**This post was written a really long time ago. Before I even had Lillypilly! This was my list of strategies to avoid PND. Well we all know that didn’t really work, so I never bothered to post it. In reality this is still a great list, and I have continued to use these strategies alongside my medical treatments. For mild PND or just in general this might be a good resource to help you get through. Always remember that if this is just not cutting it for you, you may need some extra help, and that’s okay too**
1. See a naturopath
There are numerous effective and safe natural medicines that can provide significant relief from depression and anxiety. Natural medicine got me through my pregnancy, and I still use it now alongside my medication. Always work with a qualified naturopath to ensure safety.
2. See a counsellor and make a plan
When I was about 36wks pregnant, I went to my GP and got signed onto a mental health plan to give me access to free counselling. I found a counsellor and had my first appointment before baby arrived. This gave me a chance to meet my counsellor, find the clinic and get some advice before I had to cope with two kids. This was an even better decision when I realised my first person wasn’t right for me as I had time to find another. I think having a counsellor in place is really important even if you’re coping quite well. Post natal depression can hit hard and fast. Better to be prepared.
3. Get out in the sun and fresh air
This was so important for my AND, and is something I still do now. If I feel overwhelmed and unhappy, I bundle the kids down the stairs and get out into the yard. Spending some time with the sun warming my body and looking at the sky really calms and refreshes me.
I find this so tough to do but the research is pretty clear on this: exercise improves mood. Lately I have found that even tiny bits of exercise add up. I think it is easy to think that unless you are at some crazy bootcamp every morning, then there’s no point. I recently dropped a couple of kilo’s just by doing a couple of 30 day challenges. They took me hardly any time, but they built up my muscle mass which helps burn fat. Every little bit counts.
5. Have a daily routine
I had a really interesting experience while pregnant; I woke up one morning feeling just awful. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I felt so overwhelmed with responsibility and I was so low. Over the past year I had created some routines to try and bring my chaotic life into order. On this lowest of days I just automatically started doing this routine of little things, cleaning ‘that’ bench that acquires all the junk, putting the washing out, wiping the benches etc, and all of a sudden I realised I felt much better. My day had started to take shape, little niggly jobs were getting done and getting through the day seemed more achievable. At that moment I realised the value of a daily routine (even just a morning one). So write a routine, even if it’s a basic as get changed, wash breakfast dishes, clean the messiest room in the house. You will be surprised by its effect. (If you need some help to do this check out FlyLady)
6. Get some chores done
When you have a baby, everyone tells you to ‘forget the housework’. The problem is when you are tired, depressed and sitting on the couch breastfeeding all day that mess can be pretty irritating. I am so not a neat freak but it drives me wild. My advice is to get a few chores done if you can. You’ll feel much better if you know at least the floors are swept or the washing is out. You won’t be able to do everything, but doing something will help. The best option is to hire yourself a cleaner for 3 months. If you are worried about money ask people to put in for that instead of baby gifts. But if this is not an option for you just do one thing a day.
7. Eat well, eat often, eat protein
This is so important, but perhaps one of the hardest. I’ll be honest, my diet is no where near what I want it to be. Often I’m grabbing a muesli bar at lunch time while holding the baby under my arm and stopping the toddler from breaking something with the other. However do your best to eat good nutritous food at every chance. Sugary processed food will give you a short energy boost, but once it wears off you will feel even worse. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar stable which is important for mood regulation. Low blood sugar makes you feel shaky and anxious, as well as low on energy. Protein foods provide essential amino acids used in the creation of neurotransmitters. These are responsible for our mood.
8. Have a support network
I believe as a mother you need two types of support: people who can help care for your children, and other mums. These aren’t mutually exclusive, but usually family or close friends can be trusted to look after your angels, while a broader group of mums to share advice, tea, and the occasional whinge session are also important
9. Lose yourself in child’s play
Playing with your kids can give you a huge boost if you really lose yourself in it. Children find everything joyous and magical, and that can be infectious. I find imaginary games the best. Anything that involves mess can become stressful, so grab a box and pretend to be pirates for an hour.
10. Keep up the grooming
We are all guilty of those days when we live in our pajama bottoms, and our hair doesn’t see the brush. However spending every day like this will just make you feel dowdy, and you will lose sight of who you are. First thing in the morning brush your teeth, hair and get changed into clothes that you would wear to the shops to get milk. You will feel better, and if you do have to leave the house unexpectedly it won’t be such a hassle.