This is supposed to be the happiest time in your life, filled with new baby clothes, mommy groups, baby classes and an immediate bond with your new baby and growing family.
Except that, maybe it isn’t…
Maybe this new life includes dirty hair, spit up all over your clothes, a dirty house, piles of laundry yet to be done, snacking on junk food during late night feedings, and exhaustion… so much exhaustion.
You are going to be more tired than you have ever been in your whole entire life. You’ll sleep for 1-2 hours at a time, if that. And maybe because of the pandemic, you won’t have as much help you thought you would have. No visiting grandparents or aunts and uncles to help with your new baby, and you are just so tired. Your partner, is back at work and you are alone… all day, every day with a new baby.
This world feels more like a foreign country, than the dream you expected. You planned on having your body bounce back and look just like it did pre-pregnancy, but instead, you still look pregnant. You expected to feel this immediate connection with your beautiful baby… but maybe you feel sad, or anxious. Breast feeding or bottle feeding is harder than you expected, and painful and stressful.
Your reality just isn’t the dream you expected it to be.
Make sure you get enough sleep, as sleep and mood are linked. Try dividing up the night into shifts and allow your body a few consecutive hours of sleep. Give your partner a shift so that you can get some sleep and then trade off. The more consecutive hours you can get, the better you will feel.
Make self care, along with care for your baby, a priority. Ask for and accept help for day to day things like house work and meal preparation. Get out in the world. It is important to interact with others and to not be socially isolated at home. Expand your community and network by taking advantage of resources and support programs.
Be kind to yourself. Know that this is a challenging time, both physically and emotionally. Your body is adjusting to having given birth, and your hormones are all over the place.
Try to take time for yourself. Even five minutes a day to check in with yourself and your own needs. Ask for help. Recruit friends and family members. Say yes to help! I know this one is hard, but let people bring over food, hold the baby so you can sleep or just be there to support you. Don’t worry if the laundry is piling up or the floor hasn’t been mopped.
Make sure you are eating well and nourishing your body. Drink plenty of water. Take a shower. Focus on your needs.
Due to hormonal changes, 80% of new mothers experience “the baby blues” within the first few days after delivery, often lasting 1-2 weeks. As well, 10-20% of women experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety. If you are exhibiting a persistent sad mood, lack of interest, frequent crying, suicidal thoughts, poor concentration or feelings of being overwhelmed, you may have PPD. Women can experience symptoms of anxiety, excessive worrying, irritability, difficulty sleeping and panic attacks, as well.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PPD or PPA, speak to your health care provider, partner, friend, child educator, public health nurse or physician. You are not alone, and you do not need to struggle alone.