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Creating a Postpartum Wellness Plan

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Creating a Postpartum Wellness Plan

All new moms need a postpartum wellness plan. There are many things that can be done to prevent some of the stress of the postpartum period. It’s best to start planning prenatally. Those at an increased risk of experiencing a postpartum mood disorder would benefit from meeting with an experienced therapist while pregnant to create their wellness plan.

Taking Care of You:

Eating

  • Boost your mood with food. Feeding the brain properly is a necessity if we want it to function at it’s best.

  • Don’t skip breakfast! Morning is the most important time of the day to generate serotonin. Serotonin deficiency is believed to play a role in depression.

  • No appetite, can’t eat. Try drinking your food – have a shake or smoothie balanced in protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

  • Nibble on protein throughout the day. Often we crave sweets and unhealthy carbohydrates when the brain is low on serotonin. Although you may feel a temporary “boost” after eating carbs, shortly after you’ll experience a big drop when your blood sugar plummets.

  • Eat the right carbs! Examples: whole grains, legumes, oatmeal, whole grain pasta.

  • Mood boosters = avocados, bananas, barley, dried fruit, rye crackers.

  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine and anxiety go hand in hand.

  • Avoid alcohol. It is a depressant that disrupts the sleep cycle and feeds depression.

  • Hydrate your brain with water! Dehydration can increase anxiety.

  • Go fishing and get your Omegas. Omega-3 fatty acids may help boost brain chemicals important in depression.

Sleeping

  • Arranging to have a good nighttime sleep is one of the best preventions for PPD

  • Humans need 8.4 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to function at their best!

  • Interrupted sleep may cause serotonin to decrease, which can increase depression.

  • New moms need at least a 5-6 hour chunk of straight sleep for brain restoration.

  • Daytime sleep does not replace nighttime sleep.

  • Put a sleep plan into place:

  • - Split the night duty with your partner (or another able body)

  • - When you’re off duty, sleep in a separate area away from baby

  • - Remove any clocks from your rest area

  • - If breastfeeding, empty booth breasts before you sleep

  • - Alternate nights with your partner (if not nursing)

  • - Hire a doula or sitter so both you and your partner can sleep

  • - Nap during the day when you can (have someone come in and watch the baby so you can nap)

Circle of Support

  • Reach out and ask for help. Accept help when it’s offered. People can support you in many different ways – physical (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, babysitting) and emotional (a listening ear, hugging, encouragement).

  • Create a “support list” with names and phone numbers of your supporters. Write down everyone who comes to mind. Examples: partner, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, religious communities, support groups, hotlines.


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Taking Breaks

  • All good moms take breaks from their children, that’s how they stay good moms! Recharge your battery or you’ll be running on empty.

  • When you’re a mother you have to schedule your breaks.

  • If you’re a full-time stay-at-home mother, you ideally need 3 to 4 two-hour breaks during the week to prevent burn-out. This is time for you to get out of the house, or if you don’t have the energy, have someone in charge of watching baby.

Exercise

  • The release of endorphins through exercise can have mood elevating effects.

  • When you are physically able to, find an activity that you are willing to do.

  • Depression drains energy. Remember that any physical movement is exercise and accept what you can do. Even a few minutes of brisk activity can help restore mood.

  • Do not exercise before bed.

Going Outside

  • The walls may feel as if they are closing in on you. To counter this, go outside of your home, look up at the sky, and breathe.

  • Go outside once a day, minimum. You do not actually have to go anywhere.

Staying Social

  • Engage in normal, everyday conversations.

  • Share your feelings with others you trust and feel supported by.

  • You may choose to self-nurture by staying in and comforting yourself. This can be healthy. However, if you find yourself lying in bed getting more depressed, and lonely, this may be a sign of unhealthy isolation.

  • You’ll have to gage the best time to self-nurture. You may join in on social activities at times, and other times you’ll say no. Listen to how you feel.

Positive Environment

  • Choose carefully what to watch on T.V. Surround yourself with positive things.

  • Read light, feel-good books and magazines while avoiding serious topics.

  • Adjust noise levels.

  • Adjust air temperature.

  • Let in the light.

Setting Limits

  • Say no. Your family is counting on you to set limits and healthy boundaries. If you don’t you will burn out and your family will suffer.

  • It’s ok to lighten your load.

  • Give yourself permission to do less.

  • Let things go. Save your energy for the important stuff, like spending time with your family. Laundry can always wait.

Prevention of postpartum mood disorders is, of course, the ultimate goal. The creation of a postpartum wellness plan during pregnancy may help reduce the likelihood and severity of PPD. If PPD does occur, the wellness plan in place will support and speed recovery. If you’re at high risk for PPD or think you may have it, seek professional help. Even if you have an amazing support network at home, working with a specialist in the field can prove extremely beneficial.

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