1. Say it … Your life has changed. A gift is here, and it can also be really really hard. A little child is hanging from your nipple and keeping you up half the night, welcome.
2. Learn to recognize the symptoms of depression. The worst part of depression is that rarely do people recognize they are in it.
3. Share, okay even overshare. Share with safe (i.e. nonjudgemental) people what is going on, i.e. a therapist or a midwife or your mother or best friend, …the mail man.
4. Find a therapist. Therapist shop, really therapist shop, either via interviewing them for 20 minutes over the phone or going in person. If you are too tired to do it, have a loved one interview the therapist.
5. Find support groups. I found it through a stroll-in (you stroll your baby into a room with other new new moms and by accident have group therapy) at the YMCA in the East Village. Though ultimately, through baby parties in Brooklyn. Do it, start a baby party, go the playground without wipes and ask for them from a random mother. The one who does not give you a dirty look is your new BFF.
6. Find help wherever you can get it. For people who have no, I mean zero family near by, there are a few tactics. Wrangle your single friends who will coo over your baby for 20 minutes, hire a mother’s helper with a psych degree and talk to her for twenty minutes, or look through our site for a good therapist or midwife to come in and chat. I wish I had this with my newborn.
7. Try to sleep, I never got this one down. I think this one is reserved for specific situations but it is a good idea. I did not do this and ended up wearing a lot of t-shirts inside out and backwards. If you can not afford the night nurse or the extra hands and you are far away from family and your husband works 70 hours a week, I understand you. This is great advice. If you can follow it, you are a superstar. It will be one of the healthiest things you can do.
8. Go out for a night, alone or with good friends. Be yourself in the midst of mama madness. Grab your pre-baby friends and go to a movie or a bar or a coffee house.
9. Hang on to the shades of gray. Strip yourself away from the musts, and the shoulds, and that little perfectionist inside you that needs a schedule. This is about shades of gray, being gentle with yourself, opening up to that wide world of breast feeding and magazine reading. Or for people who did not opt for breast feeding, for formula making and vacationing (just joking).
10. Check in re: Your body. I can not emphasize this one enough. Ensure everything is back to normal. Get your thyroid checked and eat fish oil. Also, go to your GP and get a blood panel done and if needed get a psychiatric evaluation to rule out whether you do actually need medication. If you need medication, you can choose to white knuckle it, and work this out without the medicine, but why? And sometimes, you can not white knuckle it. God created meds for a reason.