By now, chances are you’ve heard of the common expression “baby blues.” The baby blues is a feel of deep-seated sadness, loneliness, and confusion after giving birth. The medical term for this bundle of feelings is called postpartum depression, and it’s a condition that 70 to 80% of women in the United States experience.
With that statistic in mind, understand that it’s natural for you to have a barrage of emotions after you’ve had a baby. Start by understanding that not only is postpartum common among women, but it’s also more than a “feeling”—it’s science-backed. Studies have shown that a woman’s hormone levels spike and drop, teeter tottering after childbirth. You can’t help what the body does, but you do have power over how it reacts. Here’s how you can get past postpartum depression:
Get Into a Good Sleep Habit
Insomnia is a major symptom of postpartum depression. And unfortunately, your sleep schedules (or lack thereof) can have a dramatic effect on your overall quality of life. When you have a baby, your sleep schedule is affected more than ever. Chances are you’ve tried to sleep when your baby sleeps, but of course, this isn’t adequate enough.
Women who get the least amount of sleep have the most depressive symptoms, so it’s important for you to prioritize a balanced sleep schedule—to the best of your ability. Take naps throughout the day, pump regularly so your partner can take over some of the feeding duties, and maintain a cool temperature in the room. Studies have shown that your body is better prepared for sleep when it cools down, so if you struggle to sleep, consider investing in a cooling memory foam mattress.
By now, you may have already heard that exercise is an effective way to combat all types of depression, and there’s a reason for this. From a biological standpoint, exercise creates a domino effect of positive health benefits—not only does it fight against depression, but it also helps improve sleep, lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease, and much more. It also releases those “feel good” chemicals in the body called endorphins, and it’s the most natural way to produce this happy hormone.
You can carve out time to exercise alone or with friends, or you can take your baby along with you. There are many ways you can exercise with your baby. Take your infant for a walk in a stroller or carrier, exposing them to the natural sights and sounds in your local area. When your baby is a few months old, you can even opt for mommy-and-me yoga and pilates classes. And after they’re at least a year old, you can invest in a jogging stroller.
Don’t Forget About “Me” Time
After you’ve had a baby, chances are your entire schedule revolves around the baby and your new daily schedule is dominated by infant care responsibilities. While you can’t remove yourself from those responsibilities—and you wouldn’t want to—it is important for you to be more consciously aware of the fact that you have to carve some “me” time into your schedule.
Allow family members to watch the baby while you enjoy some social time with your friends or walk outside between nursing sessions. Even if you schedule a half day for yourself just once a week, it can do wonders for your mental health and clarity.
See a Doctor
It’s natural to experience a traditional bout of baby blues after the first few weeks of giving birth, but postpartum depression lasts much longer and is marked by other symptoms, such as chronic depression, the inability to concentrate for long periods of time, and weight loss or weight gain. Only a small fraction of women seek help for their PPD. If you notice these signs, seek out professional advice.