Motherhood

How to Deal with Postpartum Depression

Having a baby incites a lot of emotions. And while utter happiness and excitement are the two most apparent ones that rule over this certain milestone in a mother’s life, it can also be enveloped by anxiety and fear. These negative emotions can develop into serious and even life-threatening conditions if left unchecked. So, how do people deal with this long-lasting, serious mood condition? Below are seven tips on how you can protect you and your baby against the signs and symptoms of PPD.

Identify the Signs and Symptoms 

Treatment of signs and symptoms cannot start without proper diagnosis of the underlying condition. Depression after pregnancy can develop suddenly, typically within the first 14 days post delivery. In some cases, symptoms can appear within two days. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, severe anxiety and agitation, suicidal thoughts, bizarre behavior, and thoughts of harming the newborn.

Make a Secure Connection With Your Newborn 

The stage wherein a mother and child are bonding on a deep emotional level, also known as emotional attachment, is the most critical stage of infancy. Success in this particular stage allows a child to feel safe enough to grow to the fullest extent. It impacts how he/she will interact and form deep connections throughout his/her life. To create a secure attachment with your newborn, use nonverbal cues including smiling, maintaining eye contact, and creating contact between your’s and your baby’s skin.

Get Some Rest 

One of the most common advice that people who have just had a baby get is “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This might sound overused after awhile, but it’s sound advice that could help you deal with postpartum depression. In a 2009 study, women who had the least amount of rest post pregnancy were also the ones who experienced the worst bouts of depression. This applied to mothers who clocked less than four hours of rest between midnight and 6 AM. If you find yourself staying up late because you need to breast-feed, consider pumping and filling a bottle so that your spouse can handle the overnight feeding.

Maintain a Healthy Diet 

Althought a well-balanced diet won’t immediately or solely cure postpartum depression, adopting a well-balanced diet can help you feel better and more energetic. It helps you avoid one of the most common symptoms of depression, which is severe mood swings. Plan out the week’s meals over the weekend and prepare healthy snacks in advance. You want to bulk up on food that is dense in nutrients including carrots, cheese, apples, peanut butter, and so forth.

Consider Psychotherapy 

Based on a 2013 study, psychotherapy was found to have a substantially lower rate of relapse versus medication. The report also suggested that people who were being treated via psychotherapy had lower risk of dropping out from the regiment as opposed to those who were taking medication. That being said, consult with your attending physician before resorting to psychotherapy treatment.

Avoid Isolation 

The weeks following delivery of your baby are the worst times to be alone. Isolation can increase your risk of developing symptoms of postpartum depression. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reveals that talking about your emotions with your spouse, a family member, or close friend can help boost your mood. Reports also show that new mothers had lower risk for depression after regularly socializing with experienced moms who also suffered from postpartrum depression during their pregnancies.

Gradually Go Back to Your Exercise Routine 

Tons of studies support the claim that physical exercise can help with depression, particularly those experienced after pregnancy. Although it’s ill-advised to start exercising right away after you give birth, most mothers can safely begin low-impact exercises a few days after pregnancy, particularly if you had a healthy delivery without any vaginal complications. If unsure, speak with your physician for advice on when you should start exercising again. Start with walking for half an hour each day. Other common physical exercises for mothers include spinning, dance, Pilates, and yoga.

Final Thoughts 

One in seven women are affected by postpartum depression, according to a study published by JAMA Psychiatry. While it’s easy to discount it as a mood swing after pregnancy, it should be treated seriously before it worsens. Use the aforementioned tips to properly deal with postpartum depression. Not only does it help protect mothers, but also their precious newborn babies.

Motherhood

Bursting with pride

If you’re a mom I’m sure you would have experienced the feeling before of bursting with pride for your children. It can be for anything, from a little thing to a larger achievement, but being a mom I think we all celebrate them in the same way!

Earlier in the week I watched my three year old daughter perform her first speech and drama show. It was a circus theme, and saw the class assembling the big top while reciting a bit of narrative to go along with the actions. As I watched the show unfold my heart was filling more and more with love and pride and complete amazement at just what my little girl could do.

She was first a clown pretending to juggle one then two balls (complete with her brightly coloured orange wig falling off her head as she took her bow to the audience!), then a tightrope walker pretending to balance high above as she teetered and tottered on the tightrope, and finally a cancan dancer.

The children all did so well, and I just couldn’t wait to envelop her in a big hug to say well done and how very proud of her I was. Granny was there to watch, as was Dad and her little brother, so it was a huge round of hugs and kisses and high-fives. She even got a certificate of excellence for her participation in Speech and Drama this past year.

Later, on the way home she calmly helped soothe her crying brother by sharing her favourite toy, and then even offered to share her chocolate milkshake reward with him too. Both acts of kindness were so selfless and completely unprompted that I was worried my heart would burst all over again. It was a good mom day and my energy reserves and love tank is filled to the brim because of that. Bring on the next week, I’m sure I can handle you now!

