Even though I’m a married minister and had my son in my early 30s, nothing could have prepared me for the changes that came with motherhood. I went through physical, emotional and spiritual changes. First, I had a C-section so I had to allow my body to heal. I had to take care of myself while caring for a demanding newborn. I breastfed so that took a toll on me physically and mentally. Little K was strapped to me 24/7. I spent most days in my pajamas and I looked a mess! The hormonal changes caused my hair to fall out and my face to breakout. I had patches in the front of my hair for months and I experienced the worst acne of my life. All of my confidence went out the door. I went through emotional changes. Worry and anxiety overcame me. I worried about every aspect of caring for K. I worried about something happening to me or my husband and who would take care of K. I also worried about who would care for him when I went back to work. Every potential caregiver looked psycho to me. Motherhood also took a toll on me spiritually. I wondered what my call looked like now? How could I preach and teach while caring for a baby? I was so exhausted all of the time that I couldn’t even study the Bible for any extended period of time. With all of these sudden changes, I found myself battling the “Baby Blues.”
The “Baby Blues” is basically postpartum depression (PPD). The professionals say that many women experience depression after giving birth because of the hormonal changes that our bodies experience and the sudden changes that I mentioned. You can read more about it here at WebMD. You can also search PPD online; there is so much information. In the beginning, I felt guilty and embarrassed that I had the Baby Blues. I felt guilty because I prayed for years to be a mother and God answered my prayer. Here I was walking in the promise of God and I felt sad, anxious and overwhelmed. I felt embarrassed because I thought that my faith in God and trust in the scriptures would prevent me from experiencing depression. However, after I did some research and talked to people, I discovered that PPD is a medical condition that all of us are susceptible to and that it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
I am not a licensed therapist or medical professional, so if you’re experiencing an extreme case of PPD and feel like you will hurt yourself or your baby, please tell someone and seek medical attention immediately.
If you’re battling a mild case of the Baby Blues or are expecting a new baby, here are some things that helped me.
1. Relax – I know you’re thinking, “How can I relax with a new baby or babies in the house?” I understand, but you have to find a way to relax. Try deep breathing techniques. You can do them anywhere. Also, try stretching. Stretching helped me to relax my muscles. Relax your standards. Your house will never be spotless everyday again once you have children. It’s OK if the dishes don’t get done that night. It’s OK if you haven’t vacuumed in a couple of weeks. Take some deep breaths and relax. Woosah!
2. Pray – I believe what Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. There are going to be some days when you feel like you’re not going to make it. Especially if you have a newborn and you are a new mommy. However, the Word of God is true. If you wait on the Lord, you will mount up with wings as an eagle. You will walk and will not faint. You will run and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31). Jesus said that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He doesn’t abandon us in motherhood. We have an advocate. Tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and pray for strength.
3. Study the Word, Write It Down & Recite Scriptures Out Loud – I believe in the power of the Word of God. When you’re battling the Baby Blues or depression, study the Word, find scriptures that contain the promises of God and when you’re in a moment of despair, recite them out loud. Say them with power, authority and conviction. Stand on the promises of God. I can’t tell you how many times I had to speak the Word over myself. I remind myself of who I am in Christ and what God says about me. It works.
4. Ask for Help – One of the things that contributed to my depression after I had K was that I couldn’t accomplish everything on my “to do” list. I felt like a failure as a wife and mother if I couldn’t take care of K, cook, clean, run errands, do my daily devotionals and look effortlessly beautiful while doing it. However, once I realized that I didn’t have to do everything and I had family and friends willing to help, a lot of my stress and anxiety dissipated. God doesn’t require us to be Superwomen. It’s OK to ask for help.
5. Talk to Someone – When I battled the Baby Blues and even on days when I feel sad, I reach out and talk to someone. I talk to my husband, my mother or my friends. Let someone know how you’re feeling. It’s great to get a different perspective on things. Talking to someone is great too when you can’t encourage yourself. Reaching out lets you know that you’re not alone in the struggle.
6. Get on Your Purpose – When I was on maternity leave, I felt disconnected from the world. I’m the type of person who gets a sense of fulfillment from the work I do. Ministry and walking in my purpose help me to feel fulfilled. When I went on hiatus from serving and working at the church, I felt a little empty inside. However, I discovered that being a Godly mother is a noble purpose and once I started walking in that understanding, it helped me overcome feelings of doubt and sorrow. Also, I found creative ways to do ministry with a newborn. This blog is one of those ways. Rev. Dr. William H. Curtis (one of my favorite preachers), preached a sermon called “Faith & Creativity.” He talked about this very thing. When you become a mother and are juggling multiple responsibilities, you have to think of creative ways to get on purpose. Once you direct your focus to fulfilling your purpose and reaching your goals, it’s kind of hard to stay in a state of depression.
7. Seek Professional Help – I know that church folk are funny when it comes to seeking professional help, but sometimes you need to sit down and talk to a licensed therapist, especially if your PPD lasts longer than a few weeks. There are Christian counselors and therapists that can treat you from a Christ-centered perspective. I believe that every person should have a therapist who can help you work through your issues. God heals many different ways, and sometimes it’s through therapy. If you can’t seem to shake the Baby Blues, talk to your doctor and have him/her refer you to a licensed therapist. You can also talk to your pastor. He/she might be able to refer you to a Christian counselor.