Postpartum Depression can be a serious condition that mothers who have recently given birth may face. Being a new mother in school can be challenging enough, but if symptoms of Postpartum Depression occur, it can be even more stressful.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a condition that can develop anywhere from three weeks to a year after the birth of a child. Symptoms include:
- feelings of sadness
- loss of appetite
- urge to sleep all the time
- inability to practice self-care
- difficulty performing simple tasks
- trouble with focusing and loss of memory
- anxiety and feelings of guilt over not being able to bond with or care for your baby
If you are experiencing these symptoms, know that you are not alone: about 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be brought on by a number of factors. The sudden drop in hormones after the birth of a child can lead to depression. Being in a stressful environment or experiencing relationship strain between you and the child’s father may lead to depression.
How to Overcome Postpartum Depression?
If you’re in school and experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, here are some things you can do to get help and alleviate symptoms.
#1 See a Doctor
The first thing you should do any time you’re feeling depressed, regardless of whether or not it’s due to postpartum is to talk to a doctor or psychologist. They can help you work through the emotions you’re feeling and build a plan for how to cope with them. Getting professional help can also take a lot of the burden off of you to get better on your own. You will still have to do your part and participate as well as you can in the sessions, but allowing someone who is an expert in this subject to take the reins can be a huge relief to a lot of new mothers.
#2 Keep the Journal
It can be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal, even if there are painful thoughts. Having a place to express your feelings and let things out can also help you organize your thoughts. You may also do some journaling exercises that help you think positive thoughts like write down things you’re grateful for or writing down activities you look forward to doing with your baby.
#3 Talk to Your Advisor
Don’t be afraid to talk to the staff at school, particularly your advisor. If you don’t have a close relationship with your advisor, but you do with another professor, don’t hesitate to reach out and let them know you’ve been struggling with postpartum depression. You may be able to negotiate some of the workload or come up with a plan to help support you in this process.
#4 Reach Out to Friends
Friends and loved ones are there for a reason, and that’s to enjoy the good times and stick by you in the challenging ones. Accept help when it’s offered and ask for it when you need it. Many of your friends will be relieved to be able to be of use to you, especially when they see you’re struggling. Let them babysit your baby while you get a massage or a hair-cut or go for a walk by yourself. Organizing the time and a support team that allows you to perform self-care can help to alleviate feelings of stress and pressure.
#5 Eat Well
As a new mother, your body needs nutrients to recover from the stress of carrying a child and going through the birthing process. Foods like salmon contain DHA which, in addition to being healthy for your baby if you are breastfeeding, can also help prevent postpartum depression. However, because salmon also contains mercury, it’s advisable to limit its consumption to 12 ounces or two servings a week. Other foods such as low-fat dairy, lean beef, legumes, blueberries, brown rice, oranges, eggs, whole-wheat bread, leafy greens, whole-grain cereal and lots of water can all contribute to a healthy and energetic body and mind.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re experiencing postpartum depression, but it can be one of the greatest tools to help you feel better. Exercise is an important part of your health and self-care and making time for it can greatly improve your self-esteem and boost energy levels. Simple exercises like walking, sit-ups, kegels, cat/cow pelvic tilts can help you tone and stretch parts of your body. You can also do workouts with your baby which are convenient when you want to work out but can’t find a sitter. They can be a fun way to bond with your baby. Take advantage of your school’s nursery (if they have one) and hit the gym as often as you can.
#7 Join a New Mom’s Group
New mothers have a lot in common and joining a new mom’s group can help you to make new friends, learn that you’re not alone in what you’re going through and give you resources on how to alleviate some of the challenges you’re experiencing. Feeling alone can really trigger depression and joining a group helps you to know you’re not alone.
#8 Consider Switching to Online
Though new mothers can absolutely be successful students on campus, sometimes it can be a challenge that feels too overwhelming. If you feel self-conscious about your body or weight, or it’s difficult for you to breast-feed among your peers or your class schedule feels overwhelming, an online course could provide relief from some of those things. If switching to online, make sure you still maintain contact with friends and family members. Isolation will only increase the feelings of depression.
For studying mothers, postpartum depression can be a difficult challenge that can feel debilitating. However, taking certain actions such as talking to a psychologist, journaling your feelings, talking to your advisor or other trusted professor, reaching out to friends and loved ones, eating well, getting some exercise, joining a new mom’s group and possibly switching to an online course can all help to alleviate the effects of postpartum depression.