Part 1 of a 3-Part Coping with Postpartum Depression Series
“I have nothing unique to offer.” “My kids [my partner] will be better off without me.” “I have nothing at all left to give.” These are some of the thoughts that may be going through your mind if you are experiencing postpartum depression.
As your baby thrives, you are disappearing. You feel that you have become replaceable. What you are doing is miraculous, but what you had in mind for your life is on hold. Therefore, you feel unfulfilled. But you should not despair ̶ there are practical ways to get the support you need during this process.
Tips for Dealing with Postpartum Depression
Here are some practical tips for dealing with postpartum depression: try taking deep breaths on a daily basis, reach out to others, be honest with others and yourself, set realistic goals, get regular time away from your homebound duties, have date nights with your partner, plan nights out with friends, and ask for help. While hormonal changes play a major part in postpartum depression, they do not account for everything.
Have grace on yourself, hard though this is. Being a parent is the most difficult, taxing, time-consuming, and thankless job there is if taken seriously. And you obviously take your job seriously since you are reading this and seeking help.
According to an article on Postpartum Progess.com, there are “normal” signs of adjustment to having a new baby. But; and then there are also signs that you are experiencing distress that requires support.
Healthy (or “Normal”) Postpartum Adjustment
- Some feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious that decrease with reassurance.
- Some “escapist fantasies,” such as a desire to run away. These occur when the logistics of mothering are challenging but go away when your baby is soothed, when you are rested, and when you are validated.
- Fears that your baby will be harmed. These come and go and you know they are not “realistic.” They do not cause lasting distress and they decrease as your experience and comfort with motherhood grows.
- Sleeplessness caused by caring for your baby at night. However, you are still able to sleep when your baby sleeps or when given the chance to rest.
- Fatigue that comes from late night feedings and interrupted sleep.
- Some feelings of frustration towards your partner regarding differences in parenting choices or differing roles.
- Moments of sadness, disappointment, or anger towards your parents when you are reminded of how you were parented. But you are nevertheless able to maintain your own insights and to keep your own relationship with your baby in perspective.
- Feelings of isolation caused by the increased time spent with your baby especially when a newborn. But these feelings are also accompanied by a desire and motivation to connect with others.
- Uncertainty that comes with this new job, but also the building of confidence that comes with time.
- A hesitancy and worry that comes with allowing others to care for your baby, but a willingness to do this when you are in need of a break.
- A decrease in eating caused by the logistics of being a new mom.
- Temporary bodily aches and pains as a result of childbirth and/or feeding.
- Feelings of worry about your baby’s ability to latch or feed as you hoped. These decrease as feeding improves or shift when a new feeding option is chosen.
- An acknowledgement of the challenge that comes with new motherhood, but also the ability to look forward to things becoming easier.
- Increases in energy that come with increases in sleep.
- Vulnerable feelings that come and go but that do not alter the way that you think about yourself.
Postpartum Distress that Requires Support
- Feeling anxious and overwhelmed most of the time. This anxiety doesn’t go away with reassurance.
- Feelings of regret over becoming a mom that do not seem to go away.
- Repetitive and intrusive thoughts of harm coming to your baby that cause great distress and that impact your ability to care for your baby.
- Thoughts of hurting yourself.
- Sleeplessness that occurs due to “monkey brain” or anxious thoughts that will not go away.
- A deep fatigue that is not alleviated by rest and/or a desire to remain in bed all day.
- A lack of appetite or a need to keep eating despite being full.
- Bodily aches and pains that have no apparent cause.
- Relentless or feelings of anger or rage towards your partner and/or others.
- Resurfacing memories about your own early childhood that cause great distress, anxiety, or sadness.
- Pulling away from those who care about you, despite your loneliness and isolation; a lack of desire or motivation to connect with others.
- Persistent feelings that you are not a good mom or are not good at doing motherly things, even despite validation or reassurance from others.
- Feelings that your baby does not “like” you because he cries or is not feeding well.
- Unrelenting anxiety about having others help care for your baby and a deep fear and inability to let go of some of your control.
- Never-ending feelings that you will never feel better.
- A sudden increase in energy that occurs despite a decrease in sleep. This may or may not be accompanied by seeing or hearing things that are not really there.
- A general feeling of “not feeling like yourself.”
- Any uncomfortable or vulnerable feelings that persist for longer than two to three weeks – especially when these interfere with your ability to meet your basic needs and/or live your life as you would like to.
Christian Counseling Can Help You Cope with Postpartum Depression
If you see yourself in the second list, please call a Christian counselor today. In our sessions, we will explore your angst, investigate your questions, learn and practice coping skills for those times when you feel utterly overwhelmed, and come to a new place of grace and understanding.
Postpartum Depression by the Mayo Clinic Staff, www.mayoclinic.org; The Difference Between Postpartum Depression & Normal New Mom Stress, by Kate Kripke, www.postpartumprogress.com
“AngerAbstractFace.jpg,” by anitapeppers, morguefile.com; “Hand Holding Infant Foot,” by eKookkai_nak, Image ID 10060491, FreeDigitalPhotos.net; “Mother Playing With Her Baby,” By David Castillo Dominici, image ID: 10060590, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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