By Erica Cramer, LMSW
Society tells us that new motherhood should be a joyful, fulfilling, and positive experience. However, many women feel sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed after giving birth. These symptoms may be a severe form of clinical depression called Postpartum Depression (PPD) which is a related to pregnancy and childbirth. PPD can develop anywhere from a few weeks to a year after delivery, but is most common in the first three months postpartum.
Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Brooke Shields are women who have openly discussed their struggles with PPD. This condition results from hormonal, environmental, emotional, and genetic factors that are beyond a new mother’s control. It is estimated that 13 percent of new mothers develop this type of depression. However, experts believe this number may be even higher because many women do not seek professional treatment due to stigma and shame.
Here are 5 ways to cope with Postpartum Depression:
- Meet your basic needs. As a new mother, it's easy to get wrapped up in taking care of your new baby that you neglect your own needs. However, if you're not taking proper care of yourself you will not be able to properly care for your baby. Ensure that you are maintaining a regular sleep schedule and eating normal meals throughout the day. When women are experiencing PPD, they often have sleeping difficulties and weight changes.
- Ask for help when you need it. You didn't just become superwoman, you just gave birth to a baby. Part of being a good mother is being self-aware and knowing when you are overwhelmed. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and delegating certain responsibilities to others. Let your partner, relatives, and close friends know specific ways they can make your life easier. If you do not specifically ask them for help, they may not know you need it.
- Develop a support system. In addition to sharing your feelings with your partner, friends, and family, many women coping with Postpartum Depression find it helpful to speak with a mental health professional. There are also Postpartum Depression support groups, asspeaking with other women experiencing similar feelings can be helpful.
- Engage in self-care. Self-care activities range from going on a scenic run to taking a relaxing bath to reading a romance novel. Think of activities you enjoyed prior to giving birth and find a way to reincorporate them into your daily routine. These activities may need to be slightly modified to suit your new lifestyle. For example, instead of getting your nails done at a salon do them at home, or instead of exercising at the gym walk with your stroller around your neighborhood.
- Simplify your life. Taking care of a baby can be exhausting and time consuming. Along with your self-care activities, other areas of your life may need to be altered. Some ways you can simplify your life is by having food delivered instead of cooking, ordering household items online, or delegating certain household responsibilities to others.
Erica Cramer is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support with Postpartum Depression, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.