Today we are continuing our conversation about Postpartum Depression with Kelly of Ritual Care. It turns out there are a few things you can do to help prevent this happening to you. In case you missed it, here’s a comprehensive post with everything you need to know about PPD — and today Kelly, a postpartum care educator is sharing some actions you can take to avoid PPD.
Is there anyway to prepare yourself for this time period before you have a baby with the hope of avoiding PPD?
Absolutely! It’s true that there’s no fool-proof way to protect yourself from PPD or another perinatal mood experience. I’ve worked with doctors, doulas, therapists,mamas who care for other children all day, high-powered lawyers and business executives — no one is immune. Even dads can get Perinatal Depression and/or anxiety! Some, like bipolar disorder, have a strong biological component.
But, there are things that you can do to prevent it – or recover more easily if it hits. Here are some tips:
Most new parents are unprepared for postpartum and, in particular lacking basic information about Perinatal Mood Disorders. I mean, you’ve got a baby (!) coming – who wants to sit and learn about depression? I get it. But a little education can go a loooong way. My free online “PPD 101” course is only 30 minutes long, for instance. That’s literally one episode of The Daily Show (or your own choice of fine programming).
CREATE YOUR “CHOIR”
Grab a piece of paper and write down the people in your life who are loving, safe, supportive, nonjudgemental and dependable. Then keep it handy, and actually contact them regularly! This “choir circle” tool is so crucial, I teach it in both of my programs: New Parent Partner, the easy, online learning platform for parents, and CoreCare, the online self-care program for moms with small children. The terminology is inspired by one of my former teachers, Maria Sirois who asks “Who’s in your choir? If you call, who will sing for you? Love that.
EAT, DRINK & SLEEP
Seriously, these are biological needs that can help prevent or lessen the affect of some PMADs like PPD. Eat well, drink a ton of water and sleep whenever you can (this might mean hiring someone sometimes for the sole purpose of you napping). In my CoreCare Program, I teach these self-care rules within the “three E’s” : Eat + Drink” well, do “Everyday Grooming” (shower, brush teeth, etc.) and get “Enough Sleep”, even if it’s in small chunks throughout the day.
Use your secret mental weapon — physical exercise! I know…the last thing you want to do after a tiny human leaves your body is to start doing squats, and by all means, start slowly and only with doctor approval (especially if you’ve had a cesarean belly birth). But then, move it mama. Science shows again and again that exercise is insanely helpful for mood stability and stress management. I love how my former teacher, Tal Ben-Shahar puts it: “Not exercising is like taking a depressant.” Even if it’s small, find a way. Keep moving.
Image by Anna Reynal