So many new mothers deal with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In fact, up to one in seven mothers face postpartum depression after birth. On top of that, seventeen percent of mothers (or more, depending on who you ask) experience postpartum anxiety.
But it’s not enough to just assume, “Well, it’s hormones, I’m supposed to feel this way,” and keep carrying on. Yes, it’s true that most mothers experience “baby blues” during the first few weeks after birth, but postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety go deeper than that, and can occur later.
(By the way: Looking for uplifting reminders that you’ve got this parenting thing? Get your free set of empowering mantra cards. Seriously, I use these pretty much every day myself!)
What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by new motherhood?
If you’re reading this looking for help, you need to get support! I talked to my friend, Dr. Marcy Rowland, about the common emotional difficulties that new mothers face and how to get help. Check out the interview below!
When to seek counseling
I think perhaps what surprised me most during this interview was when I asked Marcy about when someone should ask for help.
The answer? After only two weeks of feeling down or anxious.
I was floored! I just struggled through alone after my first child, and I fought anxiety for months after my second was born before I went to see someone. On top of that, I didn’t even realize I was dealing with postpartum anxiety with either of my girls, because it didn’t really hit until they were four or five months old. But research shows that PPD and PPA can develop anywhere from a few weeks to as late as a year after birth.
Maybe you’re at the same place as I was, just dealing with the painful feelings alone, figuring you should just “get over it” but not being able to.
Or maybe you’re having a really hard time adjusting to life with a baby. You had figured you should be able to keep the house extra clean and cook more and finally do that side hustle you’ve always thought about now that you’re on maternity leave, but it’s all you can do just to make it to the end of the day.
And you’re terrified to tell your partner how you feel. How would he react? What would he think of you?
Or maybe you’ve had this baby for a few days, a few weeks, or even longer, and you really just don’t feel attached to him. But you can’t tell anyone, because you’ve got so much shame and guilt about it.
Replace your negative thoughts
It takes time, but I’ve found that a HUGE factor in getting through my anxiety was to replace the negative thoughts.
You can’t do this.
You’re no good at this.
You’re a bad parent.
You’re never going to do better.
These thoughts do not serve you and don’t get you out of your painful state. But when I started replacing these thoughts with more empowering statements, things really started to change for me.
A simple one that I love?
I can calm my body.
I focus on my breathing, make a point of relaxing my body, and take a moment (yes, even if the baby is crying). Telling myself this statement (and then following through) gives me a sense of control and helps me handle my situation better.
Want more empowering statements to help you turn the tide of negativity? Get your mantras now! Cut them out and leave them throughout your home as little reminders that you can do this.
Here’s the thing: Just sitting on all these negative emotions won’t make them better. And sometimes, we just need an outside perspective to help us work through our pain and fears.
Do you have a supportive friend or family member you could go to? Open up to them. Or open up to your partner about your feelings! It might be scary, but you will likely be surprised to find out how understanding he is.
Or, like Marcy said in the video, don’t be afraid to find professional help. It doesn’t mean you’re broken, or a failure, or whatever other label; going to therapy just shows that you’re wise and strong enough to take care of yourself.Going to therapy doesn't mean you're broken, or a failure; it just shows that you're wise and strong enough to take care of yourself.
And by the way, if antidepressants end up becoming part of your treatment plan, don’t be afraid of using them while breastfeeding. I have a whole post on the safety of antidepressants while nursing that you can check out for more info.
Find a tribe.
Getting together with a group of moms who have been there can be life changing. That’s why we have Evidence-Based Parents, our Facebook group for parents who want to support each other through the ups and downs of life with kids. We look forward to seeing you there!