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Once the immediate excitement settles after giving birth, the steep learning curve that comes with taking care of your baby and embracing your new role as a parent can be overwhelming. You’re also likely still healing from the physical challenges of birth. It’s common for these changes to take a toll on your mental health - you’re not alone! Up to 75% of women experience “postpartum blues” in the first few weeks of parenthood, with symptoms including tearfulness, sadness, irritability, mood swings, and feeling overwhelmed. Often, these feelings fade as you become more confident in your abilities as a new mom, but if you’re in need of a mental health boost, here are some strategies you can incorporate into your day to keep you feeling your best.
Adding regular exercise into your routine is a no-brainer when it comes to improving physical and mental wellbeing. You may be wondering how you can make it a reality while baby requires most of your attention. First, make sure to get the okay from your doctor before adding exercise into your routine and consider having an assessment from a pelvic floor physiotherapist to treat or prevent any urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse that can be aggravated by exercise. Then, seek out activities that you and baby can do together, which can help with reducing the stress of finding a caregiver each time you want to get moving. Some ideas to get you started include:
Being at home with a new baby can be isolating. Getting to know other parents in your area who are going through the same thing as you can be reassuring, giving you the opportunity to discuss common frustrations and exciting developments. It may be difficult to make the first move when meeting new people, but many new moms have the same feelings you do and are just waiting for the opportunity to meet a new friend. If you’re nervous about meeting new people, try to think of a few conversation starters before you go so you’re not pressed for words on the spot.
Boosting your mood with food as a new parent means focusing on nutrient dense foods that require little to no preparation. Until you have more time and energy to devote to meal prep, here are some things to keep on hand that are easy to combine into healthy meals or snacks:
Easier said than done, right? It can feel impossible to find downtime to do something just for you, but this is often the prescription you need to nourish yourself and to continue being present for your little one. Open the lines of communication with your partner, close friends and family members to let them know what you need to be the best mom you can be.
Awareness of postpartum depression has improved drastically and your midwife, family doctor or obstetrician will ask questions throughout your pre and postnatal care to screen for indicators of PPD. After baby arrives however, your follow up care usually only continues for 6 weeks. Be aware that postpartum depression can develop any time during the first year after giving birth. This is why it is particularly important to know the signs of PPD, to discuss them with your partner, close friends and family, and with your healthcare practitioner in order to get the help that you need if PPD arises.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, talk to your medical doctor or naturopathic doctor to explore treatment options and appropriate resources in your community.
American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/forms-of-postpartum-depression/
Community-based family resource centres are available in most provinces. Services vary by location but most include parent/child interactive drop in sessions where you can meet other parents in your area. Look into finding a centre near you for support.
If you don't see your area listed, try searching the Family Resource Program Directory http://www.frp.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=476
Material on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a replacement for medical diagnosis, treatment, or professional medical advice. Always seek professional medical consultation by a licensed medical or naturopathic physician for diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition. Please seek medical attention immediately if ever concerned.