All moms could use a little extra sleep.
Whether you’re a brand new mom or a seasoned one, sleep is something we all crave. The months shortly after having a baby are the worst for sleep deprivation and there’s usually no avoiding it. But once you’ve got baby into a good routine and you’ve settled into motherhood a bit better, you can start to focus on how to reclaim all your lost hours of sleep.
Mom of two and freelance writer, Lisa Smalls, shares some tips on how to reclaim your sleep after having a baby.
Having a new baby will be one of the greatest feelings in your life, however, that thrill can be quickly replaced with the fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety and an increased temper all due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is acquiring fewer than the seven-plus recommended hours of sleep each night. While newborn babies can sleep 16 to 20 hours each day, those hours are stretched into bursts which are often inconveniently disturbed when the parent is trying to sleep.
On average, a mother in the first three months after having a baby can lose between one and two hours of sleep each night and for both parents they can experience sleep deprivation for up to six years after the birth. While some people can get an adequate amount of sleep at six hours, most need between seven and nine, so those critical couple hours of loss after childbirth can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, especially considering the hours you do get are broken up into two-hour segments dictated by the baby’s fits.
Your body requires not only that you receive seven hours, but also that those hours are subsequent to each other and they are quality sleep. Sleep is the way your body processes thoughts, emotions, memories and helps your body relax and repair. Without consistent sleep your body does not have the ability to process and file all of your information or process it correctly. This leads to a haze during the day resulting in fatigue, lack of focus, lack of motivation, mood swings and anxiety. In turn, these symptoms lead to additional insomnia. So, when your baby is sleeping at night, you may not be able to. It is a vicious cycle.
As your baby ages, additional challenges such as potty training, nightmares, and the concerns of your growing toddler and an active imagination result in sleep deprivation. Though the sleep deprivation you will likely experience as your child ages may not be as complicated as those first few months, it also provides the same symptoms.
So, what can a parent (especially a mother) do to reclaim sleep after giving birth? Here are five tips.
Create a routine for you and the baby
Okay, to be fair your baby is probably not going to pay attention to a routine in the beginning. But, with practice and commitment a routine can help your baby sleep in longer bouts and learn to sleep so that after four months your baby may actually sleep through the entire night. Routine is good and setting a sleep routine such as bath, reading, cuddling, and sleep will be a great payback for the future.
This is such an important factor in helping you sleep that you should keep a sign on your refrigerator as a reminder. After having a baby friends and family will practically tackle each other to offer help and cuddle with that little cutie. But, parents are often unwilling to accept the help. This may be from guilt or simply because it is difficult allowing someone else (including mom) to watch your baby without you there. But, whether someone offers to watch your baby a couple hours, help with the chores, or just hang out to give you a little break, it all pays off.
Keep the baby near you (but not in your bed)
A nursery is great, but it might be better after the six-month mark. In those first months your baby will wake up every couple hours and one way to miss out on sleep is that long walk to the nursery to feed. SIDS is a serious concern and one of the biggest no-no’s is letting your newborn sleep in bed with you. So, whether you have a crib or bassinet in the room keeping your baby close will help you feed without too much hassle.
Don’t worry about the dishes
Having a baby does not mean you have lost your old life, but it does mean you need to adjust going forward. That might mean that if you were emphatic about getting all the chores done and having a spotless house, those chores just might have to wait until you are having a nice relaxing day as the kids play with the grandparents. This does not mean you should live like a hoarder but prioritizing your sleep over missing a night of sweeping the floor, means you should really get your zzz’s.
Lisa is a mom of two and freelance writer from North Carolina. She regularly writes for the sleep health website Mattress Advisor, which has taught her so much about the importance of sleep (especially as a working mom). When she isn’t working on commissions, she loves connecting, encouraging and learning with other parents through her writing.
Anxiety is a common condition among moms and not just in the postpartum period.
It can be difficult to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, especially for new moms. Once you become responsible for another life, it’s natural to worry about everything. So how do you truly know when your worries are a normal part of motherhood, or when they’re a condition that requires further treatment? You can read about the specific types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms, but what it comes down to is whether or not your constant state of worry is disrupting your life.
If they are, then check out some of these natural methods for coping with anxiety from mental health advocate Brandon Christensen of Modern Therapy.
