Welcoming a new baby into your family is one of the most joyous experiences life has to offer, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Many new moms struggle with the baby blues after giving birth. In fact, one in seven moms will suffer from postpartum depression.
Here are six tips to help new moms strengthen their emotional and mental health:
1. Take care of yourself. Think SNOWBALL:
S is for Sleep. Make sure you're getting enough rest. When you're tired, you aren't thinking clearly, and your mood may suffer.
N is for Nutrition. Eating food that's good for you will help you recover and is especially important if you're breastfeeding.
O is for Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fish oils have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression in new moms.
W is for Walking. Exercise will improve your mood and help your body recover from giving birth.
B is for Baby Breaks. Take some time away from your baby. It can help you feel more like yourself again!
A is for Adult Time. Spending time with other adults — your partner or your friends — will help you maintain important relationships.
L is for Liquids. Try to drink at least two quarts of water daily.
L is for Laughter. Remember to laugh and give yourself a break. Life with a new baby requires a sense of humor.
2. Find a person you can be real with. Identify someone you can talk openly with, and commit to sharing your feelings with that person. No matter how frustrated you are or how silly you think your feelings may be, having someone to confide in and validate your experiences is important. Keep communicating.
3. Make sleep a priority. New babies are notorious for disrupting their parents' sleep, and lack of sleep can intensify your emotional reactions and negative feelings. Find a friend, relative, or babysitter you trust who can watch your baby while you sleep.
4. Give yourself permission to care for your baby in the way that works best for you. Everyone will have an opinion on parenting, but all new parents have to find what works for them. You may need some practice to find the best method. Stick to what works for you and don't worry about what others think.
5. Be kind to yourself. Don't compare yourself to the images you see on social media. Much of what you see is highly filtered and isn't realistic, and it's often achieved with some additional help. Do the best you can and give yourself time to adjust to your new baby and all of the related major lifestyle changes.
6. Know your resources and have a plan to get help. Feeling emotional after baby is born is normal, but if you're consistently in a dark mood and feel other symptoms of postpartum depression, get help. As soon as you realize you're not thinking clearly, call your doctor or seek other sources of help. Don't wait until it's an emergency. Visit our website below for more videos and tips regarding maternal mental health.
On Tuesday, March 12, physical and mental health providers from Intermountain Healthcare will provide tips and suggestions on improving your mental health on KUTV during Ask The Expert. If you have questions, a panel of experts will answer your phone calls from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 877-908-0680. You can also submit questions via Facebook and Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.
For more information visit intermountainhealthcare.org/asktheexpert.
Other Mental Health Resources for New Moms:
Emergency Respite Nursery at the Family Support and Treatment Center (for Utah Valley residents): The staff will watch your baby while you get some rest and they provide support groups. Call 801.229.1181 or see http://www.utahvalleyfamilysupport.org/how-we-can-help/crisis-services.
United Way Help Me Grow: Call 211 and volunteers will link you to community mental health services. Also see https://www.helpmegrowutah.org.
Postpartum Support International: This group provides education and resources to mothers with mental health symptoms. Find them online at www.postpartum.net or call 1.800.944.4773.
National Peer Mom Volunteers: This group provides peer counseling and can be reached at 1.800.PPD.MOMS.