There are all different sorts and levels of depression and PPD. Some baby blues is normal after a baby is born. Your hormones dramatically fluctuate. But if after your baby is born, you are about 6 weeks PP and you find that you are feeling horrible. Everything is irritating you; life seems to heavy to bear, you find yourself thinking things you never thought you would.
Here are some symptoms you should be watchful for....
• Feeling sad or down often
• Frequent crying or tearfulness
• Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
• Loss of interest or pleasure in life
• Loss of appetite
• Less energy and motivation to do things
• Difficulty sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
• Feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty
• Unexplained weight loss or gain
• Feeling like life isn't worth living
• Showing little interest in your baby
You know that some of those things are normal, if you are not sleeping, but if it continues for long periods of time and you have no happy days, you may have an issue that you need to address.
If you ever consider hurting yourself or others, it is time to get help now.
But what does getting help mean?
It can depend on the level of depression you are suffering from.
You may need to force yourself to get out of the house and get some support from other mothers. Counseling (talk therapy…talking to someone about some of the stress you are under, maybe your birth did not go the way you planned it, your husband lost his job, your husband is gone, your baby does not nurse well…the list goes on), and sometimes medication.
Many people do not seek help because they are afraid of medication or assume that it is the only way they can get help.
Some things you can try if you want to avoid medication to start with:
1. Find someone to talk to- this might be a friend, but most often, a professional who knows how to deal with crisis.
2. Get in touch with someone who can help you figure out some things that relieve some of the burden on you.
3. Establish a strong social network. This is hard for many people! You had a new baby; you don’t feel like yourself. A postpartum body is hard to adjust to, and none of your clothes fit. You are struggling with breastfeeding in public. I think what many people don’t realize, is that there are many, many moms who struggle with the same things. When we get out there, we will come away realizing that our feelings are normal and it is okay to struggle. Your friends, if you are honest with them, can tell you if you need to talk to someone else.
4. Find time to do something everyday for yourself, even if it is just 15 minutes. This can be hard when you have little ones. It might mean establishing a quiet time, where they take a nap, watch a movie, read books, spend time in the crib where you know they are safe, while you take a bath.
5. Journal- this can be a great way to process some of your feelings you are having. If there was something about motherhood, birth or the whole transition that has been hard to comprehend, write those down and get it out on paper. The relief can be great!
6. Talk to your care provider. If you used a doctor or midwife during your pregnancy, give them a call and set up a time to go over how you are feeling. It might be time for some blood tests, physical to make sure there is not another reason you are feeling so tired.
7. Realize that you are not odd for feeling this way. It happens to most women! You are not expected to be perfect or super mom. Remember that if you do not care for yourself, you will not be there to take care of your children. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, but a requirement for good mothering.
There can be some small things that can help you feel better. Some need to be done in combination, but go down the list, or up the ladder, so to speak.
1. Good diet- Many times when we are tired and exhausted we may not be eating the foods we need to for proper nutrition. Focus on stocking your house with simple; easy to grab foods, that is healthy for you. For example, apples, oranges, string cheese, Greek yogurt, cucumbers, hummus, canned beans, grated cheese, whole grain tortilla, bags of salad. These foods can be easy to grab a snack or make up a meal and can help you feel better.
2. Exercise- this does not have to be anything strenuous. It can be as simple as putting your baby in the stroller and walking around the block or going to the end of your road to get the mail. It can be putting the baby in the cart and walking around the store at a good pace for 20 minutes. If you have access to a computer, there are many fun, short exercises on YouTube and other places online.
3. Fresh air: Just step outside and breathe in deeply for 5 minutes.
4. Find a hobby that you can do with having a baby. It can be as simple as nurturing a plant in your house, or as complex as detailed scrapbooking. Find something that will work with your likes and is reasonable with having a baby.
5. Vitamins and supplements: Fish oil, flax seed oil, Vitamin B formulas are some of the vitamins and minerals that can help your body to work properly. Ask your care provider for a list of vitamins that they recommend you take daily.
6. Medication- there are some anti-depressants that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers take. There are some risks involved, but the risk of a depressed mother to her baby is also great and only you and your care provider can evaluate the safety of both. Do some research on the safest ones. Here is a link to some of the studies and info from Thomas Hale’s book on pregnancy and breastfeeding with anti-depressants. http://www.kellymom.com/health/meds/antidepressants-hale10-02.html
This can be a helpful book to check out as well. I don't recommend everything in it, but it has some helpful tips.
The postpartum survival guide: Everything you need to know about Postpartum Depression by Paul Meier
You can read my full review here: http://laborpainzsupport.blogspot.com/2011/05/postpartum-depression.html