Imagine the anticipation of welcoming a new child finally coming to fruition. Suddenly, the nursery planning and preparations, car seat, pediatrician search, completed baby shower “thank you” notes, and endless OB appointments have finally concluded. As the planning and preparation phase comes to a sudden halt, the newborn phase begins.The newborn phase is one that many would describe as hazy because the coffee is constantly flowing out of necessity, and sleep is often short or non-existent. The newborn feedings are incessant, showers are fleeting, and the body is physically and emotionally depleted.
The newborn outfits are adorable, the diaper blowouts make you laugh, and the bond between a new mother and father becomes something extraordinary that was not anticipated to be so strong and cohesive.
While it is a significant event in today’s society to post the perfect newborn photo announcement on social media and appear to be a happy and healthy little family, there is an unspoken stressor that is often forgotten. While it is easy and important to check on the health of the newborn, it is also important to check on the postpartum health of the new parents as well.
New moms face the culmination of physical ailments from giving birth, emotional overload from the sudden urge to do everything she can to protect and care for her baby, and the ever-present postpartum anxiety and postpartum blues. Her postpartum body feels awkward and uncomfortable and can be troublesome for women with already low self-esteem.
Postpartum care is important for the overall continued health of new moms. It is important to continue checking on a new mom; not just in the first few days, but in the weeks and months to come as she adjusts to her new baby, new body, and new or heightened emotions.
Postpartum depression symptoms include prolonged feelings of sadness and/or anxiety. “Baby blues” typically last only a few weeks while postpartum depression can evolve and grow, which is why it is important not to delay seeking the help of a professional counselor. Postpartum depression can interfere with a mom’s day-to-day functioning, ability to sleep, and ability to bond with her baby.
New mom anxiety is something to be mindful of when you are meeting a new baby. New moms feel a strong urge to protect their babies, even if that means making sure people wash their hands before touching their baby or keeping sick people and germs far away from their new babes. Friends and family can be aware of this and take their own precautions and safety measures to help keep the new mom at ease.
Postpartum Health: Tips for Helping New Parents
If you are looking for ways to support a new mom to encourage postpartum health, there are a variety of things to consider:
Take the new parents a meal.
While the new parents may take time away from their jobs the first few weeks or months after the baby arrives, they are busy caring for a helpless baby around the clock. The diapers are endless and their new routine can be overwhelming and tiring, so doing little things can mean so much to them in this crucial adjustment period.
Mom is also physically healing and trying to juggle the pull of managing housework and caring for the baby. It may be helpful to offer to drop the food off without the expectation of coming inside – and if the opportunity presents it, that is just icing on the cake. Mom’s anxiety may worsen if she is worried about how the house looks and the fact that she hasn’t showered yet.
Offer to help a new mom around the house.While people often think of sending a balloon or flower bouquet or ask to come hold the baby, it may be beneficial for mom as she physically recovers to have someone tend to her dishes, fold a load of laundry, and vacuum her floors. Doing little things to help ease a new mom’s anxiety can go a very long way.
New moms already feel overwhelmed while they are figuring out a new routine with their newborn babe. Add in heightened postpartum emotions, an ailing body, and the looming house to-do’s; doing little things for new moms can go a long way.
Ask the new parents how they are doing. Ask the mom specific questions.
It can be so easy to let the adorable new baby dominate the conversation, and rightfully so. However, ask your mom friends how they are really feeling. Ask if THEY need anything. Take mom her favorite cup of coffee or ask if there’s anything she needs. Having your world of routine flipped upside down leads to an adjustment period for all involved. Doing little things to help ease the stress can go a long way toward overall postpartum health.
Support the new mom’s wishes.
If it stresses a new mom out to have visitors constantly, and for people to hold her newborn, try to respect her wishes. Instead of saying, “I’m coming over today to meet the new baby,” ask when you can stop by. Even if moms are home, they are figuring out breastfeeding or formula feeding routines, dealing with babies who do not understand sleep patterns, changing diapers, and taking care of the baby around the clock.
If a new mom wants to keep her baby home for a few weeks because it’s flu season and family birthday parties or other events do not feel like the place for her baby, it is important to try and respect her wishes rather than question her judgment. Supporting a new mom can help ease the postpartum anxiety and by supporting her, she knows she has someone she can depend on if postpartum depression sets in.
Look for the symptoms.
It is imperative to be aware of the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Baby blues generally last just a few weeks while postpartum depression can set in months after giving birth. Postpartum depression can include the inability to sleep or oversleeping, extreme sadness, thoughts of suicide, and mood shifts or changes. Postpartum anxiety can cause mom uneasiness with every little thing.
Encourage them to utilize their support system and ask for help.It is important to let new moms know that they are supported. It is important to be aware of postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. If symptoms last more than a few weeks, it is important to seek the help of a professional. Part of supporting a mom battling postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression is not to shame or guilt her, but to come alongside her in her healing journey.
Her world has just shifted in a big way, so dealing with added mood shifts and changes, overwhelming sadness, or thoughts of feeling like she is failing is something no person should silently or shamefully deal with. It makes one feel imprisoned and fearful to speak their truth and ask for help.
New moms face a wide array of emotions, so it may differ from person to person. Some moms may not deal with postpartum depression after one pregnancy and then struggle with it immensely during their next pregnancy. It is not something you can measure based on mom friends or past pregnancies. It is necessary to validate a mom who is struggling with anxiety, baby blues, or postpartum depression.
It was once said that “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.” While motherhood is full of blessings, giggles and a heart full of love, it is also full of challenges, uncertainties and a road of twists and turns. New moms are just trying to navigate and write their new narrative; that is why it is necessary to have a positive and authentic support system in place.
If you have a friend or family member who is a new mom, check on her today! If you are a new mom, be sure to surround yourself with a positive support system and ask for help when you need it.
Schedule an appointment with a counselor.
There are a variety of postpartum disorders, so if you are a new mom or know a new mom who is struggling, it is important to seek the help of a trained professional to ensure the best environment for overall postpartum health.
“Pregnant”, Courtesy of Janko Ferlic, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Holding Mommy’s Finger”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Depressed”, Courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Women Falling In Line”, Courtesy of Mentatdgt, Pexels.com, CC0 License