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4 things you can do now to cope with postpartum depression

Motherhood is a phase of life that can be exciting for many, and daunting and overwhelming for some. It’s completely natural to feel a range of emotions, from the joy of holding your baby to the fear of going wrong with parenting or a sudden and unexplained sadness. If feelings of sadness seem to be dominating your life and interfering with your day-to-day activities, you might be suffering from postpartum depression. 

 

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious and often overlooked condition that affects many new mothers. It is a form of depression that occurs after childbirth, often characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness. PPD can have a significant impact on a woman's well-being, as well as the well-being of her family and child.

 

Despite its prevalence, PPD is often shrouded in secrecy and shame, with many new mothers feeling too afraid or ashamed to speak out about their struggles. But it's important to remember that PPD is not a sign of weakness or failure as a mother. It is a real medical condition that can be treated with therapy, medication, and support. There are many possible causes of PPD, including hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and stress. Factors such as a history of depression, a lack of support, and financial stress can also contribute to the development of PPD.

 

Symptoms of PPD can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, difficulty bonding with the baby, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. Some women may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. It's important for new mothers to be aware of the signs of PPD and to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms. Support from friends and family, as well as therapy and medication, can be extremely helpful in managing PPD.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, it is crucial that you reach out for help. Remember, you are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help. With the right support and treatment, it is possible to overcome PPD and enjoy all the joys of motherhood.

 

There are also many things you can do in addition to your therapy and medication to help you cope with PPD. Let’s discuss some of these below. 

1.     Strengthen your bond with your baby

The love and attachment for your baby come naturally for many mothers, but it’s perfectly normal if you’ve been failing to develop a strong bond or attachment with your baby. Postpartum depression can leave you with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy and have a significant impact on early bonding. 

 

Having a strong bond with your baby can provide a sense of emotional stability and security, which can be particularly important for mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression. Developing a secure bond with your baby can help to counteract the feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and disconnection from others, by providing a sense of connection and belonging.

 

Being a new mother is challenging and it can make you feel nervous and at a loss for the “right” things to do. A strong bond with your baby can help you feel more confident in your parenting abilities. When you have a good relationship with your baby, you may be more likely to feel capable of handling the demands of parenthood. This can be essential in helping you overcome feelings of self-doubt and fear.

 

The love and concern you feel for your baby provide a sense of support and comfort during the difficult and overwhelming early days of parenthood. New mothers may feel stressed, anxious, and exhausted, and having a strong bond with their babies can help them to feel more grounded and reassured during these difficult times.

 

Bonding with a baby doesn't only happen naturally and sometimes mothers may need extra support for example, with breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, and other techniques that can help to foster bonding between mother and baby.

 

Here are some ways you can strengthen the bond between you and your baby.

 

Skin-to-skin contact 

Holding your baby against your bare skin, such as during breastfeeding or kangaroo care, releases hormones that promote feelings of love and attachment. Skin-to-skin contact can be initiated by holding your baby against your bare chest, with a blanket or clothing covering your baby's back. This can be done immediately after birth, during breastfeeding, or at other times throughout the day.

 

Here are some ways to initiate skin-to-skin contact with your baby:

  • Kangaroo Care: This is a technique where the baby is placed on the mother's bare chest, with a blanket covering the baby's back. The baby is typically dressed in only a diaper and a hat.

  • During breastfeeding: Hold your baby against your bare chest while breastfeeding. This can help to promote bonding and establish a good breastfeeding relationship.

  • After a bath: Hold your baby against your bare chest after a bath to promote bonding and help your baby feel calm and relaxed.

  • During diaper changes: Take off your baby's clothes and hold them against your bare chest during diaper changes.

  • During cuddling or rocking: Hold your baby against your bare chest while cuddling or rocking to promote bonding and help your baby feel calm and relaxed.

This kind of contact should be done in a safe and warm environment, making sure that the baby is kept warm and not exposed to any potential hazards.

