“They grow up so fast. I hope you are taking time to enjoy him.”
We must have heard that a hundred times. These folks mean well, yet it’s about the worst thing a new mom can hear. She’s surrounded by poop and drool, her body is a feeding station, and she’s doing it all on no sleep. It’s no surprise that postpartum depression is fairly common with the new stress a baby can bring. Worst of it all, she’s got all these thoughts in her head like, “I am supposed to love this time and enjoy it for how special it is. What’s wrong with me?”
Many women fear that if they have any thoughts other than “I’m so grateful for my baby”…then they’re doing it wrong. The reality is…the postpartum time involves a complex cocktail of emotions and hormones.
What’s to do? Here are four things that can bring relief.
1. Meals, House Cleaning, and Laundry done by OTHER PEOPLE. All of these things help the flow of life while simultaneously satisfying one essential need: to be nurtured. Setup Mealbaby, call your mother-in-law, enlist your neighbors.
2. LISTEN to her. This does two things simultaneously: satisfies her need to be understood and gives you all kinds of information about possible things you can actually DO for her. Chances are great that there will be things you can’t do. In fact, the main point of listening is sitting long enough to feel what it is like to be her. Being vigilant 24/7 for a new life requires considerable effort and the more you can feel that experience with her, the more she will feel your empathy and companionship.
3. THERAPY. Here’s how you screen for postpartum depression. Is she sad enough and for long enough that the dominant feeling in the house is sadness? If yes, then it’s time to get a move on this. Life is meant to be full and abundant. A therapist will help you identify postpartum depression and rule out postpartum psychosis. Here’s the difference: Postpartum depression sounds like this in her head, “I want to roll my baby out the window, and I am horrified by this thought.” Postpartum psychosis sounds like this, “I want send my baby to the mothership, and this is the best idea I’ve had all day.”
4. PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I am serious. I did this for my wife the day after our son was born. It was an amazing experience. If you’re not so keen to do it yourself, there are a growing number of placenta encapsulation specialists who can do it for you. Ingesting the placenta after the birth…all mammals do it. There are a variety of benefits for a new mom to ingest the placenta and it can ward off postpartum depression.
5. FIVE HOURS OF SLEEP IN A ROW. I am a therapist and I see people breaking down everyday that are getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and here’s the breaking news — infants are fantastic at disrupting your sleep. Repeated nights of being woken every two hours will destroy a person’s ability to cope. In order to notice when she’s not getting the right kind of sleep, then get up every time she does in the night. When you start to lose your mind, then you know it’s time for a postpartum doula, friend, or mother-in-law to come over and hold the baby so the new mom can get 5 hours in a row. Trust me, you’ll see a big difference.
You can do it.