After going through the stage of having a newborn, I’m very careful about how I act when my friends have another kid, or have their first. I’m in the time of my life where pretty much everyone’s having one, two or more kids right now.
So here’s a refresher on some systems to put into place when bringing a baby home.
You know, for when all the congratulations, the beautiful pictures and the surge of endorphins wear off. I do believe that postpartum depression can be worsened or triggered by traumatic experiences.
Here are some tips to minimize, mitigate and make an attempt to avoid postpartum depression:
Having the baby’s grandparents come is great. I for one, happen to be fortunate that both sets of my son’s grandparents are awesome in their support.
But sometimes new grandparents can be a little obtuse. They come and do what they want to do, not what you need them to do. Their place is not to tell you how and what they’ll do, it’s to listen to what you need. But it’s hard sometimes for a new mom with fresh hormones soaring and crashing all over the place to advocate for herself.
So grandparents: listen up.
If your daughter or son is asking you to do something and you’re negotiating or not hearing them, you’re not helping them. Yes, you’re a new grandparent, but it’s still NOT ABOUT YOU. This is hard enough for your daughter or son, so don’t be an asshole and make this about your perfect grandparent experience.
The most effective things my parents and in-laws did when we brought the little guy home:
- Clean the house
- Cook meals
- Go grocery shopping
- Do laundry
- Offer to walk the baby if he/she is fussy in the evenings for a couple of hours so mom and dad can get sleep
- Offer to watch the baby so that mom and dad can get out of the house for two hours
- If it’s a second baby, take care of the first kid
So we’ve all heard about nipple confusion. Well to be frank, introducing your new baby to a bottle early is a great idea, especially if you’re concerned about postpartum depression. It allows parents to divide and conquer. A fabulous tip that I got from a mom of three was to split the nights into two equal parts so each parent gets 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Depending on if you’re a night owl or not, have one parent take the 8pm – midnight shift and the second parent take the midnight to 4am shift, and so forth.
The parent who sleeps DOES NOT GET INTERRUPTED until the shift is over.
This is so critical for preventing postpartum depression…I’m going to reiterate it a couple more times.
If you’re thinking about trying to be a martyr because your partner or husband “has to go to work the next day”, just remember how crazy it is and how you have to be on all day when you’re watching small children. Remember the fact that your partner gets to go and sit down, have a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom by himself/herself while you have rewarmed your mostly full first cup of coffee five times. It’s hard for both of you. You both need your sleep, but just because one partner is leaving the house and interacting with other adults does not mean that they need more sleep than you do. I’d argue that actually, with the risks of postpartum depression, the mom probably needs it more.
You can split the night work. Sleep protection is one of the most critical pieces of avoiding postpartum depression or minimizing it. One of the key goals of the nation’s first perinatal psych ward, in North Carolina, is protecting a mother’s sleep. They do it that way because we know sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your delicate psyche.
Cherish every moment…or DON’T
This one applies to all the stupid cliches that people say about a new baby (whether it’s your first or not).
But let’s. get. real.
These first couple of months are all about survival. Your job is to get through it. If you get through it alive – good news, congratulations, you did it!! I’m glad I took so many pictures of my son in the first six months. Because frankly, I don’t remember much of that time. Sure it was because of my postpartum depression, but also it was just hard. So I’m soaking up all the wonderful feels now that he’s an adorable little 10 month old. Whether you cherish the time or not, you can’t get it back and it will move fast no matter what. So don’t also add GUILT to the mix by worrying that you’re not cherishing hard enough.
Be Open and Honest
If it’s hard, if it sucks, if you totally regret it, if it’s not worth it, if you’re going out of your mind…talk to someone…talk to anyone. I’m here. I’ll listen. Then if we need to, let’s get you help. You’re not alone. Maybe you just need someone to talk to and totally lose your filter. Maybe you need some professional help. Either one’s cool. But like I said, come talk to me.
I’m not going to minimize your experience.
I’m not going to tell you you’re a bad mom for being honest.
You got this.