Home Mental Health & Well-Being 10 Tips to Boost Your Postpartum Mental Health

10 Tips to Boost Your Postpartum Mental Health

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Navigating the postpartum period can be as challenging as it is joyful; adjusting to a new life with a baby tends to elicit a gamut of emotions. From excitement and happiness to stress and anxiety, at one point or another, you’re likely to feel it all.

An overview of postpartum disorders

Postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis are significant conditions that can impact new mothers. Understanding the range and nuances of postpartum disorders is essential for effective mental health management in the days, weeks and months after giving birth. 

Postpartum depression

PPD is more intense than the mild depressive symptoms and mood swings known as the “baby blues”, which typically clear up within two weeks after delivery. Symptoms of PPD can include severe mood swings, persistent sadness, withdrawal from family and friends, intense irritability and anger, feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy, and a lack of interest in the newborn. These symptoms can begin within the first few weeks postpartum, but they might also develop up to a year after birth. PPD can last for several months or even longer if not treated.

Postpartum anxiety

Often co-occurring with depression, postpartum anxiety involves an extreme feeling of worry or fear, usually about the health and safety of the baby or the mother’s abilities as a parent. Symptoms may include constant worry, feelings of dread, racing thoughts, and physical symptoms like a racing heart, nausea, or hot flashes. Like PPD, these symptoms can persist and worsen without intervention.

Postpartum psychosis

This is a rare but severe condition that typically develops within the first week postpartum. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, obsessive thoughts about the baby, paranoia, and attempts to harm oneself or the baby. Postpartum psychosis requires immediate medical attention, as it can lead to life-threatening thoughts and behaviours.

These conditions differ significantly from the “baby blues,” which are relatively mild and transient, typically resolving within two weeks without requiring medical treatment. In contrast, postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis are more severe and enduring, often necessitating professional intervention. Recognising the symptoms and differences among these conditions is crucial when it comes to seeking timely help and ensuring both the mother’s and the baby’s well-being.

Tips to support and enhance postpartum mental health

To help new mothers manage these complexities and boost their mental well-being, we’ve compiled several expert-endorsed tips to support and enhance postpartum mental health.

  • Establish a support network. Building a strong support network is crucial during the postpartum period. This network should include family, friends, and healthcare professionals who can offer practical and emotional support. Having people who can share the caregiving load or provide a listening ear when needed is essential.
  • Prioritise sleep. Sleep is a vital component of postpartum recovery. “New parents often face significant sleep deprivation, which can exacerbate mental health struggles. Whenever possible, try to rest when the baby rests and consider enlisting help to allow you a few uninterrupted nights of sleep each week,” advises Dr. Michelle Dees, Psychiatrist at Luxury Psychiatry Medical Spa.
  • Consider professional help. It’s important to recognise when you might need professional help. Symptoms like prolonged sadness, anxiety, or detachment from your baby are signs to seek a mental health professional; early intervention can make a significant difference in recovery.
  • Practise mindfulness and relaxation. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be incredibly beneficial in managing stress and enhancing mental well-being. Techniques, such as guided meditation, yoga, or even simple breathing exercises, can all help centre your thoughts and reduce anxiety.
  • Maintain physical health. Physical activity can play a significant role in improving mental health. Engaging in regular, gentle exercise like walking, postpartum yoga, or stretching can boost mood and energy levels. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen post-birth.
  • Set realistic expectations. Setting realistic expectations is key to postpartum mental health. “New parents often feel pressure to handle everything perfectly, but it’s essential to accept that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and that you’re learning and adapting,” points out Marcus Smith, Executive Director at Alpas Wellness.
  • Nurture social interactions. Isolation can amplify postpartum depression and anxiety. Try to engage in social activities, even if they’re just virtual meetups or short visits; maintaining connections with others can provide tremendous emotional support.
  • Focus on nutrition. Good nutrition is not only vital for physical recovery, but also for mental health. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals supports brain function and overall well-being; consider consulting a nutritionist to help tailor a diet plan that meets your postpartum needs.
  • Keep a journal. Journaling can be a therapeutic way to process emotions and experiences during the postpartum period; writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them more clearly and make it easier to discuss them with loved ones or a professional.
  • Celebrate small achievements. Celebrating small successes can help improve your mood and outlook; every small step you take each day is an achievement! Acknowledging and celebrating these can help build positive momentum.

What you’re feeling is OK

By integrating these tips into your daily routine, you can significantly enhance your postpartum mental health. Remember, it’s essential to seek help when needed and understand that it’s okay not to be perfect. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your newborn.

Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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