Everyone faces anxiety daily, but some of us live with more persistent symptoms. Anxiety is actually the most common mental health issue, reportedly affecting more than 18% of US adults. Natural remedies and lifestyle changes are a great way to remedy some of these symptoms, but they are never meant to replace or stop any treatments you are currently receiving. If you are already getting treatment, check with your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist prior to implementing any changes.
Exercise helps anxiety by burning off anxious energy. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there is evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than those who are sedentary. The reason that exercise may improve mental health is because it helps the brain cope better with stress. The study actually showed that those who exercised regularly had a 25% less chance of developing depression or anxiety over the preceding five years.
Meditation eases anxiety by slowing racing thoughts, which is a very common symptom. Once you are able to slow your thoughts down, you can manage your stress and other anxiety symptoms more effectively. Brain imaging has been used to show that meditation is associated with the activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. These areas of the brain are involved with executive function and the control of worrying. When meditation activates these three regions, it shows a relief linked to anxiety.
Journaling is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings with the intent of understanding them more clearly. Keeping a journal allows you to reflect on the way certain situations make you feel, which can help you regain control of your emotions. Sometimes even just expressing your anxious feelings makes them more manageable. As you sit and reflect on how you are feeling, you are going to gain a lot of insight to yourself.
4. Time Management Strategies
Having too many commitments at once is a big cause of anxiety symptoms. Time commitments usually involve family, work, and health related activities. When you are able to manage your time effectively, you can focus on just one task at a time, while being sure to leave room for self-care. With online calendars, it is becoming even easier to plan your days and weeks out. This can help you avoid multitasking, which leads to anxiety symptoms.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils that are found in plants, which are used for their healing properties. Essential oils are great to smell, but can also be absorbed through the skin through massage or inhalation. It is widely used to reduce stress because certain scents, such as lavender, are known for their calming effects by reducing the heart rate in the short term. Behavioral psychologists will also tell you that if you associate a certain scent with being calm, you will naturally begin to feel those effects over time.
6. Herbal Teas
Chamomile tea is widely used as a natural remedy to decrease anxiety and treat insomnia. It is actually regarded as a mild tranquilizer or sleep inducer. The calming effects can be attributed to an antioxidant call apigenin, which is found in chamomile tea. There is direct effect on the brain, including reduced anxiety. Some people also find the process of making and drinking tea soothing.
7. Time With Animals
Research confirms that pets can be beneficial to people with anxiety because they offer companionship, love, and support. Pets and therapy animals can help to alleviate stress and anxiety because they provide a sense of security and routine that provides emotional and social support. Pets are generally facilitators of getting to know people, friendship formation, and social support networks.
8. Talk Therapy
Research shows that talk therapy is usually the most effective way to treat anxiety disorders. Therapy will do more than just treat your symptoms, it will help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears, help you learn to relax, look at situations differently, and develop coping skills. When you engage in talk therapy, you get the tools to overcome anxiety. If you are ready to work with a talk therapist who specializes in anxiety treatment, click here!
Brandon Christensen is a passionate business leader and mental health advocate who is on a mission to leave the world a better place than he found it. Brandon is the co-founder of Modern Therapy, a mental healthcare company that provides talk therapy services in person or online through messaging, phone, and video sessions. Brandon has been featured as a keynote speaker on mental health topics at colleges like NYU, Skidmore College, and Columbia University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Putting effort into our outward appearance is not a sign of vanity. It has a significant impact on how we feel inside.
Being happy means aiming to both look and feel good, but it’s not always easy to do. For mothers, how we look is not always representative of how we feel (and other times it is all too accurate).
We may feel young and sexy and full of life but we look tired, worn out and as though we’ve given up on ourselves. Or alternatively, we may feel like we’re dying on the inside, so we overcompensate by layering on makeup to give the appearance that “everything is fine.”
This spring, as the weather begins to warm up, we should challenge ourselves to match how we look with how we feel.
Start From The Inside
How we look on the outside all begins with how we feel on the inside. Self esteem comes from within and if we are happy with who we are, it shows in a physical way. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or substance overuse, then the first place to start is therapy.
Working with a therapist, either in person or online, can help you manage everything that is creating self-doubt or a poor self image. Online therapy in particular, is extremely convenient, especially for moms.
Schedule your online or video therapy sessions over the winter, ensuring that you get the most out of spring and summer.