 

Massage 

Massaging your baby can have several benefits for both you and your baby. It promotes bonding by establishing a sense of connection between you and your baby, which in turn can help to alleviate feelings of disconnection and isolation. It can improve your mood and reduce depression by significantly reducing stress and tension in both you and your baby. 

 

How to massage your baby

Choose a quiet, warm, and comfortable place to massage your baby. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature, and that you have everything you need, such as a baby massage oil, within reach. Start by undressing your baby to their diaper and place them on a soft surface such as a blanket or towel. Use a small amount of baby massage oil to lubricate your baby's skin. Choose an oil that is safe for babies, such as coconut oil or baby oil. Begin by gently stroking your baby's head, face, and arms. Use a light touch and make sure to avoid any areas that may be sensitive, such as the eyes or nose. Gently massage your baby's chest and tummy, using circular motions. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the belly button. Massage your baby's legs and feet, using long strokes and gentle pressure. Finish the massage by gently rocking your baby, or by holding them close and giving them a cuddle.

 

 

Talk and sing to your baby

Talking and singing to your baby can help to strengthen the bond by establishing a sense of trust and familiarity.

 

Respond to your baby's cues 

Paying attention to your baby's cues, such as crying or reaching out, can help to establish trust and build a sense of connection.

 

 

2.     Exercise whenever you get the time

From improved mood, reduced stress, and better sleep to enhanced social support, research has shown exercise to have numerous positive effects on women with postpartum depression. It can be difficult to incorporate the time to exercise into your day. Struggling to fit in a full-fledged workout session? Just taking a walk in a soothing environment with your baby in a stroller can be refreshing for both you and your baby.

 

You can also spread your workout session over short chunks of ten minutes throughout the day. There are many great apps like Fitness Blender, Nike Training Club, and Feeel, that let you access easy exercise regimes (without any equipment) for free. 

 

3.     Maintain a healthy diet

Looking after your baby can drain you, both emotionally and physically. During times like these, giving your body the nutrients it needs can help you feel better and gain more strength. 

 

Eating a healthy diet is like giving your body a high-five! It's a way of saying "good job" to all the hard work your body does for you every day. It's easy to do, and it tastes great too! To maintain a healthy diet, start by filling half your plate with colorful fruits and veggies. These are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body loves. Add some lean protein like chicken or fish, and a serving of whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. And don't forget the healthy fats! Avocados, nuts, and seeds are all delicious options that will keep you feeling full and satisfied. And of course, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

 

You can also prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. Some snack ideas that can be easily prepared are –

  • Trail mix: Mix together a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and dark chocolate to get a nutritious and filling snack.

  • Yogurt: Prepare a cup of Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey for a quick and easy snack.

  • Hummus and veggies: Some hummus and sliced veggies, such as carrots or cucumbers, make for a satisfying and healthy snack.

 

4.     Take time to rest

You’ve probably had one of your family or friends advise you to “sleep when your baby sleeps”. As annoying as it gets, this advice is backed by science and research and has a significant effect on your health and mood. Almost every new mother wants to be available for her baby all the time, but getting rest is essential for your emotional well-being and physical health. 

 

After childbirth, the body goes through significant changes, and it needs rest to recover.

Sleep deprivation can increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression and lack of sleep can make it difficult to have the energy to take care of a new baby and handle the demands of motherhood. Adequate sleep is important for overall health, including maintaining a strong immune system. Getting enough sleep will help you to feel more alert and present when interacting with your baby, which can foster bonding and attachment. Taking care of your own needs by getting enough rest is a form of self-care and is crucial for new mothers to be able to take care of their babies effectively.

 

 

Take on motherhood with confidence

The challenges of motherhood are numerous, but so are its moments of joy and utter bliss. By ensuring a healthy diet and exercise, getting adequate rest, and bonding with your baby, you can feel more confident and fulfilled as a new mother. Couple these tips with your therapy and professional help to successfully cope with postpartum depression and tackle the demands of motherhood. 

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