Staying healthy after childbirth isn’t an easy task because carrying a child changes your body, your mind, and your emotions. The postpartum period can be especially challenging since you are adapting to physical and emotional changes while learning how to care for your little one and dealing with a new reality of motherhood.
Also, you and your partner need to adjust to your new roles as parents and a different family system. From healing after childbirth to sleep deprivation, the first six to eight weeks after giving birth can be overwhelming. During this intense time, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and prioritize proper self-care.
The four tips listed below will help you keep you focus on staying healthy after childbirth.
Your body endures a lot of changes during pregnancy and birth. This is the time to nourish your body with the right food choices. A well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet will give your body the essential ingredients it needs to function properly.
It is not unusual for new mothers to be too tired or busy to skip meals even when they feel hunger. It’s tempting to reach for sugary and fatty foods, especially when you are pushed for time and energy.
Remind yourself that getting proper nutrition is an integral part of staying healthy, particularly if you are breastfeeding since most nutrients your baby needs come from your breast milk.
Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, and stick to lean protein sources and whole-grain foods. Varied, nutritious, and tasty is what you should go for. Having plenty of chopped fresh fruit and vegetables at the reach of your hand will help you stick to a healthy eating regimen.
Keep Up With Your Prenatal Vitamins
After your baby is born, you may benefit from keeping up with your prenatal vitamins, especially if you are breastfeeding. Pregnancy depletes some nutrients in the body, like folate and calcium. And breastfeeding increases your daily recommended dose of many nutrients.
Even with a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet, vitamins are a good way to ensure you meet your recommended intake of critical nutrients and your nutrient stores are replenished. To support your body in restoring the nutrients it might have lost during pregnancy, your doctor may recommend you to take your prenatal vitamins for at least six months postpartum, even if you are not breastfeeding.
In addition to taking supplements, there are more ways to ensure that you’re staying healthy after childbirth. Thanks to medical advances, it’s now possible to collect stem cells at birth and undergo placenta stem cell treatment in case the need arises. This revolutionary treatment shows promising results in dozens of conditions, including heart conditions and kidney failure, so prior to your childbirth, consider placental tissue banking for future medical or therapeutic use.
Take It Easy and Prioritize Rest
Getting rest can be challenging for new mothers, but it is necessary for both physical and mental health. Carrying a baby for nine months puts an enormous strain on the female body, and the act of giving birth can be hard on your body as well.
So, how can you help it recuperate with an infant to take care of? For starters, focus on feeding your baby and taking care of yourself, and ask your loved ones for help. Allow them to take over most responsibilities you used to handle.
If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, developing a regular sleep routine for your newborn will help you both get a good night’s rest. Don’t use the time when your baby sleeps during the day to clean or do other chores. Utilize that time to get some sleep too.
Also, it’s essential not to be stuck in the house all day long. Get outside, even if it’s just for ten minutes a day. It will make a huge difference over time. Fresh air will help both you and baby rest better and that is so important for staying healthy after childbirth.
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
There is still some taboo around birth and postpartum bodies that we need to address and normalize. The aftermath of giving birth often includes weakened pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery affect this group of muscles, tissues, and ligaments significantly.
The bladder leakage is usually temporary, and as you heal, you will probably see improvement, but it may take months to go back to normal. You can speed up the recovery process more quickly with Kegel exercises designed to target pelvic floor muscles. If you are dealing with more severe issues affecting your mental wellbeing, make sure to see a pelvic health therapist.
New moms have a lot on their plate, and a daily self-care routine is a necessity. Ask for help and accept it when offered. Also, remember that even a few minutes here and there can add up during the day and make a difference in your recovery and your health status. Simply prioritize staying healthy after childbirth, both physically and mentally.
Stephen Jones is a freelance writer and a new father. “Becoming a father for the first time is not easy, but it is so much happiness that complicated things are handled in the best way because the baby is the fruit of love and he brings great satisfaction.” Stephen enjoys writing about health, food, nutrition, and children’s health for other parents. “Freelance writing has always been my passion so I combined the two and hopes to be able to share my passion with others!” Check him out on Facebook or Twitter.
