In Part One of this blog, I discussed how the experience of postpartum depression can be difficult to discern from the experience of parenting a baby. In this post, I will discuss various resources and strategies for support.
- Support groups – groups online and in person; Postpartum Support International is a good resource to find local or virtual groups.
- Books – This Isn’t What I Expected by Kleinman & Raskin and Good Moms have Scary Thoughts by Kleinman & McIntyre
- Professional counseling – ask for referrals from family, friends, medical providers, etc.
- Medication through your medical provider
Strategies for Managing:
- Acknowledge the issue to yourself and trusted confidants. You don’t need to suffer in silence.
- Ask for help from a variety of sources; it truly takes a village. It can be helpful to create a list of family/friends who are good at one of the following- Listeners, Doers, Recreation people. No one is good at all of these, and you will need some of each of these people. Listeners are great at sitting with you and letting you talk about your experiences. Doers are people who will bring you food, clean your house, etc. Recreation people are those who are great at taking you out to have fun and giving you a break from thinking about parenthood.
- Ask your medical provider to check your hormone and vitamin levels to rule out any other physical health issues that might be negatively contributing. They can also provide information on medication options.
- Sleep is of vital importance and usually the first thing that goes. As much as possible, try to simplify other areas of your life to prioritize sleep for a while- use disposable utensils/plates, cook quick/simple meals and don’t feel guilty about takeout, ask your family/friends for help with household chores. If you are able, hiring a housekeeping service or lawn service during the first few months can save a lot of time.
- Sunshine/exercise- it is easy to get stuck inside all day when you have an infant, but getting outside even for a 10 minute walk can be refreshing. If you can, without sacrificing sleep, try to take a 30 min walk or do some type of exercise a few times each week (get medical clearance from your doctor first). In many areas, there are stroller exercise groups for moms who need to bring along their infant to the exercise class. This provides multiple benefits as you are able to exercise while building community with other parents.
If you are unable to care for yourself or your child or are experiencing thoughts/urges to hurt yourself or someone else, please seek help immediately from a trained mental health or medical provider.
Written by: Melanie Ross