By: Nadly Belizaire, LMHC
You knew that this journey would present some difficulties, but nothing like this.
The increased worry, anxiety, sadness, self-doubt, guilt, depression, anger, and even unwanted thoughts of the life you carried seem to dominate your day to day reality.
Other women seem to be handling it better than you, and the thought enters your mind, “What is wrong with me?”
I want to let you know that nothing is wrong with you.
I want to also let you know that you are not alone.
According to Postpartum Support International (PSI), one out of every 5 to 7 women report experiencing perinatal mental health issues. The perinatal period is the time frame from conception through the first year after giving birth. During this time, new mothers may experience a flood of negative emotions. These emotions include but are not limited to:
If issues are not addressed, some experts say this period can extend beyond the first year.
New mothers face the stigma, like most Americans, around acknowledging mental health struggles. However, I am here to tell you that things can and will get better with proper help and support.
Here are a few steps to start you on your journey to healing:
1) Be honest with your feelings. It’s ok to not be ok.
Acknowledging how you are feeling is the first step towards dealing with your emotions. Research has shown that avoidance increases anxiety which uses a lot of energy. When you acknowledge what you are experiencing, you are in a better position to learn how to manage and heal from it.
2) Talk with a supportive friend or family member, especially if they are also a mother.
Your thoughts have a way of making you feel like you are the only one struggling with being a parent, but chances are others are struggling as well. Having someone to listen or provide supportive advice is very beneficial to moving to a healthier state.
3) Ask for practical help.
Taking care of a newborn is a full-time job! Between their sleep and feeding patterns, performing other household chores (e.g. cooking, sweeping, mopping.) becomes overwhelming. If you are able to get help from someone else, please take it. This will free you up to focus your energy on you and the baby.
4) Take a longer warm shower or bath.
A warm shower/bath has many benefits. It helps to relax your muscles. When your body is relaxed it feels less stress. Also, taking a longer shower allows you some “me” time. This can be very rejuvenating.
5) Talk to a maternal mental health trained counselor.
Talk therapy with a trained maternal mental health counselor gives you the benefit of working with someone who understands how the perinatal period affects mental health. You will receive the support and tools you need to start feeling better.
6) Get your body moving.
Exercise can be just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Whether it is going to the gym, a dance break in the living room, or a stroll outside your home, the movement will energize you.
7) Spend time with God in prayer
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Sometimes the burdens of motherhood seem hard to bear. God says to give them to Him. Give your worries, fears, and tears to the One who knows you and cares for you. He will strengthen you.
You are on one of the most challenging yet rewarding journeys of your life. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. You matter. You are important. You are worth every effort towards feeling better.
For more information on perinatal mental health and support, contact us at 954-526-6678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org