Kate Kripke, LCSW
We talk a lot on this blog and Postpartum Progress about what it is like when a mom is NOT well. But let's pause for just a minute and focus on what might be included in the lives of moms who are. Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders can happen even when the below are maintained, but fact is that the below decrease one's risk of developing (and certainly exacerbating) a PMAD. So, here you go.
The Well Mom Checklist:
1. Healthy nutrition including adequate amounts of protein (required for brain health and the synthesis of Serotonin).
2. Adequate sleep (think about a minimum of 4 hours of un-interupted sleep at least 4 nights a week... with much more whenever possible).
3. Regular daily exercise (walking, stretching, yoga included)
4. Adequate water intake (dehydration and anxiety have been linked)
5. Full, deep, belly breathing (our brains need oxygen to thrive)
6. Community support (family, friends, neighbors, therapists, postpartum support, spiritual community, etc)
8. Fresh air and sunshine
9. Breaks and time for self care (it is a myth that the "good mom" is one who always wants to be with her children)
10. A strong and communicative relationship with a co-parent or partner
11. Understanding (and forgiveness) of one's self, needs, and emotional triggers
12. A willingness to make mistakes
Many of these things are difficult to achieve, I know, and often the way to obtain these things is through reaching out for help. Which is the final addition to this list. Moms who are willing to ask for and receive help are usually the ones who have their needs met at a time when a focus on needs can be monopolized by that little being in their arms. But moms need to be well, too.
Here's to health...