“For around one in seven women the stresses and emotional changes that accompany their postnatal experiences can be intense and include strong depressive mood swings, anxiety, social withdrawal, irritability and loss of enjoyment in usual activities.”
I had dreams of being a mother since I was a young girl. I was going to tenderly brush my child’s hair, bake cookies with them, take long walks to the park and just be unexplainably joyful with them in my arms.
Reality hit when my first child was born. After a long list of complications and a week in special care we brought him home. I was unable to walk properly after dislocating my hip during labour and I struggled to feed him due to the pain. My dreams of the perfect home coming with my baby were clouded by screaming, pain and exhaustion.
After a diagnosis of postnatal depression I started seeing a specialist who helped me with a range of strategies to move through this stage. I didn’t realise how bad things were until I started seeing the light. My gorgeous baby was making amazing progress and he was growing so quickly. I was so motivated to get support and started researching natural therapies to help me.
These are the main strategies that helped and continue to help me after also having postnatal depression with my second child.
I knew I needed to meditate but I had no inclination to do it. I would close my eyes and take a deep breath but millions of thoughts would swamp my mind and I felt like a failure. I thought I was failing at meditating.
After reading many books I learnt to simply return to my breath with each thought that came into my mind. I didn’t have to acknowledge the thought, I didn’t have to get frustrated by having the thoughts come in, I simply had to return to my breath.
I started with doing 30 second bursts before I went to sleep or if I managed to find a few minutes to sit on the couch. Slowly this increased and now I continue to meditate for around 30 minutes each day.
The strategy I used was to concentrate on breathing in through my nose, be mindful of the breath filling my lungs, filling my stomach and then releasing back out through my lungs and out through my nose. Do this for as long as you can.
Gradually I built up to visualising exactly how I wanted my life to look. I would spend time simply breathing and then visualising my ideal day. This helped me relax and make the decisions I needed to make for that day. This is one of the most powerful strategies I use now when I am struggling to get out of bed or deal with a particular situation.
Before children I loved to exercise but after found limited amount of time, energy or inclination to do any. I thought that if I didn’t have a full hour to do some exercise then it wouldn’t be worthwhile. A truly remarkable shift came when I decided to just go for a 5 minute walk. That’s it.
I now wake up before everyone else and sneak off for my morning walk. This is the time I use to have some time to myself. Having time to collect my thoughts and plan out my day truly supports me in having a happier day and leads to a more relaxed life.
The whole act of walking is really just a moving meditation and I see it as the best form of therapy.
After moving through postnatal depression for more than 3 years now I have seen patterns in my behaviour. When the depression is at its worst I realise that I have stopped finding fun. I have stopped looking for fun things to do or looking for the fun in different activities of life.
My favourite way of finding fun is turning up some great music as I wash the dishes. My boys and I dance in the kitchen, clean, cook and have a great time. This is a habit I incorporate into my afternoons each day as we prepare dinner together.
Another way to find fun is to go for a walk rather than sit on the couch. I take the boys out and go at their pace. I stop and smell the roses, look at the ants crossing the footpath, stare at the clouds shaped as dinosaurs and remind myself to enjoy every minute of it. As simple as this sounds, it can be extremely difficult when your default habit has switched off the fun.
These are the three main strategies I have used to move through postnatal depression after both of my boys. As my life continues to get better and better I’m so grateful of the support I received when I was struggling and the support that is available for other mothers going through the same thing.
Author: Nicky Leonti
Motherhood doesn’t mean the end of your dreams, it means you have far more fire to make a profitable business out of your passion so you can carve out a life YOU want for your family the way YOU want it. I am Nicky and I help you do just that by refining your strategy, giving you hands on marketing tools and full digital support.