Postpartum is the magical time when you have your baby and you can finally sleep again and all your dreams are coming true – right? If you are a (new) parent – you probably laughed and / or scoffed at that statement. Postpartum is no joke though – it is a time of restless nights, tears, anxiety, and many other difficult emotions! Mental health can and should remain a priority.
I recently delivered two lovely little twin girls at 34 weeks. They are so healthy and so strong – but they still needed time in the NICU. Let’s talk about Mom Guilt. It is REAL! Do I stay in the NICU…or do I go home to my husband and toddler? What happens if I leave? Will the girls remember I wasn’t there – because my son and husband might remember if I’m not there. Do I go back to work on the set date or do I try to give the girls more time at home with me? It was constant for me – I thought the thoughts would never stop. Anxiety, guilt, frustration, and disappointment clouded the joy of the girls getting stronger and healthier.
So what do we do when we are overwhelmed by these things that are so our of our control?
Be intentional. I had to actively be intentional to not allow guilt to control my decisions. Do I have other priorities that I need to handle before going to the NICU today? Do I need to be home with my family tonight? Do I have time to split later? If i can intentionally prioritize my schedule and time then I do not need tol be guilty about the decisions I am intentionally making. Is this easier said than done? You bet. Is it 100%? Absolutely not! Do I have a great support system in my medical team and my therapist that can help with the guilt? Yep. As my wonderful therapist put it, “Sometimes guilt is good because it shows where your priorities are – in this case it is your family unit and making it whole.”
Take time to refresh in your way. Do you need to meditate? Do it. Do you need to watch Netflix? Do it. Do you need to bake or cook? Do it. Do you need to walk? Do it. Do you need to lay and be alone? Do it. Do you need to start making plans for getting back to work? DO IT. Refresh and make yourself known to you.
Take your time to do things in your time. Whatever that means. We kept our bubble while our girls were in the NICU and will never regret telling people “no” to pictures while our girls were on tubes. Take your time with your body. You probably look like you just had a baby – which is good because you just had a baby. There will be time for your body to recover. There will be time for you to change your body later if desired. You are beautiful, and your body just did something (let’s be honest) ridiculous and amazing. That took nine-ish months…so you can take time getting your body back, too.
Ask for help if you need it. Talk to a friend. Talk to family. Talk to your medical care team. Talk to a therapist – me even. Needing help and being willing to ask for it is a true sign of strength. I’ll admit – I am really bad at this one. Asking for help is hard for me, but the more I practice the more I realize the worth in doing it.
It is natural to feel hormonal, but postpartum depression and anxiety are real life things, too. If you are feeling them – CARE Counseling can help! Click Here to Schedule an appointment.
Written By : Amy Babcock, MS, LPCC
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