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.
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.
One of the most important baby care tips is about feeding baby. Babies eat a lot of food. While nature has done a decent job of equipping you and your baby with the necessary tools, it will almost certainly be more difficult than you expected at first. Nursing can be challenging, from tender nipples to difficult latching.
Women who seek assistance have a better chance of succeeding.
Consult with friends who have had positive breastfeeding experiences, obtain a lactation consultant’s contact information from baby’s pediatrician, or attend a nursing support group meeting.
Make use of the hospital’s services.
Most women hear everything they can about breastfeeding at the hospital. Inquire about the availability of a breastfeeding class or a lactation nurse on board. When you’re about to feed the baby, press the nurse-call button and ask a nurse to come over and assist you.
Get yourself ready before you sit down to feed baby.
When the baby screams for you at home, you’ll want to abandon everything and feed them right away. However, doctors and nurses advise that you take care of yourself first. Go get yourself a glass of water or use the restroom before you start breastfeeding since breastfeeding will take a long time.
Dealing with Engorgement
If your breasts are engorged or your ducts are plugged, use a warm compress and breast compression. A heating pad or a soft, wet washcloth will help, but a flax pillow which you will find at beauty and health stores, will be much more effective. Use them as a compress by heating them in the microwave. However if your breasts are swollen after breastfeeding, use a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack to soothe your breasts and reduce swelling.
Additional Baby Care Tips
Keep Your Cool
No matter how ecstatic you are to become a parent, the daily treatment that a child requires can be exhausting. Reduce your stress levels to cope and take short breaks as opportunities to take care of yourself. If you are not doing well, it is going to be extremely difficult to deal with. So remember to prioritize yourself as well.
Make your own rules
First and foremost, disregard any unwelcome or perplexing suggestions. Don’t feel forced to do anything that you don’t want to, It’s your child, so follow your gut instincts to make the decisions. Make sure you know which advice to take and which to disregard.
Shop in advance
Make sure you do your shopping for the baby well in advance. Babies tend to soil clothes a lot and require changing at least five times a day. Buy organic baby clothes for your baby, preferably in cotton as it is soft on your baby’s skin and extremely durable. It is also a safe bet to prevent your baby from allergies and rashes. You can also invest in grow suits and baby muslin wraps for your baby.
On the fence about whether to use cloth or disposables? Consider using eco-friendly bamboo diapers and wipes from EcoPea for your little one. Not only are they hypo-allergenic and better for baby’s skin, but they’re biodegradable and better for the planet.
It’s okay to be a little lost, do your research and ask for help if required and connect with your pediatrician whenever necessary. Happy parenting!
I am Lana Murpy, a post-graduate in humanities and communications, and an inquisitive person who loves writing. My forte is digital marketing and everything that has to do with phones and screens. I’m working for Tiny Twig. I am someone who believes that one person can make a change and that’s precisely why I took up writing which is the best tool to communicate these days. I have a decade of experience in writing and marketing.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a psychological condition wherein new mothers experience negative feelings after giving birth, as opposed to the happiness and excitement that one might expect. Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable, and if you know someone going through this condition, there are many ways you can help.
But first, how do you know if your friend or family member is suffering from postpartum depression? Here are the symptoms of PPD to look out for:
Symptoms of PPD
As opposed to ‘baby blues,’ which lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks in new moms, postpartum depression causes more intense and long-lasting symptoms, such as:
When left untreated, postpartum depression can last for many months or even longer. Over time, this condition can affect the mother’s physical health, mental health, and relationships with family and friends, especially their child.
If you want to help a loved one with PPD, here are different ways you can support them:
How to support a mom with PPD
1. Bring a gift
Although a gift won’t magically solve a new mom’s PPD, it can help give them at least a bit of happiness during this trying time. When you visit them, bring a gift that they can use for their hobby, such as a half square triangle ruler, or bring them their favorite food. As long as there is a possibility that the gift will bring a smile to their face, it doesn’t matter how small it is.
