Winter can be an unforgiving time of year. The temperatures are frigid, the roads are harsh, and there are mountains of snow. At one point, these conditions may have only been an inconvenience. But when you have a new baby, it can be hard not to think of all the things that can go wrong. While the dangers are real, so is our ability to prepare our babies and ourselves for the challenge. These are our tips for bringing home a baby in the winter.
Watch Environmental Temperatures
Babies can be outside safely in the winter. But when the temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s best to keep a baby’s trips outside as brief as possible, namely to the car and back. However, keeping a baby too warm can also have disastrous consequences, as newborns have trouble regulating their body temperatures. When setting the thermostat, try to keep the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, especially in the room where the baby is sleeping.
These ideas should also be kept in mind when bringing home a baby all bundled up. The rule of thumb is to dress the baby in at least one layer more than you would need as an adult, paying attention to the hands, feet, and head. Remove the layers as soon as you arrive inside to avoid overheating. Make sure the layers are loose enough that your baby can breathe.
Breathing is also an important consideration when bundling the baby for bed. Good crib bedding practices state that you should not add extra, loose blankets to the crib until the baby is at least a year old. Doing so will risk the baby suffocating. The best practice is to swaddle the baby in breathable cloth to help them feel warm, secure, and safe.
If there’s one thing that’s true of the winter, it’s that the dry air can be rough on our skin. The same is true for our babies, too. When bathing babies in the winter, try to wash them briefly in water that isn’t too warm to avoid drying out their skin further. Non-fragranced, non-alcoholic soap will be the least harsh on babies’ skin. When done, make sure you pat babies dry to avoid wiping the oils from their skin. Apply a moisturizer immediately afterward to hold in the moisture. And use bamboo, hypo-allergenic diapers with aloe to help avoid diaper rash and/or chemical reactions.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
Aromatherapy and essential oils offer a ton of mental health benefits.
In this time of social distancing and quarantining, many people are feeling the negative effects of distance from their loved ones, routine and everyday life. The simple pleasures that we took for granted, like coffee with a friend, leisurely strolls around the grocery store or afternoon walks through public parks won’t be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future. With all of these stressors (and more) constantly running through our minds, it’s no wonder that we need some additional at-home self-care solutions.
Especially for those that were already struggling with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, being constantly home-bound with nothing but your thoughts can lead to not-too-good feelings regarding yourself, your surroundings and your life. Though there isn’t an all-encompassing at-home remedy to stopping these negative thoughts in their tracks, there are several ways you can prioritize your mental and physical well-being while quarantining.
One of these solutions lies in using essential oils around your home as aromatherapy.
Especially now, having a relaxing, cozy space you can truly decompress in is more important than it ever has been. These following five essential oils will help make your space, and your thoughts, much more comfortable to be around for long periods of time.
These oils can be used in a variety of ways:through diffusing, incorporating into baths or lotion, topical application with a carrier oil or inhaling the scent directly. The best way to use each of these oils is included with the description of the oils below!
This is perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils, and for good reason. This earthy, herbaceous scent is a fan-favorite among aromatherapists for its abilities to combat the symptoms of mild depression, ward off insomnia and ease the grip of anxious feelings and thoughts.
To see how lavender can help you, try diffusing in your bedroom before going to sleep or applying topically with a carrier oil in the morning to pulse points, specifically wrists and behind the ears.
If meditation or self-reflection is included in your self-care routine, try diffusing sandalwood during your me-time. This warm, woody scent has shown in studies to increase both mental clarity and focus, making meditation easier while exposed to this scent. Sandalwood has also shown to have a calming effect on the limbic system, along with sedative and mood-calming properties that enhance quality of sleep.
If you’re experiencing a lack of energy or allover lethargy during quarantine, try incorporating a citrus scent like orange or grapefruit into your living and working space. Citrus scents like orange are known to have powerful energizing properties, with orange specifically being linked to increased feelings of happiness, energy levels and overall happier moods. A study even found the orange scent to lower cortisol levels, which leads to increased stress and anxiety.
For a much-needed burst of energy in the morning or during a mid-day slump, try diffusing in the morning and inhaling from the bottle during the day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’ve been having trouble getting to and falling asleep, Roman Chamomile could help regulate your sleep schedule. In various studies, this herbaceous, floral scent has proved to help users get to sleep, and can even fight insomnia for better sleep.
To make going to bed a more pleasant experience, add some drops to your nightly shower and diffuse in the evenings to help get your body ready for sleep.
For those experiencing an overwhelming amount of emotions, jasmine essential oils have been shown to help with a variety of anxious and depressive symptoms. Not only has it proven to have a mildly sedative effect, it has been observed to have a calming effect on the brain, easing anxious thoughts, feelings and overwhelm—in fact, the scent can be “as calming as valium.” Jasmine has also been observed to stimulate the brain in certain cases, which can boost the mood and feelings of happiness.
Though there’s no way to tell when our lives will return to normal, it’s important to prioritize your physical, mental and emotional well-being during this time. This includes making yourself comfortable and feeling at-home during this stressful time—which aromatherapy and essential oils can help with. For more information on how essential oils can help with isolation anxieties, check out this visual on seven more oils and their benefits.
Emily Borst is a digital content creator who helps FragranceX create helpful and compelling stories worth sharing. Her background in digital marketing and creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to eco to lifestyle. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, crafting, reading, and eating her way through Austin, Texas.
You’ve heard of birth plans, but making a postpartum plan can be equally if not more important.
A postpartum plan is a way to help you prepare for those first few months after giving birth. Many women create birth plans in anticipation of their labor and delivery, but often neglect the postpartum period. This can result in sleep deprivation, breastfeeding problems, added stress and may even contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety.
Here’s how and why you should create a postpartum plan for the months following your baby’s birth.
