Dear New Mama,
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. The moment you’ve been anticipating for more than nine months of cravings, nausea, stretch marks, cankles, ultrasounds, listening to heartbeats, feeling baby kicks, nursery preparations, breathing, and a roller coaster of emotions has finally arrived ... now what?
It's just the blues, you tell yourself, crying and laughing within the same breath. It’ll pass, they say, and for most new moms, it does after a short time. But you can’t shake it. It’s not getting better. Weeks have passed and you should be happy — you have a beautiful baby — but you’re just not. Your baby is perfect, but you’re not perfectly fine.
There are people who would love to help you but likely don’t know you are struggling. You may not even know why you’re feeling this way … like a dark cloud constantly hanging over your head. You’re supposed to be happy, they say. Snap out of it, they say. They have no idea.
If you feel exhausted and cranky due to the lack of sleep and maybe lack of wholesome food, too, and maybe because you’re a new mom and it’s just hard, ask for help — even an hour — so you can take a nap, get a shower, and have a bite to eat.
Talk to your spouse and let him know your needs and concerns. Join a support group in your area. Look to family and friends for help too. You’ll probably find that some struggled with postpartum depression too, and know just how to help you get through it.
Postpartum depression is a beast. It will rob the moments that are supposed to be joyful with your baby. You’re meant to enjoy the newborn smell, the cuddles and coos. Even when you will feel that immense need to take a break, it’s okay. You’re still a good mother.
Go see your doctor; you may need medication to help you through this time. It is okay to take medicine for a headache, just as it is okay to take medicine for PPD. When you are well mentally and emotionally, you can enjoy your baby as you’re meant to.
When you come out of the big blur, when you get some more sleep, when you get the hang of the diapering, feeding and burping routine, you will come out of that zombie-like slumber. In time, you will feel as if you’re floating back into your own body and mind. You will come out of the darkness and enjoy the light again.
—From one PPD mama to another.
Revised excerpt from “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year” by Maria Lianos-Carbone, available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Maria is also publisher of amotherworld.com, a lifestyle blog for women. Follow her @amotherworld on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.