2. Focus on her
After a woman gives birth, the people around her tend to focus most (if not all) of their attention on the baby. This is not to be malicious, but the excitement of a new arrival usually overshadows the mother’s well-being after giving birth. So when you visit your loved one, make the conversation about her, not about the baby. Ask her about her day. Let her know that she is not forgotten. And most importantly, listen to what she has to say.
3. Offer to help
Postpartum depression can make mothers feel utterly exhausted, even when they aren’t doing anything physically taxing. As a result, household chores remain undone, and the errand list keeps getting longer. Offering to do a chore around the house or run an errand for them can help ease the burden on their shoulders, even by just a bit, so be sure to offer anytime you can.
4. Give her space
It’s essential to be there for a loved one suffering from PDD, but sometimes you have to pull back and give them space. At times, mothers with postpartum depression need time alone to process their feelings and acknowledge their thoughts in silence. This is especially important during the first few weeks after the baby arrives, wherein everybody wants to see the baby and a million things need to be done in the house.
5. Don’t invalidate her feelings
Instead of saying, “You will be a great mom, you don’t have to worry,” when a new mother voices their concerns, use phrases such as “I understand how you are feeling that way” or “That sounds difficult.” By echoing their concerns instead of disputing them, you help make them feel validated in their feelings, which, in turn, can help reduce guilt and anxiety associated with PDD.
6. Share your own story
If you have experienced (or are experiencing) PDD or non-pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, ask them if they want to hear about your story. When a woman hears that another person close to them is going through or has gone through the same thing, it can provide them the comfort that they need to push forward.
7. Accompany her to doctor’s appointments
Prompt treatment of postpartum depression is essential. To provide your support, offer to accompany them during their appointments if their spouse or partner cannot make it.
If you want to support a mother suffering from postpartum depression, be specific about what you want to help with. Instead of saying, “I’m here if you need me,” which can be very vague, offer to help with specific tasks, such as doing the grocery shopping, babysitting, or doing the laundry. In any case, every bit of help you give can make it easier for your loved one to recover.
Can you think of other ways to help a mom with PPD? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
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!
Those who have recently traveled, have come in contact with someone with COVID-19, or who are sick are putting themselves into self isolation. This basically means to quarantine yourself within your home for two weeks. And further more, social distancing has us all keeping away from friends and public places. With all of this isolation and anxiety, how does a person avoid actually feeling isolated? For moms with mental health issues, isolation can actually make symptoms of depression and anxiety worse, so it’s important to have some ways to manage the loneliness.
During self isolation, try some of these tips to avoid feeling lonely.
Most people, especially moms, will not actually be alone during their self isolation or social distancing. Spouses and children will likely be in isolation with them. It’s hard to say whether this makes it better or worse for a woman with postpartum depression or anxiety. Having the family around 24/7 might become overwhelming very quickly.
While it’s great to embrace this gift of family time, make sure that each person is also getting enough alone time to themselves each day. This could be quiet reading or doing a quiet activity all in one room, or have everyone separate into different rooms for an hour or two each day. This will surely benefit everyone’s mental health during the isolation period.
If the entire family is beginning to feel isolated from the outside world, then consider some of these options.
Make a Connection
Even though we can’t go out and socialize with our friends right now, we can still make connections with others. We need to stick together, especially during these uncertain times. This is something we should be doing daily or at least a few times a week in order to maintain our mental health.
Phone a friend or family member. Simply talking to another human being helps you avoid isolation.
Video chat with a friend or family member. It helps to see another familiar face from time to time, and not just hear their voice. This is also a great option for younger kids.
Write a letter to someone. It doesn’t even have to be someone you know. Consider writing letters with your kids to senior’s homes, hospitals, government offices, army bases, etc. It would make someone’s day.
