I have five children. I had them in seven years. There were many days and nights, months and years, of “things being gloriously out of balance” as my husband would say!
I don’t recall ever feeling anything more than the “baby blues” with my first four children. According to the Mayo Clinic (2012), symptoms of the “baby blues” may include:
- Mood swings
- Decreased concentration
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Intense irritability and anger
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Loss of interest in sex
- Lack of joy in life
- Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
What happened next is how God did answer me–through another person. As I have pondered for a few days on what I might say about postpartum depression, I came up with three things that I wish I had known to do after each of my deliveries–and especially after my last one. What is interesting is that the Mayo Clinic article has some of the same conclusions!
1) Your body has just gone through a MAJOR event! Your hormones are going to be unbalanced. Drink more water and eat more raw foods. Find a doctor you trust who is willing to help you balance your hormones–and the more naturally he/she will go about it, the better off you and your baby will be! Find a really good nutritional supplement. Take it every day!
2) You are going to be sleep deprived. It’s just a fact. If you have other children, the amount of stress is going to escalate. However, how you cope with the loss of sleep and extra stress is something you can control. When someone offers to take your other children for a little while, let them! I will always remember a neighbor who came over and told me to take a nap while she took care of all five of my children.
3) In my opinion, the most important thing a new mother can do is to properly feed her emotional self. If a new mother believes that locking up her feelings–whatever they are–is just what moms do, she will pay the price. And so will her spouse and children. In this blog I have shared some tools and I will continue to share more. If I had only one to choose, it would be to write, burn, and learn. I would write down exactly what is going on in my head. I would not wait. I would not pretend it is just going to go away. It will not. It will rear its ugly head another day…or another year when you least expect it to.
I have not researched fathers and this subject. My hunch is that there are many men who feel left out of what is happening as the new cycle of life happens. It could be due to wives not explaining what it is like. It could be that they do not understand the very real effects of childbirth and how to support their wives. To you, I invite you to learn, seek to understand, and use the tools as well. Bottling up resentment or anger or anything else about the change in your life as a result of a new baby will not serve you well either.:)
Are postpartum depression and the “baby blues” real? Yes. Do they need to escalate? No. If my suggestions seem like a leap of faith–a walk into the unknown–trust. Trust that there is an answer. I have yet to coach someone who has not had amazing results when they diligently follow the suggestions offered and really want to find healing.
It matters. It’s for more than just you…
Here is a SUPER video on how to get back to feeling great! The suggestions of getting dressed, getting some fresh air, and do not put on the jeans you wore prior to your pregnancy–for at least 6 months–is sound advice!
(first published Feb 12, 2015)