Getting postpartum essentials is not always easy, particularly for first time moms. Without reliable information on what one needs, whether from hospital or from moms who have been there before, new moms may feel overwhelmed. This postpartum checklist however, will help you prepare adequately.
Did you know that every January is Mental Wellness Month? By definition, mental wellness refers to the state of emotion of psychological well-being in which a person is able to use their emotional and cognitive capabilities. This way, a person is able to function and meet the demands of daily life.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental wellness encompasses more than the absence of mental illness. The state of well-being means that an individual is able to realize their abilities, cope with normal stressors in life as well as make a contribution to the society.
Marking mental wellness in January (and beyond)
January marks mental wellness month globally. The movement was started to help people take better care of their mental health. This approach takes a proactive angle to keep off a negative mental scale. Aspects of daily life can profoundly affect one’s mental state. These range from financial constraints to work-life balance, relationships and chronic illness.
In this state of mind, one may experience erratic sleeping patterns, social isolation, mood swings and low energy levels. When discerned early, it is possible to improve one’s mental state. Below are some tips that you can use to maintain a positive state of mind.
Take care of your body
Physical exercise is one of the ways in which you can ensure mental wellness. Exercise helps manage anxiety and reduces tension in the muscles, both of which are associated with prolonged stress. In addition to this, exercise helps the body release endorphins. Endorphins are body chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body and reduce stress.
Taking care of your body also means eating healthy. Processed foods not only affect one physically, they also impact one’s mental health negatively. These foods slow the body’s metabolism and cause you to feel more fatigued. Opt for healthy foods and more fruits and vegetables.
Selfcare means doing the things and activities that enhance your emotional and mental health. It means making yourself a priority above everything else. Figuratively speaking, it is wearing the oxygen mask before trying to save anyone else. This goes a long way in taking care of one’s mental health.
Selfcare looks different for everyone. Getting adequate sleep, meditating, journaling and unplugging from the internet are all examples of selfcare. Other examples of selfcare include doing something creative, positive affirmations and taking time to recuperate.
Maintain social connections
For many people, maintaining social connections is an integral part of mental wellness. Surround yourself with people who build and encourage you. These connections not only help to keep you grounded, they are also a reminder that you are not alone. Having someone to share with, dance with and laugh with makes a big difference.
Set realistic goals
Setting unrealistic goals is one of the ways how mental wellness is challenged. To counter this, decide what you would like to achieve. It helps to break down these goals into doable tasks and then working towards them at your pace. There is an incredible sense of achievement as you tick off the tasks. A number of tools are available to help you keep track of your progress.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
If you feel the need to, get in touch with a mental health care provider or therapist. There is no shame in asking for help. A mental health care provider is trained to help you cope. Additionally, the professionals can help you create a plan to look after your mental health. In more severe situations, one may need medication to help them cope. The bottomline is that there is no shame in having a mental illness. It is not a sign of weakness.
Would you love to join us for the 30-day mental wellness challenge? Click on this link to learn more.
As the new year rolls in, here is wishing you a beautiful start to the year. We would like to thank you all for been a part of our 2018 and making it a memorable year. Thank you to our members, prolific partners, volunteers and the lovely moms who have reached out to get help. We would like to wish you a happy new year 2019. May the new year bring great health.
PS: We will be making a couple of changes in the days to come. Look out for that on our Social Media pages.
D-day is nearing, and you are likely counting down to the birth of your baby. You have scoured the internet to read up on every article about pregnancy. You have also likely signed up for a lamaze class, and watched every birthing video you can stand. The truth is that amidst these preparations, there are still many things that moms-to-be do not learn before delivery. We are here to let you in on 8 things no one tells you about pregnancy.
You may experience emotional upheavals
Whether due to the upsurge of pregnancy hormones, or just the sheer thought of bringing new life to these world, your emotions will likely be all over the place. Pregnancy is expected to be a happy time. Moms-to-be are expected to be filled with excitement for the coming bundle of joy. This is not always the case. Many pregnant women will experience fluctuating emotions, and a number may develop pregnancy depression.
You will experience increased vaginal discharge
Many pregnant women will experience increased vaginal discharge. This is attributed to changes in the cervix. During pregnancy, the cervix and vaginal walls begin to soften. This allows the body to produce increased discharge to prevent infections. In the later stages of pregnancy, the baby’s head adds pressure to the cervix. This also increases the production of the discharge. It is important for pregnant women to note that this vaginal discharge is normal. It is called leukorrhea, and has a thin milky consistency with a mild smell.
Your birth plan may not go how you envision it
Many moms-to-be will create a birth plan to help with preparation for labour and delivery. While this is a good idea, the truth is that delivery does not always go the way you want it to. The process of childbirth can be very unpredictable. Sudden turns of events may call for an unplanned emergency c-section. The most important thing to remember is that having a healthy baby and healthy mother is what matters. The mode of delivery does not define you as a mom. As such, it helps to be open minded about it.
It is a whole new season of adjustments with breastfeeding.
New moms will often experience cracked nipples. Now, picture cracked nipples, and a little clueless human being trying to latch. This is HARD. And on many days, you will want to give up, because sore bloody nipples are not anyone’s cup of tea. Good old Vaseline will be your friend, amidst all the shrieks and tears. It does get better over time!
