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How can I Handle Postpartum Stress?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2018
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Most women encounter some level of postpartum stress at the end of a pregnancy. About 80% women develop the baby blues due in part to declining hormones and the stressful new experiences associated with parenthood. Postpartum stress affects new moms and those who’ve suffered pregnancy loss or given a child up for adoption. Advice on how to handle postpartum stress can be extensive, but a few main suggestions are to get or accept help, lower standards, pursue a healthy diet and exercise plan, and watch for and report to doctors any severe mood distortions.

Isolation or having to do it all leads to higher postpartum stress levels. Most people will find many willing hands if a new baby is on the scene and should take advantage of this interest by accepting help. If possible, new parents might also hire someone to do things like housecleaning or providing mother/infant support. Help does not diminish the role the mother plays and it may assist her in getting more comfortable in new roles, and other types of assistance are equally necessary for someone who isn’t parenting. Support groups or individual therapy to address pregnancy or child loss are frequently needed at this time and may reduce stress.

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Having high standards is a natural part of parenting, but inflexible ones can lead to an environment of constant failure and self-critique. It can also prevent other people from assisting. Many partners feel like they can’t have a say in caring for their children because they’re afraid of doing something the mom won’t approve of. Moms are advised to be realistic and flexible, to get used to the idea the job always involves failures, and most especially to not be judgmental when assessing partner parenting.

In times of postpartum stress, people frequently forget basic care for their bodies. Diet and exercise suffer a lot. For new moms, particularly breastfeeding ones, it’s easy to become nutritionally deprived without appropriate calorie intake. This can cause a tremendous amount of postpartum stress.

A little exercise is also advised, based on doctor guidelines, because of its pronounced mood-stabilizing effects. It’s generally not advised to over-exercise the recovering body for the first few weeks after birth or to adopt stringent weight loss diets. Instead, aim for a healthy combination of diet and exercise, which naturally promote weight loss and combat nutritional losses that might add to postpartum stress.

A few women have more than postpartum stress. They develop postpartum depression, which needs treatment. Some symptoms of this include feelings of hopelessness, suicidal feelings, thoughts of wanting to injure a child, lack of interest in a new child, and difficulty sleeping. Should these symptoms arise, they need medical attention. This condition is not a failure of motherhood, but merely a mistake in the way the body’s neurotransmitters are working. Effective treatment of postpartum depression combines drug and talk therapy.

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