Not feeling like yourself after having a baby? Feel like you are losing your mind as a new mom? Are you angry and irritable with your partner all the time? Overwhelmed and isolated? These are all signs you are a new mom in a culture that doesn’t support the postpartum period!!
What if you aren’t the crazy one, and what if our culture is broken? I work with so many women who have identified themselves as the problem, when from my perspective it is actually the lack of support and education in America surrounding the postpartum period. Listed below are some practical postpartum mood tips to help support your body, mind, and spirit.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
I know the idea of meeting new moms when you are sleep deprived, hormonal, and living in your pajamas feels overwhelming. But mom friends are KEY to your survival. There are tons of studies showing that circles of women help to regulate female hormones. And you get a comrade while you are in the trenches.
Here are some of my favorite ways to meet new moms:
Hike it baby - www.hikeitbaby.com/find-your-city/
The circle - www.austin-born.com/classes/
Partners in Parenting - www.pipaustin.org/programs.html
Stroller Strides - www.austinmetro.fit4mom.com/#/today
Mother’s Unfolding - http://consciousbirthingaustin.com/mothers-unfolding/
LEARN HOW TO ASK FOR HELP
One of the hardest lessons you will learn postpartum is that you need help; and you have to ask for the help, people cannot read your mind ;). In our culture we are conditioned to feel guilty or like a burden when we ask for help.
Hiring a postpartum doula, babysitter, or house cleaner, temporarily, are great ways to get help. Sometimes you have to pay your tribe, and there are cost effective ways to get help.
HEAL YOUR WOUNDS
Childbirth is a portal for all your unresolved wounds from your childhood to come rushing to the surface. How you were mothered when you were a girl starts to feel very familiar when you become a mother. You also need your mother in the postpartum period. If your birth mother is gone or inaccessible, you can get that nurturance from a surrogate mother. Psychotherapy is an opportunity to have a re-do on your relationship with women; a chance to have an accepting, nurturing female hold the space and witness your pain, without judgment.
MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY
What a challenge it is to get quiet downtime with a baby! Not only do you deserve it, but also good self-care in the postpartum period is the only way to stay sane! Our mothers and mother’s mothers lived in oppressive conditions and did not have the opportunity to do self-care in the childbearing years. So we are left with a TON of guilt if we take time away from the baby, and end up feeling selfish. Get creative by having lunch with friends (alone), getting a massage or pedicure, going to yoga, or a walk around Town Lake. Find one activity that nurtures your soul, and do it!
UNCOVER YOUR INTUITION
We as women have been trained to discount our intuition; intuition is not valued in this culture of logic and reason. You are hormonally wired to your baby, and YOU know what is best for your baby. It is SO easy to get confused by all the advice and opinions of others, that it begins to drown out the sensations and feelings in your gut that are nudging you. Mama intuition is beyond words and language; it is that feeling you get, where you just know. It is one of your super powers as a mom, so get support if you can't discern it.
Your body has been drained and depleted of vital nutrients from pregnancy and nursing, and it is time to rebuild! There is a ton of research showing the connection between Omega 3 supplementation and lower rates of postpartum depression (see referenced research studies on my website under resources).
Unbalanced thyroid functioning is common postpartum. Thyroid imbalance can masquerade as psychiatric symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is worth having full thyroid panel to rule out physical underpinnings for mood symptoms.
YOGA NIDRA & INSOMNIA
Insomnia is common in the postpartum period. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation practice known as “yogic sleep”. Recent studies have found a 45-minute daily practice to be equivalent to the restorative effects of 3-4 hours of REM sleep. Therefore, this practice is solid gold for sleep-deprived moms!
Here is a FREE yoga nidra for postpartum mood: http://www.counselingfornewmoms.com/resources.html
Check out my postpartum sleep hygiene handout:
The first year postpartum will likely be the hardest year of your life. The chaos is temporary, yet our egos have a way of convincing us it’s permanent. YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB. You are the best mom for your baby and you deserve self-care and support. Rinse. Repeat!