I vaguely remember the first 6 months after my baby was born. I had issues with breastfeeding, was anxious all the time, couldn’t sleep even when my daughter gave me the time to sleep and was constantly thinking. Maybe I wasn’t clinically depressed but I was on the spectrum as they call it. They were times when I was scared my daughter might just stop breathing (although she was perfectly healthy). I’m sure a lot of mothers out there can relate to what I was going through. It took me almost a year I’d say to feel like myself again.
experience got me thinking. Clinically there are many mothers who might not be diagnosed as having PPD (post-partum depression) but they are still on the spectrum and undergoing a lot of emotional upheaval. The body post-childbirth loses progesterone in such a fast pace that some of us can’t manage the changes.
Clinically depressed cases do require lot of support but so do these ones on the spectrum.
And this support has to come from the partner, the family and friends.
I will share a few things that helped me through this which might help other mothers as well:
1. It is normal
Read this statement again and again. What you are experiencing is a totally normal reaction to such a big physiological change in your body. Acceptance is a big step towards feeling better. Every mother has to face these challenges and you will not be alone in this.
2. It is okay to ask for help
A lot of mothers feel they have to do this alone because it is their choice to have a baby. Yes, it is your choice to have and raise a baby but you don’t have to be the superwoman right away. It is okay to ask for help: from anyone. At the most they might say no; which I don’t think anyone with a heart would. And remember: if things are very tough to handle, always seek professional help.
3. Give time to yourself
Unfortunately, it took me 6 months to realize this. However busy your baby keeps you, make it a point to give an hour of the day (or more if you can manage) to yourself. You can sleep, eat, shower, exercise, watch a movie, walk, go on a date or do whatever you want in this one hour. But make it baby free time. Yes, we all love our babies but this time to yourself will ground you back to reality and will give you space to unwind. Take help from someone so that they can relieve you from baby-duty.
4. Do not strive to be perfect
The desire for perfection is often the cause for depression. No one is going to be perfect at motherhood, especially the first time. If it comes to you naturally then great, if it doesn’t then also it is great. Remember, you will learn from your mistakes and your baby will learn to adjust. You might feed him too much/ too little, dress him too much/too little, bathe him too much/ too little but whatever you do, if it doesn’t work once, you can always change it. So don’t beat yourself up over being perfect as a mother. Make room for making mistakes and forgive yourself in the process.
5. Eat healthy
You are what you eat. Your brain and gut are closely linked so be watchful about what you eat. Avoid refined foods, white sugar, alcohol, and anything that you feel doesn’t suit you. It is a myth that you need to have dairy to produce more breast-milk. If having dairy gives you acidity, gas, indigestion, bloating, or nausea then cut out dairy products from your diet. Listen to your body when it says something doesn’t suit it. Your digestion post-childbirth is very weak. So have simple foods that are easy to digest. Have loads of fruits and vegetables.
6. Get some sun
If it permits you to have sunlight, then have at least 15-20 minutes of sunlight every day. Vitamin D supplements are not a replacement for sunlight. Sunlight has lot of other properties which are good for you. The heat of the sun is especially good to improve your circulation and release all the endorphins to make you feel happy.
7. Do your exercises
Doing even light stretching or warm up exercises can help you release those endorphins. Make it a point to set aside 15 minutes each day to do some light exercises. They will keep you happy and help you lose the baby weight.