Thinking about having another baby after a Postpartum Mood Disorder? Here are 5 things to remember when you think about trying again.
Written by Dr. Kira Bartlett, Clinical Psychologist with a specialty in Perinatal Mental Health and Dee's List Member.
We know the risk of experiencing another episode of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety is higher for those of us who have experienced it before. However, knowing, planning, and taking action proactively can be useful in mitigating the risk. Many women we work with struggle with the question posed in the title, and many have had success as they have used some of the tips and strategies below.
Live and Learn
We all know the old adage “sleep when the baby sleeps”. But, this second time around you’ll be able to understand how precious those moments of power naps can be. Take advantage. Also, hopefully, some mom friends have been down this road before as well, and perhaps you can all make a pact to give each other useful gifts like premade dinners and the gift of no thank you notes!
It’s a Phase
One of the many challenges of being a first time parent is that it seems those early newborn days and nights last forever. The benefit of knowing each experience (newborn sleep or lack of, teething, tantrums) is a phase and therefore WILL pass. You can see the forest from the trees a bit more easily. Knowing what comes next is so helpful in staying mindful, conscious, and calm in the face of challenging moments with your baby and your toddler.
Say YES when someone offers help. This means - yes, you can empty the dishwasher, yes, you can hold the baby while I shower. It does take a Village and there is no medal for doing it alone. You will repay the favor at another point. This includes letting someone else do it, especially your partner even if they do it “differently” a.k.a. wrong. We certainly didn’t start by knowing how to do all of it, we learned through trial by fire. We have to give our partners a chance to learn, mess up, and find their own way. Longer term research is clear that partners who are involved early with childcare report closer bonds with their children than those who are not.
Community, community, community. Other cultures have the right idea, here in the US, we are still working on this. Parenting in isolation only serves to exacerbate the difficulties. The opportunity to talk to other moms who are struggling with sleep or feeding issues can provide us with insights or ideas we might not have ourselves. Learning more about other couples frustrations with one another allows us to feel less alone. But mostly, it just makes the day more enjoyable and pleasant if we can share in some adult conversation, something many moms and dads say they feel starved for! The beauty of this early development of community is that it allows for growth toward babysitting shares, carpooling, and parents nights out.
How will I split myself?
Here’s the good news, you don’t have to! Yes, it’s hard once we are juggling two or more, but the benefits are numerous. The baby will be entertained by watching his or her older sibling for sure, we can begin to welcome the switch from the challenging monotony of newborns to the hilarious toddler shenanigans. You will discover the beauty of sharing, and so will your children.