Pregnancy is a time of such joy and frustration for many women. While we prepare for the upcoming arrival of our new precious bundle (the joy), we’re also experiencing changing mood swings, nausea, food cravings, expanding waistlines that will keep us from seeing our feet, and fatigue (lots of fatigue) that can keep us from enjoying our pregnancy the entire nine months we’re carrying our little one under our hearts. Then, we soon welcome the squalling, angry child into our open and loving arms for the first time, making the world feel right again as we gaze upon that perfect little nose and count all ten toes and all ten fingers. We can’t imagine a happier time than that moment. We’re doing just fine until something starts creeping up on us that we’re not sure it’s even there, but then it becomes bigger and we suspect something’s wrong. When it finally dawns on us, we know we’ve been hit with the worst aspect of becoming a mother: postpartum depression. When it strikes, it can take its toll on us and that’s something we can abide since we want to spend time with our child and discover the world through his/her eyes. So, we’re stuck with wondering what we can do, but thankfully, that wondering is over. Here are 10 ways to beat postpartum depression that can bring any of us back from the brink if we allow ourselves to try them.
1. Take some time for R&R
You want to rest as much as you can and reduce the levels of stress you have as you spend the next few weeks getting to know your new little one. Being a new mother can be highly stressful whether you’re a first-timer or a life-time member. The saying, “sleep when your baby sleeps,” comes from sound advice. While we know you can’t sleep every time you’re little one does, you can try sleeping with them every other nap or every third nap. The point is to get some rest when you can while you can. If you’re feeling stressed for any reason, then do what makes you less stressed. If that doesn’t work, then have your partner help you in this respect by helping wherever you aren’t needed personally. Stress doesn’t do you any good, so avoid it whenever possible.
2. Eat plenty of nutrient rich foods
You did so well to eat the right foods while you were pregnant to give your unborn child the nutrients he/she needed. Once the little one is born, this isn’t the time to stop that habit. Those nutrients you were feeding your child in the womb were also feeding you what you needed as well. So, make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, vitamins, and other minerals to keep your body strong and capable. You’ll feel better when you eat right, making your postpartum depression easier to fight and win.
3. Restore your DHA levels
DHA was great for helping to develop your child’s brain while you were pregnant, but it also helped you at the same time. DHA is known for releasing serotonin in your own brain. Serotonin is one of the feel-good drugs that your body sends out when you’re happy and excited or even just content. You want this feeling to continue? Then, you’ll want to eat those yummy fatty fish oils and omega-3s you can get. Salmon and tuna are great options for these nutrients to keep your DHA levels high and keep you feeling happy.
4. Avoid sugar
While you want fiber in your diet, you don’t want much in the form of simple sugars like you’d find in sports drinks, candy, and sodas. These sugars can give you a nice boost of energy, but it’s short-lived and will have you crashing down in a hurry when those sugars have been depleted from your blood stream. When you’re wanting to keep your moods even, then you’ll want to find other foods that don’t contain sugar to boost your energy like fruits and vegetables or whole grains.
Now, we’re not expecting you to run a marathon a week after your little one comes home, but you should be moving around as much as you can. Walking is a great exercise because the demand isn’t a high one for you to commit yourself as you walk around your home or even venture around your yard. Just make sure you’re moving since the endorphins that get released will help elevate and then stabilize your moods, plus you’ll feel better in terms of pain. Muscle pain can heal faster when we start moving ourselves and keeping ourselves moving.
6. Find a confidant
Talking about what you’re feeling with someone that’s gone through a similar situation can help you put everything into perspective and help you recover faster from your depression because you know you aren’t alone with these feelings overwhelming you. While you can find plenty of women that have experienced some level of postpartum depression, you want one that you can trust. So find yourself a confidant, whom you can call when you need to talk through something or just have someone come and keep you company even if you don’t say a word to each other.
7. Pick up a hobby or two
As a way to keep your stress down further, you should find or rediscover some of your favorite hobbies. If you enjoy reading, writing, paintings, sewing, or whatever else there is under the sun, you should find some time in your day to indulge in this hobby. The reasons are numerous, but they all boil down to the one main fact that you feel better and less stressed because of the wonderful endorphins your body is releasing in response to that hobby, giving you those wonderful feelings of satisfaction and contentment you get when you’re doing something you enjoy.
8. Get outside
Even if the air’s a little nippy outside, you should find some time to get outside and sit in the sun, soaking up some of those wonderful rays and soaking in the vitamin D, a vital vitamin in making you feel happier as you work through your day and deal with the stresses you face with a little one at home and chores that must be done among other things that keep us moms busy all the time. Even as little as 5 minutes can make all the difference when you allow yourself to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
9. Follow doctor’s orders
If you’re taking medications and going through therapy, you’ll want to follow doctor’s orders when it comes to taking your medicine correctly and following through with your therapy. These are necessary steps for several women suffering postpartum depression. By sticking to the program laid out by your physician, you can heal faster and feel more like yourself again, but you have to stick to the program and do the necessary work to get back to normal or at least your version of being normal.
10. Keep self-criticism to a minimum
As new mothers or even experienced mothers, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves as we wing our ways through most of what our baby needs. We’re learning just as much as they are, but we can often feel like we’re failing at the same time. It’s hard not to be critical of ourselves when we’re letting things slide in one part of our lives or another, but we’re only human, a fact that a lot of us hate admitting. We’re going to make mistakes, but those mistakes will work themselves out as long as we love our children like they need. So before you berate yourself over a messy kitchen or that pile of laundry, you’ll want to consider what you’ve done for your little one. He/she is happy, healthy, and thriving. That counts for something, for a lot of somethings.
Living with postpartum depression doesn’t have to be your present or your future if you follow these ten ways to prevent and beat depression from your life. After all we’ve gone through to get our little ones here, we deserve to enjoy our efforts by enjoying our babies as they learn new things and explore new places as they continue to grow and thrive each day. We shouldn’t allow depression to keep us down, so we need to take the first steps and make a stand against depression before it can overtake us and bring us down. Don’t let postpartum take this time away from your child. Start making some changes today and you can see your way through to the end where you beat depression before it can even start.