Write an email to someone. Same as above, but send it online instead. You can find e-mail addresses for most places on their websites. Let your favorite local shop know how much you miss their store/business while it’s closed, and can’t wait to be back there again.
Read a book or watch a movie. Going on adventures with the characters in a book or a movie is another way to help you feel less lonely and isolated. Now is a great time to start binge watching that TV series you’ve been wanting to start.
Adopt or foster a pet. If you’re going to be locked up inside the house for weeks anyway, why not foster a pet to keep you company? You could all benefit from the company during this anxious time.
Find a Distraction
Don’t count the days of self isolation on a calendar, find a way to pass the time. Keeping the mind distracted is a great way to avoid things like intrusive or anxious thoughts while you are quarantined at home.
Cook or Bake. Don’t do it with the intention of “getting dinner on the table” as that will likely stress you out even more. Spend a day cooking some homemade soup or baking fresh bread or muffins with the kids. Take your time and don’t worry about the mess.
Craft. You can find hundreds of crafts you can do with the kids on Pinterest. Or maybe you’d rather do something just for you?
Learn something new. Nothing keeps the brain busier than learning. If you’re planning on homeschooling the kids, that will keep all of your brains busy. Trying to pick up a new skill? Now is the perfect chance to focus on it undisturbed for weeks! Interested in knitting? Check out Love Crafts for everything you need including free PDF patterns!
Leave the House
If you’re in self isolation or practicing social distancing, you should be avoiding other people and public places. But that doesn’t mean you have to be locked up within the walls of your house. There are still several ways that you can safely leave the house in order to avoid complete isolation.
Spend time in your own backyard. Good weather or not, spending some time each day in your own backyard is a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine.
Go for a drive. Why not pack the kids into the minivan and go for a drive in the country? See if you can spot any wildlife or signs of spring. Take photos along the way and compile an album. Stop for a picnic lunch on the side of the road and play some fun family car games.
Work on Yourself
Having weeks of undisturbed time at home means you finally have the chance to focus on yourself. This global pandemic is going to change our entire world in ways we never imagined. Let’s begin to prepare for the aftermath of it by using our self-isolation time to reflect on our lives.
Exercise. There’s no better way to avoid stress, anxiety, depression and isolation than to exercise daily. Exercise is so important for both our physical and mental health. You don’t need a home gym, either. Watch yoga videos on YouTube or turn on some music and dance!
Read self help books. Maybe you’ll actually finish some of those books that you’ve been saving for when you have time. Or try listening to some inspirational podcasts.
Try cognitive behavior therapy. If you’ve been putting off therapy because of a lack of time, self isolation is the perfect time to try online therapy. By completing an online therapy course, you can emerge from self-isolation with better tools to help you be successful in life.
Meditate. There are several different ways to meditate, even if you’re not a fan of it. Download a guided meditation app or simply spend time being mindful and grateful. Practice deep breathing and stretching for optimal health. Turn on an essential oil diffuser and listen to some soothing meditation music.
Focus on the positive. Self isolation is not the ideal situation for everyone. You may be worried about your job and bills and having enough food. Instead, try to find something positive to focus on each day and write it down. At the end of this quarantine, you can look back at this time and feel the happy moments instead of the negative ones.
Make plans for the future. Thinking about the future is a great way to avoid isolation and anxiety about the coronavirus. Sit down as a family and decide what things you’d like to do when this is all over. Maybe you’ve learned to live with less or have realized where your true priorities are. This is the time to set goals and make plans for the rest of this year.
Breastfeeding problems can contribute to postpartum depression in a variety of different ways.
Often, we think of moms who are unable to breastfeed. But even those who successfully breastfeed can also find themselves suffering. Sometimes, breastfeeding dependency can make us blind to other problematic symptoms. Renee from This Anxious Mum shares her story about how her breastfeeding dependency led to sleep deprivation and other side effects. It became so important to her that she didn’t notice the bad shape her mental health was in.
