Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable medical illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, indifference and/or anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite and can affect 1 in 7 women or 1 in 9 fathers/partners.
The alarming fact about these statistics is the unaccounted silent sufferers of this mood disorder that go through the battles of the symptoms alone and without help.
Hopefully, this article can change the narrative for those silent sufferers by providing self-care practices that can be done at home, alone, and with only 15-20 minutes of your day.
There are other methods that will be covered here involving support groups and outside help, but if you are someone who is reading this and afraid to come forward with your emotions I hope this can help shift your perspective and ease the pain in some way.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE and having an awareness of your feelings by taking matters into your own hands through self-care practices is a massive step towards breaking your old story and living a life of love, gratitude, and confidence with your family.
Sometimes taking the approach through these self-care techniques of “if the shoe fits” can be a great way of developing positive routines, habits, and a lifestyle.
Whether or not you already have help and are looking for some extra tips or are finally taking the first step with acknowledging your symptoms, this article will enlighten and shine a light on the powerful rewards that self-care practices will reap.
The Role of Self-Care in Postpartum Depression
A philosophy that I strongly believe in is that if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of somebody else? This becomes incredibly evident when dealing with children, especially a newborn in the postpartum stages.
Postpartum depression Self-care for mom and father/partner is critical in fostering a healthy and positive environment through turbulent and unchartered roads.
Self-care is making sure that you are able to fill your cup up so that you can adequately be prepared to support your child or even partner if need be. It is not a selfish act by any means as you are ensuring that you can represent a fully present parent who is ready and capable of raising an amazing human being.
Practicing self-care can come in many forms, for example:
- Support System
- Seeking Help
Taking care of a newborn is demanding on all levels and can easily cause burnout, excessive anxiety, or lead to more severe forms of mood disorders. Understanding that taking time for yourself will not only make you a better parent but will also improve your overall well-being exponentially.
Please take this to heart that it is not selfish and completely OK to ask for help, take time for yourself, and recharge your batteries, as it is physically and emotionally draining to dedicate your entire time to taking care of your newborn.
It is essential that both partners create a plan to set aside whatever time may be needed for themselves in order to show up as competent, loving, and nurturing parents.
Building a Support System
Establishing a support system throughout pregnancy is like a cheat code for having people you can talk to, lean on, and ask for help when it is most needed after birth. Instead of scrambling for people to chip in or professionals to talk to, I highly encourage partners to set things up ahead of time before the baby comes along.
Support systems are what can pick you up when you feel down. They can come to tackle chores when you’re overwhelmed with the household to-do list. And they can watch the baby while you get some well-needed rest. They understand, listen, and show compassion for your feelings at a time when you may feel like you are the only person in the world going through this.
Putting your ego aside and saying yes to help will establish a mindset for taking care of yourself so that you can feel like the parent you were meant to be.
Support systems also help with creating more realistic expectations of what you can and can’t do, as the more you lean on them the better your understanding of life with a baby is really all about.
Self-Care Tips for Postpartum Depression
Below are some tips, practices, techniques, and guidance in four areas of self-care that may not work for everybody but I highly recommend trying them out and even tweaking them to create your own version of them.
Maintaining a respectable level of physical well-being through pregnancy and post-pregnancy is a foundation for creating confidence in supporting your family.
I strongly believe in consistently exercising which is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. This can be simple such as daily walks to start off and then gradually increasing your workload into at-home exercises.
Eating healthy piggybacks with exercising as you want to feel good long after you consume something, not the fast food instant gratification feeling that will make you feel like crap not long after.
Sleep and rest are paramount to recovery and recharging your batteries, which should be taken advantage of whenever possible. When your baby sleeps, do your best to sleep as well.
If you have someone willing to come and watch the baby, sign off and get some shut-eye. Sleep deprivation can be very detrimental to overcoming your overwhelming feelings and emotions.
Expressing your emotions can be such a therapeutic form of releasing, processing, or working through challenging times. Being vulnerable with your partner about what you are experiencing will not only make them aware of what you are going through but strengthen your relationship to another level.
I have found journaling to be an awesome tool for processing challenging times and figuring out solutions to get through them. You can start with only 5 minutes a day of self-reflection through writing and build from there as you become more comfortable with it.
