Postpartum depression is an incredibly common ailment that follows birth. Around 15% of parents experience PPD following the birth of their newborn, with symptoms usually lasting between three to six months. While postpartum depression can be manageable, there are days when it can feel overwhelming and impossible to deal with. If you find yourself struggling with PPD, here are three tips to help you make it through.
Build a Support System
The first way to overcome postpartum depression is by building a support system. Whether you’re a single parent or are married, getting through mental health struggles is harder than it needs to be if you don’t have people on your side. Having people supporting you can look like going out for coffee with a friend every couple weeks, getting some help with household chores, or getting a sitter for your newborn so you can take a much-needed nap. There’s no one way to find support that works, it’s all based on what helps you feel the best.
Part of building your support system should involve getting professional help if you need it. Depending on the severity of your PPD, you may want to talk to a therapist or counselor about what you’re feeling. If your newborn arrived with some sort of birth trauma or other experience that is making the postpartum depression worse, the love from friends and family may not be enough. Getting a therapist or counselor may be able to help you talk through your feelings and come out on top.
Bond With Your Newborn
The second way to overcome postpartum depression is by bonding with your newborn. Creating a bond with your baby works in two ways. The first is by helping to create some of the “happy hormones” that your brain is missing after you give birth. The lack of these neurotransmitters is what causes depression, so when you snuggle and relax with your little one, you can replace some of what’s lost. The more you bond with your baby, the more you’ll regulate the chemicals in your brain.
Along with releasing oxytocin for both you and your baby, bonding with your newborn helps you attune your senses to their needs. When you’re in the throes of PPD, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what you and your newborn need. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re struggling, but forming a strong tie with your little one can help give you the energy and willpower to take care of both of you.
Be Ready to Reach Out
The final way to overcome your postpartum depression is by being ready to reach out. Even with a support system that uplifts you constantly, you may reach a day where you’ve just hit your breaking point. If that happens, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You haven’t failed as a parent or let your baby down by needing help. On the contrary, you are doing what’s best for you and your family when you reach out for assistance on days when you need it.
If you ever feel like you’ve gotten so low that you’re a danger to yourself or your newborn, put them in their crib and call emergency services for help. Many countries have support services specifically designed for parents going through PPD that are either free of charge or very cheap, so you can get the help you need if you’re in crisis. No matter what, it’s crucial to remember that you and your newborn’s health is the most important thing. If you’re ever in danger, reach out for help, whether that’s to family or a professional.
Overall, having postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of. You haven’t failed as a parent if you find yourself unable to return to “normal” after bringing a newborn home; it’s a huge lifestyle change, and your brain may need time to accommodate for that. With these tips, you can make it through your PPD unscathed and stronger mentally.