I know that I am at pretty high risk for PPD. I am trying to balance thinking positive with also trying to prepare for reality. Is there anything that I can do now to prepare for/ try to minimize ppd? I am due in october. I am hoping to be open with my family and friends so that they will check in with me, but I do live at least an hour away from most everyone I know. Any advice is appreciated, thanks.
I've read that ppd is often caused by/linked to being overtired, overwhelmed, and isolated. I've never been diagnosed with ppd, but I have had my share of really tough early baby days, so take that for what it's worth. (My husband was a marine when our first three were born (3 babies, 3 moves, and 3 deployments in 4 years), and I pretty much did it all alone, and hundreds of miles away from family. I have no idea how I ever managed to do it, and am just thankful those super hard days are done.)
So, to prepare against it, I purposefully...
1.) Do all the things ahead I can, and plan to make caring for a baby (think a colicky baby) as easy as possible. This might include freezer meals, money saved to eat out or get out when you need to RIGHT NOW, changing around cabinets and dressers to make it easy to do housework one-handed so you can hold the baby and get things done. Also, various paperwork (like filing for a birth certificate, getting baby on insurance, notifying people of the birth, etc) can be done ahead of time, and ready to mail.
2.) Take a good multi-vitamin every day, as well as a good probiotic. Look into other supplements that may suit your needs.
3.) Prepare ahead to eat well and drink plenty of water. Purpose to eat something every 2 to 3 hours, and drink water and snack every time you nurse. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable will help control your mood and perceptions.
4.) Consider going gluten and dairy free the last 2 or so weeks of your pregnancy. Also cut out veggies from the broccoli family, onions, and caffeine. All of those things can cause belly trouble in your newborn, which will mess up sleep and etc. After your baby is nursing well, reintroduce things to see if anything bothers them. (I didn't list the other major allergens...corn, soy, peanuts, shellfish, and yeast, but you might consider also dropping at least soy, corn, and yeast as well. I don't eat much processed food, so the soy, corn and yeast automatically are very limited in my diet.)
5.) Have a backup plan to sleep if you get below a certain number of hours in a 24 or 48 hour period. You know your body better than anyone on the internet to know what that number is. Personally, if I get 4 hours, totally uninterrupted, and preferably between the hours of 4 and 8 am, I am good to go. More than that is amazing, but I can function and be clear headed on that. Less than that, and within a few days I'm really struggling to keep up with everything. When I am too tired to eat, or cook or clean, everything piles up, and I feel lousy from bad food, and it all spirals downhill. So, make sleep a priority. If you have other children stock up on quiet activities, or movies or whatever, and snacks they can manage on their own. Make one room totally safe so that you can flop on the couch and zone out while your other kids do whatever in there. Sleep is such a huge thing!
6.) Plan to get out at least every other day. Join a mommy's group, go shopping, force yourself to talk to people. Go for a walk (which is a double bonus because the exercise will help you). Refuse to allow yourself to stay home staring at the same walls and all your duties. Sitting on the couch texting a friend doesn't count, you need OUT.
7.) Start a hobby, and one in which you are accountable to other people. Having the accountablility may help drag you out of a rut should you find yourself in one.
8.) Make a list of all the people that you know and can talk to relatively easily. When you feel funky after the baby comes, don't wait until it gets out of hand. Call someone and talk for a while. You don't have to talk about ppd, or any issues at all. Just have a good conversation about anything. It will help you get perspective on reality. And, this is a great time to have snack. When you are chatting, eat a bit of something containing sugar. An apple will do, or some chocolate chips. Again, this will bring up blood sugar levels, and naturally make you feel better.
9.) I've never done it, but look into consuming your placenta. Lots of women rave about it.
I know the newborn days can be pretty rough, but just focus on THIS moment each moment that goes by, instead of letting them all stack up against you before they even happen.
I'd also add
- seeing a naturopath or your family doctor for any medication if you need. There are natural medication at very low doses you can take, that won't harm the baby but will help you. I'm taking a very low dose of homeopathy medicines recommended by my naturopath and find them very helpful.
- going out in the sun with your baby is very important (just realized you have an October baby... I had a September baby last time and we were pretty much stuck indoors)
- vitamin D drops will help too (naturopath can give you the right dose)
- keep your social life active (in a way you prefer) but do try to meet people at least once or twice a week
- don't be afraid to ask help - ask your friends or family to drop by with a meal or to take care of baby for an hour while you catch up some sleep or go for a haircut
- take care of yourself (bulk cook or crockpot cook and store extra in freezer in individual meal size portions for days you don't want to cook) meatballs can be frozen flat and don't need to be thawed - just take out a few and microwave for a minute or so..
- keep good snacks and water handy
- feel free to shop online for grocery to be dropped home
- takeouts are there for a reason
- get some firm of exercise - YouTube videos, workout DVDs, gyms that have babysitting, yoga at home, brisk walking inside the house etc - whatever works for you. Exercise gives endorphins which make you feel very good.
- eat good protein for at least 2 meals a day
- baked oatmeal can be frozen and will be a handy snack
- get stuff for the baby much earlier - clothes, baby wash, diapers, etc and car seat and assemble them ready to go
- if you are planning to breastfeed, read up on it at kellymom.com and dr.jacknewman.com and stock some herbal teas to help with it
- meals are huge! Go ahead and do some freezer meals, make a menu planner of quick and simple recipes that can be rotated that someone can help you with or you can do yourself. Have the staples on hand.
- Chiropractors can be your best friend. Mine is basically a naturopath too. He stayed on top of my adrenals and was able to adjust them accordingly. He also put me on a supplement called Mood Food in addition to the prenatal. Which you will continue to take if you are BF-ing. (Highly recommend doing, and having a strong support system in place for that as well. It is a struggle! In the first few weeks especially, but eventually becomes 2nd nature)
- HYDRATION! My DH couldn't believe how much I was able to consume!
- The Gluten and Dairy note is crucial. I started on day 5 or 6 of DD's life and I immediately had a whole new baby. Many meals can be adapted to GF and DF.
- I chose to co sleep and kicked DH out of bed so that my rest could be uninterrupted from snoring. Sleep when you can. Losing sleep can result in depression and anxiety. And the vicious cycle is depression usually comes with insomnia which can create anxiety.
- so #6 & 7 were hard for me because if the anxiety. Routine is very important. When I started walking outside regularly and taking regular trips to the grocery store I started to feel slightly more human. Don't overwhelm your schedule with appointments and lunch dates and such. But DO make time for a few every week. And you're the one with the new baby so don't hesitate to ask people to come to see YOU.
- phone calls to any support people are so helpful. And the strangest thing that happened to me was my circle of friends morphed into an entire different form. But it was welcomed.
- DONT HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS. Don't measure your abilities against any of your peers. Don't question your strengths. Be calm, be patient, be happy. The baby days are so very short. If you want to sit and hold your bambino all day long, do it!
Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!
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