This is Renee’s story.
I Drank the Crunchy Mum Koolaid – And It Made Me Self-Loathing
Of the many things I thought I’d cherish as a new mum, I NEVER counted on breastfeeding being one. I’d been firmly in the camp of “no thanks” for breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding, which I deemed “gross” and “only for hippie weirdos”) whilst pregnant, and I didn’t anticipate that changing.
Well, well well.
Nobody was more surprised than me when I became somewhat of a massive breastfeeding advocate. Of the many pivots my brain did in that short time between pregnancy and the fourth trimester ,this was perhaps the most significant in mine and my daughter’s life.
Despite being born at 32 weeks gestation and not mastering the sucking reflex until 34, I was able to maintain an exclusively breastfeeding relationship with my daughter for 10 months. The idea that I was the sole source of her nutrition was something that provided a great comfort to me, especially when I felt so utterly lacking in every other department.
I surrounded myself with other “breastfeeding buddies” and joined a multitude of breastfeeding support groups, eager to help new mums. I got in wars with other women over bottle vs breast and I openly judged anyone who, in my eyes was “depriving their child” through either their choice or inability not to breastfeed. I had a back pocket full of facts and sources about breastmilk and mother-child attachment.
“This is all that’s important,” I told myself of my breastfeeding dependency.
It didn’t matter that my little girl, Elliott, woke over 10+ times an evening to feed.
It didn’t matter that her own father couldn’t help her sleep and that she would only settle for me and my boobs.
It didn’t matter that I felt constantly “on call” and that the hyper vigilance was affecting any little sleep I was getting.
It didn’t matter to these women I surrounded myself with either because we were good mothers. And being a good mother meant being completely there for your child, day and night, even to the detriment of your own health.
I made snide comments to my husband about “those bottle-feeding families” how backward! Why would you willingly bottle feed when it’s so much extra washing up?! What about the maternal bond? Don’t they care?
As is common in these groups, I created a little toxic echo chamber for myself where I felt both safe and held as well as completely petrified of being shunned for any juxtaposing beliefs. I had (at least in my eyes) isolated myself from the majority of society, whose beliefs I openly and vocally deemed harmful.
Every day I was scrupulous about combing through my words, both written and verbal, to make sure I wouldn’t offend anyone and ultimately be thrown out of my friend group. I began to feel trapped in my parenting choices and completely alone.
As my daughter got older and more interested in things that challenged her fine motor skills, I found myself covered in tiny bruises in the stupidest of places after she had fed. She’d pinch, bite and slap me. I was no stranger to depression and anxiety, even before I had a child. I was convinced that I’d successfully shielded myself from postpartum depression, as though I was engaged in a game of hide and seek with mental illness, where I had a killer hiding spot.
Cracks began to form. Completely sleep deprived and emotionally depleted, I began self harming again, not even having the awareness to notice if my daughter was present. One evening I self harmed while holding my daughter. It was an unsafe environment and I needed help.
After my complete breakdown, I found myself in the local Mother and Baby Unit where I spent 5 long and emotional weeks. As well as engaging in therapy and using skills for myself alone, I also worked with an Occupational Therapist to help my relationship with my daughter, and things began to change.
My breast-obsessed, bottle refusing baby began to take a bottle of expressed milk. I told myself it was just a necessity now and that once I was better, I’d go back to being her everything, on call, always.
A large part of our breastfeeding relationship was feeding to sleep. I would feed my daughter for every nap and night sleep. Some nights she slept with my nipple in her mouth. And as much as I delighted in her little soft body and baby breath, I resented the loss of my bodily autonomy.
I had never intended to stop bed sharing, but a condition of staying a patient at the MBU is no “unsafe sleep.” My husband and I squeezed hands under the table when the admissions nurse mentioned this condition of admittance.
Surprisingly most of all to me, she took to a crib as though she’d been waiting for it, sick of sleeping next to someone. Changes seemed to take place slowly and then all at once. Four weeks into our stay, our baby seemed to turn into a little girl.