Talking with a professional like counseling, therapist, or even a coach like myself has many evidence-based benefits for working through symptoms of a mood disorder.
There is nothing more powerful in my opinion of mastering self-awareness, which is a lifelong commitment. Understanding why you are feeling a certain way, being in touch with your emotions, and knowing your trigger points are a few benefits that self awareness provides.
Having this awareness gives you an advantage in overcoming challenges and working through difficult emotions.
Meditation is a great practice at growing your self-awareness muscle and may only require 5 minutes in the beginning every day.
Breathing techniques are another tool for grounding yourself and bringing your emotions to an even keel to better manage stress and anxiety.
Also, picking up an old hobby that you once enjoyed and doing something creative is an amazing way to improve your mental state and bring more awareness to things you once enjoyed and can incorporate back into your life.
As mentioned in building a support system, social self-care falls into that category with the benefits of surrounding yourself with loved ones and friends that understand you and what you are going through.
The more you can interact with others, be a part of society through social interaction, the better your chances of suppressing the feelings of loneliness and isolation associated with postpartum depression.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and there are people that love and care for you willing to spend time with you. Say yes to people coming over and gatherings with friends, your heart will be filled and your soul will be nurtured.
Addressing common challenges in practicing self-care with Postpartum depression
The biggest hurdle for most people in practicing Postpartum depression self-care is the feeling of selfishness, guilt, or shame. People may feel selfish that they are taking time away from their baby to take care of themselves.
They may feel guilty for not always being there for their baby when they are doing something for themselves. They may even feel shameful for feeling like they let down their baby by doing their own thing.
Remember this, in order to show up for anybody, take care of whoever, you must first take care of yourself.
If you are 50% how can you expect to give 100% to your family? Your baby and your partner need you, but they need the full version of yourself that can give the full support to them.
Start small with Postpartum depression self-care practices so that you can adjust to the mentality of bettering yourself so that you can take care of your family.
Understand that having setbacks is totally normal! Be patient and continue to persevere to become the best version of yourself for your family!
If you are still struggling with self-care, try seeking help within a support group, therapist, counsellor, or even a coach like myself! These people are here to listen and guide you through your challenges so that you can bring back the life you were meant to live.
Creating a Postpartum Depression Self-Care Plan
It is important in creating a plan for self-care so that you have something to follow by, measure, reflect on, and adjust throughout the process.
Starting small is important so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and are able to try out different things to see what really sticks and proves beneficial.
If you have certain things that you enjoyed or practiced in the past before having a child, try reintegrating them back into your daily/weekly schedule.
Another major aspect of self-care is to come up with goals for which you want to achieve through your plan. Be realistic in setting these goals as you are going through a lot of changes now with a newborn and shooting for the stars may prove more effective in the long run.
Some examples of goals to set are:
- Improving sleep
- More physical activity
- Engaging in social activity
- Better nutrition
- Practicing mindfulness
- Growing your gratitude
- Establishing boundaries
Try starting a self-care journal so that you can track your progress every day/week and reflect on it at the end of the week/month. Find where you might have come up short and what adjustments you can make, and then what worked and how you can expand that more.
Remember that self-care isn’t a one trick pony and practicing multiple techniques will help you find what really fits and makes the most impact. This is your life and your time to take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself for your family.
I would like to remind you that postpartum depression and other mood disorders are serious conditions and should be diagnosed and addressed by a medical professional. Some cases are more intense than others and require medical intervention and a psychologist or someone of that nature.
This article is intended for those who have the ability and purpose in taking matters into their own hands through a self-care program.
The wonderful thing about self-care is how little time some of the practices require and the convenience factor of being able to do them at your own home.
You would be amazed at what 5 minutes of meditation or taking a 10 minute walk outside every day can do to your mood. Even taking 6 deep breaths to manage a stressful situation can be such a powerful tool that so many people are unaware of!
I understand and have practiced these self-care techniques and still do to this day, ever evolving and always looking to become the best version of myself so that I can show up for my family and for you.
If you want to go deeper and take a journey to live a compelling life filled with love, gratitude, and confidence for your family, then I encourage you to take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me to see how I can help.
This is your time to take back your life and become the best version of yourself so that you can show up for your family the way you were meant to!
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