Postpartum hormones are no joke. One moment you’re staring at your new baby, the biggest smile on your face, and the next you’re bawling your eyes out – while the baby does, too. Even if you don’t feel that you are dealing with Postpartum Depression, postpartum mental health is a struggle for many new parents trying to get back to themselves after having a baby.
If you’re feeling the blues, or just not like yourself, you are NOT alone. Especially if you are dealing with low milk supply, you may be worrying constantly and on high alert, which can be absolutely draining for an already exhausted mama. Here are some times to improve your mental health postpartum:
Focus on Health:
This may seem obvious, but yet, after baby is born is one of the most important times to focus on your physical health. Particularly for breastfeeding moms and parents, who need sometimes up to 500 additional calories a day to fuel a body producing milk, proper nutrition is so important. Focus on high-quality foods whenever you can: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. Plus, don’t be afraid to add in higher calorie foods balanced in carbs, proteins and fats (ahem, Bessie’s cookies are our top suggestion!) to make sure that you’re staying satiated and meeting your caloric needs. Stay hydrated by always keeping a large, insulated cup nearby. Plus, moving your body once you have doctor’s approval – light walks, stretching, and yoga – may also be a good idea. You’d be surprised how much your PHYSICAL body affects your MIND.
Quality Time… with You:
We get it – everything revolves around baby right now, and rightfully so. This tiny new creature needs you for EV-RY-THANG. BUT – don’t forget YOU. Try to stay lightly tuned into your former hobbies – reading, writing, singing, crocheting, video editing. Even if you only find 10-15 minutes at a time to dedicate to these things, you’ll end up feeling more like yourself! Can you sneak away while baby is fully fed and happy, or napping? An hour in a coffee shop to yourself or meeting up with a friend can make you feel human again, feeding into your soul and tapping into the PERSON, not just the MOM.
Lean on Your Support System:
We know that having support around you is not a privilege that everyone has, but if you have at least one trustworthy person in your life who is willing to help, LET THEM. We know it can be tempting to do it all yourself – prove to yourself that you know what you’re doing, that you can do it without the input of others. But, in the long run, this will lead to burnout. When others offer to drop off meals or GrubHub you dinner – let them. If your mom wants to clean while you’re stuck under baby for hours at a time – let her. If trusted members of the community want to do your yardwork – let them. Lean on others. Allow the support. You’ll feel a sense of community and belonging that is sure to give your mental health the boost it needs.
There is no one right answer. Taking care of your mental health may look different from how your mom or your best friend took care of (or, didn’t take care of!) their mental health postpartum. Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t feel bad if others don’t understand what YOU need to do to take care of YOU. Protect yourself and your beautiful new baby by making sure your mental health is on the priority list, too.