It was hard to see myself as depressed when I was feeling depressed.
According to the Chinese confinement practices, there is supposed to be a confinement nanny to take care of the new mom and her baby right after delivery for a period of one month. This is to ensure that the new mom has sufficient rest and enjoy a special herbal diet for proper postpartum recuperation.
My moods only lifted after I moved back to my own home. My energy slowly returned and as I somewhat settled into a routine for myself and my baby, I finally thought I'm getting better at this new mom life.
That's when I looked back and realized how depressed I actually was in my first month after the delivery of my baby.
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It could happen to any mommy, even if it's not your first baby. Since every baby is different, you need to get used to a new routine with your newborn and also manage your older child/children.
Older siblings who are still toddlers could also experience mood changes and exhibit more temper tantrums. It is inevitable that the older child may experience a sense of loss when all the adults are fussing over the new baby, especially mommy.
It simply isn't easy having a new baby in the family. Regardless of what confinement practices you follow, how little or how much help you get with the new baby, do remember that as mommies, it's important that we take care of ourselves first.
There are still many hormonal changes that new moms experience soon after the delivery of the baby. In addition, the physical fatigue from sleepless nights and the mental exhaustion that comes with being a new mom can all lead to emotional and psychological stress that could result in postnatal depression.
Here are seven ways to help new moms cope with the negative emotions that you might face in the early postpartum months.
1. Find moments through the day for a breather
Only fellow moms can understand how busy a new mom is. There just seems to be always something that needs to be done!
The baby’s clothes need to be washed. The house needs to be cleaned up. The baby’s diaper needs to be changed. The baby needs to nurse...again.
The baby finally falls asleep after being rocked for half an hour and just when you think you can have some peace and quiet for the next thirty minutes, the baby stirs again!
Yes, life as a new mom is very busy and tiring. Add that to the raging hormones, that’s a disastrous formula for depression!
So please, get a breather when you feel cooped up.
Listen to your favorite music or indulge in your favorite snack.
Yes, you need to watch what you eat to have the best nutrients for your baby. But come on, it's just one snack!
Find pockets of time through the day to catch your breath. Deep breathing exercises are very helpful in relaxing your body and mind.
2. Have a nice warm bath
Take your time and enjoy a nice bath. It always re-energizes me and helps me feel better about myself!
Being a nursing mom meant I was always smelling like milk. I disliked the smell and having a nice warm bath always refreshed me, both physically and mentally.
If you could get your husband or someone else to watch the baby even for just 15 minutes, soaking in a warm tub can certainly do wonders for your new mom soul!
3. Walk away
There's only so much wailing from a baby that I can take.
When I'm tired from a long night or feeling hungry, or stinking from puke/poop stains from the baby, I'm just not in the right condition to coo at my screaming baby whom I just can't seem to calm down despite all my different attempts.
It's okay to just hand him to the next bravest adult in the room who can bear with the crying, and walk away.
It helps for you to calm down and release some of your tension before attending to your baby.
The baby might scream even louder when you leave him alone, but YOU need to get your sanity back so you are in better condition to try again in soothing your crying baby.
There were very rare occasions when I put the baby down and somehow she settled and fell asleep on her own. Hallelujah!
4. Get someone else to feed the baby
We have all read about how breast is best and may have heard other mommies share about their breastfeeding journeys, some having it easier than others.
I'm thankful I managed to breastfeed all three children and I am glad for the money saved on formula milk. But my breastfeeding journey was not entirely smooth and I had endured much breastfeeding pains.
If it's too painful for the mommy to latch or pump, perhaps, formula milk is better.
If the mommy is too stressed over producing sufficient milk, perhaps formula milk is better.
If it's too exhausting for the mommy to nurse, perhaps, formula milk is better.
Don't compare yourself against other mommies.
Every baby is different. So is every breast.
It's not going to matter years down the road if you had breastfed your child for two months or three years or none at all.
Most importantly, do what works for you. Do what keeps you sane.
It's not worth agonizing over breastfeeding issues because there are already so many things that can drive a mom crazy.
5. Stay away from social media
Nobody is going to post photos of themselves looking haggard, unkempt and depressed.
Many mommies, including myself, enjoy putting up beautiful photos of their children because they are so proud and excited about their bundles of joy and they want to share these precious moments with family and friends.
Social media can be a good way to keep in touch with each other for some. But if seeing everyone's happy pics makes you feel even more isolated and wonder why you are the only one experiencing baby blues, then please stay away from social media.
Remember that most people, if not all, only post the bright side of things in their lives.
Every mom at some point in time has to deal with temper tantrums, sleepless nights, unprecedented frustrations that didn't exist before motherhood. You are never alone.
6. Find freedom or escape in different ways
Taking care of a baby is a 24/7 business. Even when the baby naps, many mommies may worry if the baby is sleeping well, or we end up fretting about sudden infant death syndrome.
It's like there is not a minute where we are not worrying about when the baby will wake up for the next feed, or fretting over the unfinished household chores, or getting distracted by hundreds of unread work emails, or feeling guilty about not giving the toddler sufficient attention because of the new baby.
Push away the mom guilt! Tell yourself you are being the best mum you can be!
My children are always far more forgiving towards me than I am to myself whenever I feel like I have failed them.
Taking care of a new baby full time is a huge transition for women who are used to their nine-to-five work routine.
As much as you love your baby and keep gushing about how adorable they are, or that you never get tired of Instagramming them, sometimes you might still feel suffocated, restless, bored or uncomfortable at the new routine even a few days or weeks after the birth of your baby. And that's okay.
My way of escape could be through online shopping, reading a book, taking a long bath, getting out of the house for a walk nearby, or texting some friends.
These could be very meager methods of "escape" but what is most important, is to take my mind off baby and find "me" and feel good about myself again.
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Pray. Unceasingly. For even though our God is the Creator of the universe, He knows us individually even before we know Him.
We are each fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. And He loves us way before we might even come to accept His Love.
No request is too big or too small for Him. On long nights when the baby kept waking and I was so exhausted, my prayers didn't result in the baby falling asleep at the flick of my fingers, but that doesn't mean my God didn't care.
I pray for Him to strengthen me, to fill me overflowing with His love, and for wisdom to take care of these children that He had blessed me with and placed in my hands despite all my flaws and failures.
I am filled with thankfulness for His great sustenance and mercy on my motherhood journey.
There is absolutely no shame in admitting to yourself or to someone close that you find motherhood challenging, or that you are frustrated by your baby, or that you desire to run away from your baby and find your old life back.
It's better to talk it out and seek understanding and support from your loved ones.
Motherhood is a marathon.
It's essential to find support mentally and emotionally on this long and tiring journey of mothering your children.
Sometimes all you need is a listening ear, someone who doesn't judge your choices as a mother, someone who isn't eager to advise you on what to do with your child.
If you hear anything that makes you upset or irritated even though you know the person has good intentions, it's perfectly okay to stop the conversation or reject the person's advice.
Always trust your maternal instincts. You are indeed the best mom to your children.
Hang in there, my mommy friend!
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