Giving birth brings the unknown. Experience or not, nurturing a baby can be daunting. Amid excitement and nerves, solid mental health support is vital for new mothers.
When you give birth to a baby, you probably don’t know what to expect. If you have experience with children or have friends that have kids, you may have some context as to what it’s like to be around babies, but if you’ve never babysat or all of your friends are childless, taking care of a baby is an entirely new and possibly scary experience.
You’re nervous, and you want to do everything right. You’re determined to care for your baby in the best way possible. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. That’s why mental health support is critical as a new mother.
When you have a baby, you’re taking care of a new life, but as they say, “you need to put an oxygen mask on yourself before you care for others.” If you put all of your energy into taking care of the new baby and don’t take care of yourself, you will suffer.
Caring for your mental health is extremely important. If you feel it is necessary, you may want to seek therapy. Some may believe that seeing a therapist makes you weak, yet it actually supports you and makes you strong.
As a new mom, you’ll have unique, newfound concerns that you’ll want to talk to your therapist about, and those concerns may differ from what you feel that you’re able to express to your friends, family, or your partner. Your therapist is a point person to which you can share your anxieties. If you do develop something like postpartum anxiety or depression, your therapist is right there to help you through it.
The statistics for postpartum anxiety: Roughly 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. The statistics for postpartum depression: 10-15% of new moms experience postpartum depression and 30-70% experience symptoms for a year or more.
People that have these illnesses sometimes develop them because they didn’t have mental health services in place or they weren’t seeing a therapist, but even moms who see therapists are at risk of developing postpartum depression because it isn’t that simple; it depends on a variety of factors.
If you already live with a mental health condition such as Depression or Bipolar Disorder, you’re more likely to develop postpartum depression or anxiety, and that’s why having a therapist is so vital. You can discuss your feelings, and if you notice any warning signs of postpartum depression or anxiety, you can talk to your therapist about them.
If you’re experiencing low mood, lack of appetite or overeating, not sleeping at all or sleeping too much, worrying about the baby excessively, thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, know that these are some of the warning signs of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. There’s also a risk of postpartum OCD. Having a therapist to talk to about these issues is extremely important.
Even for just a few minutes, it’s ok to step away from a stressful situation. Take a few deep breaths, or do a yoga pose. Listening to relaxing music also helps. The important thing is to just take 5 minutes or so to decompress.
Exercise has been shown to reduce overall stress levels, whether you take a dance class, go to the gym, pool or play a sport, it can help raise your spirits. You can also take a daily walk with baby in tow; the fresh air will help calm baby as well.
Having support around you, from your best friend, your spouse, mom friends or a support group online, can do wonders when you need some advice, or just need an ear!
If you’re struggling with your mental illness or if you’re struggling as a new mom at all, you can reach out for help. Getting help can result in a better quality of life, and the ability to effectively communicate with your partner. Don’t be afraid to find a therapist in your local area or to work with one online. Sometimes, online therapy can be a lifesaver for new moms.
If you’re having trouble making it to appointments because you can’t get the baby to down to nap and don’t have childcare coverage, online therapy is an incredible tool that can help you get the support that you need. As a new mom, just paying attention to your mental health, recognizing stress levels and knowing when to reach out and get help, is best for mom, baby and the whole family.
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Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
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