I’ve been postpartum 12 times now. Before Baby Vaughn was born, I was wrapping up every loose end in my life. Trying to nail down and tie up everything that I thought could be a stress producer and dealing with them ahead of time. Family-wise, work-wise, and in our schedules.
It’s a preventative measure that has never yet been all-inclusive, but it’s a valiant attempt at trying to control the known things that can make a mama snap.
Let me be honest here, I’ve never suffered through an episode of Postpartum Depression…and so any advice I have is based on helping to lessen what I call the “baby blues”– that period of wild emotional swings and unexplained tears…not so much how to deal with/fix/heal Postpartum Depression.
But having been postpartum so many times, I can give some valid tips on walking through the blues and maybe even by utilizing my tips lessen the chance of an onset of depression? I end that with a question mark because there are no guarantees and so many factors in PPD that I would never want a mother to read this and somehow interpret that I am blaming HER for not doing these things and therefore causing her own PPD. I’ve had some dear friends whom I love and respect SO MUCH suffer terribly sometimes months after birth…and I don’t think they did anything at ALL to cause it.
So please just read this hearing my heart. I’m trying to give you the tips that have helped ME. Trying to help avoid. Trying to start a dialogue. Get you thinking. Not defending. If you’re a part of this blog, you never have to defend yourself here. We are all just parents doing our best.
[bctt tweet=”We are all just parents doing our best. “]
1 – First Off, a Routine
Newborns are challenging with routines because their days and nights are usually completely confused. I try to start my day off every day at 7am with a newborn and feed at 7am even if I just fed them at 6am! A consistent start time to my day helps me stay on track with the multitude of other things I have hopping in my life. I try to feed the baby every 2.5-3 hours round the clock those first few weeks and even though there are certainly times they get fed sooner and sometimes they sleep later, every 2.5-3 hours is pretty easy to remember.
A routine also helps because I know when I can get a shower and some basic hygiene taken care of. A fresh change of clothes, moisturizer and lip gloss can literally save my sanity. At least for a few hours. When I look better, I feel better.
Another thing I like about a routine is it lets me know when I can get out for a walk in the sun, take a break in the evening, or get a few minutes of alone time in the afternoon with a nap. I’ve often joked with my big girls that I am solar powered– a few minutes watering my flowers outside and mommy comes inside much happier.
2 – Sleep!
Next to a routine and still somewhat coupled with a routine is SLEEP. Sleep deprivation can really screw with you. Mentally, emotionally, physically and physiologically. Sleep is your best friend. Exhaustion is your enemy. Exhaustion also comes cleverly disguised as the “martyrdom syndrome” which begins to happen to me when I’m exhausted– somehow I get this crazy notion that I’m the only one who can do anything and even though I have my husband and family around to help, they are incapable. Beware of the martyrdom mindset and quickly get a nap if she comes knocking.
[bctt tweet=”Sleep deprivation can really screw with you. Exhaustion is your enemy.”]
How do you get sleep with a newborn, you ask? Well it only took me 10 kids to figure this out, but I’ll save you the decade and expense of raising so many and clue you in.
Get hubby, mother, mother-in-law, sister or good friend to come spend the night. Feed that baby at 10pm and go to bed. Turn on a headset and let said friend or family member stay up all night with baby using a bottle of either pumped milk or formula. Just do it. Seriously. If you don’t think you can do it then let your husband read this and tell him to just NOT TELL YOU what night he’s going to do this. I’ve even relegated the first night or two after birth to letting David do all-night duty. Heck, I carried this baby for 40 weeks, he can stay up a couple nights and feed. It’s not too much to ask and it seriously avoids a lot of head and heart drama in this mama. Like I said, what I KNOW I can do ahead of time to help avoid headache and heartbreak, I do.
3 – Limit the Guests
And lastly, guests. Some new moms love the company… But most of us prefer the privacy. Well intentioned guests bringing food or gifts mean that new mama has to tidy up her house or herself and somedays that’s just more than she can handle. In fact, you may think a casserole or an outfit is your key to getting in the door, but for too many new moms they’d rather order pizza and forgo the gift to be spared the stress and/or embarrassment. If you’re dying to do something, send a meal over by delivery…some nice italian joint. Send the gift through Amazon. Don’t just show up. She’ll probably cry after you leave.
One more word of advice:
Call or text before coming to the hospital. No call or text back means don’t come, they just don’t want to be rude and TELL you that. If you get invited to hospital, come at the time THEY suggest, bring something, and stay 15 minutes or less. Wash your hands for a solid 30 seconds when you come in the door. And for God’s sake, if you even have the tiniest whiff of a sniffle or a sick kid at home, DON’T VISIT. I’ve had two friends whose newborns contracted RSV and wound up in the pediatric ICU because of an unthoughtful newborn hospital visit and Ryli, my second daughter got PINK EYE at three days old because a friend brought in her daughter who was diagnosed that day. Crazy.
So maybe try my tips. Or share some of your own in the comments below. And no matter how hard I try and tie down my loose ends or get hubby to take a few night shifts, I’ve never been fully able to avoid the days of unexplained tears or super sensitivity and hyper-emotionality. Not completely. There have been those days, those times when no matter what I tried or how good things were, I just cried and cried. And I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t make me a bad mom or an emotional wreck. It makes me human. It makes me real. It’s just part of the deal and I just try to focus as much as I can on all the good and the blessing in my life– even if I’m crying as I do so.
[bctt tweet=” Postpartum doesn’t make me a bad mom or an emotional wreck. It makes me human.”]