Motherhood is both glorious and stressful. A new baby brings great joy along with many anxiety-producing challenges. All the new responsibilities coupled with serious sleep deprivation can lead to feeling out of control, exhausted, depressed and distanced from, or even angry at, your partner.
So what can you do to pull yourself out of these depths?
First be aware of how you’re feeling. Signs of PND include: feeling sad, tired, guilty, tearful, overwhelmed, worried, anxious or having difficulty bonding with your baby. These experiences can occur in the first few weeks (usually referred to as “baby blues”) or even up to a year after the new arrival.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
It’s quite normal to have some of these feelings and to have good days and bad days.
But if you’re having relentless symptoms or you feel unworthy, hopeless or suicidal, seek immediate help. There are many online resources such as the international online support website and talk to your health provider.
For self-help strategies, understand that every mother experiences having a baby differently so there’s no specific rule of thumb. If you’re a new Mom, you’re likely working on defining the new “norm” which is a process that takes time and patience.
It’s okay to have all these feelings but know that you have options to reduce their impact and get you off the emotional rollercoaster. With a little mindfulness, you can make intentional lifestyle choices that will help you feel better, more productive and happier.
Here are 8 natural ways to transition more effortlessly through postnatal blues.
1. Reach out for support. If you feel alone and isolated, your depression will increase. So make an effort to talk to family and friends and let them know how they can support you.
Plan phone calls or visiting time with adults who care about you. You’ll find it helps you feel social and connected. Join a new mothers group so that you can share experiences, solutions, and feelings with other women who are going through the same things. It will keep everything in perspective and can be inspiring.
2. Bond with your baby. The emotional attachment which naturally develops between a Mom and her infant is extremely important. But if you feel inconsistent in your feelings towards your baby, you can work to cultivate the relationship.
Talk, laugh and play with your baby and watch for cues to responses. Learn to recognize your child’s communication signals and let go of being the perfect parent. It takes time to understand your baby’s needs. One Mom found that giving a baby massage improved her attachment.
3. Prioritize your relationship with your partner. It’s especially important to work on the dynamics of being a couple as well as creating a parenting bond that you’re facing the challenges together. Plan time for honest communication about what you need in terms of household chores and any other issues.
Spend quality time together as a couple without distractions even if only for 15 minutes of talking and listening about each other’s day or concerns. Intimacy can enhance your connectedness but only if you’re both interested.
4. Get lots of rest, which is easier said than done. So when the baby sleeps, try to get some shut-eye yourself. You would highly benefit from using an ancient yogic technique of Integrative Relaxation based on Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep.” It’s a guided audio that takes you into the deepest levels of alpha and theta states of relaxation where you restore and renew.
Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of practice can deliver 3-4 hours of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is highly revitalizing. My Sports Recovery Plan incorporates a 20 minute program or access my Integrative Relaxation for Stress Relief.
5. Eat nutritious meals and snacks to keep your body and mind powered up and healthy. A well-balanced diet will also contribute to your overall fitness and an improved sense of yourself and your self image. Food is essential fuel for your body to keep yourself functioning optimally and feeling energized. Want healthy munchies? Read this.
6. Stick to an exercise routine, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day. Physical exercise will also help you feel buoyed, more energetic and boost your immune system. Take a walk with your baby which can be uplifting and empowering just to get outside and moving. Or join a class or find a WatchFit plan that works for you.
My Yoga: Body-Mind Builder would be a good one. Some fitness-minded Moms do strength training exercises with their baby which is a fun interactive option.
7. Offload non-essentials. Take a few minutes when it’s quiet to prioritize your task list. Relegate less important tasks to another time or day. You’re not a superhero so allow yourself to be human and accept what you can and can’t do during these early stages of your baby’s development.
8. Allocate quality time for yourself for self-care and relaxation. Give yourself a time out from all your responsibilities so you can recharge and feel good. Take a soothing bubble bath, meditate, pray, listen to relaxing music, enjoy a hot cup of tea.
If you have someone who can watch the baby, take time to get a massage or a mani-pedi and feel pampered. Just setting aside from 5 minutes to an hour can feel like a mini-vacation…and you deserve it!
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize PND because you’re too busy keeping up with everything and you don’t have a moment to breathe and take stock. Or you feel embarrassed or ashamed. Be assured that you have many resources. Start by implementing as many of natural remedies as possible and talk to your health care provider. You are not alone!
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Peggy Sealfon