You’ve had so many appointments during your pregnancy that going to another one is the last thing you want to do. But now that the baby is here, you’ll need all the energy and strength you can muster. You can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself first. Luckily, you can try these easy ways to practice preventive health care.
See Your General Practitioner
Spend a day scheduling appointments and setting reminders as they get closer. When the reminders appear, you can arrange for child care or get ready to bring them with you. Don’t miss yearly checkups. They can screen for all kinds of things and catch them in time to treat them. Among these tests:
Genetic testing for breast or ovarian cancer
If you notice other symptoms that seem to linger too long, get them checked out as soon as you can.
See a Therapist
Having a long talk with your oldest friend or your mother can prove incredibly therapeutic. But they aren’t trained professionals who can provide expert advice. When you’re raising kids, you may feel overwhelmed and alone. Your insurance plan may cover weekly visits to a mental health specialist. Take advantage of it. Even if you don’t have specific complaints or problems, a therapist knows how to listen for developing issues.
See a Chiropractor
Don’t take your spine for granted. After all, you ask a lot of it: you often pick up children, breastfeed, work long hours at a computer, or fall asleep with your neck in a weird position. Don’t wait to make an appointment until you’re in pain. A chiropractor can make small adjustments to ensure your spine stays aligned. They might also help with headaches or other aches and pains.
See a Dietician
Don’t feel like cooking? It’s easy to slip into bad habits like eating empty calories or forgoing meals. But you still need the nutrients you were so careful to ingest during pregnancy. Check in with an expert who can help you put together a manageable and balanced meal plan. It’s an easy way to practice preventive health care that will keep you on track and remind you that your child isn’t the only one who deserves to thrive.
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.
Depression and addiction have a complex relationship, and the disorder can happen together. Though, depression is most common among those who are battling an addiction to alcohol or drugs, any substance use may trigger or enhance feelings of loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness linked with depression. It is also estimated around 1/3 of people with depression will also have a drug and alcohol addiction. But those suffering from depression have a low level of emotional course, which does not go quickly. However, clinical depression is a severe mental health issue that has severe consequences for people suffering from it.
Depression affects millions of people and keeps them from living happily with a healthy lifestyle. While many individuals who experience highs and low depression symptoms throughout their life, clinical depression can last for weeks, months, or even some years. People coping with depression find themselves moving towards drug or alcohol use as a solution. Although those substances will temporarily ease the emotional pain, they can become addictive.
The more a person consumes drugs and alcohol, the more their body becomes dependent. Over time, drug and alcohol addiction will boost the symptoms of depression and which can lead to health problems. However, the treatment of addiction is possible through drug and alcohol rehab centers that help eliminate the habit.
Dual diagnosis: Depression and Addiction
Substance abuse is widespread among individuals who are suffering from a depressive disorder. And alcohol is a central nervous system depressant; using alcohol will trigger depression symptoms like sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy.
Moreover, many individuals coping with depression will reach for drugs or alcohol to enhance moods or numb painful thoughts. As a result, depression and addiction abuse will feed into each other, and it will boost the heighten the condition of both, making each worse.
When an individual is suffering from depression and addiction, a dual diagnosis can be made by any combination of a mental issue and an addiction to drugs or alcohol. A dual diagnosis which includes depressive disorder, is among the more common forms of the problem.
Depression will stand at a higher risk of accidental injury, self-harm, and sometimes suicide. Moreover, depression also restrains the immune system, which weakens the body, making you more exposed to physical illness. When you add drugs or alcohol, the risks increase significantly to your physical and emotional health.
Individuals with depression find themselves facing a battle every day. Many elements of addiction will overlap the symptoms of depression, which makes it necessary that people get the care and treatment for both disorders.
