When you have a baby, you can feel like you're on an emotional rollercoaster. You may commonly feel emotionally wrung-out and tearful when you have a baby. Crying because you put your slippers on the wrong feet, restlessness, anxiety and irritability are all very normal in the first two weeks. However, when those feelings don't go away and start to interfere with your daily life, it can be a sign that you've got postpartum depression, commonly called "the baby blues".
Symptoms include negative feelings towards the baby, lack of pleasure, loss of appetite, low energy, feeling withdrawn, difficulty concentrating, and even thoughts of death and suicide.
If you're having these feelings, rest assured that you are not alone. Many women feel like this, especially when they find themselves left at home with a young baby. Postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness, and does not mean that you don't love your baby. There are many things that can help you.
Step One: See a doctor
The treatment for postpartum depression will often involve taking anti-depressant medications. There are some very mild anti-depressants that are suitable to take while breastfeeding. You may also be referred to a counselor. This should be the first step in tackling your feelings and overcoming your depression, but there are many other things you can do to help yourself.
Step Two: Don't feel guilty
The perfect mother doesn't exist, so get that idea out of your head right away. You don't have to breastfeed, if you don't want to. Breastfeeding has been shown to increase postpartum depression in women who don't want to do it.
Also don't worry too much about housework. The world won't collapse in on itself if you don't mop the floor every day, or scrub the hob.
Step Three: Look after yourself
Make sure to take time to nap when the baby sleeps. Take time to take a shower and get dressed. Do something that you enjoy. Get out of the house. Try getting someone to take care of the baby so you can engage in a hobby at least once a week.
Also, be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Getting adequate nutrition, rich with Omega-3 Fatty-Acid and tryptophan-containing foods like oats, will help give you energy and give you an emotional boost.
Step Four: Don't spend too much time alone
Get out of the house and see friends. Find a new mom's group near you. Chances are, at least one of the other women at the group will understand how you're feeling.
Talking to people who offer support is a key part of tackling your depression. But be sure to surround yourself with people who give you a boost. Anyone who criticizes you or tears you down has to go.
Step Five: Ask for help
If you're tired and need to sleep, ask your mom to have the baby for the night. If the house looks like a bombsite, ask your partner to help you to clean it. If you don't ask for help, you won't receive help.
By taking steps to tackle postpartum depression, you can look forward to recovering and having a happy life with your baby.