After having a baby your world can absolutely turn upside down. You're running on less sleep, have less time, and transitioning to having another little one whose needs are always first. With all the stress that comes along with a new baby, it can feel a little like you're treading water and are barely keeping your head above the surface. It's important to know that it's not in your head! Hormones involved in pregnancy, childbirth, and post delivery are all playing a huge part in the way you are feeling once you bring baby home. During pregnancy we have an increase in estrogen production, and right after babe is born those levels drop to even less than they were before you got pregnant. Safe to say this can cause a slight change in your mood, outlook, and even the way you feel about yourself or baby.
When I brought home our son, I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotion that became part of my daily life. I was feeling personally responsible for my son's jaundice, could not go fifteen minutes without crying, and breastfeeding was a straight up battle. The turning point for me was in the feminine care aisle three days after I delivered my son. I was at Target (generally my happy place, lets get real) getting some pads that would become my constant companion over the next month. When all of a sudden, I was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn't hardly stand I was crying so hard. I called my doctor on the way home, and have been working on my postpartum depression since. It's not a joke. It's not something to be ashamed of. It's a result of hormones that change once you have a baby. We all work on things in the way that is best for us, but lets all be willing to accept that we need a little help! Dealing with hormones on top of everything else that comes along with a new baby seems kind of like a cruel cosmic joke, but here are a few tips that should be able to make things a little bit easier.
You need to make sure you have a good support system to communicate the way that you are feeling, and where you feel like you need more help. A doctor is of course a great place to turn to if you are feeling like you may need to get some insight into the symptoms of postpartum depression and whether or not they apply to you. Don't close yourself off from the friends and family that are willing to offer their help once you have baby! Repeat after me: Yes. When someone offers you help, please (PLEASE) accept. Whether it's to come hold babe while you sleep or shower, to bring you dinner, or even to come over and fold your laundry. Just. Say. Yes.
I know that mamas out there are looking at this tip like, Yeah right. But hear me out. Your body is trying its best to get back to normal levels, and you should not be working against it. As much as you feel like you have to do, I can promise you that if you are not letting yourself sleep you will feel worse. Obviously, new babies need a lot of attention...pretty much all of our attention. But some of the best advice I ever received was to sleep when your baby sleeps. Take naps when you can! Even if it's just for a few minutes at a time! Your body will thank you by slowing down and resting. Don't worry about the dishes. Don't worry about the number of dirty burp rags piling up. Don't worry about how greasy your hair is. I promise you that it will all get done. But if you take the time to sleep, you will be able to roll with the punches that are constantly thrown at you with those jerky hormones. *For some tips on how to deal with lack of sleep and find other, creative ways of sleeping read our previous post 4 Ways to Deal with Lack of Sleep After Baby
Once you have a new baby at home it will feel like you need to use up all of your energy fulfilling that one aspect of your life. Don't let yourself get lost just because you bring baby home. It's okay that you still have interests and hobbies and likes that exist outside your home and outside of your child. Make sure to make time to do those things! This doesn't make you a bad mom! If you want to take some time to go to the gym and get in a run or sit in the hot tub, then GO! The endorphins aren't going to hurt, either. If you want to go to a movie with some friends, then GO! Daddy can get some one-on-one time with babe. If you want to go shopping for some new shoes (now that your feet aren't the size of a house cat), then GO! When you do things that you enjoy, it will make the things that you are doing at home so much more enjoyable!
A happy mama is absolutely critical to any happy baby. It's so important to make time for yourself, and to listen to your body after baby. There is nothing wrong with needing a little help, because trust me, we ALL need help. Don't let the struggles or the stress get you down, mama. You are amazing!
PC: Stephanie Sunderland