Making an appointment with your doctor is a great starting point to determine if there are any underlying physical causes that need to be treated. Also, if you are experiencing postpartum depression, the doctor might discuss if medication is appropriate for you. Although prescribed medication can be useful and assist with some of the symptoms of PPD such as sleep, mood, and physical symptoms; changing thoughts and beliefs about yourself, and your mothering can be better served by attending for counselling.
Here are a couple of ideas on how you can begin to dealing with PPD:
1. Including exercise in your daily life (of course after you have consulted with a doctor and been given permission to exercise) is a great if you are experiencing PPD. Now you may initially be thinking, I can barely get out of bed, never mind get dressed and go to the gym! I would encourage you instead to think of a way to incorporate small amounts of physical movement into your daily life, such as going up and down the stairs 1-3 times, or go for a short walk.
It has been suggested that changes are most successful when the initial step that is chosen is made even smaller than originally planned. If you thought walking around the block was an initial step, scale it back and walk to the end of the driveway and back. It may go against your belief that everything must be done “all in” or it won’t work! However, in the end, in taking a smaller step at the beginning and building from there will provide you with a higher degree of successful.
2. Begin to notice your thoughts are about yourself as a mother, about your baby and your beliefs in your ability to cope. A lot of times the expectations you have about your ability to mother or your role as a mother can create feelings of stress, guilt and incompetence. By first noticing when you have these thoughts you can then ask yourself if that thought is helpful. If the thought is unhelpful, recognize it as "only a thought" not as a fact. The thought can then be changed to a more realistic or positive thought. Again, start small to increase your chances the changes will become permanent habits – change one thought at a time. If you are having difficulty looking at your thoughts differently ask a trusted friend, family member for help or contact a counsellor to get assistance.
If you would like support in your experience of PPD or to learn more techniques for handling PPD, please call Heather at 604-375-3010 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org