Many new moms experience “baby blues” after giving birth. Sometimes it lasts for a few days while other moms experience it for about two weeks. However, in some cases “baby blues” don’t go away, and instead, it turns into postpartum depression, which can last for months after giving birth.
Postpartum depression isn’t something that means you’ve done something wrong or you have a character flaw. It can happen to the best of moms. Also, it doesn’t happen with each pregnancy.
For example, I now believe that after my last son was born I suffered from postpartum depression. Therefore, this go around I’m hoping to prevent it and today I’m sharing some of the things I am doing (and will do after the baby is born) in hopes to prevent experiencing postpartum depression.
Get an adequate amount of sleep
Sleep is so important as it definitely affects your mental health when you don’t get a lot of it.
Now, that I’m 30 I try to make sure I get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. However, being in my 3rd trimester, sometimes six hours of straight sleep isn’t possible so I get as much as I can.
Granted, when I had my last son I was in my early twenties and sleep was not high on my priority list before, during, or even after pregnancy.
It was strictly kids and work during the daytime and then work and chores at night time AND it was a never-ending cycle, which I feel definitely played a role in me experiencing postpartum depression. Therefore, this time sleep has to be a priority.
Since I’m self-employed I won’t be able to take a maternity leave (I never have in the past so no big deal), but it also means that I won’t always be able to sleep when the baby sleeps. Plus, I’m a breastfeeding mom so add in feedings every two hours and it seems like I’m setting myself up for another disaster cocktail when it comes to sleep.
But, here’s how I’m going to make sure I get an adequate amount of sleep.
- Cut back my work hours: I already don’t work more than 40 hours per week and try to limit myself to no more than 5 hours total all weekend. But, for the first month after giving birth, I’m cutting back to no more than 20 hours per week of work so I will be able to take time to do some sleeping while the baby sleeps.
- My partner is taking an entire month off of work: Thanks to his traditional job, he has more options to have paid off time than me. Therefore, he’ll take a month off work so I can get as much sleep as possible and focus on recovering from birth.
- Pump: I’ve already invested in the Nanobebe Starter Set and I’m currently narrowed down to two hands-free pumps that I’m considering to make pumping as convenient as possible. This will allow my partner to be able to feed the baby and me to be able to get more than 2 hours of sleep increments during the nighttime.
Now, I understand that every new mom has different things that they’ll have to deal with. However, making time for sleep is something that you don’t want to sacrifice as I feel that it plays a big part in whether or not you experience postpartum depression and/or how severe it is.
Therefore, I recommend making a sleep game plan for after the baby is born during your pregnancy. Understandable some tweaks may have to be made, but it should be on your newborn checklist.
Make healthy food choices
You’re probably already eating healthy during your pregnancy. However, once the baby is born it will be so tempting to just eat whatever is the easiest, and some days you may find yourself not having time to eat at all.
It’s super important to make healthy food choices (even if you’re not planning to breastfeed) as I feel that eating unhealthy is something else that plays a part in contributing to the onset of postpartum depression.
Whether it’s the food making you feel like crap/draining your energy even more or gaining more weight instead of losing it – unhealthy eating can be a trigger for postpartum depression.
As a mom who already has 3 kids and a dog, I get not wanting to cook multiple meals every single day, especially when you’re also taking care of a newborn and doing what feels like 100 other things every day.
To make sure you’re making healthy food choices I recommend:
- Meal planning/prep: Plan out meals one week at a time and if possible pick one day per week to prep everything so it’s just warming up and serving during the weekday.
- Cook easy meals: Meal plan in meals that can either go into the crockpot/instant pot with little effort needed or take less than 30 minutes to make.
- Grocery shop online: Don’t even attempt to go to the grocery store (unless that’s how you get your self-care in of course). Instead, order your groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered. This way you don’t forget anything and you’re not tempted to impulse shop for unhealthy foods.
Start exercising as soon as cleared
I don’t believe that it was until I found my love for running that I was truly able to kick my depression.
