Parenting When You Have Postpartum Depression

Parenting is rarely “easy.” From sleepless nights to tantrums, from potty training to discipline, being a parent can take a toll on your mind and body. Parenting when you have postpartum depression, however, can be scary, dark and extremely difficult. For some women, postpartum depression is present before birth, sometimes it comes on slowly in the days following delivery, and in some cases, women will have it with one child but not the next. It is anything but predictable.

While it might start with simple irritability or insomnia, postpartum depression also includes severe symptoms such as withdrawal from partners or children, inability to eat or sleep well, confusion, rapid mood swings, suicidal thoughts and feelings of guilt, among others.

“The stereotypical image of having a new baby is one of bliss and joy, but that is not always the case. If you think you are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, the first step is to seek help for yourself,” said Dr. Amy Hammers. “Once you are in a better place, it will be easier to care for the rest of your family.”

If you think you are experiencing postpartum depression, or its sibling, postpartum anxiety, share your concerns with a doctor, therapist, friend or family member. Some women respond well to talking, medication, community, sleep or other self-care measures. The following tips can also be helpful during this difficult time:

  • Focus on bonding with your baby/other kids. This can be as simple as snuggling in a chair, reading a book or paying attention to your baby’s expressions.
  • Don’t worry about the little things. Let go of the housework and yardwork. Let your partner handle more of the meals or ask friends to set up a meal train or delivery service for a few weeks.
  • Soak up some fresh air and enjoy warm, nutritious foods. You don’t have to worry about getting into your exercise routine right away, but a 15-minute walk can boost your spirits and help you relax and rejuvenate. Likewise, even if you aren’t especially hungry, it is important to make nutritious meals a priority for your body and for your baby, if you’re breastfeeding or pumping.
  • Make time for yourself and your relationship with your partner. This may take some planning, but alone time and time to connect with your partner are vital for your relationships and overall well-being.

“Ultimately, we focus on doing our best. Some days will be better than others, but the good news is that postpartum depression does not last forever and there are many resources to support you and your family,” added Dr. Hammers.


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