People with both depression and addiction may mimic a lack of lifestyle habits that include-
Ignoring social activities or hobbies
Refusing any acknowledgment of an addiction problem
Recognizing negative issues with personal relationships
Detaching themselves from the society
For every individual suffering from depression, it is enticing to feel that high occurs with taking drugs or alcohol. In the long run, this substance abuse to ease depression signs will even cause more harm to one’s life.
Types of depression
There are two significant types of depression- endogenous depression and situational depression. However, the signs of both types of depression are similar, and in many cases, its treatment is also equal. But a significant difference does exist in both the depression types.
Endogenous depression is the one in which a biological predisposition of depression is present. Usually, there is a family history of depression that reveals a genetic tendency towards depressive illness. While this depression can occur with or without any particular stress, intensifying pressure will cause a more acute depressive episode.
This type of depression can occur without a genetic or biological predisposition to depression. Situational depression is triggered usually by a single incident like job loss, illness, or any other problem. However, this type of situational stressors is not always present in the lives of those who have a biologically depressive illness.
Symptoms of Depression
The signs of depression vary depending on its type. However, a co-occurring disorder involves alcohol, and addiction to other substances can increase those symptoms’ seriousness. People who suffer from depression will have around a ten percent lifetime suicide risk. But when depression is combined with addiction, the risk can arise.
Common and severe symptoms of depression:
Loss of interest in any work, social life, and hobby
A feeling of uselessness and hopelessness
Weight changes and appetite issues
Consuming drugs and alcohol to fight depression
Depression Becoming Entrance to Addiction
Depression is often known as an entry to drug and alcohol use, which becomes an addiction. People who experience depression will use alcohol and drugs to rescue negative thoughts. And if the person is consuming drugs and drinks daily, there are high chances that they will become addicted.
Signs of addiction include the following:
When your body turns addicted to drugs and alcohol, you will require more to achieve the same impact as at the beginning.
When you decrease the drug intake and start showing signs of being nervous, cold sweats, or become agitated, or experiencing tremors.
Leaving you feeling guilty or sad after you abuse the drug, even though you are using it to feel better in the first place.
The craving to use will occur when you stop using the drug, recreating your cravings and withdrawal symptoms, leaning you back to the drug again.
Recovering from Depression and Addiction
A dual diagnosis is complex to treat because each disorder can build up the symptoms of the other. Though, people who drink excessive alcohol will not cure the effects of depression. Drinking alcohol can worsen depression symptoms. The need to conceal depression overcomes the alcohol’s side effects.
However, to treat an individual with a dual diagnosis, a high level of complexity involves. It is well known the individuals who have a dual diagnosis won’t get the care they need in a traditional rehab program.
The only program that will work is to handle the issues, drug and alcohol addiction, the detox process, counseling, and aftercare planning. An integrated Dual Diagnosis program will include counseling, education, support, and prevention from depression and addiction issues.
Advice for Depression and Addiction Dual Diagnosis
People who don’t receive the proper treatment for dual diagnoses like depression and addiction will find their chronic conditions persist and impact their quality of life. So, it becomes essential to get the help you need by finding a specialized treatment center that can help to overcome depression and addiction.
Postpartum depression affects a mother’s health in so many ways. It’s not simply a phase that a lot of new mothers go through. It’s a serious condition that needs prompt attention, support, and treatment. When uncared for, mothers with this condition can experience a plethora of health symptoms—physically, psychologically, and socially.
Here, we discuss the common signs and symptoms one in eight mothers go through due to postpartum depression. For those who are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate professional care.
Fatigue and Lethargy
The first few months after giving birth can be some of the most exhausting periods in a new mom’s life. They often need to stay up all night to feed the baby and cope with the new setup at home. While fatigue can feel normal for these new mothers, it’s also a potential symptom of postpartum depression.
Lethargy often gets the best of many people, especially for mothers of newborns. They can feel tired, exhausted, and weary all the time. Nothing can seem to lift their energy. When this happens, spouses should offer help any way they can.
