Post pregnancy is an exciting time for most parents. There can be incredible joy. Yet for some it’s a time of great struggle as sustained low mood takes its toll. Here are so practical tips.
Don’t try to be a superwoman: having a baby may be a full time occupation, so try to reduce commitments during your pregnancy. Too often high expectations can lead you to fall. Sleep deprivation is the norm with new babies so take all the opportunities for rest and good nutrition you can. If you have suffered from PND before, that doesn’t mean that you will do so again. However, it is only sensible to keep in touch with your GP after the birth so that should there be any signs of recurrence, treatment can start at once.
Do turn to someone if your mood is low and contact your GP immediately. Early intervention can help turn around Post Natal Depression (PND).
Don’t blame yourself or him: life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability on both sides can lead to quarrels. But ‘having a go’ at each other may weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest.
Do get enough nourishment. Healthy foods like salads, fresh vegetables, fruit, fruit juices, milk and cereals are all nice, packed with vitamins and don’t need much cooking.
Take life one day at a time. Try to find the positive in things. Not everything in your life is always negative, even if it feels like it at the moment. If you don’t look for the positive things in your life you won’t see them.
Really try to get some exercise every day, even if it is only a short walk out in fresh as it really helps.
Indeed there is evidence to say that 30 minutes of brisk walking 3-4 times per week releases positive ‘feel good hormones’ including endorphins which can tackle mild to moderate depression.
Make a list of things you like doing and make you feel good. On the bad days look at the list and encourage yourself to do at least one of them for just five minutes. That’s the trick just start it for five minutes after that point you can give yourself permission to give up.
Avoid situations that could be potentially stressful. Most often this can relate to practical stuff – making dinners – so get creative and bulk cook and freeze.
Or another common stressor is handling visitors, intrusive family members who are not shy to offer opinions and critical judgements. If these are toxic to your mood then limit your exposure. For those visitors or family members who are positive and supportive delegate tasks to them, believe me they are happy to help.
It can be helpful to write down how you are feeling, it gets it off your chest and you can always burn it afterwards.
Mothers with PND often worry about harming their babies or not looking after them properly. You will be glad to know that generally they look after their children as well as other mothers. There can be concers regarding bonding with the child and the long term impact on the child. But bonding doesn’t just happen in the first hours, days and weeks, or months. Modern research has proven that bonding is more flexible than that and occurs across the first number of years of a childs life.
I concern myself with the superwomen mums the whose perfectionism leads to a child who grows up seeking continual approval and anxiety in their adult life.
Finally even if the PND is well established by the time it is recognised, support, counselling and medication will often make a big difference and will speed up eventual recovery: It’s never too late!