I was extremely anxious all day long, wandering around from room to room, never getting anything done. I perpetually had a lump in my throat that would never go away, and only got bigger as the day went on. I longed for laying around in my dark bedroom, not because I was tired, but because I wanted to tune out my life and my children.
After long discussions with my husband, friends and health professionals, it was determined that I had postpartum depression and anxiety. I then went on an antidepressant, and stayed on it until I found out I was pregnant with Paul. During my first trimester, I went cold turkey off the medication (something I wouldn’t recommend under most circumstances).
I’m current seven weeks postpartum, and unmediated. I would be lying to you if I said I that I wasn’t worried about suffering from PPD again, and am somewhat waiting for it to rear it’s ugly head.
But I’m a fighter, and I won’t go down easy.
To combat my post baby anxiety, I’m taking some preemptive healthy measures that I hope will help keep “The Sads” far, far, away from me.
7 things I’m doing to decrease my post baby anxiety:
Connecting with my Husband 1 of 7Last year I went on exactly two dates with my husband. This year, I've vowed that we will do something without our children (even for an hour) once a month. It does wonders for my mood, helps our marriage tremendously, and I very much look forward to spending time alone with him.
Relaxing with a Bath 2 of 7I used to wind down at night with a glass of red wine, but I've determined that this messes with my sleep (especially if one glass turns into two, which is often did). Now, after the kids are tucked in, I substitute my glass of wine for a hot bath and a paperback book. I still get relaxed, without the use of a stimulant.
Eating Breakfast 3 of 7I went probably 15 years without eating breakfast on a consistent basis. I'm now starting my day out with a smoothie that contains greens (such as beet greens, spinach or kale), frozen fruit, raw honey, probiotic yogurt, and even a high quality locally farmed raw egg. This on-the-go breakfast gives me the energy I need, and keeps me from drinking extreme amounts of caffeine.
Limiting Caffine & Alcohol 4 of 7I'm not completely cutting out both caffeine and alcohol, but I'm consuming it sparingly and thoughtfully. I found that I used coffee as an "upper" in the morning, and then wine as a "downer" in the evening. Having finally broken my routine, I can tell a big difference with how I manage my anxiety.
Actually Sleeping 5 of 7I'll never get enough sleep, and I'm a night owl by heart, but I've found that getting as much sleep as possible (for a mom of 4), really plays a large part of how I handle and deal with my young children. I'm much more attentive on 7 hours than on 4.
Getting out of the House 6 of 7Having 4 children under the age of 7 has really made getting out of the house a production. But too many days without leaving the house, sitting in my pajamas, will wear on my mood significantly. Even if it's hard, I try to get out of the house once a day (or at least every other day), basically to have social interaction with other adults other than my husband.
Running 7 of 7Exercising, in particular, running, has probably made the most difference in my life, and has helped keep "the sads" away the most. If I exercise: I eat better, I sleep better, and my self esteem is significantly higher. I got a simple membership to the YMCA, where I get 2 hours of childcare a day. The kids have a great time, and I feel the effects of those healthy, natural endorphins!
And while there is no perfect solution for dealing with anxiety and postpartum depression, this is what’s working for me, right now. Tomorrow, next week, next month could be different. Having a case of “The Sads” is a serious matter, and is nothing to be ashamed of, this I have learned first hand. And by no means am I making claims that “all you have to do is eat right, exercise and sleep to avoid PPD”. I would never say that in a million years. I’m just trying to be conscious of how my body is feeling, and trying to make the best healthy choices to help it feel it’s best.
Having a new baby is hard. So hard. So very, very, very hard. Throw in a few additional kids, and you have a whole marathon to run everyday. The nicer and kinder you can be to yourself, the better.