Motherhood

On gratitude

My little boy was recently ill, and as any parent of a small child knows the probability of this happening over a weekend is very high. So it was off to the hospital on a Saturday morning to wait and see the pediatrician on call.

It was actually the first time I had been into the children’s ward at the hospital. Although it was cheerily decorated with red and blue sailboat linen while painted fishes and dolphins adorned the hallway walls and a goldfish swam to and fro through the rising bubbles in a tank on the counter, I still could not help feeling my heart sink right down into the soles of my shoes.

In one room the beds had rails to help the kiddies sleep safely, while another room housed a number of cots for the smaller ones visiting. Next to each bed or cot was a chair that converted into a bed for mom or dad to sleep on in order to look over their sick children during their stay. A few of the beds and cots were occupied with little people, while one boy was happy to be going home that day, another little girl ran up the passage singing a tune from Doc McStuffins while a nurse lazily chased her back into her bed. There were of course also plenty of tears as parents tried to reassure or distract.

Looking around and taking this all in, I sucked my breath in really hard and fought back tears of my own. How blessed were we to have a three-year-old little girl and to date we have never had to spend a night with her in the hospital? Yes, we have had hard times with sleepless nights, musical beds, medicine given to an unwilling patient, arms held for examinations, and even x-rays and blood tests. But we have never had to actually admit her to the hospital and see her experience this.

The pediatrician examined our little boy and we were given the all clear, just some medicine required, no need for any time in the hospital. The terror that had been building in my stomach finally settled as we left the ward, happy to be taking our little person home to make him feel better in his own bed.

Even though we had visited the hospital with a sick child that day, it was clear that there were so many children that were much sicker than our two have ever been. Children fighting terrible diseases like cancer, parents facing impossible choices to do whatever it takes to save them, and both parents and children being so brave to walk the path which life has handed to them together.

Hug your child a little closer, give them an extra kiss, and know how truly blessed you are to have healthy children today.

Reviews

Christopher Robin

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh, and so I was delighted when my daughter chose this special bear to be her bedtime friend to cuddle. Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet soon joined the gang in her cot, but it was always Pooh bear who would bring her comfort and who eventually went on to join her on many adventures together.

Since those early days I have loved sharing the wonderful stories of Winnie the Pooh with our two children. Even after all these years there remains something so special about this bear who A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard chose to share with the world. To see this magical world of the Hundred Acre Wood brought to life in the new live action Disney movie Christopher Robin was incredible. As I sat and watched Winnie the Pooh and his friends set out on a new expedition, I was swept away in a beautiful story of friendship, the sadness of the inevitability of growing up, but then also made to delight in the rediscovery of happiness.

The animation in the movie is remarkable, and not for one moment did I question the authenticity of Winnie the Pooh being real. He is portrayed exactly how I had imagined him to be – often sharing his surprisingly insightful thoughts despite his absent-mindedness, always thinking about honey, and so full of love for his friends and Christopher Robin. Eeyore was predictably gloomy in his glumness, Tigger bouncy in his exuberance, and Piglet nervous about almost everything. Kanga and Roo, Owl, and Rabbit were all there too, and each endearing in their own ways.  Christopher Robin himself was perfectly portrayed by Ewen McGregor.

Christopher Robin shows us the boy who grew up, met the love of his life, got married, had a daughter and then got swept away in the everyday routine and responsibilities that come with being an adult. Along the way he forgets about the importance of using his imagination and having fun together with his family, but is soon reminded when Pooh bear makes a surprise appearance and takes him on an unexpected journey.

If you or your children are fans of Winnie the Pooh you will love embarking on this new beautiful adventure. It goes without saying that it’s also the perfect introduction to this classic story for your little ones and promises to be the start of a wonderful friendship for them with this incredible bear.  Christopher Robin delivers an authentic Winnie the Pooh experience in a completely new way. As much as I found myself giggling many times, I also felt my heart ache for the bear’s sadness, and then rejoice again later as the story unfolded. I loved hearing his now-famous words, watching the beautiful original illustrations and Pooh bear music woven into the story, seeing the surprised looks on people’s faces when he spoke, but above all I couldn’t wait to rush home and give my own silly old bear a great big hug!

Thanks for sharing your remarkable story and characters with us A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, we are so very happy that you did. I just know you would have delighted in seeing them in this new way and on this new adventure with Christopher Robin.

Christopher Robin is now showing in cinemas across South Africa. It comes highly recommended from me, both as a mom and as someone who loves Winnie the Pooh! In addition to being a wonderful movie to enjoy together with your children, Christopher Robin has lovely messages of the importance of family and friends, as well as how we should never forget about the power of our own imaginations.

