Hannah Whisler, MSW, LCSWA
Five Healthy Approaches to Postpartum
The first few weeks after childbirth are a significant adjustment period leaving many new moms feeling as if they are on an emotional rollercoaster. Hormonal shifts, sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, lack of time for self-care, stress, and isolation often lead to mild depression and mood swings. Generally, these symptoms start within the first couple of days post-delivery, peak around the one week mark, and then taper off by the end of the second week. If your symptoms persist or get worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Here are five tips to help you build resiliency through the postpartum phase.
Ask for Help
Oftentimes, as a new mom, it is common to want to be entirely responsible for yourself and for your baby, but as they say “it takes a village to raise a child.” You are not less of a mom because you ask for support. In order to be the best version of yourself, you have to take care of yourself, which may look like accepting support and handing your baby off for a few minutes so you can take a shower, eat a warm meal, or take a power nap.
Inform Others How They Can Help
Having others reach out to help can be a great thing, but it could also be overwhelming if someone isn’t helping in the way that you had hoped to have received help. This might look like asking someone to drop off your favorite dinner at a time and night of the week that you’ll need extra help or it might look like asking someone to not use certain words or phrases about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum that you find upsetting. It isn’t selfish to directly ask for what you need. You are prioritizing your needs.
Find your Groove and Get into a Routine
The addition of a baby to a family is a beautiful thing, but it also changes everything that you were used to doing on your own. A routine establishes consistency, dependability, and responsibility, which will be important for you to get your bearings, but also for your baby to learn. Routine is imperative for your child because their day from the time they’re born is a blank slate. As you incorporate routine, your child learns that they can depend on you to provide them with what they need at a time that best suits them and your family. Just like starting anything new, routine takes practice and may not come easy. In these moments, give yourself grace and try to keep moving along to get back on schedule.
Take Care of your Body
Give yourself ample time to heal from childbirth. Don’t overextend yourself and learn to ask people to help in specific ways that allow you to rest. When you feel up to it, try a low impact exercise such as walking the neighborhood or stretching on the living room floor. Exercise will increase your serotonin levels, which ultimately increases your overall mood and can help clear your mind to sleep better or to feel more relaxed.
Write Down 3 Things You’ve Done Successfully
The first few weeks after childbirth, you learn many new skills and techniques which can be tedious while also caring for yourself and for your baby. The technique you learned at the hospital may not work the same as when you get home. The traditional parenting skills that you grew up learning may not be as successful as you had thought that they would be. As you learn and figure out what works and what doesn’t, embrace what things you did that felt normal or felt successful. Maybe your baby drank more of the bottle today than they did yesterday, or maybe you showered for the first time in three days. Even if things don’t go as planned, remember what your original intention was centered on.
Hannah Robinson, MSW, LCSWA specializes in working with women in all stages of pregnancy and postpartum. If you or someone you know needs support during this time of adjustment, she would love to assist. She can be reached at 919-410-8229 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.