The postpartum period is often called the fourth trimester and usually considered the first three months after giving birth. However, women require different amounts of time to recover after childbirth. The physical and hormonal changes usually regulate within six weeks, but mental health can sometimes take longer. Whether it’s your first or your fourth child, it can be hard to predict how long you will need postpartum care until the time actually comes.
The birth of a baby is like a mass signal to all our family and friends that it’s time to come and meet them. But too many visitors at once can interrupt the postpartum healing process. You may either feel excited to show off your new baby, or anxious about too many people crowding them (and you).
If you’ve given birth in a hospital, then there are usually specific rules that visitors must follow and this should also be the case when you are home. Try to schedule specific times for visitors, and don’t have everyone come all at once. Make sure visitors are washing their hands before holding or touching baby and don’t let anyone to kiss your newborn baby. Don’t allow visitors to simply “drop by” because that could interrupt your sleep or breastfeeding routine. And if at any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed by your visitors, feel free to ask them to leave or excuse yourself to your your bedroom. You’re not a party hostess.
Communicate these rules to your family and friends, even if it feels awkward. Adding this into your postpartum plan and letting them all know your wishes ahead of time can make it easier. Once baby arrives, the excitement can often distract everyone from the plan, so make sure to remind them in a text, e-mail or a printed note on the front door. No one should feel offended by your decision to focus on your postpartum health.
Take a look at a calendar and figure out your postpartum timeline. When will you be 2 weeks postpartum? Baby will need a check up with their pediatrician. What date will you be 6 weeks postpartum? That’s when you will need your checkup. The postpartum period can often go by quickly, so knowing the dates that you hit these milestones ahead of time can help you stay focused on your recovery.
If you can, try to book all of your appointments in advance. Doctor’s offices can sometimes be difficult to get into, and a lot can change in just a few days during the postpartum period. If you know that you have an appointment coming up, you can prepare any questions that you have ahead of time. Making notes of things that you want to discuss can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
And don’t forget to include any appointments with lactation consultants, the public health nurse, newborn photographers, for religious ceremonies, to get government paperwork or passports done, etc. When you think about it, there’s a lot that needs to be done to welcome a new person into the world.
It really does take a village to raise a child. Many moms these days tend to go it alone thanks to our ever busy lives. But historically and in many cultures today, it’s unheard of for a new mother to tackle the postpartum period on her own. Asking for help during the postpartum period does not make you any less capable of a mother. If anything, it’s one of the smartest things you can do.
Make a list or schedule for those who are available and willing to help you out. Your spouse or partner is going to be helper number one but it’s understandable that they won’t be available 24/7 as most workplaces only offer minimal amounts of parental leave. Try to schedule additional help during the times they are not around. Parents, siblings, friends, neighbors are often more than happy to help you out – all you have to do is ask.
Your postpartum plan should be centered around getting rest. Rest is so incredibly important in those first few months postpartum. Regardless of how your labor and delivery went, all moms need to allow their bodies time to heal. A lot is happening inside of us that we don’t always see from the outside. So while making your postpartum plan, make sure to schedule in lots of time for sleep, naps and lying down with your feet up.
Moms tend to feel guilty when it comes to rest. The urge to cook and clean and take care of everyone else is a strong force within us. But rest is an important part of the healing process, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, newborns are pretty cooperative when it comes to this. Even if you’re not “sleeping when baby sleeps” make sure that both you and baby are getting enough sleep.
Once you’ve enlisted help to take care of all your other responsibilities, spend as much time as you can in bed with your baby.Focus on breastfeeding, have lots of skin to skin contact and sleep whenever baby does. This will also help with the bonding process, which can help with symptoms of the baby blues or postpartum depression.
Plan Out Your Meals
A healthy diet is essential to healing in the postpartum period. What type of food you eat can affect breastfeeding, your postpartum body and your mental health. You shouldn’t have to worry about cooking during the first few weeks, so having prepared food ready should be an essential part of your postpartum plan.
Stocking the freezer with healthy meals is a common practice for many moms during the “nesting phase” of their pregnancy. This will ensure that you always have something hearty that can be ready with very little effort. Stock your pantry with healthy non-perishables that are easy to whip up, like canned meats or beans, soups, pasta, or instant oatmeal (great for boosting your milk supply.) Buy them little by little throughout your pregnancy so that you have a fully stocked pantry by the time baby arrives.
Create a list of some of your favorite healthy dishes that family and friends can cook and bring for you when they come to visit. The majority of people (especially veteran moms) love feeling helpful by bringing food, but you don’t want to end up with a bunch of casseroles that you’ll never touch. They don’t have to be full meals either, you can request some simple things like fresh fruit or vegetables, smoothies or sandwiches.
Or try a food delivery service. There are so many different ones available now. Many of them offer free dishes and trial periods which can hold you over during the postpartum period. Don’t forget to add gift cards to these services on your baby registry, they make great last minute or long-distance gift ideas.
Add in Light Exercise
Your postpartum body is very different than your pre-pregnancy one. Many moms are anxious to start dropping the baby weight and get back into shape, but postpartum fitness should be more about strength and wellness than weight loss. Once you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor or midwife, you can begin to add in light exercise to help your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Focus on your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles do the majority of the work when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery. During the postpartum period, they will need some work to get them back into shape and reduce the risk of pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. There are several light exercises you can do to strengthen them, including Kegels and pelvic lifts. Or you can invest in a pelvic floor training device to do them with ease.
Try low-impact workouts, like yoga.Postpartum yoga is a popular option and some places even offer mom and baby classes. Walking or jogging is another great option for moms, with local stroller walking groups popping up all over the place. Any kind of light exercise will help get you feeling like yourself again. But until your body is fully healed, it’s a good idea to hold off on weight lifting or high-intensity workouts.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are one of most common complications of childbirth. Even if you are low risk, there are chances that you could get postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis. This is something all mothers should be aware of and prepare for in their postpartum plan.
