Having a baby results in a whole host of hormonal and psychological changes that leaves plenty of mums feeling a little “off” during the initial months of parenthood. Post-partum depression is a known phenomenon that sees women experiencing feelings of helplessness and loneliness, and can lead to long-term repercussions if left unaddressed. But hey – chin up! You’ve pulled through a grueling 9 months of pregnancy and have managed to deliver your baby, so you know you've got this!
Post-partum depression has both a biological and psychological mechanisms. For one, your body is going through a rapid change in hormones so feeling exhausted and down is an inevitable side effect. The stress and unfamiliarity of your new role as a mum may get too much at times, but these are things that can be managed by incorporating some changes into your lifestyle.
1. Focus on nutritious food
Giving birth takes a huge toll on your body, and you deserve to eat plenty of nutritious food, especially those that help with blood replenishment and breast milk production. Red meat and legumes are rich sources of iron, while dairy products like yogurt and cheese provide lots of calcium. Ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need and don’t worry about being a diva about it! Get help from the people around you to prepare your meals or get a delivery meal service. Food is one thing you shouldn’t try to scrimp on, especially during the first eight weeks post-partum.
2. Get lots of snooze time
Ensuring that you get lots of quality sleep should be a goal that your family works toward. Having mum duties doesn’t mean you have to forsake your rest! There are positions for nursing such as side-lying nursing, where you can shut your eyes and grab a few winks. Rest is so crucial to your recovery and you shouldn’t have to bear all the weight of taking care of the baby alone – share it with your partner and your other family members.
3. Pay someone else to do the chores
The post-partum period is all about rest and recovery, so don’t tire yourself out with things like cooking or cleaning. During this period, don’t feel bad about forking out some money to pay for a housekeeper or nanny to help you out. Outsourcing your duties doesn’t make you a lazy mum – you’ve earned to right to recharge!
4. Handle body image issues with grace
All that pregnancy weight-gain is something most mummies will bemoan collectively, but you shouldn’t have to feel upset with the way your body looks right now and rush to regain your pre-pregnancy physique. Take a moment to remind yourself of the wonders that your body has achieved! Carrying a precious baby to term and giving birth – that’s a lot to be proud of and you should love your body for that, no matter what it looks like.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The most important thing in beating the post-partum blues is to be honest with what you need and to seek help. As mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to be speak out and ask for what you need, no matter how complicated it might be. If you’re feeling down, talk to someone – your partner, other mums (your own even), or a specialist. Remember, your baby’s well-being depends on you so don’t be shy about prioritising your needs.
Having a baby is a wonderful experience, so don’t let post-partum depression get in the way of what should be your enjoyment. Focusing on your recovery is of paramount importance during this period, so make sure you don't cut any corners. Your kiddo is counting on you!