Caring for Mom

Survival Tips for Mom: Sleep Deprivation, Stress and Postpartum Depression

Survival Tips for Mom: Sleep Deprivation, Stress and Postpartum Depression

Being responsible for a newborn can bring the greatest joy, but it can also be stressful during those early weeks and months. Complete strangers may coo and aww over your baby and remind you to “enjoy every moment” because “they grow up too fast.” It is wonderful advice … but if you’re sleep deprived, stressed out or haven’t had time for a shower, you may not be enjoying the moment. And that’s OK! More helpful advice might be to let go of the stressful moments, and focus on the positive.

Sleep Deprived and Stressed?

Try these tips to help you power through the day and focus on what matters most.

Take naps. It’s normal to feel sleep deprived if you’re waking up every two hours to help with feeding the baby, diaper changes, etc. If you can sneak in a nap, do it!

Get a babysitter. Reach out to friends and family. They might be willing to babysit so you can get some rest or get out of the house!

Ask for advice. Breastfeeding is hard work, and sometimes painful! A nurse or lactation specialist can help resolve common infant feeding problems.

Take care of your body. Aches and pains are common when carrying baby, lugging around a heavy car seat, shouldering a diaper bag, etc. Muscle strains happen more easily during pregnancy (and the months after) due to hormones that soften the joints for childbirth. Avoid overdoing it with lifting or repetitive movements.

Get fresh air and exercise. Being cooped up with a crying baby can be stressful for both mother and baby. Sometimes babies just need a change of scenery, and moms need to get outside and go for a walk.

Take a deep breath. If you feel like you’re going to snap under pressure, take a time out. Identify situations that cause anger or frustration to boil over and use strategies (like listening to music or going for a walk) to regain control. Don’t just wait and hope for things to get better. Reaching out for help can prevent devastating situations caused by shaken baby syndrome.

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

It’s normal to have mood swings, crying spells and feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress in the weeks and months after giving birth. This is called the baby blues, and for many new moms these symptoms last a few days or weeks. When depressed feelings last longer or begin to interfere with your ability to function, postpartum depression may be the cause. Seek help if you’re feeling any of the following:

  • I feel hopeless, sad or depressed.
  • I have had difficulty sleeping, even when the baby is sound asleep.
  • I have uncontrollable mood swings and crying spells.
  • I’m having difficulty bonding with my baby.
  • I’ve been avoiding family and friends.
  • I have little or no appetite.
  • I worry that I may harm my baby, my partner or myself.

Baby blues and postpartum depression can affect moms at any point during their baby’s first year of life. You are not alone. Read more about another mom’s story of overcoming postpartum depression. If you’re feeling depressed, tell someone and contact your doctor. The best thing you can do for your baby — and your family — is to take care of yourself.

Connect with other moms. They can relate with the ups and downs of new motherhood. Strike up a conversation with friends, or connect with your own parent. Join a parent support group available through Orlando Health: Mothers Matter and Basic Infant Care.