Exercising and eating healthy not only helped me feel better about my body appearance, but it helped my mental health, gave me a lot more patience, increased my confidence, helped with my anxiety, and overall made me a better mom and partner.
During my current pregnancy, I haven’t been able to work my exercise routine as hard as I did prepregnancy, but even now, getting out for a walk always helps me clear my mind and feel better.
However, I in no way expect to pop out baby girl and hit the trail the next day. Waiting to be cleared by your doctor or midwife is important so you don’t slow down your recovery process.
Also, even once cleared you may have to build yourself back up to going as hard in your workouts as you were prepregnancy. Accept that fact now and then once you are cleared to exercise you can start off with something as simple as a walk or light weights and work yourself up from there.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to treat yourself to some new exercise attire as an added confidence builder.
Don’t bottle up feelings
Society paints the picture that moms should be able to do it all.
If we complain about feeling overwhelmed from parenthood we’re often met with “Well, you decided to start a family so it’s your responsibility”. It’s not like we’re saying we hate our children we’re just saying sometimes we get overwhelmed trying to keep the house clean, work full-time jobs, and take care of the children.
However, bottling up feelings has become the norm, which plays a huge part in the onset of postpartum depression in my opinion.
As someone who was raised with the concept of you should keep your feelings to yourself and suck whatever it is that you’re dealing with up and deal with it or you’re weak, I’m pretty sure it’s what resulted in my depression.
With my last son, I felt like there was no one in my circle I could vent to without them judging me. This resulted in me throwing myself into work whenever he was sleeping, crying during almost all of my showers, and my partner not understanding why I just lost interest in doing anything outside of work and the kids.
This go around if I start to feel overwhelmed or just need to get some frustration off of my chest I’ll definitely bring those up with my partner, at least, and possibly even seek therapy to avoid spiraling into a dark place again.
Get help if needed
Feeding off of the last point, if you need help get help. You don’t have to do it all.
Now, that I’m older, I am going to get help this time if needed. I’m actually already considering hiring a cleaning service to come in once a week for the first two months to do some tidying up downstairs while I reconstruct a new cleaning routine and recover from birth.
For me, a messy house raises my stress levels. However, it is unrealistic for me to hold myself to high cleaning standards right after giving birth and trying to adapt to a new addition to our family.
Yes, there are some people who if I was to share this with them they’d say I should be able to clean my own house the day after giving birth from top to bottom and keep up my strict cleaning routine. But, this time around, I’m not entertaining any of that nonsense as I’m learning from my past mistakes and getting help when I need it.
Whether it’s hiring a cleaning service, nanny, or even getting telehealth depression treatment from SBtreatment.com, do whatever it is that you have to do to keep your sanity.
At the end of the day, it’s your household and your money paying for it. If it helps you avoid postpartum depression go for it!
Stay away from negative people
As a new mom, you’re already going to be getting a lot of unwanted parenting advice (especially if this is your first child). But, on top of that, you’re also likely to run into some negative people (yes, I’m talking about close friends and family).
Your first instinct is going to most likely be that you’re being overly hormonal and what they are doing/saying isn’t that bad, but it could be just the thing that triggers postpartum depression.
Over the years I’ve had to cut off close friends and even family members because of their negativity for my own mental health. Yes, it was hard at first, but in the end, it took a huge weight off of my shoulders.
Not to sound like everyone else, but babies grow up super quick. You want to get in as much quality time with them as possible and start building that bond with them. You don’t need the extra stress and negativity from others.
Stay away from negativity and fakeness and you’ll find that your first months of motherhood go a lot smoother.
By all means, I’m no medical professional. Therefore, the tips for preventing postpartum depression that I have shared here are all my personal opinions based on things that I’m doing to personally try to avoid experiencing it this time.
Have you ever experienced postpartum depression or successfully prevented experiencing it? Make sure to share your experience in the comments. You may be able to help out another mom.