Focus on Health
Weight issues are some of the most common hurdles to looking and feeling good. As mothers, we’ve stretched and shrunk, been cut open, torn apart and pieced back together. Our bodies have changed in so many ways and it can be difficult to accept it as it is now.
One way to look and feel good is to forget about the extra skin on our stomachs or how much we weigh and just focus on being healthy. Exercising to stay healthy is different than exercising to lose weight or tone muscle. Don’t worry about counting calories or inches, just try to eat healthier food and incorporate vitamins and nutritional supplements to avoid deficiencies.
If our main focus is on being “healthy” rather than being “fit” there is less pressure on us to meet certain goals and we can learn to love our bodies again.
In addition to being healthy, we also need to feel strong. Strength comes in many different forms. We can train ourselves to be physically strong by joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming, or playing a sport. It’s important to find emotional and mental strength, as well. Try meditation, journaling, art or aromatherapy.
Being strong, both physically and mentally will inspire confidence and a sense of pride in ourselves.
Make a Statement
Your outward appearance tells the world about you, so what is it you want to say? Make a statement with your appearance by choosing clothing and accessories that speak to you. This “Be Kind” Necklace is a simple and elegant way to remind yourself and others of the power of kindness (get 15% off with code FRIENDS15).
Clothing lines like Shine The Light On create pieces that help raise awareness about mental health. Modern, minimalist messages imprinted on soft, luxurious fabrics make it simple to spread messages of hope and acceptance wherever you go.
In addition to looking good while making a statement, a portion of the proceeds from the Shine The Light On collection goes towards mental health initiatives – so you can also feel good knowing that you are helping to end the stigma of mental illness.
Click here to see the stunning clothing line from Shine The Light On and get 15% off with coupon code RUNINTRIANGLES15
Take Care of Your Skin
You don’t need to do your hair and makeup to look and feel good this spring, but you should always take care of your skin. Glowing, healthy skin looks good from the outside and can make a person feel good on the inside.
As mothers, when we feel over-cuddled and overstimulated after a long day, it’s our skin and sense of touch that suffers. This is why caring for our skin plays such an important role in how we look and feel. Plus, the act of massaging lotion onto our skin can stimulate our lymphatic system and help keep our bodies healthy from the inside.
So splurge on a good, all natural skin care line to make sure that you’re not coating your skin in chemicals. Soak in a bath filled with Epsom salts to help soften and relax your muscles. Use sunscreen all year round, especially when you plan to spend longer amounts of time outdoors.
And make sure that you schedule yourself enough time each day to perform your daily skin care routine.
Change is Good
Try a new look this spring. Cut or color your hair, try out a new clothing style or color that you would never normally wear. Get a piercing or tattoo, eyelash extensions, permanent makeup or micro-bladed eyebrows. You don’t need to go so far as getting plastic surgery, but if there are specific problem areas that have always bothered you, then consider booking an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options.
Don’t be afraid of change, though it might take some time to get used to. Only make changes that are truly something you want to do, and never in an effort to please anyone else or be someone other than yourself. Changing something about your outward appearance can make you feel mysterious, spontaneous and empowered.
Deciding to change something about your appearance should remind you that you are in control of your body and what happens to it.
Comfortable Is Beautiful
“The mom look” is normally one associated with comfort and function. But comfortable can also be beautiful so don’t feel like you need to trade one for the other. It is entirely possible to look good and feel comfortable at the same time, as long as you choose the right pieces.
If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, whether it’s shoes that pinch or a waistband that’s too tight, you will act uncomfortably. So just bite the bullet and get rid of anything that you hate wearing, no matter how expensive or “designer” it might be.
Being comfortable in your own skin is the best way to show the world your confidence and beauty.
Moms are hardworking and give all of themselves to their children and families… but at what cost?
While these are qualities that everyone admires about mothers, they often come at a cost. A mother who works endlessly to provide for the needs of her children can often forget to take care of herself. A mother’s mental health, in addition to her physical well being, is so important because moms definitely cannot afford to take sick days.
Many mothers don’t even realize some of the things they are doing to harm their mental health. It’s easy to fall into “survival mode” and not think about anything other than just making it through to the end of the day. Some of the things we do each day to survive, whether intentionally or not, can have a negative impact on our mental health.
Here are a few things many moms do that can actually harm their mental health.
