Nobody wants to think postpartum depression could happen to them- it’s serious and it’s painful. There is no way to predict if you will experience it or not, but it is always a good idea to take a few precautions before baby arrives so you can be prepared just in case.
Talk to your people ahead of time. The ones who will be near you after baby. Husband, mom, close friends… anyone who would be able to notice that something isn’t quite right. Make sure they know the most common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, and how they differ from “baby blues”. Baby blues are extremely common, and show up in mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, crying, irritability, or anxiety, and the symptoms typically last about 2 weeks. With postpartum depression, you may feel similar symptoms, but they will last for longer periods of time, and may not show up until 2-3 months after giving birth. You may also feel sad and hopeless, have trouble sleeping, excessive guilt, losing interest in things you used to enjoy, withdrawing from friends and family, little interest in the baby or trouble bonding, and thoughts of harming yourself or baby. The symptoms of postpartum depression will vary greatly woman to woman, which is what makes it difficult to recognize sometimes. Asking trusted people close to you to check up on you, ask the hard questions, and be paying attention can mean the difference between suffering needlessly for some time, or getting help right away.
Plan of action for feelings of stress and overwhelm
You will have times of feeling overwhelmed after baby arrives, especially in your first pregnancy. The drastic life change of adding a small human into your house, your life, your daily routine, will be difficult at times. So know what you’re going to do to combat this- start a deep breathing or meditation practice. Get a good stroller so you can get out for walks and fresh air. Start a spiritual devotion practice, such as reading the Bible or listening to a good podcast. Have a list of seasoned moms to call or text. Join a mothers group where you feel comfortable talking about the challenges of new motherhood. Don’t wait until you already feel overwhelmed to start these daily rhythms- be proactive!
Prepare what you can ahead of time, so you can sleep when baby sleeps!
Sleep is essential to our health, including our mental health. And there’s nothing quite like a newborn to disrupt our sleep! Having the nursery ready, meals in the freezer, extra help lined up, the laundry caught up, the house deep cleaned, etc. will help you stress less after the baby arrives. More importantly, try to let things go that may otherwise drive you nuts – we know that is easier said then done, but the dishes can wait. Your mental health is so much more important! And when it comes to sleep, a night nurse, sleep specialist, and/or newborn care specialist can help you get rest and be at your best all of the time!
Help will be your first line of defense. So prepare ahead of time!