Giving birth to a new baby is a life-changing experience, and as you begin to adjust to life as a mother, it’s natural to experience a spectrum of emotions.
Negative feelings in the postpartum period are nothing to feel ashamed about. On the contrary, nearly one-quarter of all Canadian mothers who have recently given birth report such feelings. Below, we explore postpartum depression and some straightforward strategies for addressing it.
If distressing thoughts are persistent and are impacting your daily life, seek support immediately. At Atwell Centre, we can offer guidance and connect you with a mental health professional with the expertise to help you overcome postpartum anxiety and depression.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that usually starts within the first few days or weeks after childbirth but can sometimes begin during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth. Many new moms experience baby blues in the first two weeks after giving birth, but depressive symptoms that last longer than this are usually categorized as postpartum depression.
If you have a history of depression or other risk factors for postpartum depression, talk to your mental health provider during pregnancy about proactive treatment options, such as talk therapy and/or medication.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Some common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Frequent crying
- Mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Severe mood swings
- Severe anxiety major
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby (associated with a rare and more severe condition known as postpartum psychosis).
6 Ways To Overcome Postpartum Depression
1. Exercise Whenever Possible
Exercise can help to improve your mood, and postpartum depression is no exception. Research has shown a correlation between even mild to moderate exercise (such as walking while pushing a stroller) and improved mental health outcomes for new mothers.
2. Continue Eating Healthily
A healthy diet alone won’t cure postpartum depression, but it can ensure that your body is functioning optimally and that you and your baby are getting the nutrition you need.
3. Make Time for Yourself
As a new mom, making time for yourself is tough. Carve out small windows of time between feedings where you can take a walk, have tea with a friend, or attend a yoga class.
You’ll almost certainly sleep less once your baby is born, but being sleep-deprived can have serious consequences. Sleep while the baby sleeps and/or pump milk so that your partner can cover some overnight feedings.
5. Examine Your Breastfeeding
For some women, breastfeeding is associated with positive emotions; for others, it can be a challenge. Choose the feeding method that brings you and your baby the best overall physical and mental health outcomes.
6. Stay Socially Active
Reach out to friends and family. Share what you’re going through and accept help and support as it’s offered.
Seeking Support Through Atwell Centre
Untreated postpartum depression can result in chronic depression that impacts your life and the lives of those around you; treating postpartum depression proactively is essential.
If you are experiencing postpartum depression, Atwell Centre offers pregnancy support in Hamilton and Halton. From counselling options to support groups, we are ready to help you cope with postpartum depression.