Forget to Eat
This one is at the top of the list because it’s something all moms are guilty of. We get busy preparing meals for the kids and when we try to sit down to eat our own food, someone spills something, or wants seconds or needs ketchup. Moms may have every intention of eating a full meal while it’s still hot, but it rarely ever happens. And when it does, it probably consists of sandwich crusts with a side of half eaten fish sticks.
Good nutrition is important for maintaining our mental health. Many symptoms of depression and anxiety worsen when our bodies experience vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. By forgetting to eat throughout the day, it’s easy to fall into the unhealthy habit of binge-eating at night, which can cause feelings of guilt and contribute to depression.
Don’t let bad eating habits harm your mental health. Eat healthy and use supplements to make sure your body is getting enough energy.
Go to Bed Late
It’s no secret that moms are always tired. Raising kids is exhausting work, both physically and mentally, and it requires a good amount of sleep that we often don’t get. But even the most sleep deprived mom is sometimes guilty of staying up way past bedtime.
After the kids are in bed is sometimes the only chance a mother gets to herself all day. Whether it’s catching up on recorded TV shows, scrolling through social media or just enjoying the peace and quiet, we never want it to end. But staying up late is a habit that does a lot of harm to our mental health.
Schedule yourself some self-care time throughout the day if possible, so that when bed time comes around you’ll be ready for nothing else but sleep.
Ignore a Phone Call
Actual phone calls are becoming more of a rare occurrence in this modern world. Plus, everyone knows that the kids think “mom’s on the phone” translates to “scream as loud as you can.” A text message is so much more convenient for a mother and it’s the preferred way of communicating. So when our phone rings, it’s instinctual that we silence our phone and ignore the call.
Of course, it all depends on who the call is from, but if it’s a friend, don’t ignore it. Talking to someone on the phone can be therapeutic and mean so much more than a simple text message. Mental illness works by isolating us from others, so being able to connect with someone on a real, human level is important for keeping us sane.
The next time someone calls you, just answer it.
Avoid Looking in Mirrors
This is kind of a weird one, and I bet you don’t even realize that you do it (or don’t do it). If you’re a stay at home mom, chances are you probably haven’t changed out of your sweat pants in three days. Maybe you forgot to brush your teeth this morning and you can’t even remember the last time you washed your hair. You may avoid looking at yourself in the mirror for fear of what you might see.
Avoiding a mirror means that we’ve created an idea of what we look like in our minds and it’s one that we feel unhappy with. This idea can lead us down a path to poor self-esteem and lowered confidence levels, an environment in which mental illness thrives.
All you have to do to maintain your mental health is look at yourself in the mirror at least once a day, and find something that you love about what you see.
Skip Doctor Appointments
The doctor, dentist, therapist, optometrist, chiropractor, etc. – we haul the kids around to regular appointments and yet procrastinate our own. Pregnancy means doctor appointments so frequently that we get to know the staff in our OB’s office on a personal basis. We cared about those because they were important for the well being of our child, which is one of our biggest priorities.
I’m sure we can all come up with a hundred excuses as to why we do this. It costs money we may not have and it’s hard to find time to attend these appointments without the kids. But this act of self-sacrifice is dangerous for both our mental and physical health.
Try booking all your checkups for the year in advance so that you can make whatever arrangements you need to in order to attend them.
Depend Too Much On Coffee/Wine/Advil
Addiction is not something that’s spoken about enough among mothers. We tend to think of addicts as people living on the streets, wasting their lives away. But addiction can happen to anyone, and at different levels of intensity.
Caffeine, alcohol and medications are common addictions among mothers. And while it may not be at a point where they are destroying our lives, we’re unsure how we would function without them. Relying too heavily on coffee or needing that glass of wine to help us relax at the end of the day are all forms of addiction. Addictive behaviors are something we should try to avoid for better mental health.
Try to limit how much you depend on stimulants to make it through the day and choose healthier options that are better for your mental health.
Pile Things in a Closet
You know which closet I’m talking about, everyone has one (or four) in their home that’s filled with junk. If you’re not sure where to put something, pile it in a closet until you get to it, right? But you’ll probably only get to it when that closet is so full that you can’t even open it anymore.
Clutter can weigh heavily on our minds, destroying our mental health in the long run. Knowing that we have a closet filled with junk, being unsure of what exactly is in there, and putting off cleaning it out can make us feel depressed and unproductive. You don’t need to go full minimalist, but avoiding hidden clutter is a good place to start.
