Caring for Your Mental Health After Having a Baby
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Becoming a mom is a life-changing experience! Between the hormones of pregnancy, the physical trauma of birth (no matter how you did it), and the tortuous sleep deprivation of having a newborn, the initiation into motherhood can take a serious toll. Without proper knowledge, support, and care, your mental health can be affected before you even notice! Here are my tips, learned from experience, on how to care for your mental health after having a baby.
I had a rough pregnancy that completely upended my life (read more about it here). And after I gave birth, I needed another surgery three weeks later from being in extreme pain! Combine that with nursing, not sleeping, and living with relatives… I was a mess. My depression and anxiety were back, and as a result, I wasn’t taking care of myself nearly enough. I felt isolated and like I had to do everything on my own. My mental health after having a baby was in shambles. And the worst part is, I only realized it more than a year later, when I was coming out of the baby fog looking backwards! I can now think back and see what I did wrong that caused me so much difficulty, and what I will do differently if we have another.
A Quick Disclaimer
I was never diagnosed with postpartum depression, and I never saw a professional about how I was feeling. That’s a big regret of mine – learn from my mistake! If you believe you’re suffering from postpartum depression, please reach out to a qualified medical professional for help. I’m not a medical doctor or mental health professional (see my full disclaimer here), so the advice in this post should not be taken as medical or mental health advice. In other words, the following tips are not a substitute for mental health counseling!
Don’t Get Isolated
It’s natural to want to spend the first few weeks with your baby at home, alone, getting to know each other and find your rhythm together. And that’s perfectly fine! But don’t push away others at this critical time. You need to call and chat with your friends. Let your mom tell you all about what she did when you were a baby. Stop and talk to that lady in the grocery store who wants to make funny faces at your brand new babe. Human connection with people other than the ones you live with will help keep you sane!
Ask for Help
When you’re struggling, speak up! Tell your husband, best friend, or close relative that you need help to get everything done. This can be really hard to do! It’s scary and shameful to admit that you’re not superwoman. But why have we set this impossible standard for new moms to keep? Ask for help when you need it. You’ll have less to juggle, and you’ll be able to focus more on your mental health after having a baby!
Talk About Everything
I hope you have that woman in your life who you can talk about absolutely anything with! It doesn’t matter if it’s silly or R-rated, she’s up to the task and has been through it before. Talk to her about everything right now! All the gross and uncomfortable stuff that’s going on in your body. The things your baby produces from both ends. And the thoughts that go through your head! Find someone who understands and will listen nonjudgmentally, because she’ll make you feel better in the end!
Don’t Be Afraid to Look Weak
This is the biggest reason I think moms don’t get help when they should. We’re afraid that if we talk about how we’re really feeling, what we’re truly struggling with… People will think we’re bad moms. I experienced the same thing. I convinced myself that I had to do every single thing, from feeding, to rocking, to putting to sleep. Granted, I was the best at it, considering I had the milk! Emma and I are very close now, of course, but I’m still recovering from not taking good care of my mental health after having a baby. Now, I can only imagine how much easier my life as a new mom would have been if I had let go a bit, been honest, and showed how I was really feeling.
How did you take care of your mental health after having a baby – and what are your tips? Share with other moms in the comments!
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