I can still remember the words of my doctor as he dismissed the concerns I shared with him at the six-week post partum check after my daughter was born.
“You’re not depressed–it’s the baby blues. That’s totally normal and it will pass.”
I had no energy. I cried all the time. I didn’t feel like eating. I snapped at my husband for insignificant reasons. We had just moved into a new house and I had high-energy toddler to care for as well.
Everything came to a head one evening as I waited for my husband to arrive home from work. The baby had a fierce case of colic. We both desperately needed sleep, but there was no way I could nap with a toddler running around. The incessant crying was getting to me. For one completely irrational moment, I simply wanted to throw the baby at a wall.
At the very next moment, I reacted in horror at the very thought. What the heck was going on? This was my little girl, the very girl that I dreamed of all my life.
I knew I needed help.
I knew some of my feelings were related to my daughter’s birth. I tried for a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) but ended up with another cesarean. To top it off, I was not healing well–the result of unpacking too many boxes after the move. Fortunately, I spotted a listing for a VBAC support group and attended a meeting. The haze of depression began to lift and my husband stepped up the care so I could have some time to unwind each day.
It took several months to feel good again. (The so-called Baby Blues are temporary and often go away quickly when symptoms are addressed.) The thing is, when you’re deep in the throes of depression, you’re not in the right state of mind to make rational decisions about your own care. In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten a second opinion, counseling, and extra help at home. Perhaps a prescription of medicine might have been recommended too.
When I finally began talking about my feelings with my mother and my mother-in-law, I discovered they, too, dealt with bouts of depression after one of their births. Just knowing this helped me to be more aware and prepared after my third child was born. I had a few teary days and some emotional swings, but I quickly recovered.
Here are some tips to prepare for post partum care for YOU:
- Sleep is important! When your baby sleeps, use this time to get some sleep for yourself. If you have other kids– trade off babysitting with other moms.
- Enlist help in the home after birth. You can even hire a post partum doula for this. Let go of the daily chores for a while. You can swing back into the routine after you’ve recovered fully from childbirth.
- Take some time out each day to relax and slow down. Meditation is a great way to focus within and just “be.”
- Healthy food goes a long way in helping you to recover and to lessen mood swings. Stock your fridge with veggies, fruits, and nuts to give you extra energy. It takes just five minutes to throw a bunch of good food into a blender and whip up a healthy snack when you’re short on time.
- Stay connected. Reach out to other moms, your partner/spouse, or family members. Share your feelings and ask for help when needed.
- This is a season in your life–a wonderful time to bond with your baby. Cherish every moment of it.