With Mothers Day just around the corner, it kind of takes me back in time.
Last year I celebrated my first ‘Mothers Day’, and I barely remember anything as I was just one month into motherhood. My mom and my brother with his family were with me. Sounds fun right? But I don’t remember it being fun at all!
To be honest I didn’t know what was going around me. Yes I was suffering from POST PAR-TUM DEPRESSION! (and just by writing this I have tears in my eyes).
” I had gone though 6 years of struggle to get my baby. After multiple miscarriages, bad health & emotional run downs, finally one day when I forgot about having a baby and focused on my health and myself, my baby happened.”
It was a miracle to finally conceive when I was least expecting it. But that’s not all. I always had problems in carrying each pregnancy, each pregnancy got me gestational hypertension (a condition where your blood pressure rises and fluctuates, affecting the baby and leads to miscarriages). This time was no different, however my gynaecologist took extremely good care, after understanding my case after so many mishaps. Believe it or not I got injected every single day until I popped this baby, I had major diet restrictions and by the seventh month, to add to my misery I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes (another round of food restrictions followed). I can never forget the jabs of insulin I gave myself. I’m sure by now you can gather the level of hell and back I went through to have this baby.
THE DAY arrived and I had my little angel in my hands,something that I longed for, for years. Only I know the pain behind every pin and needle I had gone through to get to this day this baby.
But, I was not as happy as I had imagined.I was irritable, had emotional outbursts, sleeplessness, pain ( post my C-section) , first two days I was worried if I would be able to lactate. I had self-induced so much pressure from the moment I held him in my hands. I was absolutely geared to be a mother but somewhere I was not as happy as I should have been.
Three days post my delivery, I started lactating (Phew!one stress less on my stress-checklist). But being a new mom and one glance at my new mom ‘to–do’ list, I was panicking. I would cry at the drop of a hat, feel lonely even with a houseful of family, get irritable and rude with people – the new mom anxieties and curiosities were killing me.
I was a mixed ball of emotions – depressed,low,insecure, rude (especially with my husband and mom), possessive ( I didn’t like anyone playing with my new born), sometime all at the same time. I knew it wasn’t the right behaviour, but I had absolutely no control of myself. Ridiculous of me, but, everytime my husband played with our baby, I felt he didn’t love me or care for me anymore.
And then it occurred to me,
I WAS GOING THROUGH POST PAR TUM DEPRESSION (PPD). A clinical depression which hits most women post delivery. Hormonal change is hypothesised to contribute as one cause of postpartum depression. And today, I’m not ashamed of accepting and sharing this. It’s very common and natural, and I’m sure a lot of you feel like you’re reading you own story.
I had read enough about this during my pregnancy, but I was so overwhelmed in bringing this baby to this world that I didn’t bother about life after it.
How to handle PPD
Pre-natal classes – join a pre-natal class, where you and your husband will be educated about delivery, postpartum, breast feeding, basically life after having a baby.Also while you are pregnant it helps you connect with your baby through different activities.
Make you husband aware about this condition – Its important to make your husband aware about this condition (given that they bear the brunt of it!). He will need to emotionally support you through it – a shoulder to cry, spending time with you, post dinner drives, quick dinners, a glass of wine, basically anything to make you feel special.
Join a counselling class – There’s nothing wrong in hearing from the experts, they talk to you and help you overcome this depression.
Change in environment – Post Partum depression doesn’t come with an expiry date, it takes time. Opt for a change in environment. I came to my mom’s place, I actually needed a break from my usual surroundings. So plan a little get-away or go stay at a friends place or perhaps a resort.
Catch up on some sleep & ME time – In between feeding times, try and catch up on some sleep .If you have help, express your milk ( there is no harm in doing this sometime) – you have to also think about yourself along with your baby. Or read a book, watch a movie, listen to some good music when the baby is napping. Do things that you like. this will definitely make you feel better.
Postpartum is not all about feeding the baby, changing nappies,sleeplessness only. This is the time you need to also take care of yourself. Make sure you have your mom or someone who can take care of the baby and you initially,so that you can have some time to yourself and not feel drained out. This is the time you need to focus on your health as well- remember, your body has gone through significant amount of change.
You need to focus on getting the right amount of nutrients to get your strength back. Also this is time to take baby steps towards achieving your pre-pregnancy shape, remember this needs to be done very slowly and at a steady pace.
Since you have given birth and you are breast feeding you need about 2000 calories a day. But don’t ever count calories and eat. Eat when you are hungry.
What can you do to get a good and healthy diet and aim towards steady weight reduction.
Try to get a balanced diet.
- Starchy food, like breads, rice etc.
- Lots of fruits & green vegetables.
- Proteins, like pulses, fish , egg etc. Avoid high protein food as this can cause gas and you can end up having a colicky baby.
- Dairy produce like Milk, yogurt, fruit smoothies etc.
