“I’ll never forget the day I felt cheated by motherhood. My eyes were met by a dawning sun after a sleepless night of tears, sore breasts, and a general feeling of listlessness and sorrow. Where was the happiness I was promised? Where were the smiles, the baby chortles and giggles, and the endless joy everyone said I would feel? Where was it? And why didn’t I feel this way?”
Did this feel like the opening chapter of a New York Times Best Seller, or perhaps the opening narration of a Lifetime movie? It’s not…. It’s the true story of many mothers all over the world during the first year after childbirth. It’s the feelings of resentfulness and the bitter taste of a darkness that swells and drowns so many women, but it is kept silent and locked away in the mourning center of their hearts. Perhaps… it’s your story.
Welcome to our 4th blog visit on the “Trials of the Working Parent” Blog Book Tour, where we’re being hosted by Corinne, here, at The Pragmatic Parent. Before we jump into today’s topic, I want to say “thank you” to Corinne for being a part of the “Trials…” Book Tour. Today’s theme is all about depression and burnout in motherhood; a difficult, but very important, topic that deserves to be addressed!
So, grab your cup of coffee (or wine!), and let’s have a REAL discussion about the dark side of parenthood.
Maternal Mental Healthy & Perinatal Mood Disorders
Even after years of studying psychology, Maternal Mental Health and Perinatal Mood Disorders were ambiguous to me. I knew about Postpartum Depression, but I had no idea that there was so much more out there when it comes to these topics! It wasn’t until I attended a training hosted by the Inland Empire Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative that I became enlightened. It was only after having my first baby and getting my own taste of what some of these mental health conditions are all about that I really came to understand this darker side of motherhood. From there, I made an effort to become more informed, and to help spread awareness on these conditions. No one deserves to suffer like this… especially when there’s help!
In my new book, “Trials of the Working Parent,” I made sure to dedicate some time to really discuss the different mood disorders that can affect moms (and dads!) during pregnancy and the year after a baby is born. I go into detail of symptoms to watch out for and provide some research and statistics on this issue. As much as I would love to go through all of that information with you here, time is short.
Instead, I want to give you some tips to help manage these issues, as well as provide you with some resources where you can get help if you think you might be experiencing Postpartum Depression or burnout with motherhood. Let’s jump in and discuss the importance of self-care for moms.
Self-Care Practices Every Mom Needs
Self-care is one of the central things that we need to work on as moms, and is a cornerstone to a healthy body, positive mental health, and an overall happy life. There are a lot of different components to self-care, but we’re going to discuss some items that you can start doing today to help yourself feel better!
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest reasons moms are at risk for Perinatal Mood Disorders, such as Postpartum Depression. Sleep deprivation causes your physical body and your mental state to slowly break down over time. Folks who are severely sleep deprived oftentimes will experience auditory and visual hallucinations too! Can you imagine trying to take care of your kids while hearing voices or seeing shadows constantly?
Sleep is pivotal in helping you manage your emotions. If you’re not getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night, it’s time to make this a priority. How you do this will depend on your schedule, family dynamics, whether you work or stay home, etc., but you need to make sure you’re getting some Zzz’s. If you want ideas on how to fit more sleep into your schedule, check out my book, “Trials of the Working Parent,” for ideas on how to manage this.
Sugar, caffeine, and fast food are quick sources of energy, but have little nutritional value. The result is a tired and cranky Mommy. You should be aiming to eat nutritious foods as much as possible. And if you’re breastfeeding/expressing breastmilk, this is even more imperative since your diet is also the diet you are feeding your baby. Try to eat your fruits/vegetables and proteins every day, as best as possible. Do your best not to skip meals since this messes with your blood sugar and can cause mood swings, and stay away from fad-diets!
If you don’t have time to eat in the morning, drink a protein shake that you can drink on your way to the market, or grab a hardboiled egg that you can eat pretty quickly in a hurry. You may also want to talk to your doctor about adding vitamins to your diet or getting a referral to go see a nutritionist.
3) Basic Hygiene
Please take your showers! There is nothing so basic as getting a bath into your schedule. Every woman wants to feel clean! But how many of us go several days without showering and then rely on deodorant, body spray, and a messy bun to get us through another day? I’m guilty! Trust me, sacrifice the 5 minutes of extra sleep to squeeze in a shower so that you can still feel like a woman when you’re wiping up another poopy butt!
Getting exercise doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym. It can be doing some aerobics in your family room with your toddler romping around with you. One mom I worked with would play Simon Says with her kids, where she was Simon and had everyone do jumping jacks, crunches, etc. Her kids thought Mommy was playing with them, but she was secretly getting in a quick bit of exercise!
Shoot for incorporating it into your routine a couple of times a week for a few minutes. Exercise releases tons of endorphins into your brain, which helps you feel good and happy!
5) Find a Place to Let Off Some Steam
It’s important for adults to have adult conversations, and part of this is getting some time to vent and let off steam. Most folks will lean on their partner, but sometimes that person is not emotionally available. This is when you need to reach out to a Mom’s Group, Postpartum Group, family members, friends, or a therapist.
Therapists are not only for folks who have a mental health condition like depression. Many women find a therapist just because they want to know that every week, there is an hour dedicated just to them and their own needs!
Taking care of your Emotional-Self allows for you to have more patience and empathy when your child is testing your limits. This is an important part of great self-care. It will help you feel better, even if you are sleep deprived and rocking the messy hair-bun.
This is Just a Snippet From the Book…
As you might guess, there are so many more ways to help improve your self-care. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can start caring for yourself today. For more tips on how to balance motherhood, check out my new book, “Trials of the Working Parent,” available on Amazon. And, if you’re worried that you might be suffering from a Perinatal Mood Disorder, visit some of the great websites I’ve added at the end of this post for info on how to get help!
That’s all for today! And thanks again to Corinne for hosting us! Our next stop on the Blog Book Tour is with Ms. P/W at Parent Over Working, where we will be hosting a Book Giveaway! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to get updates on the Book Tour, or subscribe to my website for more parenting tips and info on future book releases. See you all then!
- Inland Empire Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative
- Postpartum Support International
- Maternal Mental Health NOW
- 2020 Mom
- National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health
- Maternal Mental Health Alliance
ABOUT K.C. DREISBACH, THE AUTHOR
K.C. Dreisbach is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Southern California. She has spent years in the field of mental health helping thousands of families achieve happy, healthy lives. Currently, she is a Clinical Supervisor for a non-profit agency working with troubled youth and their families. She is also the author of the new book, “Trials of the Working Parent.” In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her two young children and husband.
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