Unexplained Pain and Body Aches
The body can go through a lot throughout pregnancy and after giving birth as it returns to its non-pregnant state. This includes getting heartburn and constipation. However, this only often occurs within the postpartum period of three months after delivery. Causing pain long after delivery is another way that postpartum depression affects a mother’s health.
For new mothers who experience unexplained stomach pain or headaches, it’s best to get plenty of rest and consult their doctor on the best course of action to take.
Lack of Appetite
People with depression may find themselves uninterested in eating. This loss of appetite is also one of the reasons they experience other symptoms, such as weakness and fatigue. Since these new mothers lack the proper nutrition, they may get too tired or exhausted to care for their babies. Eventually, it can deteriorate their physical and mental health.
Urinary incontinence, or difficulty in controlling the bladder, is a common health problem among women who have just given birth. This often occurs among those who’ve had a vaginal delivery. While this is normally a temporary problem as the pelvic floor muscles go through the process of recovering, this isn’t the case for some women.
Long-term postpartum urinary incontinence can contribute to other health-related concerns, such as fatigue, back pain, and depressive symptoms.
The last thing these mothers need is to feel more down in having to wear bulky adult diapers. There are incontinence undergarments for women that look and feel like regular underwear but have great absorbency. With these garments, they can feel both comfortable and confident wearing them.
It’s not news that mothers of newborns get sleep deprived for months. Babies need round-the-clock attention, from feeding them to putting them to sleep without making a fuss. With this, new mothers may not feel their best for the first few months postpartum.
It can be difficult to spot this condition, especially when many mothers consider lack of sleep as a normal part of motherhood. But if it already interferes with their way of life, then it may be high time to reach out for help.
Difficulty Focusing and Making Decisions
Early signs of depression among postpartum mothers include having trouble focusing and making decisions. This can start with being forgetful most of the time, not bothering to take a shower, or not knowing which chore to do at home.
Oftentimes, suddenly forgetting something or losing your train of thought isn’t just the “mom brain” acting up. It can be a serious sign of postpartum depression, and one that needs proper medical attention right away.
Difficulty Bonding with the Newborn
Women with postpartum depression may experience indifference toward their children. They may feel guilty about feeling disconnected from their baby when they shouldn’t.
Mothers going through this disconcerting situation should understand that this doesn’t mean they’re bad mothers. This is a common symptom of postpartum depression, a clinical diagnosis that needs ample treatment. Otherwise, it could negatively affect the way they deliver care for their child.
Withdrawing from Others
Postpartum depression affects a mother’s health by isolating them. People with depression tend to isolate themselves from family and friends. For mothers experiencing this condition postpartum, they may often feel like nobody understands their current situation. Their natural course of action would be to withdraw from others and keep their “depressing” thoughts to themselves.
When a loved one seems to isolate themselves, it doesn’t hurt to be the one to reach out to them. You may not see it, but a simple act of asking them how they’re doing can make a difference.
New mothers may feel unmotivated doing other things, especially when they’re so tired all the time. But if this feeling lingers for a couple of months after giving birth, there may be an underlying psychological cause.
Women with postpartum depression may lose interest in doing the things they liked doing before giving birth. This may include watching their favorite TV shows, working out, or hanging out with their partner. This sudden shift in mood and habits is something to watch out for.
When left untreated, postpartum depression may lead to postpartum psychosis. While it’s a rare condition that only occurs in 1 out of 1,000 deliveries, it’s a serious illness that requires immediate medical care.
Mothers with postpartum psychosis experience a break in reality. This means they start having delusions or hallucinations. They tend to get irritable or hyperactive and get rapid mood swings most of the time.
This may be caused by a family history of bipolar disorder. It’s also possible that these women have had a previous psychotic episode, even before their delivery.
Thoughts of hurting themselves or their baby aren’t new when it comes to postpartum depression. Spouses or family members need to spot such signs right away to keep the mother and the baby safe. Postpartum depression affects a mother’s health in such a severe way that often suicide feels like the only way out.