- Try and avoid deep fried food, stale , junk , fast food.
- Nuts ( these are a good source of energy) I munched a lot on nuts every time I was hungry.
- Soups – Have a soup every day , this used to be my evening snack. Spinach, tomato, carrots, pumpkin. etc.
- Avoid having fatty foods like butter and cheese. It wont do any good to you or your baby, and in fact will add extra lbs to your weight.
- Avoid having those ‘strength’ laddos your mom, or mom in-law will make.There is a truth to it but minus the ghee or butter.I had all the ingredients that go in that laddoo separately like thymol seeds (ajwain) this helps in digestion as your digestion is weak after delivery. Dry fenugreek seeds (methi), this helps in building strength. Powder both these ingredients and have a spoonful every day. Have lots of nuts any time during the day. Don’t eat too much. I basically had all the ingredients of that laddoo except sugar & ghee which would have added the extra inches.
Do’s & don’t while Breast feeding
- Drink plenty of water while Breast feeding, As you loose a lot of water from your body during milk production, its good to keep yourself hydrated.
- Remember to avoid, fatty foods, deep fried, junk food, restrict your intake of caffeine and an absolute NO for alcohol. You could have a glass of wine occasionally, but keep a gap of 3 hours in feeding after having wine.
- Eat food which is easy on the stomach and nutritious, like green leafy vegetable, soups, juices, fruits, etc.
- Aniseed ( saunf) is a good source for milk production. So mix a spoon of saunf in a glass of water and have it through the day. Try and have at least 3-4 such glasses during the day.
- Mix some saffron in your milk, It’s good for your skin, will help you and your baby to look bright & shinny
- Oatmeal porridge is also great for milk production. You can mix it with milk and dates (instead of sugar) or you can make it with vegetables. This was my usual breakfast along with fruits while I was breastfeeding.
Eating healthy during postpartum is very important because you are recovering, breastfeeding and working towards weight loss. So each time you have a hunger pang, east smart and healthy instead of junk. My idea behind eating healthy was not just weight loss, I knew what ever I was consuming was going to be my baby’s food. Also since i was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I had to watch what I was eating to normalise my sugar levels. My sugar levels were back to normal right after delivery however, since diabetes is a familiar member within my family, I needed to be extra careful. My health care partners told me to keep a check on my weight – putting on any extra kilos was absolutely non-permissible.
This is the story behind being a FIT MOM. I had gone through a lot and learnt that healthy way of living is the way to go!
What can you do to loose weight during postpartum –
- For all expecting moms, please watch what you are eating. While pregnancy gives us the license to eat anything, you should not put on more than 12- 13 kg during your pregnancy. It’s not only difficult to loose that weight later it also creates a lot of complications during pregnancy.
- Eat right during postpartum & breast feeding. Avoid sugar, ghee, butter etc. Try & have a balanced diet.
- Breast feeding definitely helps in losing weight, but maintaining a balanced diet is important. Breast feeding is the best thing you can do for your baby. So please breastfeed as long as you can. It helps build immunity and prevents your baby from infections.
- Please don’t be bed ridden, listen to your body. If you are feeling better after 10-15 days of delivery, start moving around the house. Don’t do anything strenuous, do not lift weights – just be mobile within the house. Go down for walks.
- Do light exercises as recommended by your health care partner. I remember I was told to do back strengthening & pelvis exercises as I had a C-section.
These exercises were advised & demonstrated by my heath care partner
Every body type is different and every pregnancy unique, so ask your health care partner what’s best for you.
- During my fourth month, I started doing little stretches at home. You can do yoga or brisk walks. By my sixth month post delivery, I started running – only cardio, no weights. Working out can be in any form – climbing stairs, doing household chores, doing some stretches at home, brisk walks, running.
- Don’t go all out , start slowly but be steady – You can choose to do 10 push ups, 2-3 mins of planks, 20 squats, 20 triceps,10 surya namaskars. If you cannot step out of the house, think out of the box, do these exercises with your baby, and perhaps steal some kisses while doing it I do it even now when I don’t find time to hit the gym.
- I always say this, working out is just not about loosing weight, it’s a lifestyle. Each time you workout, your body release dopamine (also known as the ‘Happy Hormone’), its a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of happiness.
I will conclude this article by saying, Healthy living is the key to a happy lifestyle. And it’s important as mothers , we take out time for ourselves EVERYDAY.
Even if it is for half an hour, but give your self preference for that half hour. Do things that you like. Stop worrying about your baby and family during that hour . You need to be mentally and physically fit to be able to serve your family better. You are special as you are a MOTHER. Love yourself
To all the husband’s of these wonderful mommies – Please take a little step to pamper your wife, She does a lot in bringing a human to this world and raising a healthy child.
*Disclaimer – I have shared my experience here , speak to your health care partner,since every body type is different.
‘Happy Mothers Day’ to all you lovely Mothers out there.