As I said in my transparent look of Postpartum Depression I was determined with our second baby to do all I could to help prevent PPD the second time around.
Here are some of the things I learned…
1. Ask (or accept offers) for help. This is the number one piece of advice I can give. If someone offers to make you a meal, get their phone number and call them. You do not need to do everything. Trust me, you will appreciate not having to think about what to make for dinner. Actually, start a mealtrain! That way you can direct people to sign up for a specific day to bring you a meal and you don’t need to worry about it. If someone offers to come clean you house…TAKE THEM UP ON IT. You might need to allow them to hold your baby for a few when they’re all done, but it’s so worth it. You won’t be able to do it all yourself, and it’s important to know that’s okay.
2. Surround yourself with other parents. Find a go-to person for all those parenting questions; someone you can call when you need advice, need to know if you’re acting sane, need an ear to listen and let you know that what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal…or not.
3. Identify potential triggers. E.g. I knew if I didn’t find out ahead of time what we were having I had the potential to feel depression (especially with the surge of post baby hormones) if we had another boy. I wanted to feel elated at his birth that we were adding another baby to the family. See Baby Gender Disappointment. For some it might be having an overbearing parent, or parent in law, that might have the potential to hang around too much. Or it could be knowing you’ll feel too stressed if the house isn’t immaculate. Or for others still it might be something else entirely. The important thing is to address it beforehand (as much as possible…you won’t know every potential trigger) and have a plan.
4. Ask those closest to you to monitor how you’re feeling/acting. It’s normal to be weepy and emotional. But if you start to feel like it’s going beyond that, take it seriously. If you’re like me and don’t realize how bad it is while you’re in it, make sure you let your spouse and/or friends/family know it’s okay to suggest help.
5. Get out and about. Go to coffee with a friend, go shopping, go to dinner, go for a walk. Whatever it is, just get out. If you have a baby that allows you to get out with him/her, then by all means, do. But, if you have a baby like my first, try to find outings that are easier to manage a crying baby. Getting out for a walk, or exercise in general (nothing strenuous for the first 6 weeks) can help produce endorphins which help your overall sense of well-being.
6 Don’t expect everything to go according to your plan. Life is unpredictable and babies are, well, babies. Just when you think you have them figured out, they throw you a curve ball. Your baby may not sleep, you may struggle in ways you didn’t realize, your baby may
7. Sleep. Okay, remember how I said I hated (understatement) when people told me to do that? Well, I hated it because inevitably whenever I would lay down for a nap my son would wake up just as I was dosing off (It would take me 30 minutes to fall asleep which is exactly when he would wake up). However, there is truth in the statement that you should sleep. Only what I want to suggest is sleep even when your baby is awake. What I mean by that is if you are one whose child does not sleep, take up one of those people on their offer to help and have them watch your baby (yes, even if your baby is awake) so you can get caught up on sleep. I had my son at 3:42 am, the doctors and guests didn’t leave until after 5:45 am, and the pediatrician came in to do the circ at 7:00 am. Guests started pouring back in around 8:00 am…should I continue? Needless to say, we were up for basically 40 hours straight. It’s a hard thing to catch up on. And then to have a child that didn’t sleep made it that much harder. In hindsight I wish I had asked someone (other than my husband because he was so tired too) to watch our son and only wake me for nursing…I could have missed one day of his life instead of weeks. Would it have helped? I don’t know, but I sure wouldn’t have been as exhausted while I was depressed. Fortunately, I was blessed with a 2nd child that slept 20 hours a day for the first few months. While you’re still in the hospital, don’t be afraid to send the baby out with the nurses so you can get some sleep. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean you love your child any less. If your baby is anything like mine was, it may be the only sleep you’ll have for awhile and it’s so important for your recovery to rest. This will be especially true if you have the baby in the middle of the night…you’ll need to get caught up on sleep!
8. Make sure you’re getting your Omega-3s. I didn’t try this one, but a lot of the reading I’ve done has shown me there is some research backing this up. Interesting thought.
9. If postpartum depression does happen to you, know that you are not alone. You are not the first, you will not be the last. Seek out help.
10. Talk with your Doctor. If you suspect (or a loved one) that you’re suffering from PPD make sure to talk with your Doctor. It may be necessary to be on medication.
Please know that since I am not a Doctor any “advice” I suggest should be run by a Doctor first.
Readers: I hope you’ve found something to either carry with yourself, or pass along to a friend. Please do! It’s so important to know you’re not alone. Anyone else have any tips to add? What did you do to help get rid of, or prevent postpartum?