Don’t stay silent about it. Speak up if you feel like something isn’t right. Tell your spouse, your mom or best friend. Talk to your doctor or midwife. Call a postpartum support helpline. There are several different options available and it’s better to get help sooner rather than later.
A postpartum plan should be designed with you and baby in mind. Just like with a birth plan, make sure to communicate what you want with those who will be supporting you in the first few months. And, also like a birth plan, bear in mind that things may not always go according to plan. Your labor and delivery will have a lot to do with your recovery process. Make sure to leave room for adjustments as needed. Most importantly, rest, relax, and get to know your new baby!
There seems to be a common connection between postpartum anxiety and substance abuse.
Many mothers suffering from postpartum anxiety are prone to addiction and substance abuse. It’s true that drugs or alcohol can work to help numb the pain and drown our worries. But it’s not a permanent, nor a safe, solution. If this is a problem that you are dealing with, know that help is always available and there are other options available for handling the crippling symptoms of postpartum anxiety.
Here’s some information for moms suffering from postpartum anxiety and substance abuse.
Who is at risk for postpartum anxiety and substance abuse?
Postpartum disorders and addiction have a dangerous relationship, and each of them often make the symptoms of the other more severe. In the first days and weeks after childbirth, a new mother will go through a variety of emotions and sources of stress. She may experience difficult feelings and struggle with sadness, constant worrying, and extreme sleep deprivation.
Postpartum anxiety is when a woman develops an anxiety disorder following the birth of her baby that causes a disruption in her life and affects her health and well-being. Studies have discovered that women with postpartum depression or anxiety are at a greater risk for substance abuse compared to postpartum women without a mood disorder. Likewise, women with a history of substance abuse are more likely to show symptoms of postpartum anxiety.
Why do some mothers with postpartum anxiety abuse drugs or alcohol?
Caring for a newborn entails a great deal of work, and it is normal for a mother to experience a range of feelings including worry, unhappiness, and fatigue. If these feelings persist or interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family, she may risk developing a mood or substance use disorder.
Environmental factors such as relationship status or economic status may also leave certain mothers at a higher risk for substance abuse. Postpartum substance abuse may be a continuation of drug or alcohol use that was prevalent before or during pregnancy, or it may be the beginning of a new behavior.
Women with postpartum anxiety may use drugs or alcohol in order to:
Elevate their mood
Relieve stress and anxiety
Assist in falling asleep
Women who are prescribed opiates for postoperative pain-management or benzodiazepines for anxiety are also at an increased risk for developing a drug dependency. If you have a history of prescription drug abuse, let your health care provider so they can discuss safer alternatives during postpartum treatment. Opioids are especially addictive, making drug rehab a valuable tool for mothers struggling with dependencies after their pregnancy.
How to treat substance abuse in mothers with postpartum anxiety
Postpartum substance abuse can limit a mother’s ability to emotionally connect with her infant, adjust to their rhythms and behaviors, and anticipate or follow their development. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and postpartum anxiety, it is important to seek treatment that will address both issues.
Many addiction treatment therapies can also be used to treat symptoms of postpartum anxiety. There are many options for rehab including inpatient or outpatient treatment and a wide variety of support groups. If you are unsure about which treatment option is best, contact a rehab specialist who can go over the options and help you find the right treatment facility.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing patterns of thinking and behavior. The therapist works alongside you to anticipate problems and develop healthy coping strategies. When treating anxiety in the general population, CBT has been proven to be effective with improvement rates estimated between 34% and 68%.
Common CBT exercises for treating substance abuse in women with postpartum anxiety include:
Setting realistic goals and learning how to solve problems.
Learning to manage stress and anxiety, especially with relaxation techniques.
Identifying and challenging negative thoughts.
Keeping track of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to be more aware of symptoms and to make it easier to change thoughts and behaviors.
Exploring the negative consequences of continued substance abuse.
Identifying high-risk situations for substance abuse
Developing strategies for coping with and avoiding high-risk situations and the desire to use.
Mindfulness training is the practice of awareness and attention exercises focused on accepting your present state of emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. When mindfulness training is practiced before, during, and after childbirth, it has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and stress.
Some of the skills taught in mindfulness training are:
Observation: Being mindful and paying close attention to what is going on in the world around you.
Description: Having the ability to say what happened and how it made you feel.
Participation: Becoming involved in an activity without being self-conscious about it.
Taking a Non-Judgmental Stance: Learning to accept things you can’t control rather than judging them.
Focusingon what is going on in the moment without distraction from other ideas or events.
Effectiveness: Doing what works instead of second-guessing yourself.
Mindfulness training can help you recognize when you are running on “auto pilot”(acting without thinking about what you are doing), as well as developing a better attitude towards yourself and others.
Talking about Substance Abuse and Postpartum Anxiety
Postpartum anxiety can make the experience of motherhood even more stressful than it already is. The risk of drug and alcohol abuse is greater for mothers who are dealing with other disorders and unfortunately, many are afraid to speak up. Drugs and alcohol may numb the pain and symptoms of anxiety, but it only offers temporary relief and does more harm in the long run. If you are suffering from symptoms of anxiety or drug and alcohol dependency, seek help from a qualified professional and get started with a recovery program. Talk with other moms about your experience or join a support group and know that you are not alone in this battle.
If you, or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse in the postpartum period, please check out our resources and recommendations page for some sites with important information.
Ginni Correa is a Latinx writer and mental health advocate living in Orlando, FL. Her mission is to build awareness and promote resources that can help people transform their lives. She believes in the importance of ending stigma surrounding mental health and substance abuse
For the past few months, I’ve been dealing with depression, despite being on anti-depressants. I assumed it was triggered by the chronic pain I have been experiencing since developing scar tissue adhesions following my hysterectomy for endometriosis. Having suffered from depression off and on since being diagnosed with postpartum depression many years ago, I didn’t want to let it get out of control. So I thought it was time to try out cognitive behavioral therapy via Online-Therapy.com.
