|Be still, and know that I am God; -Psalm 46:10a
Written by Tara Mock
Monday, 09 October 2006 03:33
It is possible for any woman who becomes pregnant or adopts a child to suffer from postpartum or post adoption depression, regardless of risk factors. However, if you find that you are at a higher risk for developing a postpartum mood disorder because of your history or if you are in the midst of depression during pregnancy, then it is vital to develop a plan of care for yourself and your family leading up to the birth of your child, immediately after the birth, and in the days, weeks, and months following the arrival of your sweet baby. What follows are suggestions and a checklist to help you plan.
- Be aware of your risk factors and speak with your health professional about doing a screening for postpartum depression. Also, educate yourself on symptoms to watch for.
- Consider hiring a doula - both a labor doula and a postpartum doula can be a significant contributor to your postpartum well-being. See DONA for a referral or search for a doula in your area.
- Attend a support group for new moms to begin building your support network.
- If at high risk, make a plan with your doctor for medications to treat symptoms. Motherisk.org is an excellent resource of information for medications while pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Be sure to get as much rest as possible. Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to PPMD's.
- Learn some relaxation exercises. These can help reduce stress and fight off anxiety attacks.
- Consistent "quiet time" or devotionals times and prayer. Our Lord is our Rock, always. Write out your favorite Scriptures on notecards and keep them with you or post around the house. Here are some of my favorites.
- Plan carefully for the immediate postpartum phase.
Immediate Postpartum Phase (Birth – 6 weeks)
- Be honest with those around you in your social support network about your concerns and educate them as to what to look for (see Symptoms and Supporting a Loved One for guidance).
- Plan for practical assistance in your home from family, friends, neighbors, churches, moms groups, etc. (meals, laundry, housework, helping with newborn so you can sleep)
- Consider hiring a postpartum doula or baby nurse.
- Be prepared with sleep and anti-anxiety medication, if needed. Always consult with your physician before taking any medication, especially if breastfeeding.
- Have a counselor available to call if you need immediate mental health assistance. See PSI's site for more information on finding a mental health professional who specializes in postpartum mood disorders.
- If you are a perfectionist, begin to mentally prepare yourself that nothing is going to be "perfect" after you and the baby come home. It is ok to not have a clean house! You do not need to answer every phone call nor the doorbell.
- If you are making a decision to breastfeed, allow yourself to have permission to bottlefeed if necessary and know that it is more than ok to bottlefeed.
- If you have other children, make arrangements for childcare for part of each day.
- Freeze meals in advance; stock up on paper plates, cups and utensils to make clean-up easy.
- Stock up on healthy snacks and easy-to-digest foods. You'll want to eat healthy and drink plenty of liquids after giving birth.
- Make a plan ahead of time to be sure that you get plenty of sleep, relaxation and a shower every day!
- Prepare a relaxation and self-care basket(s). Include items such as a fiction book, your Bible, relaxing music, candles, lotion, journal, photos. magazines, movies, short devotional book - anything that comforts you.
Postpartum Phase (6 weeks+)
- Establish a social support network. Consider attending MOPS, MusicTogether classes, Gymboree, Mother's Day Out or Mother's Morning Out programs, Women's Bible studies, craft groups, breastfeeding support group, etc. Getting a break and taking care of yourself is important. This will also help you bond with your baby and build a support network!
- Continue with physical and mental health treatment and constantly re-evaluate to see if changes are needed to your plan.
- Continue exercising and journaling. Check with your health care professional before beginning an exercise program postdelivery.
- Schedule regular date nights with your spouse and be sure to plan several girls' nights out, and pamper yourself at least once a week! You deserve it!
- Educate yourself! Knowledge is power, so to speak. Understand what your postpartum illness may be like, your medications, parenting. Being comfortable in all these things can reduce anxiety about the unknown. See the Resources page for a wealth of books, links, and articles to help you in this area.
- And just KNOW that being a mom is incredibly difficult - everyone gets frustrated, angry, anxious and upset. The newborn and toddler years are very demanding, but it WILL get better!
(c) Copyright 2008, Out of the Valley Ministries, Inc.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2008 07:28
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If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, please contact your local emergency services or physician immediately. In addition, mother and baby should not be left alone! Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE