1. If you think something is wrong, seek professional support. Do not blame yourself. It is not your fault! At least one in ten women experience Postpartum Depression and many have no history of mental illness of any kind.
2. Try to rest when your baby sleeps, if your mind is racing tell your doctor.
3. Try to eat well. If you have no appetite, tell your doctor or midwife. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
4. Remember that good mothers make mistakes. Having PPD has nothing to do with your abilities as a mother. It is an illness that is treatable and you should be commended for seeking help. Try not to compare yourself to other mothers. Avoid people who make you feel bad.
5. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Confide in your partner and/or family. Let others know what they can do to help. Let someone help out with the baby or other children.
6. It's okay to have negative feelings. Remember what it feels like to start a new job. It often takes any person 6 months to get used to a new role. Bonding can take time, and most mothers report a feeling of protectiveness but not love in the first 6 weeks. It will develop, bonding does not happen overnight.
7. It's normal to start out with all bad days or with only a few good days. Soon the good days will outweigh the bad days. Allow yourself time to cry.
8. Stay on all medications you have been instructed to take. Studies show that most people will stop their meds within the first two weeks. Stick with it! It can take 4-6 weeks for antidepressants to take effect, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this. There are medications that are considered relatively safe to take while breastfeeding. If you are concerned about breastfeeding while on medication, contact MotherRisk at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
9. Force yourself to walk every day for at least 30 minutes, studies show that exercise can be very effective on depression. Get some fresh air. Take a deep breath.
10. Join a parenting and/or play group. Find a support group or a counsellor that you feel comfortable with. If any of these groups don't feel good, leave them. Trust your instincts. Tell your doctor how you feel.