When you think about having your baby and bringing home a new bundle of joy, you know you’ll be excited and probably a little nervous. But on top of all these emotions, it’s important to understand that you might also find yourself feeling depressed.
While many women suffer from the “baby blues” after giving birth, postpartum depression can be much more serious and long-lasting. Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, irritable and sometimes even violent are all emotions that stem from depression.
What can I do to feel better?
If you find yourself feeling depressed after you’ve had a child, know that it is normal. Having a child is stressful. It is valid to feel exhausted or frustrated. In addition, your body goes through hormonal changes, so feeling down is not unusual. But if you begin to feel like the depression is affecting your wellbeing or your child’s, you can take certain steps to improve your mental health.
Here’s what you can try:
- Call your doctor. Let your doctor know how you are feeling. They will be able to guide you in what steps to take. In some cases, they will provide medication to help you with overcoming postpartum depression.
- Take a break. Allow someone else to take care of your baby for small periods of time. This could be your partner, a babysitter or another family member. Take the time to relax and do something that you enjoy — or haven’t been able to do while taking care of your child.
- Go for a walk. Taking a light stroll outside and getting fresh air for a few minutes every day can help you clear your mind. This walk does not need to be a full hike — just taking 10 minutes to go around your own block can be a refreshing break in the day.
- Rest. You might think it is nearly impossible to feel well rested right after having a baby, but there are ways to add naps into your routine. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps or take a quick power nap to recharge. If you cannot fall asleep, just laying down with your eyes closed for 20 minutes can bring similar benefits.
- Talk to someone. Therapy can be a great way to get through a difficult time. Laying out your problems can help you understand them better. A professional can give you helpful coping mechanisms to combat negative feelings. If you cannot afford therapy, or simply do not have the time, talking to a friend or a family member can still be helpful. Finding someone with whom you can be open and honest can lift a huge burden off your shoulders. You might also be able to find other new mothers that are feeling similarly.
There are a lot of stresses that come with being a new parent. Overcoming postpartum depression is challenging, but not impossible. Taking small steps can lead to better health for both you and your baby.