Spring cleaning time is nearly upon us, so make those junk-filled closets a priority.
Shop Only For the Kids
Not only are kids fun to shop for, but they also need a LOT of stuff. They grow so fast that it’s hard to keep up with their sizes. And if you’re like me, then you live vicariously through them and buy things that you would have loved to have as a kid. But then what happens is that you have kids who look like children of celebrities and you get mistaken for their nanny.
Remember what it was like before kids, when a little retail therapy was the perfect cure for a bad day? It still works, but you need to actually focus on shopping for yourself. Moms tend to feel guilty or selfish spending money on themselves, especially when they’re on a tight budget. But splurging on something just for you is good for your mental health. [Start now and get $10 off a spring FabFitFun box using coupon code FAB10!]
So make a shopping trip alone and don’t you dare wander into the kids section!
Avoid the Outdoors
Whether it’s the cold weather or your greasy hair keeping you indoors, it’s doing harm to your mental health. Our bodies need fresh air and sunshine, they literally cannot function properly without it. If you think the trip from the house to the car and back again is enough, it’s not.
It’s not just about the fresh air, though, otherwise you could just open a window. You need to talk to people, make eye contact, feel their touch and smile at them. Find space to move your body – run, walk, swim, whatever makes you feel good. A change of scenery and some time outdoors is the easiest way to improve your mood.
So make it a habit to get outdoors at least once a day, and twice on weekends.
Put up with Negative People
You don’t need negative energy in your life, especially if your mental health is already suffering. However, cutting people out of your life is easier said than done. You don’t need to be rude to anyone, make a big deal out of it or even say anything at all. Just avoid spending time with people who cause you to feel stressed.
It could be the mother of your child’s friend who constantly tries to “one-up” you. Or maybe it’s that pessimistic family member who makes you worry about everything happening in the world. Don’t feel obligated to socialize with people who’s negative attitude affects your mental health.
Distance yourself from the negative people in your life, and surround yourself with those you love instead.
Compare Themselves to Others
You will never experience peace of mind if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. This is especially common among the parenting community, despite the fact that all children and parenting styles are different.
It can be difficult on our mental health to see others doing well when we are clearly struggling. But remember that people are more inclined to share their success stories, than they are their struggles. This explains the stigma surrounding mental illness and the reason why so many mothers don’t talk about it.
Speak openly about real motherhood and all the struggles that come with it. And encourage others to do the same.
With more and more information about postpartum depression readily available to new moms, will they take the time to read it?
When I was an expectant first time mom, I knew very little about postpartum depression. It was surprising because, as a researcher by nature, I wanted to know about every possible complication I could get. But I scoffed at the thought of getting postpartum depression. In my mind, mental illness was for the weak. And even if I did get it, I would never let it get the best of me – I was a strong, positive, confident person.
I horrifically underestimated the power of postpartum depression.
Ultimately, it did get the best of me and it’s a battle that I still fight to this very day. I sadly regret not taking the time to learn more about maternal mental health and postpartum depression 10 years ago when I had the chance. So now I urge all new mothers, expectant mothers, first, second, third time mothers, to read as much information about postpartum depression as they can find, even if you doubt that you’ll get it.
Here are some specific things that I wish I had known.
1. You don’t need to have a history of mental illness in order to get it.
One of the biggest misconceptions about postpartum depression is that it can only occur if you have a history of mental illness. But because there is no clear reason why women get postpartum depression, this is not a fact we can rely heavily on. This means that you could get postpartum depression even if you’ve never dealt with mental illness before and have no family history of it.
Another thing to take into consideration is the silent struggle of mental illness. It’s likely you DO have a family history of mental illness but it was never, ever spoken of. If we think the stigma of mental illness is an epidemic now, imagine what it was like 40 years ago, or more.
Ruling out postpartum depression based solely on the fact that you have no history of mental illness is not a guarantee that you will not get it.
2. You can get it even if you have zero risk factors.
Some of the risk factors for postpartum depression are:
- A personal history of mental illness (depression, anxiety, bi-polar)
- A family history of mental illness
- An unplanned pregnancy
- A difficult pregnancy
- An emotional experience with pregnancy or childbirth (infertility, miscarriage, premature labor, complications, special needs baby)
- A traumatic labor and delivery
- Childhood trauma
- A history of domestic violence or sexual abuse
- Stress (including financial or marital stress)
- Lack of a proper support system
- Difficulties caring for baby (postpartum complications, breastfeeding problems, colic, etc.)
