Being a mom, especially a new mom, is hard. It's a type of all-consuming hard that nothing can really prepare you for; at least, that's how it felt for me. The exhaustion is incomparable. The worry is at a whole new level. The tears, the pain, the sleep-deprivation, the outbursts, the isolation, the depression. It's HARD. One minute your heart is absolutely exploding with love, the next your patience is running very, very thin. One moment you can’t wait to cuddle your little baby and then before you know it, you are completely touched out. Your kids go down in the evening and you know you should get some sleep too, but you also are desperate for some alone time. Basically, what I’ve realized is that it’s an ever-changing journey and nothing will make you as happy, as scared, as exhausted or as proud as motherhood.
In my opinion, the first few months are the hardest. Here are a few things that helped me survive the postpartum struggles, so I thought I'd share in hopes they help someone else:
Talk to Your Doctor
Please, please, please talk to your medical doctor. There is no shame in anything you are feeling. None. I was much more prepared for my second postpartum journey and am so thankful that I was more in-touch with my feelings & symptoms those first few weeks and months. As a result, I was a lot more open and honest with my OBGYN and got much needed help. While it's not for everyone, medication was an absolute game-changer for me this go-around.
Up Your Vitamin/Supplement Game
I’m not an expert and I will not pretend to be, but if you have had a baby in the past, you were probably advised to continue taking your vitamins after birth. Why? Well, partly because you are losing some of your nutrients from breastfeeding (if you are breastfeeding), but also because your body is still recovering and your emotional health is, as well. So, what does taking vitamins have to do with your mental and emotional health? A great example of this is Vitamin D. A huge portion of the population is actually deficient in Vitamin D, but it is key to mental wellness. For a lot of people, adding in Vitamin D, B12, and magnesium, can be very beneficial when it comes to combating postpartum depression - and anxiety! A few supplements and vitamins that might work for you when it comes to keeping up with your health - physical AND mental - are a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D, Vitamin D (added K2 is important, as well), Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Cod Liver Oil, Sunflower Lecithin (great for breastfeeding mamas), and Zinc. Right now, you could also throw in immune boosting supplements, such as elderberry syrup. And as always, I am not a doctor, so check with them before starting any new vitamins or supplements!
Talk With A Counselor
This may sound like the last thing that you want to do, but it can be so helpful when you give counseling a chance to work its magic. It does take time AND effort, however. Nothing that is ever worthwhile is an easy fix. That is what I’ve learned! One-on-one therapy can help you discover where your symptoms are coming from and how you can take steps to heal - slowly, but properly.
Look for a therapist who has worked with other moms, or walked in the same steps that you are currently walking in. In addition to one-on-one therapy, therapy groups in Atlanta can also be extremely beneficial. Listening to someone else’s version of PPD and sharing your own can work wonders. A great place to start is Ray of Hope Counseling Services. They offer both one-on-one counseling and support groups! They have locations all around Georgia and also have online therapy for convenience and ease. Ray of Hope Counseling Services is a group of Psychotherapists. They provide individual, group, couples, and family counseling. Each therapist is licensed and educated to provide an excellent level of care. Plus, they also hold additional training and/or certificates in their specialty areas. If you want to feel some relief, need some help to get there, definitely reach out to them.
If you have not realized it by now, know that we are not meant to parent alone. For me, the seclusion and isolation of new motherhood brought on loneliness and more depression. So, when you are able to, make sure you prioritize adult interaction - even if you get it through a playdate that you set up!
Can you go shopping with a friend? Meet a sibling for coffee? Go on a date night and hire a sitter? Find a way to create that adult interaction because it is so important and you deserve it!
Consider A Holistic Approach
While holistic approaches are not always everyone’s favorite, they should at least be considered. Massage, acupuncture, and breathing techniques are great things to potentially try - it can’t hurt, right?! And who doesn’t love a massage? Mind, body, and soul connection is important for mental health, so why not give something different a try? Find a local massage practitioner who works with pregnant women and new mothers, or an acupuncturist who can specifically treat various conditions. Chiropractic care is also an option.
Avoid Over Scheduling
Does it all need to get done right now? Really? Or is your health more important? A spotless house, empty laundry basket and dishwasher, three-course meal, and five different mom and baby classes aren’t necessary. The more you give yourself to do, the more you’re likely to beat yourself up when you can’t do it all perfectly. And trust me, you can’t do it all. Focus on the things you
need to do and the things you want to do.
Not everything in between!
Lastly, please, please, please, give yourself grace.
Sending you so much love, mama!