Feeling the baby when you’re a parent is normal. Learn how your postpartum mindset can help get you back on track, feeling like you’re strong, powerful and happier self.
Before we get into any details and how-tos on this mindset shift I want to state that if you think you have postpartum depression please get professional help. This post may help you but it will definitely not be enough, you must get professional help.
The “baby blues” affects up to 80% of mothers. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, “the baby blues is a term used to describe the feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that many women experience after having a baby.” I personally am no stranger to the baby blues. We all have those low days, weeks or even months where we just do not feel like ourselves. The days when we aren’t in love with our life, or our children. We may even have some real regret about having them or have feelings of shame, anger, rage and deep sadness.
These feelings can also be amplified if you’ve experienced any sort of birth trauma. My fourth birth was pretty traumatic. Even though everything was in order in the house, the kids were doing well, the baby was doing well, I was functioning well, had some help, etcetera, if anyone asked about my birth I would get choked up. I have friends and clients you had severe PTSD as a result of birth. If they saw anyone that was pregnant or a newborn baby it triggered an intense emotional reaction, a panic attack, within them. Birth trauma is a very real thing, you need to process your birth trauma in order to move through it. Even if you don’t classify your birth as traumatic, it’s still a giant experience and can create a very intense emotional experience if it isn’t processed.
How to Process Your Birth
I reached out to a postpartum doula service. A postpartum doula is someone who will come and help you with whatever you need after giving birth. They can help with household chores, caring for the baby while you get some rest, helping your older child adjust to the change, help you with your physical pain, and most importantly, help you to process your birth. Some even offer healing energy services or rituals such as a closing of the bones ceremony. Something to mark this occasion and seal off this time in your life. What I needed most was someone to talk to. Someone who would listen as I talked through and processed what was so difficult for me during birth. This way when someone would ask “how was your birth?” I could tell them. I had clarity on the story, knew what had happened to me, and make sense of it. It no longer overwhelmed me.
Maybe a postpartum doula doesn’t sound like the right fit for you. No matter what you choose I urge you to find someone in your life; your partner, a neighbor, a hotline/support line, a listening partner, another mom, your mom, or a professional therapist. Someone to listen. You need someone you can talk through this with and express what you’re feeling.
Please, don’t hide the fact that you’re having trouble and that you’re feeling sad or emotional. It can be hard to tell the people around you that you are having a hard time. Saying we are feeling unhappy, sad, or a bit depressed can feel very vulnerable. It’s important to be able to name the feeling, own it, and share it so that others can support you.
Even though it feels vulnerable and possibly scary to do so, it’s incredibly important that you tell the people you are closest to. Telling people does not mean attacking, complaining, venting or ranging. The telling I’m talking about comes from a place of vulnerability not anger. Being able to say “I’m having a hard time and would love for you to help me” is incredibly brave.
Become empowered to help yourself by asking for help. No one can do it alone. We’re not designed to do it alone.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
The tricky part here is to have enough self awareness to know what help looks like for you right now. This can be difficult to do when feeling blue but try to take a moment with yourself to ask – what would feel good to me right now? Do you want someone to just simply listen to you? Do you want someone to help tidy up the house? Do you want someone to to let you rest? (If rest is one of your biggest hardships right now check out my podcast episode on Sleep Training – there’s no dogmatic approach in this one, my blog post on How to Get Your High Needs Baby to Sleep or my blog post on Permission to Teach Your Baby to Sleep).
In order to receive help you need to help those around you understand how they can help. Do not sink deeper into victim mode. Become an active helper for yourself by looking for help and asking for help!
Follow the Wisdom Available
There is a lot of information available on how to feel better. Advice on how to snap ourselves out of a vicious downward cycle. Heed that advice! Think about things you do when you are feeling good and try to include those in your day or week. Things to start you in a forward motion. Sometimes these things can be as simple as getting dressed, getting outside, or even taking a shower. Yes, this can feel impossible to do when you are feeling down. That is exactly why it is so important. Take one small step at a time, then another step and another step until you are creating a snowball of positive things that make you feel good.
