When I was a brand new mom, I was expected to feel overjoyed and excited all the time. But that's not how it was. I did feel joy, but I felt confused and upset, too. Apart from being happy, I was always in a state of self-doubt, confusion, worry and fatigue. Often I had bouts of depression, anxiety and mood swings. I would get easily angry and shout at everyone around me.
I often wondered what was wrong with me. Little did I know, I was actually suffering from postpartum depression. The moment I learned that it was normal, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was very reassuring for me that it was completely normal to feel like that, and that I was not the only woman suffering from it.
So I decided to fight to overcome it. I wanted to be a happy new mommy, bond with my little one and enjoy motherhood. My decision was firm to overcome my post-pregnancy blues and find ways to cope with them.
I often felt confused with my new emotional state of mind. But the following symptoms helped me figure out what was going on.
State of helplessness
Lack of enjoyment in motherhood
Lack of interest in day-to-day activities
Guilt and restlessness
Difficulty in concentration
Feeling of worthlessness
Sleeplessness at night and a state of drowsiness in the day
Irritable and angry all the time
How I overcame it
When post-pregnancy blues become severe, the best way to overcome them is to visit a doctor. If diagnosed early, several lifestyle changes can be made to overcome postpartum depression. Here are some ways I coped with — and overcame — mine:
1. I took time out for myself
After becoming a new mommy, I always felt overwhelmed with the addition of new responsibilities along with old ones, like household chores. I reached out for help. I asked either my husband or my mother to share my responsibilities. While my mother or hubby did the babysitting, I would finish the chores — and vice versa.
This may sound impossible to new mothers, but yes, I did this. I would make it a point to find time to exercise. Since I couldn't fit in long exercise workouts, I often took long walks with my baby in her stroller. We both enjoyed the fresh air, and I would get exercise, too. I noticed a dramatic change in my emotional state after I began exercising.
3. I took time to rest
I often heard, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." But I later realized how important and true this was. I decided to take naps every time my baby slept, and I saw a drastic improvement in my sleep patterns. I felt better and more refreshed.
4. I ate healthy
Eating healthy actually plays a very important role in curing postpartum depression. I began eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. Eating better made me healthier both physically and mentally.
5. I added fish oil to my diet
Omega-3 fatty acids help meet your body's nutritional requirements, and are known to improve concentration and memory. I decided to add fish and fish oil to my diet regularly. I noticed a significant difference in my behavior and concentration ability. My mood swings, helplessness and feelings of worthlessness gradually disappeared.
6. I increased breastfeeding
This may not be for everyone, but I strongly recommend increasing breastfeeding, as it dramatically improved my mood and helped me bond with my little one. Additionally, the feel-good hormone oxytocin, released during nursing, made me feel happier.
Long days alone with my baby made me feel isolated and cut off from the world. I often felt miserable about the way my life had changed. Even though I was enjoying motherhood, I always felt a state of loneliness within me. I decided to open up with my immediate family, friends and neighbors. After I regained my social circle, I felt much more confident and happier about myself.
8. I avoided an overscheduled life
I always felt the need to get everything done, and had become a perfectionist. Then I realized that would only make me more depressed. A clean house, clean dishes and laundry are all necessary, but not above my health. I finally realized I was not a superhuman. I only did how much I could do, and spent the rest of the time with my baby, who brought joy to my world.
With so many changes happening both in and out of your body after pregnancy and childbirth, postpartum depression is more common than you think. It is important to catch it in the beginning so that simple lifestyle changes can help you overcome it. Do not be afraid to reach out for medical help. Be good to yourself. Every mother deserves to be healthy and happy.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Parenting Healthy Babies. It has been republished here with permission.