Winter babies are great for snuggles! However, sleep deprivation, hormone shifts, and role transition on top of seasonal blahs can easily turn to postpartum depression. Furthermore, cold weather and slick roads can make getting out and doing some of the things that may help you cope more difficult. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reduce postpartum depression this winter.
- Get Outside. That may sound odd to take a baby out in the winter but its not so strange. In fact, in most Scandinavian countries it’s the norm to have a baby outside in all weather. We’re not advocating for you to leave your baby outside unattended. However, we do think its important to get outside this winter. A simple walk around the block can be a real game changer for mood. Feeling more ambitious? Find a park with easy trails to start. In the Baltimore area, Lake Roland has a great paved path if you prefer to stroller and fairly easy trails if you are a baby wearer.
- Make a regular coffee date. This could be with another new mom, a childless friend with flexibility, or just yourself and baby. Having it on the calendar as a recurring event will force you out of the house. It will also create some predictability for you. Having a new baby can make you feel powerless. Having some control over one aspect of your week will help you feel more in control Of course, having another adult to talk to will also help with isolation. All of this can help with postpartum depression. Personally, meeting a friend a Belvedere Square weekly helped me a lot when my kids were little.
- Libraries are a great resource. Many have story times and playdate opportunities. Even if they don’t have a structured program, they are welcoming and free. Often, you will see other parents there with their children.
- Get a lightbox. UV therapy is clinically proven to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder. You can use it while you are feeding your baby or eating breakfast. Many people need extra support in the winter months. UV boxes are a safe way to help regulate your circadian rhythm.
- Medication and therapy. If other things are not working, consider professional help. Motherhood is the biggest transition of your life. It’s natural to need support. A postpartum therapist can help you process your feelings around becoming a mother. They can also teach you practical coping tools. If therapy alone is not enough, consider medication. We have a lot of information on taking medication while breastfeeding now. Many antidepressants are safe to use.
Having a baby is exciting! However, it can also be a difficult time, especially in the heart of winter. