Staying Healthy During the Postpartum Period
The postpartum period is a challenging adjustment for many families. We bring these tiny humans into the world and very few are fully prepared for the changes that will come with this change. It is important during this time frame to care for ones mental, emotional and physical health. Here are some ways to do that:
1. Ask for help
I know that sounds cliche, but it's so true. If you have family or friends that offer to help, take them up on it. I know that is difficult, but they can help make meals, stay caught on on laundry, help with dishes or even give you a chance to nap or shower.
2. Hire help
Another great option regardless of whether you have friends and family available is to hire a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula will support your parenting choices without judgement and can be hired for any time of the day. If you need help during the day with light housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation, finding a time to nap or shower, breast or bottle feeding or just needing another adult to be present for physical and emotional support, a postpartum doula can help you with that. A postpartum doula can also help with overnights. Taking some/all of the feedings or bringing baby to you just for feedings and then changing the baby and putting him/her back to sleep and helping you get the most sleep possible so that you can feel better and healthier mentally and emotionally throughout the day.
3. Find a support group
In the age of social media this has become increasingly easy. Getting out of the house and socializing with other moms is great if possible. However, this isn't always an option, so finding a support group online is a great alternative. In either case, try to find a group where you don't feel judged for your feelings or parenting choices and that is a good fit for you.
4. Seek out professional support
While 75-80% of new mothers experience the "baby blues", this typically does not require treatment, an is considered a real, but normal response to the adjustment. It begins around day 2-3 and peaks around days 7-10. However, if you feel that you are experiencing signs and symptoms of depression over a prolonged period of time you may want to seek out professional support and treatment from a doctor or counselor. Postpartum Depression is a serious mental health problem and can affect ones ability to care for their infant, their family, and their ability to function in their daily lives. There is no shame in asking for help and seeking out treatment.
5. Seek out additional support
There are other ways that parents might need support during the postpartum period. If one is trying to breastfeed, meeting with a lactation consultant can be helpful. Hire a nanny or babysitter so that you can focus some time on self care or caring for your relationship with your partner by going on even a short date. Care for yourself physically by getting a postpartum massage or a chiropractic adjustment (labor is hard work physically!)
Most importantly, be patient and gentle with yourself as you learn what works for you, your family and your new baby. Each baby is different and your approach to parenting my change each time. Give yourself grace, don't compare yourself to others and trust your own intuition.