During my visits to the midwife and subsequent hospital and doctor visits, one thing that has surprised me is how much concern has been shown about my mental health. I didn’t know I would be asked so often how I’m doing mentally as well as physically and it really got me thinking about all the intense feelings that are associated with all the drastic changes that come with motherhood, some we never get to talk about because we’re supposed to be so blissed out about the birth of our baby. And we are! But it can often be shrouded with a gloom that we don’t expect, want, or know how to handle. In this age of social media where hearing about postpartum depression is becoming much more normal than ever before, it’s been wonderful to know that we can talk about what a subject that used to be considered sensitive. In fact, 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression–quite high–so we need to address it and treat it.
A few weeks ago I was privileged to sit down with an expert from Intermountain Healthcare, to talk about mental health and awareness for new moms. May is Mental Health month so it was the perfect opportunity to do so. Prior to giving birth, I had talked with a number of close friends about their experiences with postpartum depression and baby blues so I felt like I knew that it very well could be a possibility, even though I don’t have a history of depression myself nor does it run in my family. And that’s just it! You don’t have to have a history of depression in order to get postpartum depression. There are a number of other factors that can lead to it.
The more I had been prepped to address potential depression post-baby, the more questions I had, so talking with an expert was a genuine treat for me. I couldn’t help but flood her with questions. I feel incredibly lucky that I haven’t experienced it (yet?), but there have definitely moments since giving birth to Jasper where I can see how certain elements, if sustained, could contribute to a more permanent low period. I wanted to share some of the information I received in hopes that you might learn them yourself and share these resources with your friends. Intermountain Healthcare has some wonderful tips and information beneficial for new moms, but also just women in general.
Download the Mother’s Day Gift Card above and hear more about what’s helping me adjust to motherhood!
As you may have also experienced, motherhood is an all-encompassing new role. I mean, I was already pretty consumed in all the various roles I was involved in: business owner, wife, sister, daughter, boss, church-goer, etc. and then to add on another role, and such a large one as teaching a new human how to be a human, was a drastic change! And you might recall that my birth to Jasper didn’t exactly go according to plan and recovery has taken a bit longer than expected. On top of that, I started working earlier on than I had anticipated so there was a lot to adjust to and still is and I’m constantly feeling like I’m doing nothing terribly well and letting down a whole lot of people. Thankfully, Jasper took to sleep rather early on and with the sleep training we’ve been doing, has been fairly consistent. BUT, and I think you mothers all know this, there have been those nights when baby doesn’t sleep, which means that you don’t sleep. Even when I knew why I was acting mean to Paul or anyone else around me on account of a lack of sleep and I wanted so badly not to be acting that way, I literally couldn’t help it. During those times, I imagined this leading me down a rabbit hole of unhealthy emotions if it had continued. I’m not saying that lack of sleep will always lead to depression, but it certainly can aid in it.
I also feel very grateful that Paul was home with me for the first three months of Jasper’s life. Paul worked from home until last week (know of anyone wanting to nanny for us?!) and I truly believe that this is one of the reasons why I was able to feel so empowered so shortly after J’s birth to pick work back up quickly. We had a pretty good system of trading off with him so that we could each have our own time to work and shower and fulfill basic needs that otherwise, I don’t know when they would have been met.
Getting on my soapbox and on a tangent but I feel so strongly about it especially with the experience that I had…It’s such a shame that we don’t value maternity and paternity leave in this country! It’s like we don’t give ourselves and babies a fighting chance for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle as a united family unit, one where the mother and father can choose to work in a way that works best for their family. End soapbox…for now.
Being able to create some healthy outlets during this time was crucial for my well-being and I believe it’s crucial for every new mother. And whether you’re a mom or not, it’s often difficult for women to prioritize time for themselves. We’re so busy taking care of other people, or investing in our careers, or the other mundane responsibilities of daily life, that we tend to leave ourselves to the never end. If something’s got to give, it’s self-care, right?
Not today! That’s why we thought this Mother’s Day, the perfect thing you can do for yourself and for the other women in your life is time for themselves. This treat yourself Mother’s Day gift card is an illustrated bouquet of flowers with a slit for you to stick in a gift card for someone special, including yourself! I’m thinking a massage, a facial, a pedicure, a movie theatre credit, or a gift card to her favorite store. Anything that will force her to take time for herself, because that’s just as important as taking time for others.
Download the Mother’s Day Gift Card Artwork HERE
As I’ve been adjusting to my new role as a mother, I’ve been trying to remember the conversation I had with the Intermountain Healthcare nurse who taught me about SNOWBALL. This acronym is made to help remind us of the tools that contribute to a healthy postpartum mindset and I have genuinely thought about it every day since first hearing about it. I hope you do too!
- S is for SLEEP. Make sure you’re getting enough rest. When you’re tired you aren’t thinking clearly and your mood may suffer.
- N is for Nutrition. Eating food that’s good for you will help you recover and is especially important if you’re breastfeeding.
- O is for Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Fish oils have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression in new moms.
- W is for Walking. Exercise will improve your mood and help your body recover from giving birth.
- B is for Baby Breaks. Take some time away from your baby. It can help you feel more like yourself again!
A is for Adult Time. Spending time with other adults—your partner or your friends will help you maintain important relationships.
- L is for Liquids. Try to drink at least two quarts of water daily.
- L is for Laughter. Remember to laugh and give yourself a break. Life with a new baby requires a sense of humor.
I was also taught about the many resources that Intermountain Healthcare provides for new mothers who are experiencing any type of postpartum depression or baby blues. Please note: you don’t have to fall deep in order to receive help! They have a number of great resources, both local, nationwide and even international options like the following:
- Emergency Respite Nursery at the Family Support and Treatment Center (Utah Valley residents). If you don’t have anyone to help you with your baby, they will watch your baby while you get some rest and also provide in-person support groups. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Call 801.229.1181.
- United Way, Help Me Grow: Call 211 and volunteers will link you to community mental health services.
- Postpartum Support International: This group provides education and resources to mothers with mental health symptoms. Find them online at www.postpartum.net or call 1.800.944.4773.
- National Peer Mom Volunteers: This group provides peer counseling and can be reached at 1.800.PPD.MOMS.
This post is sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare, who I’m crazy fans of since successfully birthing my baby boy and who offers such wonderful resources for the community and beyond.