Before I had my first baby, I had quite a few fears about motherhood. Having postpartum anxiety was never, ever one of them. First of all, I didn't know postpartum anxiety was even a thing. And second of all, I was just not the kind of person who would become the kind of mother who needed medication to deal with motherhood.
Except I was. I am. Turns out I didn't have to worry about the bathwater burning the baby after all. I wish I would have spent more time prepping to care for myself and less time worrying about what was on our registry.
Fortunately, after 6.5 years of motherhood, and 2 diagnosed rounds of postpartum anxiety, I've learned quite a bit about how moms, and those around them, can find support and help themselves through perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
1. Understand that postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis, and ocd can happen to anyone--even dads! And it doesn't make that person a bad parent.
2. Educate yourself beyond the pamphlets the hospital sends home with you. Better yet, learn as much as you can about it and the signs to look for before you have your baby. My favorite resource is PostpartumProgress.org. Check out their Tools section to start.
3. Ask for help. ASK. FOR. HELP. Ask for help when you are tired. Ask for help with the laundry. Ask for help feeding YOURSELF. Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Ask for medical help if you even suspect you're beginning to struggle with PPD/A.
4. Make sleep a priority. Seriously, it is SO important that you get sleep. If this means asking your partner to get up in the middle of the night and bring the baby to you to nurse, or give them a bottle for you, do it. Do not make yourself a martyr. Mothers who are up all night with their babies are not any better than mothers who are not.
5. Make YOURSELF a priority. Stay hydrated, feed yourself good food, indulge and treat yourself when you can. Keep your favorite foods easy to grab, re-heat, and feed yourself with one hand. Schedule quiet/alone time. Feel no guilt about these things.
If you are struggling, I hope you know that you are NOT alone. Please, get help because I promise it can be so much better. There is a community of moms and dads and caregivers out here that supports you and knows what you're going through. You got this. You're a good parent.
Follow more of Jill's adventures here at Baby Rabies.
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