She ate finger foods like any other child her age and slept alone. I felt guilt, unlike anything I’d ever known. Our bed-sharing, breastfed baby, who refused solids, sleep and bottles were no longer, and it was my fault. I felt rejected and as though by partaking in these parenting practices, I was failing my daughter and her future development. The real struggles with this guilt and misplaced identity came after our hospital stay, on the day she turned 11 months old.
I began having migraines that couldn’t be helped by any painkillers I tried. Visiting the GP she prescribed a wafer type med that’d knock them out fast. One caveat being – I had to stop breastfeeding. I cried in my doctors’ office, I cried even more at home. Not because I felt I was depriving my daughter but because I felt I was depriving myself of something that I found comforting.
The truth is, my daughter hadn’t wanted to breastfeed for weeks and I was barely producing milk. She’d latch on if I initiated a feed but she’d lose interest within a minute or two, contented just to pinch the skin around my neck and make me self conscious. This loss, I realized, was all mine.
I held my little girl that night and breastfed her for the final time. I set up a self-timer and took photos of the “event” as though I was commemorating a loss. I woke the next morning fully anticipating a battle involving tears and tugging at the collar of my t-shirt.
There was nothing of the sort from my daughter, who was perfectly contented with her bottle and after all that worrying, the tears were all my own.
Renee is a maternal mental health blogger who believes in the healing power of words. When she isn’t writing she’s playing dinosaurs with her toddler.
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.
Not all women instantly enjoy being pregnant, some need additional motivation.
There’s little doubt that being pregnant is one of the most profound experiences of a person’s life, but it’s not as if it’s always a stroll in the park. Indeed, sometimes women begin to feel sick of carrying a child, and look forward to it being over. Since wishing for it to be over won’t make time speed up, it’s best to find ways to enjoy being pregnant. But good news: this isn’t so difficult!
Below, we take a look at a few tried and tested methods for getting the most out of your pregnant period.
Embrace the Status
Don’t forget – pregnant women have a special status in society, so make the most of it. You’re unlikely to get so many strangers offering to do things for you on a regular basis, so why not relish the status and let them do it for you during pregnancy? There’s going to be plenty for you to do when you’ve had your child; for now, enjoy being treated as a queen. This is also a chance for you to indulge yourself. If you want to spend 10 hours lying on the couch, then go ahead – you’ve got a free pass to rest as much as you want.
Handle the Problems
One of the downsides of being pregnant is that things can become a little uncomfortable from time to time. And that’s not surprising, since you’re putting your body through a pretty intense experience. So it’s important that you have the right set up at home, so you’re able to handle the problems that pregnancy may throw your way. Create comfortable seating and sleeping areas, stock up on stool softener and indigestion relief medicines, and be mindful of your mental health. The more problems you’re able to quickly handle, the more you’ll be able to enjoy being pregnant.
Share Your Joy With Friends and Family
One of the best things about being pregnant is that you’ll have so many people who are happy for you. So embrace the happiness of others, and have some fun. There’ll be times for celebrations with your friends and family, and special weekends away with your loved ones. Essentially, pregnancy should be fun — it is, after all, a wonderful experience that you’re going through. So if you have opportunities to get together or you have people who want to get involved and make a fuss over you, take it.
Look to the Future
Pregnancy can feel like a whole new world, but really, it’s just the beginning of a long journey. In order to enjoy being pregnant, remember that this phase only last 9 months and then you have en entire lifetime that follows. So while you’re pregnant, take some time to think about all that you’ve done so far and where you’re going in the future. It’s a time to reflect on all areas of your life, and be blessed for all that you have.
It’ll Only Happen Once
Finally, keep in mind that this pregnancy is only going to happen once. Even if you end up having more children, every pregnancy is unique! Be present, and aware of all that’s going on. Schedule a maternity photo session to help you remember your changing body. It’ll allow you to see just how wondrous and magical a pregnancy can be.
