Postnatal Depression can totally ruin the early months and even years of motherhood. For me, it actually started in pregnancy with prenatal depression and continued until my son was about 6 months old, when I became much more able to see the funny side of motherhood. Here are 8 things I found that help Postnatal Depression, at least for me.
This was so important. I admitted to my Mum that I had postnatal depression when Boy Child was 6 weeks old. She helped me massively, initially by convincing me to speak to my GP and taking Boy Child out when Chris got home from work so that I could talk to him. She then continued to help by taking Boy Child for two hours every afternoon until I was coping better. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that level of support but if you do, use it.
Practical Stuff to Make Life Easier
We all know how men like to solve problems. In this case it worked quite well. We brainstormed all the things that were making life more difficult than they needed to be. Then we took action to change them. This included buying wireless house phones so that I could answer while breastfeeding, getting a waist height changer to minimise my back pain and introducing expressed milk in a bottle so that I could take a proper break without having to be available on demand.
I’ve never been more keen on singing than the average person but it can really help postnatal depression. Initially it was putting on my music and singing along. In time I became something of a collector of nursery rhymes. We’d attend baby classes and I would learn the words and then sing them to Boy Child at home. I even started searching out new ones to learn on You Tube. It has been scientifically proven that singing has a positive effect on mood and it was definitely true for me.
In the early weeks I read loads. I read The Baby Whisperer, What to expect in the First year, The Contented Little Baby Book and lots of other parenting tombs. None of these seemed to help postnatal depression. My mum noticed my choice of reading material and suggested I read some fiction to help me feel more like my old self. She lent me A Thousand Splendid Suns. Not only was she right that it made me feel like myself again, much of the book is about a mother and her children and it really helped me connect with parenthood in a way I hadn’t before that.
Realising You’re Not Alone
I wasn’t on Facebook at the time and while in some ways that was probably a blessing, it also meant I didn’t come across mentions of other women suffering from PND. Eventually I tracked down a few books about it and also discovered forums where mums were discussing it. This did help with postnatal depression hugely by normalising my situation. While objectively I knew I wasn’t alone, actually reading other mum’s stories was hugely reassuring.
It’s not for everyone but medication can help with postnatal depression. As someone who had been on antidepressant medication before, I was happy to take it again. It wasn’t a magic cure but, along with everything else plus some time, it helped. I stayed on it until we wanted to try for another baby when Boy Child was one.
Getting Out and Meeting Other Mums
While I didn’t do this with Boy Child, when I was pregnant with Girl Child my instincts told me I should have some ways to get out of the house when she was born to help avoid a recurrence of my PND. I started attending a local toddler group. Once Girl Child was born, this helped to break up the days with a baby and a toddler. While I found those early years with two really hard, thankfully my postnatal depression didn’t return. I think if I had had friends who had children before I had Boy Child, or had attended NCT classes and so made friends there, I might not have suffered so much the first time.
While I don’t credit chocolate digestives specifically with my recovery, there is a lot to be said for the role food can play. I ate pretty much a whole pack a day in the newborn phase. While healthier food would probably would have been better, making sure I was eating and not beating myself up about losing the baby weight, was important. They became my reward, something to look forward to, and I really needed that.
More Help with Postnatal Depression
Everyone is different so these ideas might be useless for some people but they do have the potential to help with postnatal depression. They certainly helped me. If you are struggling, do visit your GP. 99% of them are brilliant and if you are in the unlucky 1% I strongly advice you to change GP. You can also check out The Pre and Postnatal Advice and Support Foundation for further help.
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