6 Pieces of Advice for New Mothers With Postpartum Depression
I began to experience the symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) eight days after I brought my daughter home from the hospital, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I voluntarily admitted myself to the hospital when she was 9 months old. Up until that point, I couldn’t explain my feelings or actions. I didn’t understand what I was feeling, or why being a mother wasn’t what I thought it would be. I wish I had known another mother who had experienced PPD, so she could give me these six pieces of advice:
1. Don’t blame yourself.
PPD has nothing to do with your adequacy as a mother. It has to do with being sleep-deprived, going through hormonal changes and mentally adjusting to taking care of a tiny human. Nothing you did, or could do, would cause PPD or its symptoms.
2. Don’t blame your baby.
It sounds awful, I know. But I did it. I thought if I had just never had her, I wouldn’t be feeling this way. I quickly snapped out of it when I reminded myself my daughter was just a baby, incapable of causing pain or harm to anyone, especially me.
3. Accept help.
You may not feel like you need it, but every bit of assistance you can get will help you in the long run: the dishes being done, meals being prepared, laundry getting washed. You have enough on your plate taking care of yourself and your new baby.
4. Don’t fret over your postpartum body.
Your body just did such a miraculous thing; carried a small human in its womb for nine months and endured childbirth. Your belly grew as your baby grew, and isn’t going to look the same now that the baby has been born. And that’s OK! Your focus is on your health and your baby’s health. And though physical fitness is a big part of staying healthy, you need to be resting as much as possible right now.
5. Talk to someone.
Talk to your mother, partner, best friend. Disclose your most uncomfortable feelings to them, and ask them to listen to you. Talk with a therapist — someone who knows the toll that PPD can take on new mothers and can tell you how to combat it.
6. If you’ve been prescribed medication, take it.
Medication is one of the main treatments of PPD, along with therapy. It is so important you continue to take medication, for your well-being and for your baby’s. If you haven’t been prescribed anything and think you may need it, talk with your doctor as soon as possible.
PPD is a beast, but it is tamable. You may feel alone, but you aren’t. You may feel like you don’t love your new baby, but you do. PPD clouds your thoughts in an unfair darkness that no new mother should have to endure. Follow my six pieces of advice, talk with your doctor and see the light in your baby’s face again.
PPD will try to steal your joy. Don’t let it. Treat it, and beat it.
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