Whether you’re a brand new mom or a seasoned one, sleep is something we all crave. The months shortly after having a baby are the worst for sleep deprivation and there’s usually no avoiding it. But once you’ve got baby into a good routine and you’ve settled into motherhood a bit better, you can start to focus on how to reclaim all your lost hours of sleep.
Mom of two and freelance writer, Lisa Smalls, shares some tips on how to reclaim your sleep after having a baby.
Having a new baby will be one of the greatest feelings in your life, however, that thrill can be quickly replaced with the fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety and an increased temper all due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is acquiring fewer than the seven-plus recommended hours of sleep each night. While newborn babies can sleep 16 to 20 hours each day, those hours are stretched into bursts which are often inconveniently disturbed when the parent is trying to sleep.
On average, a mother in the first three months after having a baby can lose between one and two hours of sleep each night and for both parents they can experience sleep deprivation for up to six years after the birth. While some people can get an adequate amount of sleep at six hours, most need between seven and nine, so those critical couple hours of loss after childbirth can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, especially considering the hours you do get are broken up into two-hour segments dictated by the baby’s fits.
Your body requires not only that you receive seven hours, but also that those hours are subsequent to each other and they are quality sleep. Sleep is the way your body processes thoughts, emotions, memories and helps your body relax and repair. Without consistent sleep your body does not have the ability to process and file all of your information or process it correctly. This leads to a haze during the day resulting in fatigue, lack of focus, lack of motivation, mood swings and anxiety. In turn, these symptoms lead to additional insomnia. So, when your baby is sleeping at night, you may not be able to. It is a vicious cycle.
As your baby ages, additional challenges such as potty training, nightmares, and the concerns of your growing toddler and an active imagination result in sleep deprivation. Though the sleep deprivation you will likely experience as your child ages may not be as complicated as those first few months, it also provides the same symptoms.
So, what can a parent (especially a mother) do to reclaim sleep after giving birth? Here are five tips.
Create a routine for you and the baby
Okay, to be fair your baby is probably not going to pay attention to a routine in the beginning. But, with practice and commitment a routine can help your baby sleep in longer bouts and learn to sleep so that after four months your baby may actually sleep through the entire night. Routine is good and setting a sleep routine such as bath, reading, cuddling, and sleep will be a great payback for the future.
This is such an important factor in helping you sleep that you should keep a sign on your refrigerator as a reminder. After having a baby friends and family will practically tackle each other to offer help and cuddle with that little cutie. But, parents are often unwilling to accept the help. This may be from guilt or simply because it is difficult allowing someone else (including mom) to watch your baby without you there. But, whether someone offers to watch your baby a couple hours, help with the chores, or just hang out to give you a little break, it all pays off.
Keep the baby near you (but not in your bed)
A nursery is great, but it might be better after the six-month mark. In those first months your baby will wake up every couple hours and one way to miss out on sleep is that long walk to the nursery to feed. SIDS is a serious concern and one of the biggest no-no’s is letting your newborn sleep in bed with you. So, whether you have a crib or bassinet in the room keeping your baby close will help you feed without too much hassle.
Don’t worry about the dishes
Having a baby does not mean you have lost your old life, but it does mean you need to adjust going forward. That might mean that if you were emphatic about getting all the chores done and having a spotless house, those chores just might have to wait until you are having a nice relaxing day as the kids play with the grandparents. This does not mean you should live like a hoarder but prioritizing your sleep over missing a night of sweeping the floor, means you should really get your zzz’s.
Author Bio: Lisa is a mom of two and freelance writer from North Carolina. She regularly writes for the sleep health website Mattress Advisor, which has taught her so much about the importance of sleep (especially as a working mom). When she isn’t working on commissions, she loves connecting, encouraging and learning with other parents through her writing.