Postpartum depression (PPD) is an emotional state whereby new or experienced mothers endure “baby blues” for an extended period of time. Common feelings include wavering mood swings, crying spells, constant anxiety and loneliness.
There I was, sitting in my room, weeping away for no apparent reason. This was my second time undergoing the same feeling, emotion and uncertainties. I’m not talking about a bad breakup, instead, it’s the raw scene and feeling after having delivered a healthy, adorable little baby.
If you haven’t travelled on this road yet, then it may sound bizarre to you and you might start judging for feeling such after a joyful experience. I blame the elderly women in my family and movies for not depicting the actual feeling of being a mom to a new baby. It was surreal – even after having my second child.
Here’s My Advice to New Moms
Facing “baby blues”
When experiencing postpartum depression, you will ride along the same path as I and many other mothers did. You will experience a rollercoaster of emotions within 5 minutes – and that’s absolutely NORMAL. The reason we feel this is because drastic change is taking place, and it’s happening at a very fast pace, all at once. One moment you’re living alone with your husband and the next moment, you have a baby who cries every now and then, and wants to be fed almost every hour. Isn’t that heavy to feel for a mom who is in a very fragile state?
Having your freedom taken away is one thing to accept, and breastfeeding is another mountain yet to climb. Honestly, I never knew breastfeeding your child can be very demanding and can take a toll on you. I opted for mixed feeding both my children. It was a personal decision, a choice that made me breathe without having the fear whether will I have enough for the next feed? Why my child is still crying? Is my milk too thin? I pumped and also gave formula. I had no issues with feeding formula because it has its share of benefits, keeps my baby full and healthy. Of course, mother’s milk is the best ever – but if your yield is low or feel breastfeeding is not for you, then do what you feel is best.
My mental health was on a different level when it came to feeding my child because firstly, I received unsolicited advice from almost everyone I met. Secondly, pumping every few hours is no joke. But, the satisfaction I got seeing my baby drink my milk is precious. That kept me going. But I never doubted the benefits formula gave my child. I’m thankful that both my kids are strong, healthy and happy kids!
Having sleepless nights can also affect your mental health because going about with day-to-day activities with lack of sleep and without compromising on parental duties the next day is very challenging. What worked for me was – coffee. After getting approval from my trusted gynaecologist on how much caffeine intake is advisable when breastfeeding, I was a happy mother. Coffee gave me the much-needed boost for the day so that I perform my duties without feeling dreadful. I was happier with my baby and people around me.
Bottom-line, I felt good! That helped me during my postpartum depression. My advice, do whatever you need (as long as it doesn’t affect your baby) to make you feel ‘alive’ and happy again. It could be binge-watching Netflix, going for a quick stroll, meeting up with your friends or sipping hot coffee in a quiet setting. Do it. Freedom never tasted this good.
Setting up a routine
Set up a routine that works for you and your baby, and you’ll slowly have a better grip of your chores. After having a baby, you seldom get to meet your friends or get a sweet chance of enjoying the pre-baby life. When you can’t do things that you did before, you miss it and over time it could leave you feeling overwhelmed. Accepting the fact beforehand will help you. When I had my first child, not having the freedom to enjoy my life like I used to made me want to leave everyone and just walk away. I felt tied down and miserable. I was so jealous of my husband who gets to go to work or even have lunch outside with his colleagues. Let’s no go to the part where he ‘has’ to meet his pals for networking. And there you are, sulking away, with one boob stuck on a pump, in your jammies, watching FRIENDS because it makes you feel better.
Overtime, I got used to being a ‘mom’ and not only a wife, daughter, friend and sister. After overcoming postpartum depression, which took me 2 months, I started to regain the energy and momentum. I absolutely knew my baby’s routine in and out, which includes identifying baby’s cues. I was way better than my husband in managing stressful, hectic and tired situations. I found my long lost willpower which was missing in the past few months.
Looking back at how I was constantly crying feeling depressed and lonely made me gave me newfound realization that I didn’t know I had more strength in me until I was put to test. I never knew I could multi-task efficiently and raise a healthy baby. My old self would give up if I were to be tested like this in a different manner – perhaps corporate life. If I knew something will be this challenging, I’d give up and walk away. I guess motherhood is the only way you can’t (and won’t) give up because it brings out an inner strength that surpasses any other roles you can take on in life.
In short, postpartum depression affects almost every new and experienced mothers. It’s how you maneuver the feelings and take control of the reign – yourself.
Tips on How to Avoid PPD
1. Indulge in self-care from time to time
Whatever it may be. If you need to pamper yourself at a spa, catch up with friends over a drink, go out for a stroll or watch that movie that has been sitting in your watch list for the longest time – DO IT.
2. Reach out to anyone for help if you need to
If you’re a new mom, you might refrain yourself from doing this because you’re not going to trust your baby in someone else’s hands. Not even for an hour. But trust me, once you try it and know that’s it’s alright, you will not feel ‘stuck’, like you’re the only one who can manage your baby. By handing over your baby to someone trusted, you get to savour some much-needed ‘me-time’ which will make you feel rejuvenated.
3. Join a mother’s group or play date group
It will help you to feel better once you mingle with other mothers who are experiencing the similar situation as you are. This way, you get to make new friends and your baby is entertained as well. Stepping out and having an out-of-routine experience with your little one will certainly make you feel better.
Enjoy motherhood, because seeing your child grow into a wonderful human being is a tremendously rewarding feeling. Know that you’re NEVER alone in this journey and that you CAN do it, much better than you thought. So have your chin up, smile on and take on each day with gratitude!