Here’s a look at what my experience was like with online therapy.
How Does Online Cognitive Behavior Therapy Work?
I have tried online therapy before, in the form of online talk therapy. That means that I’ve video chatted with a licensed therapist to discuss my thoughts and feelings. I’ve also done talk therapy in person, so online talk therapy wasn’t much different from that, aside from the convenience of it.
But cognitive behavior therapy at online-therapy.com is a completely different world. First of all, it’s not talk therapy. It’s a series of activities that you do in order to help reprogram your brain. The idea being that if you can change your way of thinking, you can change your behaviors and ultimately, your mood.
Secondly, you do it all at your own pace. I decided to be more aggressive and try to complete all the sections in 30 days. This meant that I was logging on and completing at least one worksheet every couple of days. But there is no timeline, no deadlines, no schedules, no specific hours of availability. You can complete a worksheet in the middle of the night if you want to!
And finally, while you’re doing it all on your own, you’re never actually alone. You’re assigned one therapist to work with you throughout the entire process. As you complete sections and worksheets, your therapist will leave comments about what you’ve written. You can schedule a weekly live chat and you can email your therapist whenever you need to. Over the 30 days, I really did develop a bond with my therapist and looked forward to connecting with her during the weekly chats.
The Benefits of Working Solo
I’ve always been better working at my own pace. Some days I would complete an entire section with it’s corresponding worksheets, and other days I would just do part of a section and one worksheet. And while the worksheets are designed for self-reflection, I always looked forward to getting that notification that my therapist had responded to my answers. When it was time for our live chat session, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about some of the things we had worked on. She always had great input and feedback about the things I’d written in my worksheets.
While it was reassuring that my therapist was always there for me, I also felt empowered that I was taking control of my own thoughts and emotions. The worksheets really made me think. I was responsible for examining my own negative behaviors and how I responded to certain triggers. Taking ownership of my reactions to common situations made me want to change my behaviors even more.
Towards the last few sections, I became much more efficient at recognizing my negative thoughts and behaviors and how to replace them with positive ones, or healthier negative ones. At the time, I found some of the worksheets to be repetitive, but now I see that was done on purpose. Having to recall certain thoughts and behaviors over and over meant finding out which ones affected me the most.
The Online Therapy Toolbox
The sections and worksheets are just one part of the cognitive behavior therapy process. In order to get the most out of therapy, I needed to make some life changes.
Yoga and meditation was something I have been wanting to incorporate into my daily life for a while now. In the online therapy toolbox, there are a series of yoga videos that I can access at any time, and they include both short workouts and longer ones.
The online journal was another great tool available 24/7. As a writer, journaling has been something I’ve started and stopped several times throughout my life. But the online therapy journal isn’t just a blank page for me to write in all my thoughts, instead there were specific questions I needed to answer each day to get me thinking about how I wanted to feel. This made it easy for me to set goals each morning and be accountable for achieving those goals each evening.
The action plan was a place where I was really accountable for making progress. As I went through the online therapy course, I scheduled specific activities to help me get better. Things like yoga, exercise, socializing events and health appointments. As I completed each activity on my action plan, I checked off that it was done and it was added to my “ta-da” list (instead of a to-do list). Seeing all the actions I had completed towards improving my mental health gave me a sense of accomplishment.
Getting a Diagnosis
As I go through and complete the worksheets, my therapist reads all of my answers. She leaves a comment within 24 hours and I can reply if I want to. She was able to divulge certain things from my answers that I didn’t immediately see. Together, we came to the conclusion that I was suffering from some trauma related to my hysterectomy. I realized that I hadn’t grieved for the loss of my uterus in the right way and therefore, every time I felt pelvic pain, I was reminded of that loss.
Following that revelation, I began to work on activities to help me grieve. I started to write about the loss and allow myself to feel the emptiness, even cry about it. I now have an answer as to why the pain causes me to be depressed, and I have an action plan in place on how to replace that depression with something more positive.
Was 30 Days of Therapy Enough?
The thing about cognitive behavior therapy is that it’s not something someone else does for you. It’s something you learn to do yourself. It’s not like getting a massage, it’s more like learning how to drive. Once you learn how to change your thinking, it’s something you need to continue to do regularly. And the more you practice, the better and more confident you will get.
Online-therapy.com offers a course in cognitive behavior therapy. How long it takes you to complete the course is up to you. I managed to complete the entire course in 30 days but that doesn’t signal the end of my therapy. I now need to take everything I’ve learned and put into practice in my every day life.
Others may need longer than 30 days to complete the course and may want additional therapist support along the way. Thankfully, sessions are billed monthly and you can stop at any time with the click of one button. And you’ll still have access to your toolbox even after the subscription ends, so you can continue with the yoga and meditation, journal entries and action plan.
This was the right form of therapy for me because I find it easier to write out my emotions than to voice them. I was also in a place where I wanted to get better, and I wanted to take ownership of my own mind and moods. Those things were key to getting the most out of the online therapy experience.
If you’re not quite ready to do it on your own, consider the package that allows two live chats a week instead of one, so that you have that additional support. Online-therapy.com costs less than traditional talk therapy because you’re not paying for someone else’s time by the hour. I put off doing it for a long time because of the cost associated with it. But eventually I needed to prioritize my own mental health, no matter the cost.
So whatever your struggle is, I urge you to consider this option. You may not find a diagnosis or the root cause of your mental health issues in just 30 days, and you definitely don’t need to. For many people, mental health disorders are a lifelong battle. You may need to do multiple rounds of therapy or try a combination of treatment options to find relief. But if you’re interested in learning how to take control of your own mind and moods, then cognitive behavior therapy might be for you.
Postpartum anxiety is a common mood disorder that affects up to 15% of new mothers.
