Postpartum and Mental Health

Postpartum and Mental Health

A lot happens after baby comes and your needs can get lost in the process as all the focus starts to be on the baby.  Don't feel bad if you need time for yourself - having a baby is a huge change in your life. Your health and happiness are just as important as your baby's.

You and your partner should work with each other to ensure that neither one becomes burnt out.  Talk about what the other one needs and encourage one another.

Sexuality

How you see yourself after birth is going to change after childbirth.  You play many roles to many people, but you need to be taking care of yourself first as everything is changing.

 

Your sex life may not be the same as it was before and that’s okay.  There will be some temporary changes in your body, such as vaginal dryness and tenderness.  Resume sexual intercourse again after talking to your health care provider.  If you are breastfeeding or your breasts are leaking, you may want to wear a bra lined with breast pads.  

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Postpartum Checkups

Making sure that you are recovering from labor and birth is important.  Your health care provider will want to give you a postpartum checkup. This is important in maintaining your health and making sure that you aren't at risk for any post pregnancy complications.   Go your checkups, always, even if you feel fine.

Schedule your first check up for no later than 6 weeks after giving birth.  You will have a complete check up at 12 weeks

You can become pregnant before your first postpartum period.  Now is a good time to talk to your health care provider about birth control options for after birth. 

Social Media

Everything can look perfect though the filtered lenses of social media.  While it may look like all the other moms have it all together, remember that it is just a snapshot and not the entire picture.  There is more not shared on social media than there is that is shared. Try not to compare your life and journey to that of another mom’s.  Your experience is just an unique and special as every other families.

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Depression

After birth, rapid changes in your hormone levels begin to occur.  This can make you feel like your on an emotional roller coaster. While the “Baby Blues” occur during the first six weeks after birth, postpartum depression will continue after.

Symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • excessive tiredness
  • sleeping problems
  • confusion
  • frequent crying
  • feeling guilty
  • frightening thoughts
  • low self esteem
  • eating problems
  • decreased sex drive
  • mood swings/irritability
  • feeling of hopelessness
  • forgetfulness
  • feeling overwhelmed

If you feel any of the above feelings last longer than two to four weeks after birth, contact your health care provider.   It can be helpful to share your feelings with friends and family. Postpartum is more common that most believe - you are NOT alone.

Some ways to alleviate depression:

  • nap when baby naps
  • eat well.  Do not try to diet too soon (especially when breastfeeding)
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • try to do some kind of mild exercise every day
  • arrange for short times away from the baby
  • get out of the house at least once a day for a walk
  • form relationships with new moms
  • ask others to help with housework, babysitting and caring for other children
  • try to postpone other major life changes, like moving
  • remember to meet your own needs too

Tips for Rests:

  •  try and rest when baby rests.  The dishes and laundry can wait - really!   Babies are up more at night than during the day the first few weeks, so get your rest.
  • let others help with chores such as laundry, cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc.
  • have your partner take some time off work if possible
  • let family and friends know that you will be taking it easy for a while and don't feel obligated to go out.  Its okay.
  • take turns with your partner to wake up and comfort your baby
  • hire a doula to help with postpartum care if its an option.  They can come by and help with things around the house, give you a break to take a nap, and help identify signs of postpartum.

Want to find a Doula?

If you are in the Cincinnati or Dayton, Ohio area – look no further.  Tamara Kankowski is a certified birth and postpartum doula as well as a childbirth educator.   Tamara provides support to families everyday across the region. Tamara has an affordable birth doula package that includes personalized support during your pregnancy, labor and delivery that continues through your first eight weeks postpartum.  Contact Tamara today to set up a free consultation!

If you are outside the area, DoulaMatch.net is a great resource to find doulas in your area or go online and see if there are Meet the Doula events near you!