After having a baby, you might be prepared with all the equipment, diapers, bottles, and baby furniture that you need. You even have a plan for sleeping and which partner/family member is going to take what shift with the baby. But you are mostly unprepared for the emotional mood swings you’re experiencing and you’re not sure how to manage your own mental health.
You’ve never been as irritable as you are during the postpartum period, which is usually defined as up to 1 year postpartum but can extend longer. Normally, you’re able to manage your moods and are pleasant, even fun, to be around, but since you’ve had a baby, whew….everything is different! Your anxiety, or depression, or irritability just seems out of your own control.
What is important for you to know, is that what you’re experiencing emotionally and mentally after having a baby is entirely normal. The mood swings, the difficulty managing your highs and lows, happens to many if not most postpartum women. The combination of hormones, physical recovery, breastfeeding (or not), lack of sleep, and the intense demands of your newborn are wreaking havoc on your normally stable mood.
Here is a checklist of things you can do that will help you manage your mental health after having a baby:
Sleep 6-8 hours every day
Whether it’s all together at night, or snatches of sleep during the day
Eat 3 meals a day plus snacks
Especially if you are breastfeeding you need to be eating enough food for good milk supply
Shower daily or every other day
Exercise (per your Doctor’s orders) 3-5x per week
Any type of exercise will do, including walking
Laugh out loud daily
Spend time with your partner 1-2x per week
Even if you’re just watching 30 minutes of TV together, the together time without your baby will be rejuvenating
Indulge in a hobby or interest of yours at least 1x per week
Get outside every day
Whether it’s just sitting in the sun for 10 minutes or taking a stroll around the block
Let go of perfection and high expectations of yourself
Chores: Do what you can and leave the rest for later
Practice mindfulness or meditation daily
Ask for help when you need it
Know when you are over your head and don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends
Avoid alcohol and marijuana
Excessive use of alcohol and drugs is a negative coping strategy that eventually harms you more than it helps you
Connect with your support system
Whether in-person or virtual, your relationships are important to maintain
Tell others when you are feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed
You can talk to a professional (a perinatal mental health counselor), your partner, a family member, or friend
Of course, it is close to impossible to get all of these things done in a single day right after having given birth. But you can use this checklist as a reminder, as something to aspire towards, on a daily or weekly basis. You may want to enlist your partner’s help in making sure that you are able to do as many things on this checklist as you can.
Doing the above activities intentionally and regularly will also help combat any worsening moods such as postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. If you are worried about postpartum depression, see our blog How to Recognize Postpartum Depression.
Overall, your goal during the postpartum period is to heal physically, manage yourself mentally and emotionally, and adjust to life having a baby. Not quite an easy task, is it? Giving yourself some grace and understanding, enjoying what you are doing in the present moment and not worrying about the future, and talking to others how you are feeling is key to getting you through the postpartum period.
If you are looking for a perinatal mental health therapist, Catalyss Counseling specializes in providing therapy to women who are pregnant and during the postpartum period. We specialize in postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, pregnancy loss, birth trauma, and adjusting to motherhood. Contact us if you’d like to talk with a caring, experienced counselor in Colorado.
How We Can Help
We are currently enrolling for our postpartum support group.
Explore your emotions, share daily challenges and feel less alone in motherhood.
For moms up to 1 year postpartum who are ready to go from feeling lonely and overwhelmed to connected and understood.
This group is hosted by Kristen Dammer.
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, guest blogger, and the owner of a group psychotherapy practice in the Denver area. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.