It’s a medical emergency, and it’s imperative to seek medical attention the moment they spot the signs.
Globally, more than 264 million individuals suffer from depression, with about 5% of the UAE population being affected. If you or a loved one is currently experiencing symptoms of depression, read on to learn how you can treat depression without medication.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes an individual to feel continually sad or lack interest in life. While it is normal for people to feel sad or depressed at certain times throughout their lives, depression is characterized by intense feelings of sadness that last for weeks and inhibit an individual’s ability to live their life.
Generally, when someone is experiencing depression, they have symptoms for at least two weeks. These symptoms may include being intensely sad and feeling tired or lacking energy for the majority of the day, as well as feeling hopeless, pessimistic and worthless.
Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much and having no interest or pleasure in many activities are other common symptoms. A weight change may also occur. Finally, individuals who are experiencing depression may regularly think about death or suicide.
That being said, not everyone’s depressive symptoms may be the same, and their severity, frequency, and length can also vary. For many individuals, these symptoms may occur in patterns. Commonly, depression can occur in alignment with changes in the seasons.
What causes depression?
While doctors haven’t yet found out the exact causes of depression, it is generally considered to be the result of a combination of factors that include: brain structure, brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics. For example, individuals who experience depression often exhibit a physical difference in their brains from those who don’t suffer from depression.
Additionally, neurotransmitters (chemicals in your brain) play a significant role in your mood. When experiencing depression, these neurotransmitters aren’t operating the way they usually should, affecting your brain chemistry. Changes in hormone levels can also trigger depression symptoms. Finally, while the exact genetics aren’t known, there is a strong correlation between individuals who experience depression being related to other individuals who suffer from it.
Depression is an incredibly complex disease that can also be caused by stressful life events, medications, and other medical problems. In many cases, depression occurs alongside other medical or mental health problems, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, substance use disorders, and eating disorders.
How is depression diagnosed?
When diagnosing depression, doctors can use a number of different methods. First and foremost, they may start with a physical exam that examines an individual’s overall health to determine whether there is another medical condition. They may also do bloodwork to investigate hormone levels.
Additionally, a psychiatric evaluation will be conducted in which a doctor asks about thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns that shed light on an individual’s mental health. From there, a doctor will check symptoms against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that lists the criteria for depression.
While only a physician or mental health professional can officially diagnose depression, if you think you are suffering from depression, you can take a self-assessment and then share the results with your doctor. You can also perform a quick online depression self test to see if what you are feeling is something to be truly concerned about.
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it is crucial to talk to your doctor immediately. From there, they will be able to evaluate you and suggest treatment or refer you to a mental health professional.
Can you treat depression with lifestyle changes?
While there are medications that can help you treat depression, many individuals prefer to treat depression without medication. In many cases, individuals can effectively manage their depression through natural remedies or other tactics. That being said, depression rarely goes away on its own, so if you or a loved one has symptoms of depression, it is critical that you take steps to address it and don’t aim to handle it on your own.
In some instances, lifestyle changes can make a significant difference when it comes to managing depression. As sleep and depression have a relationship, maintaining consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help. Similarly, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol is also advised.
Research has shown that regular exercise can help to prevent and treat depression without medication. At the same time, certain nutrient deficiencies (such as a vitamin D deficiency) can play a role in depression symptoms. A well-balanced diet that contains the right mix of nutrients is also essential. For this reason, you want to make sure you are eating fish, nuts, and probiotics – all of which may be beneficial when suffering from depression.
Stress is often a significant cause of depression as it increases cortisol levels (a brain chemical). If you are repeatedly stressed, look to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your daily life. Some options include journaling, deep breathing, exercising, meditation, and time management.
Finally, when you are feeling depressed, it can be common to withdraw from other people. However, during these periods, you don’t want to go it alone. Therefore, you must continue to speak with friends and family and tell them what is going on and how you feel. Depending on your support network is crucial in ensuring that you don’t further intensify feelings of isolation and loneliness.