Motherhood

Goodnight sweet boy

As the sun sets on this day, my heart is a little bit sore. I hug you a little tighter before bed, give you an extra kiss, and rock you in my arms for just that much longer. But you’re no longer a little babe, and even though you now stroke my hair gently and squeeze your soft squishy arms around my neck while softly murmuring mama in my ear, my heart still aches for the baby boy that was so much lighter in my arms not too long ago.

Instead of that tiny babe I have a little boy now, happily vrooming his cars around the lounge, loving his sister so fiercely, laughing hard at tummy tickles, and bopping his head to his favourite beat. Tomorrow when dawn breaks I won’t be able to say you’re 11 months anymore, instead I will say you’re one.

Even though your chubby cheeks are slimming down, and your hair is less fuzzy to brush against my lips, you still love your mama so. Your eyes light up, and you reach your arms out to me. And I revel in that love my boy. I always will.

Goodnight sweet boy. A new day awaits us all tomorrow, and I can’t wait to share the excitement of presents and balloons, cake and fun, with you. Even luckier still you have a sister to celebrate with too. So while my heart may be a little sad, it’s also filled with happiness, and most of all gratitude for the blessing that you are to me.

Family

So you had a bad day

Did you know that the word ‘mom’ upside down spells ‘wow’…coincidence? I think not! You see every mom is an amazing woman, and the glue that holds the family together. But we all know that being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, rewarding, yes, but very difficult and we all have our bad days.

Some days you will serve roast chicken and vegetables for supper, other days it may be toasted cheese sandwiches (cut into triangles of course). Some days your child will go to school with a perfect plait in place, other days just clips will hold back her tangled hair. Some days their tummy will be filled with freshly made porridge, other days just some box cereal will do the trick. Some days just a quick bath will wash off the grit and grime from your child’s grubby hands and feet, other days you’ll indulge them with bath crayons and bubbles, and then there are those days when just a quick face cloth wipe will be deemed enough.

Some days you’ll remember to pack the change of clothes, extra nappies, dummy, bib, toy, and wet wipes, along with blankets for being out and about. Other days your nappy bag will be leaner but you’ll make a plan. Some days you’ll do an exercise routine with your baby, other days the activity mat will keep him entertained so you can put the washing on and get supper on the stove.

I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to have your bad days, its normal in fact. Well at least I think it is. So you had a bad day? So what…have a hot cup of tea, maybe indulge in some chocolate (recommended) and do better tomorrow.

We all have bad days, even the best of us do. It’s just that sometimes we don’t see other people’s bad days. But they are there, I can promise you that. The really great news is that tomorrow is a new day and your little people are very quick to forgive and give another chance at this whole mom thing.

Not too long ago I was trying to survive what had been a very long day with a headache. I was impatient with Amy and I could see she was confused at this. I told her I was sorry and she said “It’s ok Mom” and gave me a hug. I didn’t feel deserving of the hug and I didn’t hug her back tight, and for that I was reprimanded and told to hug her properly. Considering myself chastised, I did for the second hug and was rewarded with a warm feeling from the love and care this little girl has for me.

Some days that hug can take away all the exhaustion in the world.

Parenting

Don’t sweat the small stuff

I read a saying once that you should listen earnestly to anything your children tell you, no matter what, because if you don’t listen to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them it’s always been big stuff. In this world where there are so many dangers lurking around every corner, it resounded with me, because my children wanting to and being able to share every concern with me is definitely something I hope to achieve.

But this starts when they are young, and it’s hard to not sweat the small stuff. Perhaps understanding that to them it’s not so small will help us to understand next time. For example, while you may be worried about whether to take your toddler to the Dr because she’s had a snotty nose now for two weeks, or if you should phone insurance to lodge a report about the tree that fell in the heavy rain this past weekend, issues that seem big in your life, your toddler is trying to decide if she wants the Doc McStuffins mug or the Minnie Mouse mug, issues that seem big in her life. In the same vein, her choosing what top to wear to school is a big deal to her, even if you’re running late and she’s chosen a sleeveless summer top on a cold wintery day.

It’s not always easy to understand how a different juice mug can cause such an impact, especially when they are both pink after all, but just take a minute and see it from her perspective and perhaps you will understand. In our busy lives today with the pressures and stresses of daily living when a toddler starts to assert her independence and it’s over a juice mug tempers can flare I won’t lie. But it’s human nature for us to want to be in control of some aspect of our lives. Just imagine we tell our children what to eat, when to eat, when to bath, what to wear, and control so many aspects of their day to day life.

Let’s try to give them a little control of their color juice mug and be understanding and see where it gets us. Aside from the smile which will brighten your day, your child will see you understand how important the little things are to her, and one day will hopefully share the big things with you too. And that’s something to strive for, something to make sure we swallow our impatience over, and remember that we too were small once and the color juice mug was a big deal in our lives then too.

