Having a baby is one of the most beautiful life experiences. For many women, however, it can also be a very difficult and trying time emotionally. Each year, approximately 950,000 women suffer from postpartum depression.
Chrissy Teigen, Sports Illustrated cover girl and wife of musician John Legend, opened up about her experience with postpartum depression earlier this year.
“I was different than before,” she said. “Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful. My lower back throbbed; my shoulders—even my wrists—hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me. One thing that really got me was just how short I was with people.”
Postpartum depression is a real condition that can feel overwhelming and scary. If you suffer from postpartum depression, you’re not alone, and you are not destined to feel this way for the rest of your life. Speak with your doctor and trusted loved ones. You can also set yourself up for success by understanding what things will make you feel better, and what will make you feel worse.
What to avoid with postpartum depression
Eating junk food
With a new baby, household responsibilities and work, it can be difficult to even think about spending time on yourself. However, it is important to recognize that there is a strong link between diet and depression. Junk foods are filled with empty calories, fat and sugar, and lack nutritional benefits.
Choosing foods that nourish your body starts the process of taking care of your body and mind from the inside out. If you find it difficult to work healthy foods into your diet, try supplements. Start the morning with a supplement like Greens First, which is packed full of nutrition. Stores like Walmart offer less expensive alternatives, which you can find in the pharmacy section of the store.
Additionally, try to work in these parts of a healthy diet:
- Protein: tofu, beans, nuts, etc
- Unrefined carbohydrates: barley, whole wheat pasta, acorn squash, quinoa, bananas, cherries, sweet potatoes, etc
- Fiber: split peas, lentils, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, lima beans, etc
Parenting is one of the greatest joys in life, but can be matched with equally intense feelings of worry, anxiety and stress. To combat the negative feelings, some parents embrace what Forbes refers to as ‘intense parenting.’
A study looked into the link between new mothers’ attitudes about parenting and their mental well-being, and used five concepts to describe ‘intense parenting’:
- Mothers believe they are the more capable parent (over fathers)
- The belief that a parent’s happiness is derived primarily from their children
- The idea that the mother should always provide the best activities for the child’s development
- The idea that parenting is the most difficult job
- The idea that the child’s needs and wants should always come before the mother’s
To combat the pitfalls of ‘intense parenting,’ mothers can focus on nurturing their own mental health, perhaps even placing it first, with the idea that you can show up better and more positively if you first take care of yourself.
Comparing yourself to others can cause depression in general, whether you have postpartum depression or not. However, when scrolling through Facebook, or even talking with people in general, remember that you’re comparing your insides to their highlight reel. Most people don’t wear their baggage on their sleeve, and you have no idea what they might be going through behind closed doors.
Many mothers who experience postpartum depression experience feelings of unworthiness, guilt or anxiety. Seeing another mom smiling with her baby can actually feel heart wrenching. Stop comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself that you are okay, you can handle this, and that you are exactly where you need to be. Life is full of ups and downs, and it doesn’t always go as expected. Focus on nurturing yourself and being your friend rather than beating yourself up. Take care of yourself. Take life one day at a time so you can give yourself the best chance to see progress.