Motherhood can bring about hormonal changes, sleepless nights, difficulty maintaining other important relationships, and a ‘never enough time’ mentality. In fact, about 13-percent of women who have just given birth experience a mental health disorder, as recorded by the World Health Organization.
We’ve outlined a few tips and tools that will help you navigate the emotional and mental strain of motherhood so you can get back to your normal happy and healthy self.
Know the signs and symptoms
According to Healthline, as many as 80-percent of mothers have had the symptoms of postpartum depression. Symptoms run the gamut, from feelings of sadness and exhaustion, to feeling overwhelmed, worthless, out of control and irritable. This can manifest in the body in the form of aches, pains and illnesses.
Remember, this is completely normal and usually fades within a few weeks. If it doesn’t, it might be time to visit your doctor (more on that later). Baby blues aside, being a new mom is stressful and many days, you’re going to feel drained and perhaps defeated.
To set yourself up for success, start here:
- Get as much sleep as you can. When you’re tired, you can’t think clearly and your mood shifts
- Watch what you eat—meaning, incorporate Omega-3 Fatty Acids into your diet, as they’ve been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in new moms.
- Try to drink at least two quarts of water each day
- Take baby breaks
- Walk to improve your mood
Limit your use of social media
Between feeding, pumping and trying to sooth your newborn, social media might seem like the perfect escape. In many ways, platforms like Facebook and Instagram can feel like safe havens for new moms, and an effective tool for building community.
But anyone who has caught themselves scrolling for too long knows there’s a dark side to social media, too. It’s really easy to go down a rabbit hole and start comparing ourselves to other moms or indulge in all the ways you’re ‘not good enough.’
If you catch yourself looping in negative self-talk, it’s time for a screen break. Log out of social media and tap back into the real world. Use this hands-free pump time to call a friend you haven’t connected with in awhile, get ahead on work emails, or listen to an audiobook.
Lean on community
Community, whether online or offline, is so important for new moms. This is where you can get tips from other moms who have been there and truly know how you feel.
Social media can be highly effective in offering insight, information and emotional support for mothers, as noted in a recent study from Pew Research Center:
- About 75% of parents using social media turn here for parenting-related info and social support.
- 71% of all parents on social media try to respond if they know the answer to a question posed by someone in their online network.
- 58% of parents using social media try to respond when a friend or acquaintance shares bad news online.
- 42% of these parents have received social or emotional support from their online networks about a parenting issue in the last 30 days.
- 31% of parents who use social media have posed parenting questions to their online networks in the last 30 days. Mothers and fathers are equally likely to do so.
As we noted above, social media is great for connecting with other moms and finding support groups—just be mindful of how much of your free-time is being devoted here.
If you can, try to tap into your local community as well. Look for opportunities to meet in-person. Picnics in the park or outdoor walks are perfect for bringing along your newborn, as are mommy group events or courses.
Ask for (and accept) help
We all need help every now and again, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. From our lens, asking for and accepting help is one of the most selfless things you can do as a person and as a mom because it benefits everyone you come in contact with.
If you find yourself burned out, frustrated or overwhelmed, it might be time to ask for help. Ask a friend or fellow mom to come over for a few hours. They can help with feeding and burping the baby, and keep an eye on things while you take a couple hours to yourself. Use that time to shower, eat, squeeze in a hands-free pumping session or take a nap. You’ve earned it!
Of course, if things feel out of control and you fear that you are spiraling, make sure to find a therapist or counselor in your area. There are many who are able to meet virtually, in the case that an in-person session is not possible with your schedule.
Trust your intuition
As women, and especially as moms, our intuition is something to celebrate. Yet, so much of the time, we ignore what our intuition is telling us and in some cases, do the exact opposite only to find out that we were right all along.
For moms, intuition can play a key role in decision-making. If something doesn’t feel quite right, voice these concerns to your doctor and avoid the urge to silence your own intuition. More often than not, these gut instincts are there to tell us something.
Need further proof? Studies have shown that intuition is not just in our heads; it’s a real thing and should be treated as such.
Prioritize ‘me’ time
Caring for a newborn is a full-time job in and of itself, so it’s not all that surprising that you feel like you’re running on empty. When there’s already so much to do, it’s easy to deprioritize self-care or dismiss it all together.
However, even setting aside a couple 5-minute breathers every couple of hours can do wonders for your mood and overall motivation levels. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mini pampering session (although, we’re all for that). This is basically your excuse to do whatever you want: run an extra load of laundry, take a power nap or flip on the TV.
‘Me’ time can also become ‘we’ time. Maybe it’s a night out with your partner or a weekly juice run with your neighborhood running buddy. However short (we know you’re busy), take the time you need to rest, reset and come back stronger than ever.