Parenting

Muddling through the messy toddler years

We’ve all seen the toddler year’s warnings, the ones that define a toddler as an “emotionally unstable, pint-sized dicator with the uncanny ability to know exactly how far to push you towards utter insanity before reverting to a lovable cuddle monster.” And we all look at our child and think we will be different. But until your little one actually turns into a toddler and you see it for yourself you won’t necessarily believe it, but you will find yourself scrambling for books to read on how to deal with the new delicate balance in your house.

Have you heard the phrase “hell hath no fury like a toddler who wanted the green cup instead of the orange one,” or “hell hath no fury like a toddler whose sandwich was cut into squares when he wanted triangles.” Yeah, it’s more like hell hath no fury, full stop.

No wanting a jersey put on, wanting to brush her teeth, not wanting dad to sit on her chair, wanting another banana, not wanting socks on, wanting to ride the dog, not wanting to eat her yoghurt, wanting yet another banana…the list goes on, and it’s additions of like and dislikes are in continual flux.

Of course if you’re reading this and your little one hasn’t hit the toddler stage just yet, you’re probably shaking your head and thinking this won’t ever happen to you. Well it most likely won’t happen in the same way with toothbrushes, bananas and jersey wearing (well it might, but that would be weird). But it will happen, and when it does, think of me hiding bananas, sneaking around with ninja-like jersey skills, and putting socks onto wriggling toes that have been cornered. If you’re lucky you’ll get a kiss after the messy meltdown and will soon forget the toddler’s list…good thing too, because it will all change tomorrow anyway.

Motherhood

Your child’s inner voice

It’s no secret that both of my pregnancies were tough on me. During both I suffered from complications that made my last few months a challenging time. I was tired from not being able to sleep, I was sick with bronchitis, and just generally feeling somewhat ill-tempered from carrying this really large tummy around. Add a husband’s stressful job and a demanding toddler to the mix and things got even more complicated. To top it off everyone in the family had been ill, and that included the two family Labradors!

Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed when things caught up with me and I would say to my husband “I can’t do this anymore.” It was a moment of weakness, we are all allowed them right, but sadly it was also heard by another pair of little ears, always listening, and seen by another pair of little eyes, always watching.

Amy had been sick with bronchitis too, she had been very ill for a number of weeks and it had been taking its toll on all of us. At the end of a very long day I was sitting by her at bedtime, and she wasn’t going to sleep. I grew impatient as my back ached and my stomach was uncomfortable perched on her bed. She sensed my impatience and started to cry. To my absolute horror she then sobbed “I can’t do this anymore.”

Not only had she been listening, she had also understood the depth of my exhaustion and despondence at how hard life had been for us. When I heard her say those words and mirror my desperation my heart broke and my breath caught in my throat. It was my job to protect her from the harsh realities of life, to keep her safe from sadness, and instead I’d given her an up close glimpse right into it. It seemed like a failure, and the only thing I could think of to do was draw her close into a tight hug and say I love you.

So let this serve as a reminder that our children are always watching and listening, no matter their age. Let’s be aware to make their inner voice one of positivity to protect them for as long as we can.

Parenting

Take time to smell the flowers

Like most children at age three, my daughter Amy is an inquisitive soul, and loves to ask me questions. She is always wanting to know what day of the week it is, what the weather is predicted to do, what month it is, and what season we’re currently in. All these questions keep me on my toes, and I have to make sure I’m always up to date to keep little madam informed.

We have a ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ bush next to our garage, and for the past few weeks Amy has been watching this bush with a keen interest. During the Winter months it hasn’t had flowers, and she has been monitoring it daily to check whether it’s still in fact Winter. But, as you know, Spring is in the air and the bush has been hard at work producing its first batch of flowers to present to the world. Just last week she came home from school, and when she climbed out of the car she spotted a few flowers on the bush.

Her excitement was so pure and real, that I couldn’t help but to be infected by it too. “Mom, Mom, is it Spring?” she asked, “the bush has flowers on it.” Once I confirmed that it was in fact almost Spring she started her happy dance along with a loud chorus of “yah, yah,yah!” She then asked if she could smell the flowers, to which I replied “of course.”

It served as a reminder to me to enjoy the little things in life, and, yes, to slow down and smell the flowers once in a while. The passion with which this little girl begs for more bedtime stories, hugs her baby brother, checks for post, dances to her music, negotiates for more treats for her dogs, and fiercely loves her friends and family inspires me on a daily basis. The other day we went to the shops and she said to me “let’s skip Mom.” And skip we did, which left me a little out of breath, but we both had big smiles on our faces and we were giggling together like, well, like little girls!

Today is a special day, it’s Spring Day! A day to celebrate with your children and always remember to be inspired by them, and to stop and smell the flowers.