There’s a difference between the weariness of having a newborn and the deeper emotional fatigue of postpartum depression. Weariness can be resolved with naps. Postpartum depression is what clouds your every day, making it hard to enjoy being a parent.
An exhausting labor, serious medical issues, other crises (job loss, moving) can make postpartum more difficult. It’s important to look this in the eye and take action. You can’t tough it out or wait for it to pass. Here’s what you can do.
• Call for help. Here’s the number for Postpartum Support International:
• Nourish your body with quality protein, including Omega 3’s from fish (or fish oil). Kathy Kendall Tackett, PhD has good research on this.
• Move your body. Pilates or Yoga for new mothers will re-strengthen your core muscles so you avoid injuring yourself later on.
• Connect with other new parents. Usually, they will fully empathize with your experiences. Breastfeeding groups, Family Network events, CPR, parenting classes are places to meet. A therapist who specializes in PPD could be helpful, too.
• Create routines that support these basics. Include a daily nap (or some restorative pause).
• Acupuncture can be helpful for a postpartum rebalancing.
• There are homeopathic remedies for mental exhaustion, anxiety, and despair.
• St. John’s Wort is okay for breastfeeding moms. Always let your doctor or midwife know if you’re taking this or any other herb.
• Some medications, specific SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are safe to take even while breastfeeding. SSRI’s need a few weeks to build up in your system and take effect. Once you feel better, you need to maintain that level or very slowly wean yourself off them.
You can, and should, get out of this funk. Ultimately, you’ll understand what your body and soul need to thrive. You and your family will benefit from this wisdom.