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Balance After Baby

A new baby's arrival brings a flurry of emotions. Excitement, joy, stress and exhaustion are just a few. However, sadness and depression are also common responses.

Some feelings of depression and worry—the baby blues—are normal. But if they last more than two weeks, they could be postpartum depression. Nearly one in nine women suffer from postpartum depression. Know that it is not something a woman can just control. It is not a sign of being a bad mother.

The feelings surrounding motherhood are complex. Society expects you to feel instant joy over a new baby, when you may actually feel exhausted, stressed, insecure, helpless or guilty for feeling anything less than elated.

Having a baby gives anybody a lot to worry about. If you feel very anxious now, to the point where it affects your mood and ability to enjoy life, or you have panic attacks, don't ignore those feelings.

Stress can be a large part of becoming a new parent. Even though most moms have harmless levels of daily stress, a little TLC is a good thing. You can't always change what causes your stress, but you can change how you react:

  • List your top stressors; brainstorm with your partner, a friend or your healthcare provider about how to help ease them.
  • Keep active. You'll sleep and feel better.
  • Call a friend who will let you vent.
  • Take a parenting class so you know what to expect. You can use the breathing exercises you learned in childbirth class to quiet stress now.
  • Find ways to calm your stress (baths, walks, naps) instead of using food, smoking, or drinks like alcohol and coffee.
  • If you feel overwhelmed or depressed, tell your healthcare provider or someone else who can help. You don't have to feel alone.

Therapy is an effective treatment for perinatal or postpartum depression. However, many women don't seek help, for fear of being judged, or of losing their freedom, their privacy or even their child. Or, they hope that by ignoring the issue, it will go away. But it's important to get help—don't suffer alone.

Resources for New Parents

Overlake’s virtual Balance After Baby support group—a professionally led group where moms can share their feelings and thoughts in a safe and respectful community. Husbands, partners and babies are encouraged and welcome. Second and fourth Thursday of every month (except major holidays), 4–6 p.m. Preregistration required. Free.

Overlake’s OBaby app is also here for your parenting needs. The Learn Library in the app contains articles on mental and emotional health, with recommendations and resources if you are feeling depressed. The app also has a meditation and centering tool—Baby Boost. It reminds you to take 20 seconds to think positive thoughts for you and baby. Download OBaby today.

Postpartum Support International has a hotline for parents experiencing postpartum depression. Call Postpartum Support International (800) 944-4773 for more information.