Postpartum anxiety is just as common, if not more so, than postpartum depression. It’s seldom discussed and when it is, it’s usually grouped together with postpartum depression as if they’re a package deal. The truth is, women can get BOTH postpartum depression AND anxiety or they can get one of the two.
Here’s what all moms need to know about postpartum anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Basically speaking, anxiety causes a person to worry. Anxiety, in itself, is a common and natural human reaction. It’s our body’s instinctive way of protecting us from a possible threat. For new and expectant mothers, anxiety is almost expected, and seems to be part of the maternal instinct. We need to worry about our newborn babies in order for them to survive.
An anxiety disorder, however, is different. It’s when you lose your natural ability to stop worrying when the threat has passed. Postpartum anxiety is what it’s called when a women develops an anxiety disorder following the birth of her baby. Women can also suffer from prenatal anxiety during pregnancy. A postpartum anxiety disorder can cause a mother to worry so much that it disrupts her life and affects her health and well being.
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
While the symptoms themselves might not seem overly concerning, living with postpartum anxiety can be extremely debilitating. A mother who suffers from postpartum anxiety may suffer from extreme sleep deprivation if she stays up all night worrying or watching her baby breathe. She might start to avoid leaving the house or socializing with friends. The constant worrying, paranoia and intrusive thoughts can take a severe toll on her mental and physical health.
Symptoms of Postpartum OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Compulsive and repetitive behavior
Scary and intrusive thoughts
Going to extreme lengths to avoid bad thoughts from becoming reality
Becoming obsessed about things like germs, illnesses, death, accidents, etc.
Postpartum OCD is a form of anxiety that manifests as compulsive behavior. It’s similar to other forms of OCD, just in this case, the worries relate to a new baby. For example, a mother suffering from postpartum OCD may clean, wash or sanitize everything obsessively for fear of the baby getting sick. Intrusive thoughts are very common in a mother with postpartum OCD and she may rearrange her entire life in order to avoid bad things from happening, even if they seem like a long shot.
Symptoms of Postpartum Panic Disorder
Feeling light-headed or dizzy
Racing heart beat
Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
Chills or hot flashes
Numbness or tingling in hands, feet or face
Hyperventilating or shortness of breath
*always seek medical care if you are experiencing any kind of chest pain.
A panic attack can feel so bad that it’s often mistaken for a heart attack. It’s important to rule that out, especially if it’s your first panic attack. But if you become prone to panic attacks in the postpartum period, then it’s likely you suffer from a postpartum panic disorder. This is a more intense form of anxiety that can have several effects on a new mother’s life. It can often happen when a mother’s fears become severe and she feels like she has no control over what’s happening.
Are My Worries Postpartum Anxiety?
First of all, having a baby is terrifying. There is a lot worth worrying about. Starting from the moment of conception, you will likely worry about your child their entire lives. So how do you know if your worries are truly postpartum anxiety or just the normal worries that come along with motherhood?
This best way to answer this question is by determining how much your worrying is affecting your life.
Do you avoid leaving the house because you’re worried about your baby getting sick?
Do you lose sleep worrying if your baby is breathing?
Do you avoid driving because you fear getting into an accident with baby?
Is your relationship suffering because you don’t trust your partner with the baby?
Do you panic when you can’t control absolutely everything?
Are you losing weight from worrying so much?
If your entire way of life has changed in order to accommodate your worries, then it could be a sign of a postpartum anxiety disorder. It’s best to keep a journal or workbook to keep track of your worries. Seeing it on paper can help you identify if they’re getting out of control. Even if you’re not sure, speak to your healthcare professional about your worries. If nothing else, they may be able to provide you with some solutions to help ease your anxiety.
Postpartum Anxiety Treatment Options
In the same way that mothers can suffer from both postpartum depression and anxiety, they can also suffer from either one to all three forms of postpartum anxiety. Often, if a general anxiety disorder is not treated in the early stages, it can progressively become worse and worse. That’s why treatment is essential.
There are many treatments available for anxiety, including alternative and natural treatments. You may not find success until you’ve tried several different ones, or a combination of them. Even if you have established a proper treatment plan for your postpartum anxiety disorder, you should never ignore it. Anxiety, like most mental health disorders, is something that can easily be triggered again.
Self Care for Postpartum Anxiety
Living with anxiety can cause a lot of stress and even lead to bouts of depression or other mental illnesses. Practicing self care is extremely important to avoid triggers and relapses. But keep in mind that self care alone may not be enough to eliminate your symptoms. Instead, it should be used in combination with an anxiety treatment plan.
Just as there are good ways to manage symptoms of anxiety, there are also destructive ways. Drugs or alcohol can numb the pain and help you forget your worries, but they only offer temporary relief and do more harm in the long run. Addiction is something that many people with anxiety struggle with, especially those with OCD, as addiction is a type of compulsive behavior. For more information and addiction resources, visit Addictions.com/anxiety-disorders.
Talking About Postpartum Anxiety
Anxiety, in general, is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. While postpartum anxiety isn’t talked about as often as postpartum depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important or as dangerous to mom and baby’s health.
If you’re suffering from symptoms of postpartum anxiety, including OCD or a panic disorder, make sure to seek help from a qualified professional and establish a treatment plan. Speak up about it with other moms too, and I promise you’ll find that you’re not alone. (If you’re interested in sharing your postpartum anxiety story with us, click here for more info).
A cluttered home has become one of the staples of motherhood.
It’s quite difficult to keep up with the messes that come along with raising young children. And living among all that clutter can contribute to rising stress levels among mothers. Decluttering might just be the secret to better mental health and less everyday stress. But it’s not an easy step to take.
Rebecca Brown from Rough Draft shares some tips and information about decluttering both our minds and our homes for less stress and better mental health.
Clutter is generally defined as “a lot of objects in a state of being untidy.”People often think of clutter as a result of not having enough storage space, or enough time to keep things organized and tidy, but the reasons are much deeper, and lie in our mindsets, and in our culture.