The list is long but basically it says that if you experience anything other than a “perfect” journey into motherhood, you’re at risk of getting postpartum depression. So let’s take a long shot and say that everything, from the moment you conceived until your child’s first birthday, went exactly as you imagined and nothing terrible happened along the way…
You could still get it!
Again, no one knows exactly why women get postpartum depression. Some theories say it has to do with a shift in the hormones – which would mean the risk factors actually have nothing to do with it at all.
3. It is not always triggered by trauma.
Trauma is a recurring theme on the list of risk factors because it plays a huge role in mental illness. In fact, our first response when faced with postpartum depression is to think back to what traumatic experience could have caused this.
It’s important to know that trauma is not the only trigger of postpartum depression. Mental illness tends to prey on the weak, and we are often at our weakest shortly after experiencing a life changing event such as becoming a mother. Sleep deprivation, physical pain from labor, fears and anxiety and even the simple act of change can all trigger feelings of depression.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a great method to help figure out what is triggering the postpartum depression so that you can learn how to manage it.
4. It doesn’t necessarily start right after birth.
Making it through the first six weeks unscathed does not mean that you’re in the clear. Symptoms of postpartum depression can show up anytime within the first year after giving birth.
Some women experience the highest of highs after giving birth and can ride it out for months. This can make the drastic fall into postpartum depression that much more difficult.
Care for new mothers normally ends around six weeks postpartum. So it’s not uncommon for symptoms of postpartum depression to show up after this point, when all the help and attention suddenly comes to a grinding halt.
5. It’s likely you will experience some form of the baby blues.
It’s reported that 80% of new mothers suffer from the baby blues. The fact that it IS so common can actually make postpartum depression harder to diagnose because many women and medical professionals have trouble telling the two apart.
The rule of thumb is that if the symptoms don’t go away after a couple weeks, then it’s probably postpartum depression. This usually results in mothers being brushed off if they express any kind of concern about their mental health in the first few weeks postpartum.
While there’s no need to worry excessively that the baby blues will turn into something more – there are a few differences that you should keep an eye out for.
6. The most common symptoms are not the only ones.
When we think of the word “depression” we often associate it with sadness. But postpartum depression doesn’t always manifest as sadness. It usually manifests as a feeling of “nothingness.”
Feeling nothing, empty, or numb, is one of the most significant symptoms of postpartum depression because it’s what drives all the other symptoms. Being numb makes us feel fatigued and unable to do the most basic of tasks. We don’t want to go out anywhere or do anything. We don’t feel the urge to eat or sleep or laugh. We may not feel happy, but neither do we feel sad.
Postpartum depression can also cause a variety of different physical symptoms. Normally we don’t associate physical symptoms with mental illness and so we turn into hypochondriacs trying to find the cause of our physical pain.
7. It can show up as anxiety, or a combination of depression and anxiety.
Now here’s the real tricky part that always seems to confuse new mothers. Anxiety. When looking at a list of postpartum depression symptoms, the symptoms of anxiety and those of depression tend to be lumped together, making it even harder to know what it is you’re dealing with.
A new mother can experience anxiety in combination with postpartum depression, which means that all of that emptiness is replaced with a constant state of fear and worry. It’s the kind of worry that keeps you up at night. Things that never seemed to bother you much before now feel like the biggest threats. You imagine horrible scenarios in your head and do things to prevent them from happening, as far-fetched as they might seem.
Some new mothers deal with anxiety without the depression, in which case, they are not numb to all the normal emotions of motherhood but worry just the same. Anxiety is a dangerous mental health disorder that can open the door to intrusive thoughts, rage and obsessive compulsive disorder.
8. Your spouse or partner may be the first to notice that something is wrong.
The people who know you best will notice a change in you before you realize it yourself. They may not tell you that they notice it, depending on your relationship, but they’ll know. It’s kind of hard to live that closely with someone and not be able to spot that something just isn’t right.
Part of the responsibility of your spouse, partner, baby’s father, etc., is to help you through this postpartum period and recognizing the signs of postpartum depression falls into that category. Even if they don’t know exactly what’s wrong, they should speak up if they think you’re acting differently.
