“Being a mother, I wasn’t expecting it to be like this,” says a new mom of a healthy baby boy from Oregon, Missouri. “It’s difficult and demanding. I love my baby, but since he arrived, it’s like I’m slowly losing parts of myself. I wish I could have, you know, prepared myself more.”
This line of thinking isn’t new among new mothers especially for those who had their babies for the first time. “There are a lot of myths about becoming a parent in our society,” said psychologist Arthur Kovacs, PhD. “The first step to good adjustment is to understand the reality. The biggest myth is that this should be a time of idyllic happiness. It’s really a time of terrific challenge.”
However, we can’t undo what’s already done in these cases. To move forward, we need to keep our mental health in top shape to achieve a win-win situation in the end – being mentally well so that we can take better care of our families while avoiding burnout. How to do it? Here are the ways.
- About 1 out of 10 moms go through postpartum depression (PPD).
- About 1 in every ten kids has depressed mothers in any given year.
- 42% of moms who stay at home admit they are struggling. Additionally, these struggles (fight with anxiety) are higher in low-income households.
- Working moms are the most harried and say the times they spent with their children and their friends feel rushed, says one 2015 survey.
“There’s so much stigma about postpartum depression,” said Susan Hatters Friedman, MD. “As a society, we expect it to be the happiest time of a woman’s life. A lot of women don’t report if they’re having symptoms.”
Most movies paint motherhood in rosy hues but in reality, being a mother is a challenging and demanding role. So, no matter how many parenting books you’ve read during your gestation, you have to put in mind that the actual won’t always be book perfect. You also have to be prepared for your motherhood journey to take surprising turns along the way.
With this said, below are five ways you can do to keep your mental health in check while navigating the roads to being the best mom you can be during the first 12 months of your baby’s life and onwards.
- Sleep as much as you can when you can, seriously.
“You have probably heard the above proverb countless times, even if you are still waiting for baby. Sleep deprivation is often the main concern prospective parents have,” wrote psychiatric nurse practitioner Sharon Praissman Fisher, MS, PMHNP.
Expectedly, your sleeping patterns will change once your baby is out. How lucky you are if your little bundle of joy sleeps through the night! But know that a baby’s snooze time changes from time to time. He may be this good little boy who sleeps the night away this month. However, he can be screaming his lungs out every evening keeping the whole house (and the neighbors!) awake the following month.
On the other hand, good sleep – both in quality and quantity – is essential to keep the mind functioning at its best. How will you keep up with your little one’s demands among all other things if your brain is tired? But since you can’t sleep anytime you want to, tailor your snooze time with that of your baby’s, meaning, when he sleeps you sleep along with him, too. Through this way, both of you will wake up refreshed and refueled.
The dishes and the laundry? Don’t mind them! When your body tells you to sleep or if you’ve had a long night calming a crying baby, do it.
- Don’t forget to eat.
Don’t forget yourself as you take care of your wee one. Eating is vital to keep your body nourished and to give you enough energy to keep up with the strains caring for a little one brings.
Make meal preparations a breeze by preparing freezer meals you can quickly reheat on busy days. Get your partner to cook dinners.Furthermore, make sure that you eat healthy meals. Eating healthy will not only benefit you but your baby as well especially if you’re breastfeeding.
- Set visitation limits.
The whole clan will want to see your new baby and congratulate you for a job well done. You know they don’t mean you harm. Nevertheless, having too many visitors can be stressful for both you and your baby especially if you’ve just given birth or have just come home from the hospital.
Give your baby time to familiarize himself with his new surrounding and yourself to have a much-needed rest. Limit visitors to the immediate family and a handful of close friends. You can have the welcome party later on when the baby’s older.
- Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
When your in-laws, parents, relatives, and friends offer help, take it. Let them do the laundry, do a little cleaning and even cook food for your family. There’s no shame in being at the receiving end of help. You know you direly need it this time, and it’s their way of showing they love and support you. What’s more, it’s nice to be taken care of after the birthing pains you went through.
- Lastly, admit it when you’re not feeling okay and reach out.
Moms who suffer from postpartum depression tend to hide their melancholy behind a smiling mask because they don’t want to be tagged as weak, useless or bad.
But know this: admitting you’re not okay, that you’re struggling in your journey as a mother isn’t a weakness. It’s strength. It means you’re strong enough to ask for help because it wouldn’t just benefit you but your family as well. PPD has taken the lives of countless mothers leaving distraught families behind.
Don’t let this disorder take away the happiness your family can have when you’re whole. Reach out to someone who professionally knows how to deal with this condition, may that be in a face-to-face setting or through online counseling websites like BetterHelp. It’s an excellent way to figure out how to handle your troubles.