A UCLA research of the middle-class American families and their homes proved that we’re a clutter culture indeed, obsessed with possessions. We stock up on things to reward ourselves and decrease the stress of our everyday lives but often end up even more stressed, as a direct result of the clutter we have in our homes.
This is especially true for women, who feel responsible for the tidiness of their homes – the very same research found a link in the way mothers talk about the clutter in their homes and their diurnal cortisol levels.
So having clutter in our lives, no matter what form it takes, is stressful. Moreover, clutter makes us feel anxious and chaotic, and it often makes us avoid our homes, just so that we don’t need to deal with it.
Sentimental clutter. We all keep memorabilia of our past and the people we love. If it’s standing in the way of our everyday tasks, memorabilia becomes clutter. Giving up on those items can be hard, and may feel like a betrayal.
Clutter without storage space. Purposeful things that are not trash, but still haven’t been properly stored, since our storage space is cluttered.
Trash clutter. Things that lie around your house masked as clutter, that you could easily throw away. Remember that pair of shoes that you’ve been planning to have repaired, for like six months? That’s simply trash.
Aspirational clutter. Items proving aspirations we have or had. That favorite pair of jeans you wore when you had 30 pounds less, and that is only filling up space in your closet? Is that a guitar full of dust that you’ve been keeping in your living room since your teenage days when you’ve wanted to become a rock star?
Abundance clutter. Things you’ve been stocking up because you know you’re going to use them one day. It’s never a good idea when it comes to food or clothing.
Bargain clutter. You might think it’s a good idea to make a good bargain, so you buy things you don’t actually like or use.
Declutter Your Mind
One of the best and most accurate definitions of clutter is “delayed decisions.”
We can’t seem to be at peace with the idea that we’ll probably never play the guitar or go skiing again, so we leave it for the “just in case” scenario. We have several baby blankets in the garage to remind us of our kids’ childhood, as we can’t seem to decide which one to keep. Our cluttered homes and our cluttered minds are deeply connected, enticing stress from our unaccomplished businesses.
To begin decluttering your mind, you can begin with the following:
Determine what your most important life goals are and define actions to achieve them. Make time for those actions.
Keep a journal to organize your thoughts better.
Spend more time in nature as it can be beneficial for your mental wellbeing, and help you distinguish your life’s priorities. Hiking is particularly helpful when trying to connect to and contemplate the essentials of life.
Limit media consumption. This is the only way to get rid of all the media related clutter in your mind, and the stress and anxiety it causes.
Declutter Your Space
“If you don’t love it, lose it. If you don’t use it, lose it” a simple motto by Margareta Magnusson, the author of “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” can be a good one to start with when decluttering your space.
Even though the idea of what happens with your things after you die, may seem a bit too challenging, the Swedish practice of döstädning is pretty much enlightening even for those of us who would rather skip this conversation.
Simply by thinking how the item that remains behind us would affect our close ones, can make a difference in how we value the things we cling on to, and whether we should choose to keep it.
If you are unhappy in your home because of the mess you live in, or you can’t find things that you need to function because of it, choose a rainy day when you don’t feel like doing anything else and start.
Throw away or donate things that you don’t need or use.
Don’t move to another item until you’ve made a decision about the one in your hand.
If there is an item that holds a sentimental value, that it’s hard to throw away –take a photo of it.
Never buy a thing that doesn’t serve a purpose or just because it’s a good bargain.
Don’t stock up on food and clothes. Many things can change until you decide to use them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the help of your friends or other family members.
While there is a clutter around, you can hardly feel relaxed – you’ll feel as if you have a constant reminder of tasks ahead of you that you’ll most likely never finish. By decluttering your mind and your space, your days will be less stressful and you’ll be happier too.
Author Bio:I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.
Mobile ultrasounds are a great way to beat a case of anxiety for expectant mothers.
Many women choose to get non-diagnostic ultrasounds during their pregnancy, where they can view their baby in the womb in 2D, 3D and 4D (video). But thanks to modern technology, a mobile ultrasound is the newest option for expectant moms to view their babies in-utero from the comfort of their own homes. This helps moms feel more relaxed and at ease during the process.
With Jess expecting her third baby in February, we thought it would be a great opportunity to test out the mobile ultrasound process for ourselves. So we collaborated with Prenatal Peek, Winnipeg’s ONLY mobile ultrasound company, and the first mobile ultrasound company in Canada.
Check out some of these awesome features of mobile ultrasounds that can help put anxious moms at ease.
Jess elected to have a mobile ultrasound from Prenatal Peek at her home, surrounded by her husband and two girls. At the time, she was 24 weeks pregnant and they had been told the gender of the baby over the phone by their doctor but wanted to confirm it. Jess had non-diagnostic ultrasounds with her two prior pregnancies, each at different locations in Winnipeg. This was her first mobile ultrasound experience.
One of the best things about Prenatal Peek‘s mobile ultrasound process is the service. Owner, Tracy, has been doing mobile ultrasounds for nearly 7 years and as a mother herself, she knows exactly how to make moms feel comfortable and at ease. She has seen hundreds of babies via ultrasound, but when it was finally time to see Jess’s baby on the screen, she was just as excited as if it was the first time.
An amazing benefit of the mobile ultrasound process is the flexible scheduling. Unlike most elective ultrasound locations, there wasn’t a long wait to get an appointment. Tracy fit us in on a Saturday afternoon and often works evenings and weekends because she understands what it’s like to be a busy, working parent. We even had to make a few last minute changes to our appointment time, which she easily accommodated.
Atmosphere + Environment
One of the biggest factors for an anxious mom-to-be when it comes to an ultrasound is the atmosphere and environment. For moms who have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss or who have anxiety about hospitals, ultrasounds can make for an unpleasant experience. This includes siblings and fathers-to-be who might also have a fear of hospitals due to a past trauma. The option of having the ultrasound done in your own home is a great alternative.
