5 Tips to Help with Your Postpartum Mental Health Before Baby Arrives
Posted on July 09 2019
Postpartum Mental Health
Published by Adiyah Bell
I've touched on this topic slightly in one of my previous blog posts, but I think its important enough to dive a little deeper into.
Overwhelmed. Uncertain. Confused. Helpless.
These are just some of the emotions that came crashing over me when I got home from the hospital. I believe this is where the narrative of "I have to be able to accomplish everything" begins. I have to be able to breastfeed, stop her from crying, put her to sleep, change her diaper, take a shower, do my hair, clean the kitchen do laundry, and maybe workout. It's no wonder women can feel like failures. Stress is a critical trigger for the development of clinical depression, so it's not wonder that PPD is so common.
"Depression is the most common psychiatric disease among women, exhibiting a prevalence which is 2–3× higher than in men. The postpartum period is considered the time of greatest risk for women to develop major depression and postpartum depression affects approximately 15% of women." I waited to do a lot of things that added to my stress at the hospital, which in turn, lead to my crash when I got home.
Looking back on those first 3 months postpartum I have noticed there are a few things I can and will do during my next pregnancy that will help with my mental health after baby gets here.
Prepare for the Worst. Expect the Best
Traumatic deliveries can happen, even though we may already have a birth plan. Set guidelines to say "if things get this bad, then we can proceed with an emergency c-section." That way you won't feel blindsided and can already wrap your head around the possibility of a different type of delivery. Take the time to ask any questions prior to the procedure to get more comfortable in the event of your worst case scenario. I believe the trauma comes in from it being unexpected ,the lack of control, and the fear of the unknown.
Create a "safe space" in your house
Everybody gets the nursery ready, but what about your space. Buy some of your favorite candles. Set up a part of the house, whether it's the living room or your bedroom, that you can decompress in. Be sure to add elements of serenity in the nursery for you as well, if you'll be in there a lot. Add items that are your favorite color, aromas, anything that brings you joy and relaxation.
Plants are a great addition to a space. They help reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being. They also improve air quality and reduce background noise.
Don't Forget Your Breathing
We have to reset your minds from those racing thoughts that can drown us when we get home. The tools we learned to get through contractions and delivery are still great to use once you get home! Remember to center your mind, focus on the moment, breathe it out, that you are still in control and "This too shall pass."
Schedule a counseling session
Addressing issues,worries, and concerns prior to baby will help you handle triggers once baby gets here. Don't wait until after the fact to seek help. Take advantage of the free time you have beforehand. If you have a history of mental illness, it's important that you maintain your regimen and keep open dialogue with your health care provider to see if any adjustments should be made.
They even have some apps now where you can do FaceTime sessions.
Talkspace, BetterHelp, LARKR, Basis, 7cups are all great starting points. If you prefer talking to a person in the flesh they also have a search feature for you to find someone in your area. :)
Get your FMLA together
Get all your FMLA paperwok together, so when you get home you don't have to worry about missing pay or job security. You don't know how many women I've had to talk off a ledge with a crying baby in the background, because they forgot to do it before hand.
Heinrichs, Stephen, “Neurobehaviorial consequences of stressor exposure in rodent models of epilepsy” Science Direct, Publisher, 30 June 2010, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584609003881