Friday, February 13, 2015

Moms need Moms

Putting Children First

Our youngest hogging my spot (totally worth it)
As parents, our first priority is our children. Naturally. We consider their needs before our own, as we should. Many of us research everything from how to feed our children to how to get them into the best college. How many of us devote any time to researching our own needs? Are we equally invested in our own healthy development?

I am not suggesting that we do not continue to put our children first. I am not suggesting that we contribute to the growing self-centered culture of self-actualization and self-fulfillment at the expense of all else. I am suggesting that caring for ourselves-investing some of our effort into keeping ourselves healthy-is ultimately an invaluable way to put our children first. Healthy mommies can take better care of their children. If you have ever struggled with postpartum depression, or seen another mom struggle, perhaps you have learned the truth of this concept.

Postpartum Depression

While postpartum depression is often triggered by significant life and hormonal changes, in my experience, there are two major contributors to degree and susceptibility;

Isolation & Sleep Deprivation

Photo Credit
For me, far better than the different therapies and medications (which were sometimes very helpful, sometimes less so) were concentrated efforts to get more sleep and to remain connected to other women. 
Talking with other moms is my best medicine. 
Knowing I am not alone, hashing through parenting concerns with others who are in the trenches too (rather than relying solely on "experts" who know nothing of my particular circumstance) have been my saving grace six-times over. Other moms are the only way I end up believing that despite my struggles, I am doing a really good job. And that knowledge is often enough to break the depression fog. It is not easy. It requires some effort and help, but when I say break the fog I mean move from that hopeless, helpless place, to the place where I can begin searching for solutions.

When it comes to postpartum depression, healthy mothering begins with recognizing risks and knowing what to look for. From there it is important to identify what your potential triggers may be and then foster an environment that helps you manage those risks.

Reach Out and Recharge

So if you can relate to me and your danger zones are isolation and sleep deprivation, take a nap. Forget the chores and go to bed early. Plan a girls night or a ladies lunch. If you can't get out, bring them to you. Share some hot chocolate or hummus with another mom who won't judge your laundry mountain or you raccoon eyes from that time you actually put on makeup last Tuesday. If all else fails, pick up the phone. Have a chat. Because moms need other moms. Depression or not, we all need to know we are not alone. It will do wonders for helping you recharge and get back to putting your child first.

To learn more about symptoms of postpartum depression click here

To explore some options for help, click here, here, or talk to your doctor or another mother.

Please share with us what helps you stay healthy, focused, or balanced in your mothering. And keep an eye out for a future post about what you can do to support other moms.

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