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Is postpartum depression preventable?

photo credit: pixaby

Here is the truth... postpartum depression is not always completely preventable. However, there are steps that you can take to help minimize your risk. I was recently interviewed by Romper.com and provided several tips on how to be proactive and implement some self-care strategies that can make those first few weeks of being a new parent a little more manageable. 

Three areas to focus on to help minimize your risk of postpartum depression and anxiety are support, resources, and sleep.

I like to remind moms that it takes a village, and you need to identify who is in your village. 

 Who are the people you can talk to about anything without feeling judged? The ones you can call at any hour of the day if you are struggling. Who are the people that can watch the baby for an hour or two so you can get some rest? Don’t be afraid to call upon your village and ask for help. It can also be helpful to come up with a list of things that people can do to help you, so you are prepared when they offer you assistance.

You don't have to, and you shouldn't, do this alone! What supports can you put into place before your baby is born? For example, you can set up a Meal train calendar to help organize who will bring food when you are taking care of your new baby. 

And don't forget about sleep! Can someone else, a partner or postpartum doula/night nurse, take the first baby feeding of the night so that mom can get a solid block of uninterrupted sleep?

For more tips, and to read the article in its entirety, please visit romper.com.

Hopefully, by being proactive you can reduce your risk of PPD and make life feel a tiny bit more manageable when your baby arrives. But if you do experience depression and/or anxiety, don't be afraid to ask for help. You will be an amazing mom... just remember you do not have to do it on your own!

Horrible intrusive thoughts, and why they are okay

As I mentioned yesterday, this week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. For the remainder of the week I will be posting articles and resources to help bring awareness to the struggles with depression and anxiety that affect 1 in 7 new moms. 

Intrusive thoughts are exactly what they sound like- they are unwanted and often distressing thoughts that pop into your head and can be hard to get rid of. For new moms these thoughts are especially anxiety provoking because they often are about harm coming to your baby. Sometimes graphic images come with the thoughts, and they can be hard to shake. These thoughts can bring shame and embarrassment. Often moms do not want to tell anyone that they are having these thoughts, because they think there must be something terribly wrong with them if they are having these awful thoughts about their baby. 

These intrusive thoughts are common, especially in women that are experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression. They do not mean that something is wrong with you, or that you are a bad mom.

These thoughts are not you! They do not make you a bad mom. They do not mean that you will harm your baby. They are a product of your brain, your very busy brain. Please do not feel like you must keep these thoughts to yourself. Talk to your partner, a family member, another mom, or even a counselor or therapist if you are struggling. You are not alone!

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Terra LaRock bravely talks about her experience with intrusive thoughts:

I noticed that every so often I would get these flashes of the worst case scenario happening to my baby. From falling down the stairs, to hitting her head accidentally on the door as I walked down the hallway, to her suffocating in her sleep, it was as if my mind was hijacked by every terrible tragedy I had read about or seen in my lifetime.
The thoughts became so bad that I became scared to hold my daughter. I was afraid that if held her, the thoughts would be prolonged. Therefore, I thought that if I didn’t see her or hold her for awhile, that they would stop and would no longer be triggered. I knew that this seemed irrational and most of all, physically impossible since I was still breastfeeding and I was of course, her mother.

If this article was helpful to you, or you know someone it might help, please take a moment now to share this post. The more we talk about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, the less stigmatized they will be. Thank you! 


The relationship that saved me after having a baby...

MaternalMentalHelathMatters

I usually don't share a lot about myself on my blog. But today I am putting myself out there, on a topic that is near and dear to me. This week, May 1 - May 7, is maternal mental health awareness week. So, I thought if there was ever a time to share some of my story, this is it. So here goes...

Having, and caring for, a new baby is hard! Having a baby without a strong support system to help is even harder! When we had our first son, my husband and I lived far away from any family and friends. To say our “village” was small would be an understatement. Our village was practically nonexistent!  Luckily, we had family members visit for the first month or so. But once the dust settled and everyone went home I found myself feeling alone and very isolated. If I am completely honest, there were many days when I felt like I was being pulled down into that deep, dark hole of postpartum depression.

But looking back on my experience after I had my first son, I realized that I was not alone. Yes, I had a wonderful husband, but this post isn’t about him. This post is about a surprising relationship that helped me more than anything else. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time how this relationship saved me. Oddly enough, or perhaps not oddly at all, this post is about my dog, Cali.

My secret weapon against postpartum depression

My secret weapon against postpartum depression

Oh boy, our Cali had a lot of energy! She needed time to run around and be active. If she didn’t get a walk every single day, she would be bouncing off the walls come the evening. (sounds like a kid I know).

Some of the time, her daily walks would feel overwhelming. You know, those days when the thought of leaving the house felt like just too much. But she needed it, so I went. The days when walking her sounded like torture, it was hot and sticky, or the baby had barely slept the night before. But she needed it, so I went. The days when you just want to hook yourself up to an IV of coffee or hide in the pantry. But she needed her walk, so I went. That’s what I did. Every day.

Sometimes we walked for 30 minutes. Sometimes our walks lasted for hours. More times than not, they were the best part of my day.

There were days when I was exhausted and had no motivation to do anything, she would come and put her head onto lap, look up at me with those dark eyes, wag her whip-like tail, and I couldn’t resist. I would pack up the stroller, grab her leash, and head for the door. By the end of the walk, she was usually tired and would curl up on her doggy bed. And me, I would almost always feel better. Our walks together gave me the strength, energy, and calm mind that helped me to tackle another exhausting day.

Looking back, I realize that as a new mom I took care of everyone else before myself. I told myself that she needed a walk, so I went. But really, by taking care of my Cali-girl, I got what I needed too. I think those walks saved me in those early months. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.

I've learned that help can come from surprising places. Also, getting outside at least once a day, even if it is just for 15 minutes can make a world of difference. So if you're a new mom, make a reoccurring walking date with a friend or another mom or even your dog. 

If this article was helpful to you, or you know someone it might help, please take a moment now to share this post. The more we talk about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, the less stigmatized they will be. Thank you!