Know someone suffering from addiction due to postpartum depression? Here’s a list of resources for friends and family who want to help.
Try not to be offended or act defensively when someone you love says you might have postpartum depression. Approaching the subject of mental health is a hard task and the fact that they’ve said anything at all means they’re truly trying to help.
9. There is no shame in admitting that you have it.
Mental illness is so stigmatized that women who are suffering from a valid, medical, postpartum complication are afraid to tell anyone. They believe that battling a mental illness makes them look weak, when in fact, the opposite is true.
Warriors are working hard to end the stigma around maternal mental health, but until then, all we can do is educate others. The more people know about postpartum depression, the less shame there will be for those who carry the burden.
10. While there is no cure, it is treatable.
Once it’s triggered, postpartum depression lingers around like the annoying friend who’s overstayed their welcome. With treatment, and a little extra work, it is entirely manageable.
First off, mothers with postpartum depression need to proactively take care of themselves. They need to maintain their health and keep their stress level down. Mental illness thrives in a toxic environment, so it’s important to stay positive, eat right, sleep well and be mindful.
Secondly, a form of professional treatment is a must. This could be anti-depressant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, or hypnosis, to name a few. There are treatment options that are all-natural and safe for breastfeeding, so that is not an excuse not to seek treatment.
11. The best place to get help is from someone who understands maternal mental health.
When we hear of stories like Jessica Porten and Andrea Yates, the thought of talking to someone about postpartum depression is terrifying. These women are being treated like criminals by supposed professionals. And the public reaction to their “crimes” is even more disturbing.
That’s why it’s important to seek help from someone that you trust, and someone who understands the reality of postpartum depression. A great place to start is Postpartum Support International. You can call a helpline to get all kinds of information and support.
If you’re looking for more hands on help, talk to a postpartum doula who are trained specifically to help new mothers and recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression in it’s earliest stages.
12. If left untreated, you will likely struggle with symptoms for the rest of your life.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in the world. Postpartum depression has claimed many lives and while it is a worst case scenario, it CAN happen to anyone.
Even if the symptoms go away for a while, there is always the risk of a relapse. The only way to stay on top of the symptoms and win the battle against postpartum depression is by sticking to a treatment plan.
13. It’s entirely possible that you may not get it all, but it’s better to be prepared.
I had three all-natural, drug free births, but that didn’t stop me from researching epidurals and c-sections. I was thankful that I didn’t have either of them but I wanted to be prepared in the event that I did.
So why is postpartum depression any different? It’s the most common complication of childbirth and yet no one seems to know anything about it.
There is no harm in researching postpartum depression prior to becoming a mother. My hope is that you don’t get it, because I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. But if you do, at least you’ll be prepared.
A mother’s touch is known to have magical healing powers for a child.
The connection between a mother and their child is as physical as it is emotional. They are a part of our bodies, we feed them from our bodies, and we comfort them with our bodies. Our bodies are the go-to place for our children when they need to feel safe and secure. So at the end of a long day, mothers often end up feeling over touched or overstimulated.
The sensation of being over touched can have a big impact on our mental health. With our skin being our largest organ, it’s no surprise that a large amount of extra stimulation can cause us to feel frazzled and overworked. We end up feeling irritable, annoyed, anxious or even angry. It can cause insomnia and other sleep disturbances. And feeling over touched can have an effect on our relationships as well because it’s unlikely we’ll want to be intimate at the end of the day, either.
If you are feeling over touched after a constantly caring for and hugging babies, try these five techniques to help reset your nervous system.
1. Take a Time Out
It makes sense that if you’re feeling over touched, a quick fix would be to spend some time not being touched at all. It’s easier said than done for a busy mom, however. The sensation of feeling over touched on a regular basis can build up. Eventually causing worse symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. So it’s important to break that cycle of feeling over touched as regularly as possible.
Start by scheduling yourself some self-care time. Pick a day when your spouse (or someone else) is available to watch the kids in the evening and take an hour or two to yourself. Retreat to your bedroom or another comfortable space and focus just on yourself. You don’t have to do anything at all if you don’t want to.
If you can make this a regular habit, whether daily, weekly or longer, then you can reset your sense of touch and feel refreshed and re-energized. Having the kids crawl all over you may be unavoidable, but at least you’ll be better equipped to handle another round of it.
