just stay in your pj’s all day. This will do nothing for you. Even if you don’t feel like going out, go out. It doesn’t have to be far or big. Go on a walk, go to the park, or go out to lunch with a friend. Just don’t stay locked away inside all day.
8. Set up Your Home to be Depression “Non-Friendly”
You can feel a vibe when you walk into a room. Don’t give your house the depression vibe, where you walk in and you just feel “blah”. Make it a place you enjoy being, not a place you feel depressed in. Some examples include:
Lights: Open the blinds/windows or buy the brighter light bulbs. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is open the blinds.
Home Décor: Paint a room brighter, or hang up positive affirmations and pictures that make you happy. You’d be surprised what a visual “affirmation” can do for you.
Clean: This is a tricky one because as a mom, you get busy, and it’s hard to always keep the house clean, but just do your best. Living in a mess all the time has depression written all over it.
9. Serve Others
Even if you don’t feel like it, try thinking of someone else. Send a text, email, phone call, letter, or visit someone in need. I guarantee you will feel better afterward. That’s the great thing about serving others—it really benefits the person doing the service. Try to find little ways to serve once a week or every day, if you can.
We don’t always like to share all our thoughts and feelings with people, so journal about them. You can also journal to help you feel better and get perspective. Here is some journal prompts to help with postpartum depression:
What am I feeling in this moment?
What are 10 things I’m grateful for?
What am I afraid of?
How can I take better care of myself?
What am I doing today that my future self will thank me for?
What made me smile about my baby today?
11. Me Time
This can also be a hard one, but try and find time to just be you, away from the baby. You could exercise, but if exercising is not something you enjoy all that much, have a hobby. Find that one thing that makes you happy and tries to do it every day. And it can’t be napping. 🙂
It’s hard to remember at the moment, but know that you are not alone, it will pass, things will get better, and you’ll be okay. Don’t be afraid to get the help you need, and things will all work out.