Postpartum baby blues affect 50-70% of women recovering from the birth of a child. It is a reality that is important to acknowledge and prepare for. It is important to realize that dealing with a large range of emotions after birth is very common. There are extreme changes happening in your body from various hormones (estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, prolactin, and thyroid hormone) that occur after birth.
Postpartum blues can include mood swings, crying, insomnia, irritability and other symptoms. Postpartum depression is the second level of baby blues that affects 1 in 10 women. It includes more extreme signs of the symptoms above and may include lack of interest in baby, memory loss, extreme fear, etc. I am one that is very susceptible to postpartum blues. I also struggle with fear of depression from my past experience with it and because it runs in my family. With having a baby in the midst of summer, I struggle with the thought of being trapped inside when everyone else is enjoying the summer. This is a new adventure for me as my previous little ones were born in springtime. How can we together be wisely prepared to deal with these varying emotions?
We want this period to be full of joy and delight as we celebrate the newness of life! It is a beautiful season of life. It is a celebration! A party. It is important to safeguard this special period by taking a few preparation steps…
We need to acknowledge that it is foolish not to seek help from others in advance. I confess I can easily think that I can do it all on my own. I am a perfectionist. I like it done my way. It is my sinful nature that tries to handle struggles on my own strength. But that is not how God intended it to be. He designed our need for others. We need to come along side on another, using our various giftings, to make the transition a peaceful one. It is humbly to acknowledge a need, but we must seek it. In this way God is most glorified as well as we don’t foolishly depend upon our own strength. So humbly ask for help.
Ask family. Ask friends. Hire help if necessary. Ask for freezer meals. Sign up for Meal Baby. Or a casserole shower. Hire a postpartum doula.
Remember there are Seasons.
Take the opportunity to rest and embrace this season you are in. Fill your cup by waiting on the Lord. He gives His beloved sleep (Psalms 127:2), so take advantage of the times to sleep when your baby does. Don’t try to take it all on at once. Seek to enjoy each one! I might not be able to enjoy the summer as I would like, but I have a new little one to enjoy. I have a baby that will grow faster than I could ever imagine. Seek to enjoy each season! There will always be opportunity for that “other thing” down the line. Take time to just cuddle, love on, and nurture your baby near you.
Get some Sun.
Vitamin D is essential for counteracting depression or blues. So even if you can just get outside for a brief period, it will be helpful for prevention as well as cure. I plan to nurse outside at least once a day. It’s good for me and baby.
Drink Plenty of Fluids and Eat Nutritionally.
This goes without saying. But having someone there to remind me is important!
Continue Your Supplements.
It is easy to stop taking your pre-natal vitamins or supplements after having your baby. I’m there with you! I’ve been taking these horse-pills for nine months? Finally free! But I am realizing now that if I want to prepare and prevent depression, I need to continue taking them, and my baby still needs the nutrition to grow healthy as well. So, I’m going to keep taking them, along with my Prenatal DHA fish oils to help boost my milk supply and balance my hormones.
I also decided to do something crazy this time around…ready for this?
I always thought it would be a horrid idea, but the more I researched, the more I realized that this would be a hugely beneficial safeguard for my body. Basically, Placentophagy, or consumption of the placenta, has been reported for decades to help stop the baby blues and diminish postpartum fatigue. Some women have cooked the placenta in a stew, mixed it into a smoothie, or even taken it raw to tap into its powerful effects. For many who feel squeamish about this or want to reap the benefits of placenta for more than just a day or two, there is another option: encapsulation. Powdered placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. In the postpartum period, placenta capsules can be used to
- balance your hormones
- enhance your milk supply
- increase your energy
Learn more here. Wow! Pretty incredible that God designed my placenta to be able to serve both baby and me! I certainly don’t think it would hurt and now it won’t go to waste!
If you find yourself struggling with depression or moodiness, start St. John’s Wort as a natural herbal supplement. Fish oils are also extremely beneficial.
Make a Meal Plan.
For my previous two births, I prepared an assortment of healthy freezer meals. So together with a week of church friends bringing meals and those that I had stocked up, I had a good two weeks of freezer dinners set aside. This is so wonderful and highly recommended. For freezer meal ideas, visit here. This time around I have been quite a bit more lazy, especially with the heat of summer, so I bought more freezer meals. I honestly bought some packaged meals because I think there is perfect grace for this period.I put together a menu plan for two weeks postpartum with breakfast, lunches, and dinners to help my hubby and family assist us. This list is posted on our fridge and ready to go! For inspiration, here is my list.
Write Out Specifics for Hubby/Caregiver.
I also like to write out a basic housecleaning and laundry plan and post on the cupboard for easy reference for my hubby and any other caregiver. This helps me so I don’t have to repeat myself and gives them the tools necessary to address the needs in a simple manner. You can view my list at the bottom of my menu plan above. My husband really appreciates it when I am very clear with him as to our needs and the how-to’s around the house. This is one way I make his job easier.
Don’t Forget the Hubby.
Your time caring for a newborn is very brief compared to the rest of your life. Make sure to invest time together a couple! This can be a challenging period for the husband as well. Make sure to take regular date nights alone, even if it is just 30 minutes. Mommy and Daddy should have regular brief periods to themselves as well to restore their spirits and find rest and comfort. Take advantage of family and friends who offer their services. Being overly protective of baby will not help protect and cultivate your marriage or partnership.
Make a New Baby Activity Basket for other Children.
If you have other little ones, consider putting together a special activity basket of goodies for the postpartum adjustment period. This helps give them a new activity to help them adjust to the changes as well. We spend plenty of time talking about baby and talking to baby in preparation, but I also want to be sensitive to the fact that it may be challenging to give them all the attention they need during this transition. So I have collected a basket with some Kumon learning workbooks, new puzzles, and an assortment of library books and videos for their enjoyment. Simple but they are already looking forward to delving into it!
Make a List of Activities for Kids with to Do With Caregivers.
I am making a simple list of activities to keep the kiddos busy as well and to have special bonding time with daddy during this transition. Again, this serves daddy or others with some ideas to help make it easier for him to care for kiddos as needed. This list might include our local library story times, family swim times at the local community center, a list of other summer or local activities, in addition to fun craft things we have around the house: beading, playdough, painting, etc.
And remember, if you do show symptoms of postpartum depression, please don’t be afraid to seek medical help. Sometimes these methods may still not be helpful for you and you may need further assistance from your physician. Don’t be afraid to seek help, above all!
These are just some simple ideas that I have found helpful for adjusting during this period. I hope you will share your ideas as well!