A while back we shared our founder’s birth story with you and promised to share more articles about motherhood. Today I want to write about a very common yet rarely spoken about issue: Post Partum Depression (PPD). I would like to share 5 impactful ways of avoiding PPD which I believe will be especially useful to pregnant women and mums of newborns (especially if they are first time mums).
- Get information
It is easier to handle a situation when you know what to expect. I suggest asking a relative or friend who has recently had a child about their experience. Of course every baby is unique, but discussing experiences will give you some insight on general expectations.
I was a tad too confident going into motherhood. I didn’t do prior research because I knew I would be staying with my mum for at least the first week after leaving the hospital. I thought that was sufficient time for me to learn all that I should do and that my mum would teach me everything. Man was I wrong! Mum was extremely helpful no doubt, but she had also forgotten some things about baby care plus a lot of things have changed over time and then there were certain crucial things we disagreed on. It was a huge mess!
I would also discourage Googling too much. This was another disaster for me. I would spend every free minute trying to find information on the internet…”What is colic? How do you deal with it?” “How to increase breastmilk supply”, “How to know if your baby is getting full”… endless questions for which the internet has LOTS of answers, too many in my opinion. It can be overwhelming and confusing.
The best thing to do is to ask a relative/friend who has recently had a baby about their experience. Just 1 or 2 people because again, if you ask too many people you will be confused. If they cannot give you the information you need, choose just one source online you can be referring to. I would recommend the Kenyan Youtube channel “Nurturing Mums” by Ciru Ciera which gives several tips from a Kenyan perspective from pregnancy to after birth. I would also highly recommend the American website and app “Baby centre”. This website and/or app is great and can take you through a daily guide for your baby giving tips on what to expect and what to do.
- Do not compare babies
As stated above, babies are unique. Some can cry continuously for 3 hours while others cry for a maximum of 5 minutes. Some babies will sleep for 5 hours continuously and some can barely sleep for 1 hour. Some babies can feed for 15 minutes every 3 hours while others will want to feed for 30 minutes every hour.
When it comes to the milestones, babies sit, crawl, walk and talk at their own pace. There are babies who start walking at 9 months of age and others who start walking at 18 months of age.
Babies are different, do not compare them!
- If you have breastfeeding issues, know that you are not alone!
This was a BIG ONE for me! I had insufficient supply of milk and my son was constantly hungry! I drunk lots of tea, soups and porridge (including omena porridge which was so terrible but I was determined). I also tried pumping in between feeds. I even used motilium, fenugreek and mamalait. Despite all this, my milk supply was still low. (By the way, sometimes we think milk supply is low when actually it is just enough for the baby and sometimes it is a latching issue so consult your doctor before you conclude you have low milk supply). So I decided to supplement my breast milk with formula milk. I was so against this at first and it took a lot of convincing for me to agree to it. When I finally accepted that it was OK to give my baby formula milk, I became totally relaxed knowing that my baby will not starve if I do not have enough milk. Funny thing is, once I accepted formula, my breast milk increased and I barely fed my baby any of the formula! Seems like my biggest problem was relaxation. So mums, RELAX and if your breast milk is not enough, just supplement it, IT’S OK!
- Get a good pediatrician
As a first time mum (who had not done any research), I would panic any time my baby would have an issue and rush to the hospital. Problem was I didn’t have a specific hospital or doctor so my baby saw about 6 different doctors within the first 3 months of his life. Most of them asked lots of questions and did lots of tests including blood tests and then told us after all that that they could not identify the issue. Every doctor we saw was giving us different advice and different medicines!
It is important to identify a good pediatrician even before the baby is born and stick to one doctor as much as possible. Regarding this, if you know a good pediatrician kindly help other mums by sharing with us details on where we can find them. You can put their office/clinic address in the comment section.
- Ask for help!
DO NOT try to do everything alone! Ask your partner or relatives or friends to help you. If you can, get a house help. Let them help you with washing baby’s clothes, changing baby’s diaper, cooking for you, cleaning the house, and so on.
Always make some time for yourself especially during those first few days when things might be quite rough for some mums. In those first few days/weeks you are still recovering from delivery so avoid all the house hold chores and focus on healing! You will heal faster if you rest better. Although highly recommended, I will not say “sleep when the baby sleeps” because for me that did not work at all and I actually had post partum insomnia. Just do whatever works as long as you rest!
Do not be scared to leave the house for some time to take a walk or buy a coffee as baby is left at home in someone else’s care (someone you trust, of course). It is hard to be a good mum when you are tired and stressed. Rejuvenate yourself so that baby can get the very best attention and care from you when you are with them!
Being a mother is one of the best experiences in the world but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Talk to people, ask for help and know that God will protect your baby!
If you are having a big challenge with post partum depression kindly contact us on +254 707899947 and we will put you in touch with a psychologist.