You will experience lochia
Lochia is the medical term that refers to the vaginal discharge after birth. This discharge contains blood, tissue from the uterine lining and bacteria. Some women will experience cramps too, so painkillers will come in handy.
To contain the lochia, you will need to wear a mommy diaper. This comes in two variations: the mesh underwear that comes with a maxi-pad or the adult diaper. Both options can be used as they are. The use of ice is optional, but helps to soothe the soreness. Many hospitals will often provide the mommy diapers, but you may want to carry a pack or two in your hospital bag.
You may have to re-invent your wardrobe
As the pregnancy progresses, you will need to change a few clothing items. This allows for comfort in the last trimester. Depending on your choice, the clothes may also double up as nursing wear for easy breastfeeding. Invest in button-down blouses, zipped tops and comfortable pants in the first few weeks after birth.
You may not experience that magical bond with your child immediately
Not all moms will have an instant bond with their child. This may happen due to the trauma of labor, or depression during pregnancy. Sometimes, it happens simply because of the overwhelming experience that this new chapter represents. And that is okay, to a certain extent.
Baby blues are fairly common, and will often die down on their own. In Postpartum Depression however, these blues only intensify. They have a vice-like grip on any mom, and will often wash up like mighty waves on the shore of your heart. If you do experience this, do not be afraid to get medical attention. There is no shame in asking for help.
The kids will grow
In spite of the challenges at the onset, the kids grow. It is easy to get lost in the overwhelming duties of taking care of a newborn. The unending diaper changes and sleepless nights can easily take a toll on new moms.
The different stages may feel like they last forever. The truth is they don’t. As often as you can, try to live and enjoy the moments. Remember to take care of yourself too. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
The holidays are favorite time of the year for many people. There is a sense of joy that fills the air as families seek to spend time together and make special memories. It is meant to be a wonderful time, of good holiday cheer. But for women with Postpartum Depression (PPD), it is not always easy.
For mothers suffering PPD or any other perinatal mood disorder, the holidays and festivities may only serve to intensify the symptoms associated with the condition. Contributing factors vary from one mom to another, but have a significant bearing on a mom’s mental health.
How do the holidays affect moms with PPD?
Add to this the typical stress that comes along with the holidays, and it is easy to see how these factors may increase the symptoms of PPD. Some of the symptoms of PPD include fatigue, loss of appetite, lack of adequate sleep, irritability, guilt feelings and hopelessness. These symptoms tend to intensify over the holidays. Additionally, the feeling that one needs to be cheerful or grateful may exacerbate the symptoms of PPD. It is difficult to smile and be happy when you are not, and everyone else is in a festive mood.
Below are five handy tips to help the mom with PPD get through the holidays:
Engage your supporting system
The festivities come with a long to-do list. It is often overwhelming to think about all that needs to be done. Whether that is visiting relatives upcountry, hosting family and friends or simply spending time with family, these activities can be draining. One of the practical steps that you can take to manage PPD during the holidays is to take only what you can handle. Be careful to set limits – you cannot do it all, and neither should you.
Do not be afraid to ask for help and to lean on your support system, however that looks like for you. If it means reducing the number of guests, traveling a few days before or simply enlisting the help of close relatives if hosting guests – whatever that means, be sure to take measures to manage the load.
Selfcare is important
Selfcare refers to the things or activities that promote your emotional and mental wellbeing. Simply put, it means making yourself a priority because it is only through selfcare that moms are able to better their mental health, and in effect, take care of their families.
Selfcare during the holidays is especially important for moms with Postpartum Depression. It is okay to step away if you feel you need some time for yourself. Instead of sitting and pretending that you do not need some time alone, it is okay to excuse yourself and take a moment’s breather as often as you need to. For some moms, unplugging from the Internet is the way to go. While keeping up with a fitness routine during the holidays is not easy, it is advisable to try and remain active. This may mean taking a walk, spending time in the outdoors, taking a beach run or even doing some yoga.
Allow yourself to indulge in simple holiday pleasures
Be sure to spend some time and indulge in simple holiday pleasures that are most amazing for you. Whether that’s sleeping in, enjoying a holiday movie or allowing someone else to babysit in order to enjoy a cup of coffee at your favorite spot – do whatever feels wondrous for you, and make no excuses for it.
Read More: 9 Myths about Postpartum Depression
Communicate your needs with your loved ones whenever possible. This not only helps prevent disappointments, it helps manage the symptoms of PPD. Settle for one activity that will make the holiday season meaningful to you. It could be a family picnic at a natural space in the town, or perhaps getting a couple of gifts. Spending time with one’s parents can also add meaning to the holidays. Communicating these needs is important, and you should not feel resentful for having had to articulate your needs.
Remember that it is OK not to be OK
This last tip is a reminder for moms with PPD that sometimes, the darkness will creep in during the holidays. The holidays can present emotional upheavals for many moms, for a myriad of reasons. From grieving to loss and loneliness, there are many triggers that can make it extremely hard to enjoy the holidays.
With these realities, it is okay not to be okay during the holidays. It is okay to be sad, to mourn the loss and to feel the loneliness. It is okay to sit with these emotions and to acknowledge them for what they are. Ensure that you practice selfcare during the holidays. This helps make the season a little more manageable.