Do whatever it is that you can to shift yourself in the direction of someone who is showing up for themselves and taking care of themselves. I know a lot of new mothers believe and feel they don’t have time for a shower. That may be the case. It is also equally as true that you need to make the time to feel good. Staying where you are will not make you feel better. The light at the end of the tunnel will not just come to you. You’re going to need to take some action.
You need to make the time to feel good. There is no award for staying in that place. There is no light at the end of the tunnel that just comes to you. You need to go towards that light. You need to make it happen.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
Yes you have gone through a major life change and yes you have every excuse to stay in bed. AND you don’t have to buy into the cultural stories that you need to stay there! Get up, wash your face, open the blinds, make the bed, go for a walk, sit in the sunshine, feel like a human being again.
Something as simple as changing your pajamas into fresh clean pajamas is already showing up for yourself. That small act is saying that you matter and that feeling good is possible.
This Too Shall Pass
I know, it feels like it will never pass. It feels like it’s permanent when you’re in it. I know and I understand and you also need to remember and believe that this too shall pass. Know that you can trust yourself and your baby. People have been where you are now. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. This is a normal, healthy, valid experience.
Try to practice some level of surrender in this. Trust that this is all part of the process. Try to detach from any stories you have about the type of mom you were going to be, the type of baby you were going to have, the type of birth experience and recovery you were going to have. Release those stories. Accept that wherever you are right now is where you are meant to be. This moment, this season is perfect and beautiful in its imperfection and chaos.
You are okay. You are enough. You are worthy. And you’re doing great!
There is no right way to birth. There is no right way to recover. There is no right way to care for a newborn (although if you think a good old fashion laugh will help you feel better check out my post on how to be the perfect parent – remember this one is for a laugh if you think you may take it seriously save it for another time!).
Whatever you need to do to feel okay in this time is the right thing. So, trust yourself. Open your heart to this experience. Try to see the beauty in it if you can.
Something I heard from Dr. Shefali a long time, has always stayed with me. She said that what she took from the newborn stage was that every activity with a newborn slows you down. It demands you to be in the present moment. And all of her years of meditating never added up to what she learned in those first few months, that fourth trimester time. Nursing a newborn throughout the night, for example, was her optimal time to meditate. She transformed that experience into something so worthwhile and so meaningful and deep.
Every diaper change, every time you breastfeed, or bottle feed, every time you hold your baby or push them in the stroller, every time someone else cares for your baby and you can rest, every time you do a pile of laundry or step over the pile of laundry that has been there for two weeks solid, untouched. All of the different activities you are doing or not doing right now, can be viewed with a light of self-compassion, of surrender, of acceptance, of mindfulness and of gratitude and joy.
Engage in Life with Curiosity
When you become a parent suddenly it’s as though you’ve stepped into a portal into a new world, a new reality. The whole order of your life gets flipped. As earth shaking as that can be it can also be fascinating if you look at it with curiosity. Curiosity is the opposite of anger, judgement and depression. When we judge ourselves or our experience we feel sad, depressed, frustrated and even trapped. But when we look at it with curiosity we can see the new experience as something wonderful. We can release the stories that lead us to feel awful and instead replace them with stories that empower us.
Connect with Others
In this postpartum season drop the I got this, leave me alone attitude. Connect with others. Connect with friends and family. Do not try to become a supermom. Trying to do it alone and do it all will not serve you or your family. Focus on creating community and connection. Lean into your vulnerability by asking for help. You definitely don’t have to accept others if you don’t want to. This isolating culture we can sometimes live in is not normal or natural. Throughout human history it was unheard of for a mother to be caring for herself and her baby alone. This period was a time of support, community, and everybody coming together to welcome the baby and make sure the mother is well cared for.
Seek out that connection from your community. Find those connections. They are a true vaccination against depression and isolation.
Share your Story
This is a very vulnerable topic and it is not always easy to share or talk about. But, the power of seeing how many other people have suffered through it is comforting. When you share and hear others share you realize that it is normal and you can overcome it. If you found this helpful and think it might help another mom who is feeling a little depressed please share it with her. Your words of support, your story, your encouragement can be a life saver for someone else going through the same thing.
Have you ever had any kind of baby blues or postpartum depression or depression in general on your parenting journey? What helped you to overcome the baby blues? What postpartum mindset did you create? Share here in the comments below or over in our (free & awesome) FB community Love Parenting with Avital.