How does neurofeedback therapy for depression work?
If lifestyle changes don’t work, then you may want to consider neurofeedback therapy for depression. Research demonstrates that this treatment is often an effective and viable option for individuals who suffer from depression, as well as anxiety and other related symptoms, including sleep disorders and attention difficulties.
Neurofeedback therapy is a non-invasive way to regulate and measure your brain waves and to retrain them through conditioning. This is one way to treat depression without medication. This program enables you to retrain your brain to overcome depression and start living life to the fullest.
During a neurofeedback therapy session, electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors will be attached to your scalp to monitor your brain wave activity. In a session, with the sensors still on, you watch a TV show, and whenever you produce healthy brain activity, the TV screen becomes bigger, and the audio, clearer. These are considered a reward for your brain.
Throughout your neurofeedback therapy sessions, you start to be able to independently control your thoughts and emotions to move away from depressive thoughts. Once your therapy sessions are completed, you will be better equipped to process your emotions.
Do you suffer from depression? If so, what treatments do you use (or have used in the past)? Have you ever considered neurofeedback therapy for depression? Let us know your thoughts and any additional insights in the comments below.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, an award-winning neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain’s true potential. Earning a doctorate in Neuroscience from the revered Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Gala has spent over a decade trying to unravel the way neurochemical and neurophysiological changes in the brain affect the way we interact with the world. Her goal is to share her knowledge, encourage others to tap into and expand their brain’s capabilities, and dispel any myths surrounding our most complex organ.
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!
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.
Does postpartum depression put you at a higher risk for contracting coronavirus?
The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is officially a global pandemic and causing all kinds of anxiety and uncertainty. It can be especially hard on new moms who are already dealing with mental health issues. Moms with postpartum depression might see an increase in their symptoms during this time. Yes, it’s a stressful time for everyone, but could moms with mental health issues actually be at a higher risk?
If you have postpartum depression, find out if you are at risk of contracting coronavirus.
Those most at risk for contracting coronavirus include the sick, elderly and people with a weakened immune system. Many mothers with postpartum depression may suffer from a weak immune system, which is what puts them in the high-risk category. Depending on how recently a mother has given birth, her immune system may not have had a chance to recover properly. And certain behaviors caused by postpartum depression can affect our immune systems as well.
Symptoms of a weakened immune system:
Frequent and long lasting illnesses and infections
Digestion issues (diarrhea, nausea, constipation)
New or increased allergies
Joint pain or inflammation
Think about whether or not you seem to catch every cold or still get the flu despite getting the flu shot. Do your symptoms drag on for a long time? Do your wounds take long to heal? These are all warning signs that you could have a weak immune system. And if you’re likely to catch a cold from someone sneezing nearing you, then you’re also likely to catch coronavirus.
How does postpartum depression cause a weakened immune system?
Stress is the number one culprit when it comes to a weakened immune system. High levels of stress can increase our cortisol levels and decrease our lymphocytes(the white blood cells that help fight off infection). This imbalance within our bodies makes us more susceptible to viruses, like COVID-19. Moms with postpartum depression and anxiety often find themselves under a lot of stress. It’s never easy to manage the kids and a household, while trying to maintain our own mental health. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
New moms, especially those with symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, are not getting nearly enough sleep as they need to. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect our immune system in a negative way. Normally while we sleep, our body works to produce certain antibodies that help us fight infection. Sleep is also our body’s time to recharge and refill. But when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune system goes into overdrive. Then it doesn’t work when we need it to the most, like for fighting off the coronavirus.
Both postpartum depression and anxiety can cause a new mother to distance herself from others, long before the CDC recommended it for the prevention of the spread of Coronavirus. Moms normally take extra measures to keep baby away from crowds and strangers, in order to protect their fragile immune systems. But all this time spent in isolation results in the opposite for moms. Without being exposed to normal, everyday bacteria in the outside world, moms haven’t been able to build up any immunity to it. Our immune system needs a lot of practice in order to keep it in good, working condition.
Fluctuating Hormone Levels
While the underlying cause of postpartum depression is still unknown, some theories suggest it could be due to changes in hormone levels after giving birth. We know this to be the cause when it comes to the baby blues, which is why it’s so common and doesn’t last long. Postpartum depression is a much more complicated illness, however. Either way, lower levels of estrogen may contribute to weakening the immune system. All women who experience a hormonal imbalance of estrogen might be susceptible. This includes women who are postpartum, peri-menopausal or who have had a hysterectomy.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Our body needs a steady source of vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy. But moms with postpartum depression or anxiety don’t always have the greatest eating habits. Whether it’s binge-eating junk food or skipping meals all together, these bad habits can weaken our immune system and make us susceptible to the coronavirus. If food was an issue during your pregnancy (due to hyperemesis gravidarum, gestational diabetes, anemia, etc.) you may already have some type of vitamin deficiency.
How will coronavirus affect a mom’s mental health?
Drink lots of water. Regularly drinking water not only boosts your immune system, but helps to flush out any unwanted bacteria in your body.
Get plenty of fresh air in wide, open spaces. Avoid crowded parks and playgrounds and take a stroll through nature instead.
Practice deep breathing and meditation.Not only does meditation help to calm stress, but taking long, deep breaths will actually improve your lung function. Strong lungs will help in the event that you need to fight off coronavirus.
Focus on the positive. This worldwide pandemic is one for the history books! As scary as the times are right now, we are living in a moment of history. Try journaling your experiences, or take photos. Look for ways that you can help out someone else, even if it’s just by making a phone call to check in.
Continue practicing self care. Increase the amount of self care you do daily, if that’s an option. In order to keep yourself from getting cabin fever, you’ll need to find time to yourself each day.
Try online therapy. If your mental health is truly suffering during the coronavirus outbreak, this is something you can always do from home.
The thought of a global pandemic killing thousands of people across the world is truly terrifying. With the intense amount of media coverage on the coronavirus, it can get very overwhelming for a mother with postpartum depression. It’s terrifying because so much of it is out of our control.
We need to focus on the small things that we can control. Don’t waste your time hoarding toilet paper. Instead, work on getting your immune system ready by eating healthy, getting enough sleep and finding ways to reduce your stress levels. In time, this too shall pass.
Talking about postpartum depression is never easy, even when it’s to the one we love the most.
Many women struggle with explaining postpartum depression to their partners, friends, family or other loved ones. It seems strange that we would allow ourselves to be vulnerable around our closest people, except when it comes to mental health. When it comes to explaining postpartum depression to our partners, having the right information is important.
This guest post by Betti Wilson is a summary of some of the best info about postpartum depression to help you communicate with your partner.
Description:A baby has just been born, and you expected that only joy and tenderness would overwhelm you. You would soar with happiness. Instead, you are overwhelmed by fears; all feelings have become aggravated to the state of bare wire.
What is postpartum depression and how it is detected?
Such increased emotionality is characteristic of many mothers in the first months after the child’s birth. Moreover, it’s not only a constant lack of sleep, the fact that your life has changed a lot, establish breastfeeding, look after the baby, etc. While your child is tiny and still very closely connected with you, your usual psychological defenses are weakening, and this is normal.
However, if time goes on and your feelings deepen more and more, you may have experienced postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. It does not mean at all that something is wrong with you or that you are weak. Instead, this condition can be considered as a physiological complication after childbirth, like a postpartum hemorrhage.
In this article, we will give you the postpartum definition, tell you what postpartum depression is, how to know its symptoms, and help you understand how to deal with it. The more you know about the condition, the better you will be at explaining postpartum depression to your partner or others.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, because of which, in the first months after the birth of the baby, the mother experiences strong negative emotions. Below we list the main symptoms of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can occur not only after the first birth. As a rule, it begins between the first and third weeks after childbirth. However, some women experience depression for a few months or even a year after giving birth.
