There are many stresses on mothers. Starting after birth, a mother’s body will physically change in many ways. There will be a change in hormones that can cause irritability, depression, anxiety, weight gain and loss. There are sexual changes, shifts within a marriage and social changes in regards to how a mother views herself in relation to her new child. According to some studies, one in eight women suffers from post-partum mood disorder and 80 percent of women go undiagnosed.
If you or a loved one is feeling depressed or overwhelmed what can you do to help?
Look For signs: Feeling overwhelmed can take many different forms such as: a change in personality, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sadness, depression, sleeplessness, short temper, crying and/or shaking. Each mother may react differently to being overwhelmed or stressed, but it is helpful to note any of the above changes.
Acknowledge the feelings: Sometimes simply making yourself aware of the depression or hopelessness can be the first step toward change. We all feel down sometimes and it’s important not to fight the feeling, but to address it and give in to it.
Get Help: Getting help for depression can come in many ways. Moms can make an appointment with a local therapist, a family doctor, their OB or a psychiatrist. Some mothers receive tremendous help from seeing a doctor and taking medicine for depression. Other women feel better by getting help in different ways such as leaning on family members, hiring childcare to help manage the children or talking things out with friends. Moms need to understand that they deserve extra help and care if they are feeling depressed because because their sadness can have a negative affect on their children.
Make a plan: Sometimes it helps moms, especially new moms, to make a plan of how to feel better. For example, if you feel chaotic - create a schedule. Setting a schedule will help break up the monotony of being home for many hours and give mothers something to look forward to. Even a simple schedule that breaks up the day will make it go faster; Feed Baby, Go For Walk, Music Class, Nap.
Connect to other moms: When you are feeling down, reaching out and talking to friends about your feelings can make you feel better. You can also join mommy and me baby groups to socialize and get out of the house. Parents, especially new parents, receive very little support to guide them through this huge transition. There are a variety of local mothers groups that can be found in your town.
Tammy Gold, LCSW, MSW, CEC, is author of Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer: A Practical Guide for Finding and Achieving the Gold Standard of Care for Your Child (Perigee, January 6, 2015). Founder of Gold Parent Coaching, which specializes in parent coaching, therapy, nanny-family matching, training and mediation, she has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and People, and is a frequent guest on TV's Good Morning America and Today.
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