Throughout my pregnancy, I would sit and daydream about the day that I brought my baby boy home. I ignorantly imagined that my life would stay somewhat the same after he was born. I promised myself that I would never become one of those moms who stopped hanging out with her friends and that I would be super chill and always look put-together.
This disillusioned picture that I had painted for myself wasn’t at all what my postpartum lifestyle would look like. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mama. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world; however, I wish that I’d had someone tell me upfront what the first six weeks postpartum would be like for me and some ways to overcome the “fog” that can so easily encompass you.
Postpartum depression, anxiety, and baby blues are very real things. Think about it, your hormones are all over the place. I mean, you just went through labor, which I know for me, was very traumatic. As soon as that baby is born, you are thrown right into the chaos and joy known as motherhood. It’s a lot of intense emotion combined with lack of sleep and fluctuating hormones.
The first time I really looked at the mirror after my baby was born, I saw a baggy-eyed, scared mom with spit up on her shirt and poop smeared on her elbow. I looked truly horrendous. I knew that I loved my baby more than anything in the world, but I was so overwhelmed and kept thinking to myself, “Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like? Am I ever going to look and feel normal again? Will I ever be able to sleep long enough to go through a full REM cycle?” These thoughts kept playing on a loop in my head, which pushed me further and further into depression and anxiety.
The more depressed I felt, the more I doubted my ability to be a good mom. I felt truly alone. All of my other friends seemed so put together after having a baby. Why did I feel so not put together? I felt like I was losing it, and I was too ashamed to admit it to anyone. Then it struck me: What if a lot of moms feel like this and just aren’t willing to speak up about it? I think that some women, much like I was, are afraid that if they admit that they are struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety then that makes them a bad mom. Do not believe this lie!
Up to 80% of new moms experience the baby blues and 10-15% of new moms experience postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD. You are not alone!
So what are some practical ways that I have found to help cope with postpartum depression/anxiety/baby blues?
1. Talk to Someone
Seriously, do not be ashamed at all to admit that you are struggling with it. There are so many support groups out there for new moms. My OBGYN gave me a list of groups for moms that are struggling with postpartum depression, baby blues, or anxiety. Since joining one, I have found it to be so encouraging because I am able to see that I am not alone in this. I look forward to our weekly meetings because of the incredible support that I have gotten from other moms who are going through the exact same thing.
2. Get Outside the House
I had no desire to leave my tiny apartment those first few weeks after my son was born. I felt gross, and the idea of being around people sounded completely exhausting to me.
After three weeks of being hidden away in my apartment, my mom finally forced me to go out and enjoy myself for a couple of hours while she watched the baby. It is absolutely amazing what a little fresh air, sushi, Barnes & Noble, and coffee can do for you. I came back seriously in the best mood.
3. Get into a Routine
I know that it is very difficult to get into a routine when you have a newborn, but establishing certain patterns can ease anxiety and depression. For example, I always try to shower during my baby’s first nap of the day. I nap during his second nap, and I try to do any housework during the third nap. I do well with structure, and I feel as if I am in more control of every aspect of my life if I have as much of a consistent routine as possible.
I still feel a little hormonally imbalanced at times. I still have moments where I find myself getting anxious over stupid stuff; however, I feel so much better now. Like I said, do not be afraid to admit that you are struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, and/or baby blues. It does not make you bad mama. You are not alone, and it will get better.
So, to all of the new mamas out there, you’ve got this!
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.