2. Try Dry Brushing
Now, this one might sound like it makes a little less sense. If you’re already feeling over touched, then wouldn’t brushing your skin just make it worse?
If you’re not familiar with dry brushing, it consists of brushing your skin with a dry, natural bristle bath brush to help stimulate blood flow and massage the lymphatic system. It also has great skin exfoliation benefits, obviously. You can read more about dry brushing in this detailed guide.
One of the benefits of dry brushing is that it stimulates the lymph system, which is the system that is designed to cleanse our body of toxins and waste. Keeping this system moving throughout our bodies can actually boost our immune systems and keep us healthy. Dry brushing can produce an almost instant energy boost just by helping to circulate our lymph.
Dry brushing the entire body can help to reset the sensation of feeling over touched. It is a controlled and intentional way of stimulating the nervous system and sense of touch. Unlike being tugged at and climbed all over by our kids, we are in control of how our skin is being touched and stimulated.
3. Have a Hot Shower or Bath
Water can do wonders to wash away the feeling of being over touched. A hot shower, especially one with a massaging shower head, is another great way to provide full body stimulation to eliminate that feeling of being pulled and tugged at.
Try using thermotherapy, or alternating between hot and cool water, to encourage blood circulation and give you an energy boost. You can enhance the experience by using essential oil shower steamers or luxury soaps and body washes. A shower is especially wonderful after you’d tried dry brushing, as it helps to wash away all the exfoliated skin.
If you’d rather soak in the tub, then add a scoop of Epsom salts to the bath water or try some relaxing bath bombs. The magnesium in the Epsom salts will relax tired muscles and soften the skin. You can even brush your skin during or after the bath, just add a bit of coconut oil, or other essential oil to your brush.
And most importantly, don’t forget to moisturize afterwards. In fact, you should use a good quality moisturizer as often as possible throughout the day. Dry skin is much more sensitive to being touched. Winter can be especially harsh on skin, and if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, feeling over touched can contribute to other symptoms as well.
4. Lie Under a Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket, like dry brushing, is another form of intentional touch. It might sound counterproductive to use deep touch pressure therapy (DTP) when we already feel so over touched. But again, this is a different kind of touch that works like a giant reset button on our nervous system.
Think of a fussy baby being swaddled, or an anxious child being hugged tightly. Steady pressure that consumes our entire body at once can make us feel calm and boost our serotonin levels. But as an adult, it’s harder to find a way to create that sense of steady full body pressure.
Weighted blankets are an excellent solution. You can lie under a weighted blanket for anywhere from a few minutes to an entire night, depending on your preference. You are in complete control of removing it, so you don’t need to worry about feeling trapped or suffocated.
Using a weighted blanket can be especially helpful if feeling over touched is causing insomnia or night time anxiety. Over stimulation is a major cause of sleep disturbances. Using a weighted blanket can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
The hardest part about using a weighted blanket is trying to choose which one is right for you. There are so many options in weight, filling, covers and sizes so how do you even know where to begin? Here are some tips about how to choose the right weighted blanket.
5. Sensory Deprivation Tank
This is, perhaps, one of the more extreme forms of therapy for feeling over touched, but it’s a luxurious way to relax and reset. Sensory deprivation tanks, or “float tanks” are popping up everywhere now. While it’s actually an ancient form of healing, they’ve become popular in modern society for their known benefits of relaxation.
If you haven’t heard of them, they’re basically a tank filled with water that is as close to your body temperature as possible. It also contains a high amount of Epsom salts so that your body easily floats and remains suspended in the water. It is designed to mimic the feeling of floating in space. Here is a detailed article that contains more information about sensory deprivation tanks and how they work.
In addition to the water, the tank is in complete isolation, which means that it’s dark and you’re cut off from outside sounds and smells. You are basically floating in complete nothingness. By depriving the body of all of it’s senses, you can be in a state of mindfulness and complete relaxation.
As a mother, you’re always ready and prepared to give the hugs and cuddles and be the rock for your children to climb on. Even when you’re feeling over touched, you’d never want to deprive them of that. But you can give better and stronger hugs when you’re feeling relaxed and rested. This is why self-care is such an important task for moms.
If the thought of being touched makes you cringe, it doesn’t make you a bad mother. While you may have to take a few additional steps to reset your senses each day, the feeling won’t last forever. So take care of yourself, mama, and then hug those babies. Because before you know it, you’ll have to chase them down just to get one.