Hey, mama. If you’re feeling a bit out of sorts in the weeks after giving birth, know that you’re totally not alone. Postpartum is an emotionally charged time (to put it lightly).
We see you. We know what you’re going through. And we think you’re amazing.
Mumli friend Amy Pasfield (who’s also an exceptional nutritionist, postpartum doula and the Founder of Mother Unearthed) shared with us her insights and advice on navigating the emotional turmoil of the postpartum period. She said this:
“Regardless of how prepared you are or how excited you are for the arrival of your baby, the first few weeks and months will bring emotional highs and lows. The hormonal changes, the shift in identity, relationship changes, and the huge learning curve that comes with motherhood can have an overwhelming impact on a mother’s emotional wellbeing.”
Being prepared with a plan for your postpartum is a great first step towards easing the mental load during this time. But Amy also offered practical tips on how to nurture your emotional wellbeing during your postpartum period.
Get as much rest as possible
Amy noted that sleep deprivation is the most common struggle for new mums.
“Night time feeds, nappy changes and resettling can take its toll on your body,” she said, “especially while you’re still recovering from the huge feat that is birth.”
Rest is vital for your emotional health, and Harvard Health reports that sleep deprivation can affect your mental health. So you have full permission to prioritise sleep in whatever ways you can. Even if it’s just choosing half an hour of z’s rather than washing the dishes – please go for the z’s!
Discuss with family and friends how you’re feeling
You may not feel like you even have time to process – let alone communicate – the range of emotions you’re experiencing as a new mum. That’s okay! Just try to talk it out with someone. You may find it really cathartic.
You could even ask a friend or family member to check in on you regularly. Have them specifically ask about your mental health and emotional wellbeing, so someone else is responsible for making sure you’re doing okay.
Join a group of like-minded mamas
Oh, hey Mumli!
Yes! This is exactly what we’re here for. To connect you with other mums, and support you throughout your motherhood journey. We’re all here to swap stories, ideas and tips (and bond over how our kids can be assholes).
Your local council will usually connect you with mamas in your area for a physical parents’ group. It’s worth going along and giving it a try. But if you don’t vibe with anyone in that group, online groups can be equally great.
Spend some time in nature
Greenery, fresh air, and open space can work wonders on a frazzled new mum. We know this because all the research points to nature positively affecting mental health. According to a study by Parks Victoria, almost 80 percent of people report that being in nature improves their mental health.
Go for a bushwalk. Swim in the ocean. Have a picnic in a park. Sit on your front lawn. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just get outside, look at some trees and breathe in that sweet scent of oxygen not tainted by the smell of nappies and milk vomit.
Get out of the house
It can be easy to feel cooped up or ‘trapped’ in your postpartum. If it’s starting to get on top of you, get out of the house for a bit. A walk can be great to boost your emotional health, or even going out for a coffee with a friend.
Avoid any other major life changes during this time
While you can’t always help these things, Amy suggested trying to avoid major life changes during the early days with a new baby. You’re going through enough stress as it is without the addition of other wild life changes added to that.
Where possible, try to avoid things like moving house, getting a new pet or changing careers. You just don’t need the extra pressure right now. Future You can deal with all that.
Ask for help
It can be hard to ask for help as a mum. But you really should.
Don’t see asking for help as a sign of failure, but as a sign of strength. By getting support you’re prioritising your mental health, and your baby will benefit from a mum who’s taking care of herself.
Get your partner to help with night feeds
While there’s no way to stop your babe waking every two hours for a feed (we know, rude of them), getting help with night feeds can allow you to have some rest. This can be hard, particularly if you’re breastfeeding and are the only person who can feed your baby.
Your partner could help out with night feeds by:
- Feeding your baby a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula
- Burping and resettling for you after you’ve done a feed.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
Amy told us, “The pressure in Modern Motherhood is endless, the price you pay is a decline in your mental health.”
We receive pressure from everywhere: social media, other mums, TV… but worst of all ourselves. Learn to give yourself a break and accept support.
Take action if you’re worried about your mental health
Motherhood is one seriously tough gig! It puts serious strain on your emotional wellbeing, and in some cases you may need to get professional help.
Amy said, “Having perinatal depression or anxiety does not make you a bad parent.” And she’s spot on. If you’re struggling, there are heaps of ways to get help.
- Confide in your partner, a trusted friend or family member
- Let your GP or other trusted health professional know what you’re experiencing
- Talk to other parents who have recovered from perinatal anxiety or depression
- Call the PANDA Helpline to talk about your thoughts and feelings and explore options for future support.
What strategies have you used to take care of your emotional wellbeing during postpartum? Comment below.
Expert contributor: Bernadette Lack
Bernadette is a midwife, personal trainer and Founder of Core & Floor Restore. Get more excellent information on labour techniques by following her on Instagram and checking out her FREE and very helpful online antenatal classes.