Pregnancy Is A Time For Developing Tools To Prevent Postpartum Depression
No matter if it’s your first or fifth child, each pregnancy is unique. If you are concerned about postpartum depression (PPD) or you experienced it in the past, then thinking through how to build something different while you’re pregnant will help you in the long term when baby/babies arrive. Prevention to ward off the baby blues or PPD is key.
With each pregnancy, the place you’re at in your life is different than it was before. You family is and will be changing. It’s a period of adjustment, pain, preparation, joy and mostly, development. It is just as essential to take the time and space while you’re pregnant to allow yourself to develop while you’re awaiting a new life.
While each pregnancy is different, there are some things I’d tell any pregnant patient who walked through the doors of my NYC therapy office and are trying to prevent postpartum depression. I encourage my pregnant patients to use pregnancy as a time to reflect on themselves, their relationships and work, and then, be creative with how to get what they need, which will be helpful to the transition once the baby comes.
Pregnancy Is A Chance To Get To Know Yourself Better
Pregnancy doesn’t allow us to neglect our connection with our bodies. Because of this, pregnancy can also present an opportunity to check-in and further build connections with ourselves. This is the time to evaluate how your life looks, what you need (and don’t need) and how you get it.
For example, you know art-making is a part of you that cannot be neglected, and so you have to learn how to carve out time for art after the baby comes. Even though you may not immediately know how to do this, you have to since art is like air to you. Once you realize this is a priority, you can lead to make space to create and negotiate that in your relationship with your kid/kids, partner, and family. Whether you make art after bedtime, while a sitter is there, or while your partner takes the kid(s) out, it doesn’t matter–this is part of you.
As you learn more about yourself, parenting will become easier to manage. You’ll know what you need to prioritize to get your own personal stuff cared for. You will be able to access your creative brain to manage time, priorities and connect with yourself in ways that didn’t stand out before.
It takes creative thinking to find the space to write, paint and materialize ideas while balancing this new relationship/role. This is especially true for those expecting multiples. If you’re a creative expecting multiples, you’ll need to use your creative brain to not only meet your needs, but also the needs of two or three new babies. You’re going to have to ask yourself what you want to create, how to do that and, perhaps most importantly with multiples, who can help you find the space and time to get these creative needs met because you know this will feed you and give you the energy to feed the family.
Pregnancy Is An Opportunity To Lead In Your Relationships
Pregnancy is a time for incubation and during incubation, you are growing. More than just growing physically, you can take time to grow in your relationships. How are your relationships–whether with your partner, family, friends, co-workers, etc.–functioning? Are they supportive yet challenging and fulfilling? What isn’t working?
Pregnancy can be good motivation to own your space as a leader and learn to voice what you need in your relationships. Maybe you and your partner have avoided talking about sex while you’re pregnant. During pregnancy and once the baby comes, your sexual relationship can’t just rely on “typical” moves or seeing what happens. Being a leader in your relationship means considering what you and your partner need sexually, as well as what the relationship needs in terms of sexual expression even as a new parent.
Even outside romantic relationships, it’s ok to set limits with family, partners, and friends and organize what you need around extended family and friends. Maybe you need to set a limit with your mother about when she comes to help or what you’d rather not share about your pregnancy. Or perhaps your best friend is not being so awesome around this transition. While they are caring, it’s not what you need. You need to learn to direct them on how to help rather than accepting help that’s not quite right.
Is Work Working For You While You’re Pregnant?
Being pregnant is also a time to ask yourself whether you are balancing work and family in the way that you’d like once the baby arrives. Making work work for you and your family, in a way, seems so Scandinavian, but it is also so New York to see possibilities of new ways of working. Whether it means advocating to stay home longer, working from home, going part-time or quitting, pregnancy can give you an opportunity to negotiate what you need to energetically be there for you and your family, as well as be upfront with what you can and can’t do at work.
This can mean working smarter, not harder–I’ve helped pregnant patients say no to working late or traveling for work, while still working as hard and long as they can. It important to identify your needs, as well as the needs of work. You can take a lunch break and give yourself space to rest so you can then work hard and do the job you have chosen to do. It’s important to know your value in the workplace and utilize that, rather than trying to prove yourself in the office.
It’s also ok if you have no idea how you’d like to approach work once the baby comes until it happens. It’s a process and you might only know what you need once the baby gets here. You might discover more by failing or noticing what is getting slighted. You may also not figure it out for a year or so after the baby is born and that is fine. Pregnancy pushes us in new ways that are great for development, but often unknown. That’s why it’s important to listen to what you need and collaborate with the people around you to find more than one way of working.