Mental health after baby is not something that is talked about in great detail during birthing classes. As such, when women are feeling off and know that their moods are different than they were before baby, they think there is something wrong with them. In reality, they are in the throes of hormones adjusting to life after pregnancy, decreased mental acuity as a result of not getting enough sleep, and perhaps even baby blues or postpartum depression. That is why finding ways to support mental health is so important after baby. Not only for new moms but their babies as well.
According to NHS Inform, one in five women will develop some form of mental health issues during pregnancy or during the first year postpartum. As such, it is very common for women to not feel like themselves for weeks or months after giving birth. But, if steps are taken to support mental health and there are supportive partners, family, and friends surrounding new moms, they will make it through what can be a tough period mentally strong and present for their babies.
Here are ways to support mental health after baby.
10 Take Breaks From Baby
There is a misconception that when women have babies, they need to be around them twenty-four hours per day. This can be harmful to new mother’s mental health. And breaks should be taken during the day as a result.
New moms are exhausted almost consistently in the days, weeks, and even months after babies are born. Because they are the one who are likely getting up in the middle of the night, could be breastfeeding during the day, and being the one to soothe newborns, new moms really do not get a break. Something that can be mentally and physically taxing.
As such, when mothers get a break (or more) from babies during the day, they get a moment to recharge. And sometimes those moments are the difference between staying mentally healthy or not.
9 Have Someone To Talk To
When suffering from mental health issues after pregnancy, having someone to talk to can help moms feel that they are not alone. This can be anyone from their spouse, their friends, other new moms, or their healthcare professional. All of these people are there to listen and help in anyway that they can to help new moms get through the postpartum period as seamlessly as possible.
8 Monitor How Emotions Are Doing
During the postpartum period, new moms have to be honest with themselves about how they feel. And while it can be hard to admit that they need help, the sooner they do so, the better off they will be.
According to the American Heart Association, many women are “ashamed” to admit that they are mentally struggling because they just had a new baby. It is a time when people are joyful not sad. And because of this, many women not only go undiagnosed, per publication, but nearly 85 percent go untreated.
By not treating mental health, physical health can suffer as well. And when this happens, not only are new moms not doing themselves any good but they are missing out on crucial bonding time with their babies as well.
7 Be Willing To Listen If Others Are Concerned
When new moms have a support system of friends and family around them, they have an “extra set of eyes and ears” on them, according to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, that can sometimes tell earlier than new moms themselves that something is amiss. And because of this, new moms can get the help they need earlier.
However, new moms have to be willing to listen to their support system should this be the case versus being defensive. Something that needs to be ironed out before the postpartum period so everyone knows what their roles are should a mental health issue arise.
6 Get Sleep
Sleep is important for good mental health for everyone. But when new mothers are healing and caring for a new baby s the same time, this is especially true.
According to the Sleep Foundation, not only does sleep help women heal faster but also puts them at less risk for developing anxiety or depression. This means that when babies are sleep, new moms should truly get sleep. And if partners are available to take care of babies for an hour or so, so that moms can sleep when babies are awake, so much the better.
5 Eat Nutritious Food
When healthy food is eaten, there is less of a fluctuation in mood, according to Aetna. And with new mothers are dealing with mood swings as it is, anything they can do to stabilize those swings, the better they will be.
If new moms are experiencing anxiety and depression during the fourth trimester, per publication, healthy food will help with that as well. As such, whole foods, plant-based foods, antioxidants, Omega-3s, folate, and more should be included in the diet, according to Aetna. And when it is, new mothers’ bodies will thank them for it.
4 Drink Plenty Of Water
Dehydration can throw off the balance of dopamine to the brain, according to the Mass Public Health Blog. And for new mothers who are potentially dealing with mental health issues, this is the last thing they need.
Therefore, new moms, especially those who are breastfeeding need to make sure that they are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Having water bottles helps remind moms how much they have had and how much more water is needed to meet their daily goals. And when they do this, the chemicals in the brain that make people happy will be properly balanced.
3 Get Out In The Sunshine
When the body is exposed to sunlight, it releases serotonin. And when this happens, according to Healthlinemoods are boosted, people feel more calm, and focus is on point.
This means that if new moms are feeling a bit off, taking a trip outside to soak up the sun may be just what they need to get their moods back in check. Something, that according to the publication, can be done in as little as five to 15 minutes of sun exposure.
Exercise is responsible for releasing endorphins to the body. When this happens, according to Better Health Channel, stress goes down, the ability to cope goes up, and overall mood is boosted. Something that all new moms can benefit from.
Simply getting out to walk in the days and weeks after pregnancy (or when cleared by doctors) can help new moms to clear their heads and increase their mental health. Be it walking alone or taking baby in a stroller, either will work to boost mood for new moms.
1 Have Time Alone With Partner
By spending time with a partner after the birth of a child alone, it gives time to reconnect to one another. There is no stress of the baby for a short time, which can help decrease levels of anxiety or depression. And when this happens, mental health is boosted.
If moms are not comfortable leaving their babies during the early days, having a relative come over to watch the baby while parents have a meal and watch a movie together may be all that it takes to boost mood. The goal is to keep mental health from being a problem. And whatever it takes to do so is well worth it.
Source: NHS Inform, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, American Heart Association, Sleep Foundation, Aetna, Mass Public Health Blog, Healthline, Better Health Channel