If you are now in postpartum depression, remember that you are not alone. Your partner is likely more than willing to help you get through this. This condition is temporary, it should not be hidden, and when you get help, you will feel better.
Postpartum depression symptoms
To understand if you have postpartum depression or not, listen carefully to yourself. Here are the signs of postpartum depression:
Very sharp mood swings
Difficulties bonding with baby
Separation from family and friends
Increase or loss of appetite
Weakness and fatigue
Decreased interest in everything you liked
Increased irritability and outbursts of anger
Fear that you are a bad mother
Feeling of worthlessness, shame, guilt
Difficulties with doing routine activities
Constant anxiety and panic attacks
Thoughts about harming yourself or your child
Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
What causes it?
It is still not fully known what causes postpartum depression. The reason is a combination of physical and emotional prerequisites. Among them are:
Hormonal changes. After childbirth, the amount of pregnancy hormones — estrogen and progesterone — sharply decreases in the body. It can affect mood swings. The level of other hormones produced by the thyroid gland also decreases. That is why you can feel tired, depressed, and lethargic and you may experience postpartum hair loss.
Permanent lack of sleep. The body needs to recover from childbirth. However, you need to take care of the baby, so few mothers can generally relax and recover. Lack of sleep can cause physical discomfort and a constant feeling of fatigue. Moreover, this, in turn, triggers all the other symptoms of postpartum depression.
Emotional experiences. After the birth of a baby, a woman’s life changes dramatically. The body and self-identity are changing. It seems that your life has gone out of control and no longer belongs to you. All this, coupled with constant anxiety, also contributes to the development of postpartum depression.
How to deal with it?
Consult doctors with complaints of postpartum depression. They will tell you about possible treatment options, which include working with a psychologist and/or taking particular medications. These tips will increase the effectiveness of treatment and will contribute to your recovery:
Rest, and sleep. Set aside all household chores, and take time and attention for yourself. If your baby falls asleep, do not try to do all things during this time. Try to go to bed and also sleep. Ask your partner to take over for you while you sleep.
Simplify your life. Think about how and on what you could save energy and time? Do you often cook food for the whole family? It may be worthwhile to increase the volume and cook not every day, but a couple of times a week. Or make larger portions in advance and freeze them.
Speak with your partner. The child belongs to both of you and even if your partner supports the family, part of the childcare will fall on their shoulders. Explaining postpartum depression will help them to understand what you are going through.
Ask for help and accept it. All relatives live far away, and your partner disappears all day at work? You will be surprised, but help may come when you least expect it. However, it is essential not only to ask but also to be able to accept help. If you hear an offer to help you, do not rush to refuse out of politeness. Support can be very different.
Take time for yourself. As you know, if a mother is happy, then the baby will be satisfied. Make sure to practice self care daily and don’t neglect your needs, even with a demanding baby.
Stay in touch. Many mothers think that they suddenly found themselves in isolation, and they suffer from it. Make sure that the internet does not suck you in. Get acquainted with moms at the playgrounds, call friends to visit and do not be afraid to go out with baby. Found out are postpartum girdles safeand do not hesitate to go for a walk or to the gym.
Separate responsibilities. Your partner will be happy to help you – you just need to ask him for support. Explaining how postpartum depression affects you will open up the lines of communication. They will be more willing to help take on some of the duties around the house. Even short breaks a couple of times a week will help you feel better.
Postpartum depression is not your fault. Unfortunately, many women feel guilty or feel ashamed. Some indeed encounter misunderstanding or condemnation from others. Remember that postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, which requires contacting a qualified specialist for help, like any depression definition. It is vital not to experience it alone and share with your partner. By explaining postpartum depression to them, you will feel more supported. Soon everything will be fine, and you will enjoy each new day spent with your baby.
Betti Wilson is a coach for moms and a mother of three kids. She studied baby, mother behavior, and now teaches moms to deal with all difficulties at the beginning of the new life.