Quick Tips for Emotional Wellness During Pregnancy and After Childbirth
When you’re not feeling like yourself, your brain needs a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep to regulate mood . Over time, sleep deprivation alone can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. With your pediatrician’s approval, aim for a 4-6 hour stretch as soon as your baby can go longer between feedings or is taking a bottle. Have your partner or another family member take over the first feeding of the night, or arrange for help to nap during the day when possible. If you can’t fall asleep easily, talk with your healthcare provider.
Continue taking a high-quality pre-natal vitamin that contain methylated B vitamins for at least a year after childbirth. Avoid caffeine, sweets and processed carbohydrates, and be sure to eat protein at every snack and meal. Ask your partner or family to make a plate of quick foods such as meats, cheese, nuts or protein bars for you to snack on during the day. Have your doctor check your Vitamin D and Iron levels.
Fish oils are proven to prevent and treat anxiety and depression in new moms. Up to 3000 mg combined EPA and DHA (look on the back of the label) are proven safe during pregnancy and when nursing. Freezing the capsules may make them easier to digest. The brand “Barleans,” available at Costco and Whole foods, is an easy pill to swallow liquid that doesn’t taste like fish.
Daily gentle exercise such as walking outside or yoga/stretching can make a huge difference in mood. Go slowly and listen to your body.
Try to get regularly scheduled breaks with your child(ren) in the care of others. Ideally, you should get at least two hours at a time, three times a week. If this is not feasible at this time, get as much of a break as you can. Make yourself some tea, call a friend, read a magazine or paint your toes after asking a support person to be with your children, even briefly.
None of us are built to be alone with children 24/7. Join an online group, reach out to a friend every day, and journal, even when you are not feeing well. Find safe people to share your feelings with on a regular basis.
Be sure to drink two large pitchers of water a day. Dehydration can trigger symptoms of anxiety and fuzzy thinking.
Whether through watching a funny movie, talking with a good friend, or tickling your children, make time for silliness and laughter each day. If you find it difficult to connect to this aspect of yourself, it’s time to reach out for professional help.
Seek professional counseling and speak with your doctor if you continue to feel as though you are not yourself. Suffering in silence benefits no one. You deserve to feel well.
For more information on resources and support, please contact your healthcare provider and/or call Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4PPD (944-4773) www.postpartum.net PSI is the largest perinatal support agency in the U.S.. Their toll-free WarmLine (English & Spanish) serves over 1,000 callers a month and is staffed by a volunteer team of PSI trained responders who rapidly refer callers to appropriate local resources.