Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most joyful experiences in life, but for many new mothers, it can also be a difficult and challenging time. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and sad in the first few weeks or months after giving birth is not uncommon and, in fact, affects up to 1 in 7 new mothers. This condition is called post-natal depression (PND) and can be debilitating if left untreated. In this Piper Finn blog, we'll discuss what PND is, how to recognize the symptoms, and, most importantly, offer parent tips and strategies for coping with PND to support both mother and baby.
Parent Tips for Coping with Post-Natal Depression
Recognize the Symptoms:
The first step in coping with PND is recognizing the symptoms. The symptoms of PND are similar to those of depression and can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, fatigue, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable.
Symptoms of PND can start within the first few weeks after giving birth or up to a year later, so it's important not to dismiss any unexplained changes in mood or behavior. PND is not a reflection of weakness or failure, nor an indication of a mother's feelings towards their child. Instead, it's a medical condition that requires treatment and support.
Seek Professional Help:
If you suspect that you or someone you love has PND, seeking professional help as soon as possible is imperative as, unfortunately, PND isn't something that will magically disappear.
A doctor or mental health professional can provide an official diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options. Treatments for PND can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Find a Support Network:
Coping with PND can be a difficult and isolating experience, so it's vital to find and lean on your support network, whether it's family, friends, or a support group for new mothers. Talking openly and frankly about your feelings can help relieve feelings of isolation and provide a sense of community.
Additionally, support groups for new moms can provide tips and strategies for coping with PND and offer the opportunity to share your experiences with others who may be going through similar challenges. Realizing you are not alone in your struggle can provide the inspiration needed to work towards getting better.
Prioritize Self Care:
Caring for a new bambino (little human) can be all-consuming, but it's important to prioritize self care as this enables you to be an excellent mother to your new baby.
Self care is about getting enough rest, eating healthily, and engaging in an activity/activities that bring you happiness. This could be reading a book, having lunch with a friend or watching a movie.
Self care activities don't have to be complicated; simply getting enough exercise or going for a short walk outside can help relieve symptoms of depression and boost your mood. Remember, caring for yourself is not selfish; it's necessary, as this enables you to be a good parent. Read our recent article on self care for some great parenting tips here.
Be Patient and Kind to Yourself:
Coping with PND can be a long process, and being patient and kind to yourself during this time is important. Recovery takes time and effort, and getting the appropriate treatment and the right support can make a significant difference. Be gentle with yourself, and don't expect too much too soon because every step forward is progress, no matter how small.
For most new moms, asking for help can seem like a personal failure, but this isn't true; it's a sign of strength, not weakness!
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of PND, don't hesitate to seek help from a medical professional. You deserve to feel well and thrive, and even though, right now, it may be hard to believe, with the right support, it's entirely possible.