Writer / Dr. Danielle Beaver, Obstetrician at IU Health West Hospital
Stepping into a new role as a first-time mother can bring a range of emotions. Many women feel overwhelmed, depressed or anxious during their first pregnancy, and even after delivery. Below are three tips for looking after your mental health, while also looking after your new bundle of joy.
There are many unknowns when it comes to being a first-time mother, including how pregnancy and childbirth will affect your mental health. After childbirth, it is common for most new moms to experience postpartum “baby blues.” Symptoms of postpartum baby blues may include mood swings, anxiety, crying spells and difficulty sleeping.
While postpartum baby blues can last for up to two weeks after delivery, new moms may also experience a more severe and long-lasting form of depression called postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression may include excessive crying, difficulty bonding with your baby, severe mood swings, sleeping too much or too little, and lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy. It’s important to understand that experiencing postpartum baby blues or depression is not a weakness as a mother. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you begin to experience symptoms of postpartum baby blues or depression.
Make time for yourself.
It’s nearly impossible to take care of someone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself first. Schedule time for activities you enjoy a few times per week. Whether it’s taking a bubble bath, reading a book or watching your favorite show, it’s important to take some time for yourself.
Lower your expectations and use of social media.
As a new mom, you’ll experience unconditional love from your child. Your baby won’t notice if the house isn’t spotless or the laundry isn’t done. It’s important not to feel like everything must be perfect or that you have to do it all. Online shopping and delivery services can be a great resource. Don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family for help.
While social media can be a great way for you to connect with other new moms, it can also be damaging to your mental health. Motherhood, especially in the first few months, is messy, exhausting, difficult and not always pretty. Avoid the urge to compare yourself to other moms on social media.