It took almost no time for Tracy to get her equipment set up in Jess’s living room. In fact, I was surprised at how little equipment was actually needed for the process. With just a few cables, Tracy was able to link her screen onto the television, making it possible for everyone to view baby.
A Family Affair
With the ability to project the screen, a mobile ultrasound would make a fantastic option for a gender reveal party, a baby shower or to include grandparents and other extended family members. Or, as Jess and her family chose to do it, a private and intimate family affair. However you decide to host your mobile ultrasound, Prenatal Peek can usually accommodate. But keep in mind that moms should be relaxed and comfortable in order to get baby to cooperate.
Great for Siblings
Many children can have a fear of doctor’s offices, hospitals or new places and strangers. This can make taking siblings along to an ultrasound quite difficult. But Tracy did a great job of including Jess’s two daughters during the mobile ultrasound process. The girls felt at ease in their own home and were excited to see the new baby on the television screen. They each got their own stuffed animal that had a recording of the baby’s heartbeat and it was clearly their favorite part!
One of the most special moments during the mobile ultrasound was when Tracy handed over the controls. Jess, her husband and her children each took a turn performing the ultrasound themselves. This was a great way for them to connect with the baby. And I’m certain it made dad and big sisters feel more involved in the pregnancy. This unique experience really made mobile ultrasounds stand out among standard ones.
In the end, we think that the personalized one-on-one service, convenience and comfort make mobile ultrasounds the way to go for moms to be and their families. It’s a great option for moms suffering from prenatal anxiety or depression as they get all the benefits of seeing baby without the hassle normally associated with elective ultrasounds. With the variety of different packages available, Prenatal Peek mobile ultrasound is totally affordable and you get to keep the images and video of your ultrasound for no additional cost, regardless of which package you choose!
I recently collaborated with Katya and Cait, the founders of The Fragile Club. One thing we have in common is our shared passion for raising mental health awareness. We recognize that in order to do that, we need to encourage the conversation around mental illness. The more people who are brave enough to speak up about what they are battling, the less stigmatized it will be.
On both our sites, those suffering from mental illness are invited to speak up and share their stories, no matter how scary it might be. The Fragile Club also offers a line of merchandise, with profits going towards mental health organizations around the world. These simple pieces, including clothing, hats and even an adorable fanny pack, are branded with a single word “fragile.”
I took the opportunity to interview these two incredible women and find out more about what it means to be part of The Fragile Club.
1. What is the Fragile Club?
Katya:The Fragile Club, first of all, is a community. The place where we share our stories and support each other.
Cait:The Fragile Club is a socially conscious brand created to bring awareness to mental health. For every item sold we donate the profits to one of our partnered Mental Health Organizations. We know that everyone has their own powerful story that can impact individuals and we encourage sharing as a core way to empower and support.
2. In what ways does the Fragile Club help raise awareness for mental health?
Katya:We are building a network of people with social influence (celebrities and social media influencers) who share their experiences dealing with mental health-related problems in order to show that it is okay to be open and talk about it. Also, we donate part of the profit from sold products to Mental Health organizations around the world.
Cait:Through our ambassadors, collaborators, partners and community we aim to bring mental health into normal conversation. And it’s through sharing our individual stories that we can raise impactful awareness.
3. How do you two know each other?
Katya:We both work remotely in the area of digital marketing and advertising. We met not too long ago through friends in common during our travels in South-East Asia and stayed in touch since then. We have a lot in common – modelling, that we both do, remote work, travel, etc. Cait helped me with the content for a few projects and during one of the brainstorming sessions, the idea of The Fragile Club was born.
Cait:As Katya explains, we both have lots of experience working remotely and we met via mutual friends during our travels in South-East Asia and have stayed in touch since then. The first time we worked together I was creating content for some of Katya’s projects and we really enjoyed working together.
4. Aside from the Fragile Club, what kinds of things are you interested in?
Katya:As a full-time job, I do digital marketing and advertising and I’m absolutely loving it! Besides that, I’m interested in fitness, art and travels.
Cait:Both Katya and myself have been in the modeling industry. I love fitness, health, personal growth and content creation.
5. What inspired you to start the Fragile Club?
Katya:As an entrepreneur, I always wanted to create something that would bring some value to society. As I personally have experience with depression and anxiety, I want to support people who deal with mental health-related problems.
Cait:Katya and I both are very passionate about creating positive change and our biggest conversation has been around mental health. We wanted to create something in the mental health space and the Fragile Club fell into place.
6. Tell us more about your personal experiences with mental illness.
Katya:I had depression, hypochondria and anxiety. After my first thought that suicide isn’t a really bad idea, I went to the psychiatrist on the same day. Had to go through the therapy and course of antidepressants to get to the point where I am now. I lived with it over 3 years without understanding what’s wrong with me (most of the time I was thinking that I have some kind of disease and I’m dying). I’m happy it’s over.
Cait:My sister’s story has had a huge impact on me and is a big reason why I care so much about Fragile. She grew up a middle child of 4 girls and always felt like the underdog in our religious family. Along with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this lead to her drinking and getting into drugs by the age of 12, pregnant by the time she was 16, and leaving home at 17. Years later, when she was 22, my family learned that she had become addicted to heroin two years earlier. This was devastating to my whole family. My mom has been amazing in helping her rehabilitate and she’s been safely on methadone for the past few years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over my little sister and how much I just want her to know she is loved and she doesn’t have to feel so alone and outcasted. I want anyone who’s felt the way she has to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and for the people around them to know how to help the people they love.
Personally, I’ve been through periods of depression, anxiety, self-hatred and multiple mental breakdowns. I’ve had anemia and endometriosis which both has fed periods of depression. And I know what it feels like to feel like no one supports you and you don’t know what to do.
