Today will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother. As a new mother, I appreciate the holiday. Being a parent is really hard work and although I am fortunate to be surrounded by people that tell me what a good job I’m doing, an actual day dedicated to others showing their appreciation feels great. Receiving positive feedback helps to make this major life transition easier. Unfortunately, for some people, encouraging words aren’t enough to negate the challenges of parenthood, changing hormones and lack of sleep that can lead to depression and anxiety.
Have you wondered if you or someone you know is suffering or has suffered from postpartum depression? Although commonly called Postpartum Depression, symptoms can begin during pregnancy or after giving birth and can include anxiety symptoms, as well. Women struggling with this disorder may:
- Feel sad most of the time
- Cry daily
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Lose interest in things they used to enjoy
- Experience sleep or appetite changes
- Feel a sense of hopelessness
- Suffer from panic attacks (difficulty breathing or racing heart, sweating, shaking and feeling like you’re dying or about to have a heart attack)
- Have obsessive thoughts, impulses or images that feel intrusive and are distressing, and
- Engage in compulsive behaviors such as washing, counting or checking things.
If you think you meet the criteria for Postpartum Depression, there are things that can help alleviate your symptoms. Ask for help from others and don’t be afraid to tell them what you need. There are many people who can be supportive, including a therapist, postpartum doula, housekeeper, family member, neighbor and your partner. Join a new moms group to connect with other mothers trying to navigate the intricacies of parenthood. Set limits by saying “no” to requests for your time. When you feel overwhelmed, be realistic about what you can do on any given day and accept that not everything will get done. It’s okay if the rugs aren’t vacuumed as often as you’d like and if the thank you notes for baby gifts aren’t written right away. Most importantly, good self-care will help you recover. Make sure you are eating well, sleeping when you can, showering and getting dressed. All of these things will help you feel better.
If you know someone with young children, check in with them to see how they’re doing. Help them without being asked by bringing a meal over or doing the dishes when you visit. And remember, new fathers need support, too.
Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day!