Essential self-care for Postnatal Depression

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This list is not exhaustive, but it is a good place to start. And please remember three things: You are not alone. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. You can get better.

What You'll Need

  • Helpful and understanding people around you; Online support groups, Sleep; Nourishing food; Yourself as your good friend; Counsellor or Psychotherapist

What You'll Do

  • 1. Tell someone understanding about how you feel. This may be your partner, a relative or a friend. If you do not feel like talking to your family or friends, tell your health visitor or your doctor. Alternatively, you can share your feelings on online forums for mums with PND. It can make an enormous difference to the way you feel. It may bring a huge relief.
  • 2. Take every opportunity to get some sleep or rest during the day or night. If you have a partner or a relative who can help, ask them to feed the baby at night sometimes. If you are on your own, try to rest whenever the baby sleeps. The lack of sleep may lead to depression, or make it worse. Conversely though, the more sleep you get, the better equipped you will be to get better and overcome depression.
  • 3. Try to eat regularly, even if you do not feel like eating at the moment. Then eat less, but nourishing and wholesome food. Find something healthy, ease to make and enjoyable in taste ­ so you can still attend to the baby and be able to nourish yourself. How about cous­cous? Could you ask anyone to cook for you, while you are in this special time of your life? As with sleep, the diet and our eating habits can play a huge role in fighting depression. Food is not only for the body, it is for your mind too!
  • 4. Go to your local support groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. There are no groups in your area? Go online, there are some wonderful people to support you on online forums, chats on Twitter etc. So you know that you are not alone and you can get better. You can talk to other mothers who have been there before, share how you feel and be met with acceptance and understanding.
  • 5. Be your good friend. Just imagine, what would you tell your best friend if you saw her struggling, very miserable, and in fact suffering from an illness? And depression is very much an illness. So go easy on yourself. Next time this "negative tape" playing on a loop in your head kicks off A) notice it, B) take two deep breaths, C) visualise someone who loves you and think how they would comfort you now, D) imagine them really doing it, E) notice how you feel a little better. Because every time you are harsh on yourself you release stress hormones to your system. And this only perpetuates depression. Every time you are kind to yourself, it is like you give your organism a bath in a gentle mix of positive hormones; and give your recovery a boost.
  • 6. Find a good counsellor or psychotherapist specialising in postnatal depression. The care and support they provide, may be invaluable to you. Counselling and psychotherapy gives you something very special and sometimes difficult to get in life ­ listening to you, and only you exclusively and actively for the whole hour. If they specialise in postnatal issues they will also know how to best support you with PND.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are suffering from postnatal psychosis or experiencing flashbacks from the birth of your baby - please contact your GP, local mental health team or go to the nearest A&E Department.
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