1 in 5 women experience some form of perinatal or postpartum mood and anxiety disorder.
7 in 10 women hide or downplay their symptoms.
20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth leaving the mother grieving which often leads to postpartum depression.
40-80% of mothers experience baby blues for 2 weeks.
You Are Not Alone!
What Contributes to Mental Illness?
Lack of sleep
Life stressors during pregnancy
Lack of sunshine, nature, and exercise
Complications during pregnancy
Difficult relationships (including relationship with own mother)
History of sexual abuse
Lack of support
Prior history of depression
Pain & inflammation
Lack of oxytocin that comes with an unmedicated birth (epidurals & cesareans)
How Can I Encourage Positive Mental Health?
Today I had the privilege of talking with a mother about the severe maternal mental health struggles she has faced and some of the things that have helped her the most. She said the #1 thing that made a night and day difference for her was this Emotional Resilience for Self-Reliance class she took. The course book, including videos are all free online. She said this class gave her the tools and direction she needed to dive deep and overcome things she struggled with. She’s been able to go off her depression medication and is doing really well.
The second thing she recommended was counseling. Therapy helped her start recognizing her thought patterns that were inaccurate and she was able to take them from a negative state to a neutral state. One of the things she struggled with the most was body image. That’s something a lot of us can relate to. She said positive affirmations such as, “My body is serving me and carrying me through every day” helped her. A book that really helped her with body image is called More Than A Body by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite.
Other things that helped her is getting rid of media that made her feel worse and replacing it with media that helped her feel better. She said we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, let go of society’s expectations of us, and practice more gratitude. Because you have to admit, it is pretty incredible that your body did exactly what it needed to do to grow and birth a human being.
Ask for help
Ask for help where and when you need it! Motherhood is beautiful and exhausting. You love that little baby so much, but you can’t give them your all if you aren’t also taking care of yourself. It’s okay to take a step back and say “I feel like I’m drowning and I need a break. I need some time to focus just on me for a little. Can you take care of the baby while I do this?” Our husbands, friends, and families might not notice when we are struggling. So don’t be afraid to ask. You will be a much better mother if you are feeling well and whole.
Essential Oil tip
Essential oils can help. My favorite oil for stress and depression is Adaptiv. When stress and tension seem to be relentless, Adaptiv is the precise solution. Lavender, Magnolia, Neroli, and Sweetgum provide stress-relieving effects while Wild Orange and Spearmint energize and uplift. Copaiba and Rosemary soothe anxious feelings to round out this calming blend. Adaptiv Blend is part of the toolbox to help the body and mind to stay balanced.
Soak in a relaxing Epsom Salt bath by adding three to four drops to bath water.
Mix three drops with Fractionated Coconut Oil for a soothing massage.
Diffuse the oil in a room diffuser to promote a centered and calm mindset.
Apply one drop to your hands, rub together, and inhale deeply as needed throughout the day.
In case anyone hasn’t told you today, you are enough. You are needed. You are the perfect mom for your baby. You are doing amazing things, even when it might not feel like it. You are a light and stability in your child’s life. Your mental health is so important and should be a priority by taking time for self-care. I understand it can be hard to take time for self care so I thought I would make a list for you to refer to and help give you ideas of some things that can help create that “you time” that moms so desperately need. Remember: self-care is making time to engage in an activity that will boost your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Shower. Not a bath, a shower. Use water as hot or cold as you like. You don’t even need to wash. Just get in under the water and let it run over you for a while. Sit on the floor if you gotta.
Moisturize everything. Use whatever lotion you like. Unscented? Dollar store lotion? Fancy 48 hour lotion that makes you smell like a field of wildflowers? Use whatever you want, and use it all over your entire dermis.
Put on clean, comfortable clothes. Put on your favorite underwear. Cute black lacy panties? Those ridiculous boxers you bought last Christmas with candy cane hearts on the butt? Put them on.
Drink cold water. Use ice. If you want, add some mint or lemon for an extra boost. Staying hydrated will give you more energy and boost your mood.
Take a break from Social Media. This one can be a struggle but you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel and what a service you’re doing for yourself.
Clean something. Doesn’t have to be anything big. Organize one drawer of a desk. Wash five dirty dishes. Do a load of laundry. Scrub the bathroom sink.
Blast music. Listen to something upbeat and dancey and loud, something that’s got lots of energy. Sing to it, dance to it, even if you suck at both. Turn on your favorite songs and dance like nobody’s watching. If your kids want to join in- great! Fun for everyone.
Make food. Don’t just grab a granola bar to munch. Take the time and make food. Even if it’s ramen. Add something special to it, like a soft boiled egg or some veggies. Prepare food, it tastes way better, and you’ll feel like you accomplished something.
Meditate. This might differ for everyone. It could be like a yoga practice, it could be doing a breathing exercise. Meditation might be prayer, Bible study and pondering. It could be sitting in a dark room listening to your favorite music and diffusing a relaxing or energizing oil. If you are looking for guided meditation, the Headspace app is a great place to start.
Journal. It has been proven that journaling can reduce stress and improve your mood. Journaling for 15-20 minutes a day will help you get those intruding thoughts and stressors out and acknowledge them which can help you cope better. A great journal prompt is to write your three highs (or positives) for the day and your three lows. A gratitude journal is also a wonderful mood booster and will be something to treasure later in life. There is something about writing with pen and paper that is soothing, but with littles and breastfeeding I learned to use my phone. My favorite journaling app is Day One. It is free, I can add pictures, and even print it all into a book.
Read or listen to a book or podcast– start by choosing something light or uplifting that can really boost your mood if you’re only able to listen for a short amount of time each day. Do whatever you have to do to remind yourself that there is a life beyond your nest and that you are still part of it.
Make something. Write a short story or a poem, draw a picture, color a picture, fold origami, crochet or knit, sculpt something out of clay, anything artistic. Even if you don’t think you’re good at it. Create.
Take time for your hobby- whether it’s cooking, baking, a sport, crafting, an instrument, whatever your hobby is- take time for it and have fun.
Go outside. Take a walk. Sit in the grass. Look at the clouds. Smell flowers. Put your hands in the dirt and feel the soil against your skin. Going for a walk or doing any sort of physical activity will help get those endorphins going which will naturally boost your mood. Leave the dishes in the sink and the overflowing Diaper Genie. Put in some headphones and away you go. You need to get out. Go with friends, with your husband, family, or by yourself. Get out and do something fun or adventurous. You might go rock climbing or go-cart racing or you might just go for a hike or have a picnic at a park. But even just getting away for 30 min- 1 hr can really boost your mood.
Call someone. Call a loved one, a friend, a family member, call a chat service if you have no one else to call. Talk to a stranger on the street. Have a conversation and listen to someone’s voice. If you can’t bring yourself to call, text or email or whatever, just have some social interaction with another person. Talk about your day, talk about your worries, talk about your kids, talk about something fun! Most importantly, talk about what you feel you need to talk about. Your friend or family member wants to hear and be there for you. Even if you don’t say much, listen to them. It helps.
Cuddle your pets if you have them/can cuddle them. Take pictures of them. Talk to them. Tell them how you feel, about your favorite movie, a new game coming out, anything.
Take time to unwind every night. This might seem small but can be such a huge help! Whether it’s watching a show or taking an extra long shower or bath, talking with your loved one, playing with a pet, painting your nails, eating a snack/treat. Give yourself time after putting the kids to bed. Speaking of painting your nails, I have recently discovered Color Street. Now when I do my nails they actually look and stay nice. There’s something about having my nails done that makes me feel less like a tired mommy and more like a beautiful woman.