Bringing a baby into the world is, inevitably, a major life transition. Although signs and symptoms associated with Post-Partum Depression (PPD) certainly indicate clinical intervention-Baby Blues is a less severe, more common phenomenon likely due to these inevitable life, as well as physiological and hormonal, changes post-delivery.
I personally didn't experience anything too life-altering once Baby Girl entered the world, but I did develop some coping mechanisms for any bouts of anxiety or dysphoria associated with the changes. I think a lot of my "Blues" had to do with losing the ability to do the things I used to do before Baby Girl. Coping with the "Blues" involved adjusting my old hobbies and pastimes to accomodate for baby.
1. Get Outside!
Now not everyone is "Outdoorsy," but I found that this really helped me post-partum. Occasionally, I would get a little bit of "Cabin Fever" and leaving home to sit in the shade somewhere with baby (as long as the weather allowed) improved my morale significantly. I talked to the pediatrician and he cleared that it was okay for Baby Girl to be outside prior to her routine baby vaccinations, as long as she wasn't with groups of people. He actually even mentioned that it may be healthy. I found that Baby Girl enjoyed this as well and usually fell asleep, especially in warm weather with a nice breeze.
2. If approved by the pediatrician, take Baby swimming!
St. Louis Summers are hot-and the rising temperature certainly scares me, considering Baby Girl could get overheated. I used to coach and teach swimming myself, so my partner and I were eager to get her into the pool. I initially checked with her pediatrician for approval (I recommend this for everyone) and now she has become quite the water baby. We began taking her in our private pool, and then later at Lifetime Fitness, a gym and pool we have found to be very baby-friendly. Swimming is an activity I always have enjoyed, a former lifeguard as well. Once I was cleared to swim by my OB-GYN, I felt it was a great way to mildly exercise or keep moving post-partum simultaneously spending time with baby!
3. Wear Baby to get things done around the house.
I think another contributing factor to some dysphoria post-partum is that difficulty getting things done. Babies do love to be held-and the dishes and laundry don't do themselves! I think I felt a major loss of productivity. Luckily, I had invested in a baby wrap by Baby K'tan AND a baby carrier by Infantino. The baby wrap is helpful if you are doing something more stationary, and the baby carrier is helpful while doing things around the house that require walking and lifting. My baby loves the wraps and carriers as long as she faces towards me. I assume it simulates that comfortable environment in the womb, being close to mom.
4. Take Baby for walks in the morning and the evening.
I began taking Baby Girl for walks in that beautiful St. Louis Spring weather all hours of the day. However, now that we are in the heat of Summer, it is probably better to go early in the day and late in the day to avoid extreme temperatures. My baby loves it, plus-it is healthy for mom! I was discouraged, even during pregnancy, that I couldn't exercise post-partum. Working out always lifts my spirits and helps my mental health. However, walking (not strenuously) was an activity I could participate in post-partum that wouldn't hurt me while I was healing AND it was an activity safe for Baby Girl too. Sometimes I would lightly walk with her up to three times per day.
5. Let your partner help out.
This seems silly, but I promise it helps. I had a hard time delegating to my partner or allowing him to take over when I was tired in my early post-partum days. However, I realized later that I should never say no if he does have that ability with his work schedule! I am better able to take care of my Baby Girl if I have those periods to myself and I am able to rest. If he wants to hold or play with baby-I can shower, take a power nap, or straighten the place a little bit. I used to have a boss, in my nurse days, who highly emphasized lunch breaks because "you take better care of your patients when you return." I totally agree with this, and find that it translates to motherhood as well. Cura te Ipsum!
I know this sounds weird-but research backs it up. I'm not sure if it is the bonding moments-OR the release of Oxytocin, but I have noticed that in the moments when I am breastfeeding-I feel better. It somehow reduces my anxiety and any associated dyphoria.
7. Get that necessary Vitamin D.
I think I may be biased, a certified Sun-Worshipper-BUT I do think it's important in staving off my "Baby Blues."
8. Ask family in town to help for mutual benefit.
This may not be true for everyone, but if your family is anything like mine, they love holding and spending time with Baby Girl. I never turn them down if they ask to see her. If they spend time holding her, I can send a few emails or texts I haven't been able to get to.
9. Go for a drive in the Missouri country.
We are big road-trippers-so this is critical. Even if it's just for a few hours, car rides can be so therapeutic-for Baby and mom! A change of scenery for mom, and the continous movement baby loves, simulating the womb.
10. Treat yourself.
Once I started to get my body back and no longer could fit into my maternity clothes, but couldn't yet fit into my regular clothes-I went bargain shopping. Nothing too expensive, but just a few things to help me feel better without the stress of fitting into jeans or a crop top that I couldn't quite rock. I PROMISE this helps.
11. Learn about Baby.
I unfortunately found that post-partum, my ADHD really kicked in-however, the strength in my weakness became learning about baby. I watched every Youtube VLOG and read everything I could about babies and their development. I found that during this time, because this was so interesting to me, I became a sponge! It was the perfect way to spend my time productively while baby was napping and gave me a lot of ideas for activites with her.
12. Nap when Baby naps.
This is generally known and overstated, but I do find this helps. Sleep deprivation is likely a big reason for "Baby Blues." Once I started to embrace napping while Baby naps, I struggled much less. I think the key is "go with the flow," or adapt to Baby schedule.
13. Connect with other moms in St. Louis, or wherever you reside.
One emotion I felt in my early post-partum months was loneliness. I felt that I didn't know that many people who had also recently been pregnant. I remember going to a Baby Shower and I was the only guest who had a baby already. I felt so alone! This encouraged me to find "Mom friends" AND get closer to my friends who already had babies. There is an app called Peanut, where connecting with other moms is relatively easy!
14. Start a creative project.
During any sort of maternity leave, you're going to have at least some sort of downtime, and you're usually unable to leave home. It may be the perfect time to embark on some sort of creative journey, especially if it involves baby. A creative outlet can be important for certain personality types, and it can be fun and possibly even beneficial for the future.
15. Develop a relaxing Post-Partum Playlist.
I have read a lot of online articles encouraging "Labor Playlists." I definitely used mine during my delivery experience and I decided to also develop a Post-Partum Playlist with some relaxing and Baby-Friendly songs to boost my mood. If you are a music lover like me, this definitely can be helpful.
REMEMBER-"Baby Blues" is not "Post-Partum Depression." If you are having symptoms of PPD, it is important to immediately notify your healthcare provider.
[According to MayoClinic-Some PPD Signs and Symptoms may include: insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby].
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