Ways to use social support to prevent postpartum anxiety and depression
Strategies to manage the roller coaster of emotions following the birth of a child is often an afterthought. So much time is spent preparing for baby, from planning the nursery, to investing in all the gear for breast-feeding, and so little focus is placed on the mother’s postpartum recovery. Social support is a powerful way to address postpartum needs and provides a reminder that you are not alone in your postpartum challenges. While community can significantly aid in your healing, hearing about other moms’ anxieties can also add to yours.
In this post, we’ll consider what kind of social support can help prevent postpartum depression and anxiety and how you can effectively set boundaries to ensure that you support systems don’t add to your overwhelm.
Types of Support
If you are a new mom, you are likely wondering what types of social support are best for you. Sure, it’s easy to join a postpartum Facebook group, or even create a group text with your mom friends to ask quick questions and get advice without leaving the house. But, overtime, this can be isolating, and getting out of the house with your baby can help with postpartum depression, as can finding more in-person opportunities to connect with other moms going through the same emotions as you. These opportunities might be at your local prenatal yoga studio, through doulas, via postpartum support groups or breastfeeding groups, or with church groups. Attend a few groups before you decide if you want to commit. Notice how you feel before and after your attend. And, if getting out of the house creates too much stress or anxiety for you and your new baby, stick with online video groups to start.
While being around other moms can be comforting, it can also add to your stress if you tend to take on the energy of others. This is a highly emotional time for moms, and if you find yourself depleted, anxious, or depressed after attending your postpartum group, it might be time to consider what boundaries are sustainable. Not to mention, once you meet other moms, they may depend too much on your emotional support to get through this time with baby. Don’t hesitate to use phrases like “I’m maxed out today and can’t take on anymore, can we connect tomorrow?” or “I’m getting anxious about my baby getting sick and can’t hear about this today”. If this continues to be overwhelming, consider fostering relationships with moms who have toddlers instead. Once most new moms are out of the main postpartum phase, they’ll be under less stress about their own child and more eager to help, while having less to “dump” on you.
Lastly, having dedicated therapy sessions throughout your postpartum healing can help prevent depression and anxiety. Having someone to talk to, as well as dedicated time to focus on yourself when you are giving so much to another human being can be incredibly powerful and fulfilling. Set aside the mom guilt around the time and money it might take to get this regular, ongoing support, and instead focus on the benefit to yourself, your family, and your new baby. Postpartum therapy is an investment in your future as a mother.
At Center for Shared Insight, we help identify factors in your life that could contribute to emotional challenges post-baby and proactively work together to overcome the potential for postpartum depression and anxiety. Coupled with social support, your chances of a healthy postpartum period significantly increase. Contact our team to learn more about options for postpartum therapy today.