If you've had a baby before, you may already know that sometimes the postpartum transition can be... harder than expected. Maybe it's a little tricky to figure out managing a tiny human while also running on little to no sleep. Maybe you're feeling extra sensitive, crying at the drop of a hat, even at silly commercials. Or maybe it's much, much harder than that.
It’s important to remember that some mood fluctuations are entirely natural and part of the journey into motherhood. However, sometimes we reach a point where we are not coping well and we need a little extra support, and that's ok! We weren't meant to navigate parenthood for the first time - or even the second, third or fourth(plus) time - alone. You know that saying, "it takes a village," exists for a reason.
If you are expecting a little one, if you're in the thick of it, or planning a better next postpartum, here are five points on navigating postpartum mood changes:
Open Conversations: Connect with fellow mothers, friends, or a support group. Sharing your thoughts and experiences can ease the emotional weight and remind you that you’re not alone on this journey. When I was pregnant with my eldest child, I joined a pregnancy group in my third trimester. We were all due in the same year and as each of us birthed our babies, we leaned on each other for support and to normalize our experiences as first-time parents. It made such a difference to connect with others who really understood what I was going through, because they were going through it, too.
Self-Care Rituals: Dedicate moments to yourself, no matter how short or simple. Whether it’s a warm bath, a quiet cup of tea, or a few minutes of deep breathing, prioritize self-care to recharge your spirit. Some options my clients have mentioned over the years that have helped them re-center include taking a shower every day, herbal steaming, guided meditations, handing the baby off for a little bit of alone time, taking a nap during the day, journaling, sitting outside for a few minutes each day, connecting with your partner one-on-one.
Balanced Nutrition: Postpartum depletion is REAL. Growing a baby requires a ton of resources (especially so if you're also nursing while pregnant). In pregnancy, your body uses approximately 20% of its mineral stores to help grow your baby. Minerals play a huge role in our neurological, metabolic and rest/digest processes. Once your newborn is here and you're breastfeeding, you're still growing your baby, just on the outside of your body now. Making sure you're getting enough minerals, protein and nutrient-rich foods can have a positive impact on your mood. You can also incorporate foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to further support your emotional well-being.
Gentle Movement: Optimizing *rest* in the first few weeks after birth is KEY to recovering well postpartum. I usually recommend five days tucked IN the bed, five days sitting ON the bed, and then five days AROUND the bed, without doing any chores or household activities. This helps to minimize the duration of postpartum bleeding, reduces stress on your healing core and pelvic floor, and keeps you nursing and bonding with baby. However, I also understand that for some, this might not be a great option for your mental health. Depending on how far you are postpartum, if you feel ready to engage in light stretches, yoga, or gentle walks, this can help to release endorphins and uplift your mood. Especially if you're getting a daily dose of sunshine. The goal is not to push your body too fast or too soon, but to gently nurture your body and soul if you are feeling a little stir crazy or trapped in a 'baby bubble.'
Seek Professional Help: If you find yourself struggling with intense mood changes, or you feel you are struggling to do the day-to-day or are overwhelmed, please reach out to a trusted health professional. There’s no shame in seeking support; in fact, it’s a brave step towards self-care. You deserve to be heard and well-supported. Talking with a counselor who specializes in maternal mental health can be a game changer for giving you the tools and resources to not only cope well, but to move into a space of enjoyment in motherhood. You are so loved and needed, Mama, and we're here for you ❤️
Remember, your well-being matters, and you deserve all the love and care in the world. If you are local to the San Diego community and you need support, but don't know where to find it, please visit the ✨Postpartum Health Alliance✨ to get connected today.
Wishing you strength, resilience, and the gentleness you so richly deserve. See you next week!
With Love & Gratitude,