You look forward to the day of your child’s birth. You go through the whole nine months of childbearing, thinking the end will be nothing less than magical. You cannot wait to meet your baby. You cannot wait to cover them in your warmest embrace. And then your day of labor comes. You go through a kind of physical pain you’ve never imagined existed. And as soon as you push your baby out, all you want to do is sleep.
But protocol requires you to hold your baby. At least for a while. So you take your newborn from the doctor and push them against your bosom. And you feel, well, nothing. No overwhelming sense of pride or protection, like you’re ready to fight an army of thieves to keep your baby safe. No rush of motherly love that’s enough to make you give up life itself just so your baby can live. All you want to do is stay as far away from your baby as possible.
And you think it will pass. You think maybe you’re just tired. Stressed out and spent from painful labor. All you need is a little rest, and once you’re in your right senses, you will be ready to be that mother you thought yourself to be. But days pass and the feeling, or non-feeling, lingers. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months.
You do not wish to have anything to do with your newborn. If you can only admit it to everyone around you, and yourself too, the only thing you wish for is for your baby to be taken away. Now you suspect yourself to be a monster. But you are not.
You are probably experiencing postpartum depression. This medical condition affects 15 percent of mothers. You are not alone.
And yes, you can win against this motherly malaise. Here’s what you can do.
Exercise is known to trigger the release of happy hormones, including endorphins. The effects of endorphins are similar to that of morphine. It makes you feel euphoric.
If you’re a mom going through postpartum depression, walking with your baby in a stroller every day can do wonders to your mental health.
Postpartum depression won’t be cured by eating kale. But that does not mean you can disregard the need to eat healthily. So make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need by stuffing your pantry with food that’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as apples, carrots, and cheeses.
If you can, plan your diet with the advice of a professional dietician. The last thing you want to do is eat unhealthy food with too much fat and bad oil that will make you feel bloated and more miserable.
As for healthy oils in your diet, go for DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. Women with low levels of DHA are more prone to postpartum depression. You can have your daily dose of DHA from seafood.
Stay connected with friends and loved ones.
When we are depressed, we tend to self-isolate. As tempting as that is, if you’re suffering from postpartum depression, you must fight the urge to cut ties with your loved ones. It would be best if you were surrounded by people who mean well. You need to be able to talk through your thoughts and feelings.
Have some me-time
This might sound contradictory to the recommendation above, but the point here is balance. Motherhood can get overwhelming, is overwhelming. And you need to recalibrate from time to time. Allow yourself a couple of hours a day where you get to do something you enjoy, something that relaxes you.
It can be anything from journaling to baking. Or you can go glamping with a Stout Tent with your hubby.
Ideally, you do something that does not involve your baby. The goal here is to rekindle your penchant for fun and leisure and take your mind away from thoughts about duties and responsibilities.
Research indicates that mothers can experience postpartum depression for up to three years after giving birth. And over time, the condition can get worse for some. This is why you need a strong support system. You must let your loved ones in on your situation. The worse thing you can do is suppress or disregard what you’re going through without letting the people who care about you know.
Seek professional help if necessary. Talk therapy can do you good. There should be no shame in what you’re going through. It’s beyond your control, albeit something you can fight and win against.