7. What does being “fragile” mean to you?
Being fragile means that you are human. We want to highlight that everyone around us has gone through situations that we can’t understand, much less judge. Being fragile means that you accept your pain and become stronger by owning it. It also means that we need to remember that the person next to you has struggles and pain of their own, no matter who they are.
8. What do you feel is the biggest barrier to proper mental health care?
There are many barriers, but the biggest we believe is the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why we care so much about our mission to raise awareness and funds for mental health. We need both community and government to support each other as well as the funds to bring about proper treatment and research.
9. What do you hope to achieve in the future with the Fragile Club?
We want to bring this important issue to the forefront of conversation in society and culture. That is our biggest hope and dream.
10. How can others become involved in your mission?
Simply by making a single purchase donates funds to mental health organizations we’ve vetted and believe in their work. By someone wearing Fragile it helps to bring mental health to conversation in their daily life.
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
By removing judgement, we have room support and encourage each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and that includes understanding and supporting each other in our darkest moments.
For more information about The Fragile Club, to share your story on their site or to make a purchase and support mental health initiatives around the world, please visit http://fragileclub.com.
Life has a habit of surprising us and even when things are floating along nicely, there’s always a chance of a bolt from the blue upsetting our mental health. The unpredictability of life is what makes our existence precious and exciting, but not knowing what the future holds can also trigger anxiety. When a curve ball does come out of nowhere, how do you react?
Many of us switch to autopilot, but our responses and instincts aren’t always beneficial for our mental health and well being. If you’re going through a tough time, here’s a guide to some of the most common causes of stress and distress and some tips to help you put your mental health first.
The relationships we have with other people can make or break us. Being with a single person or having a group of friends can make us feel ecstatically happy, but there’s also a risk of coming into contact with people who don’t have a positive influence. At some point, the majority of people will decide to break up with a partner or let a friendship slip away because that relationship isn’t making them happy.
Spending time with friends and your partner should lift you up, make you feel safe, secure, content and give you hope for the future. If you question your own worth at any point, feel like you can’t be yourself around another person or wake up every morning wondering if you’re making the right decision, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationships.
If you’ve been with a partner for a long time, you’re married or you have children together, it can be incredibly tough to make the decision to separate. You probably envisioned spending the rest of your lives together and the thought of being alone is scary.
If you have decided to break up with a long-term partner, and there are legalities involved, make sure you get the advice and support you need from a legal firm that specializes in family law. It’s very common to have questions about the processes that are involved. An experienced legal team will fight in your corner and give you the information you need to understand what the next few months will entail and what rights you have.
In addition to seeking professional advice, it’s also critical to take advantage of emotional support. At this time, you might be hurting and feeling very low. Reach out to close friends and family members, talk to a therapist or a charity helpline if you’d rather speak to somebody you don’t know. Remember to take good care of yourself. Spend time with people you trust that make you feel good about yourself. There is no universal guide to healing after a breakup, so don’t put pressure on yourself or compare yourself to others.
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult hurdles human beings have to overcome. We spend our lives building families and groups of friends and to lose somebody that you love can cause immeasurable pain. One important thing to remember when you’re dealing with bereavement is that everyone is different. People cope with grief in very different ways and there is no cookie-cutter mold that you have to fit into.
In the early days, it’s common to feel numb and to try and fill your time, often doing tasks that really don’t need to be done. Most of us like to try and keep busy purely so that our minds aren’t occupied by thoughts of that person and feelings of sadness and despair.
When you feel able to open up, talking is hugely beneficial. It can be dangerous to keep your emotions bottled up. Don’t be afraid to cry and don’t feel that you have to be strong for others. You might not want to sob in front of your kids, but make sure you have an outlet for your feelings. If this means going to the bathroom for 5 minutes to take time out or making a call to a friend so that you can let it all out, this is what you should do.
They say that time is a healer and to some extent, it is. The problem is that time can also make others forget. When you first lose a loved one, you may find that you’re inundated with flowers, cards, and messages. As time passes, the texts and calls to see how you are dry up as people get on with their lives. This can be very difficult to take.
To help you cope and to make the grieving process more tolerable, don’t be afraid to lean on others and to seek advice. Many people find it helpful to go to group support sessions and to talk to a counselor about their feelings. You might also find that creative activities enable you to express your emotions. Exercise, especially activities that are designed to clear your mind and promote relaxation like yoga, help you sleep if you’re struggling with insomnia.
Unemployment and money worries
If you lose your job or you’re worried about debt, money problems can consume you and contribute to intense anxiety. If you’re trying to raise kids, run a household and keep a roof over your head, it can be very difficult to tackle debt, especially if you’ve lost your job. If money worries are getting you down, and you’re facing an uncertain future, for which you weren’t prepared, there is help out there.
Often, when bad news comes out of the blue, the easiest path to take is to bury your head in the sand and hope that everything blows over. In reality, the longer you ignore debt, the more serious the situation becomes. If you’re unemployed, money issues may be temporary, and finding another job could provide a solution.
If the scenario is more grave, the sooner you seek professional advice, the better. You don’t want to be panicking every time your phone rings or there’s a knock at the door. If you’re chasing your tail and can’t pay your bills, a financial adviser or a debt charity can help you out. There are paths you can take and there may be simple solutions that could save you a huge amount of stress.
Anxiety can really take its toll on your physical health, as well as your mental well being. If you are anxious all the time, and you’re finding it tough to relax and stay calm, there are self-help techniques you can try. It’s also beneficial to talk about how you feel and to ask for help. Often, we make assumptions that people won’t want to be burdened by our issues but that’s usually not the case. You might find that your family and friends are more than willing to support you.
Life is never plain sailing, and most of us have to deal with challenges and obstacles that seem to come from nowhere. If you’re going through a tough time your health might suffer, and this is why it’s crucial to try and look after yourself as best you can. Focus on getting through each day, maintain a positive mindset and accept that some days will be harder than others.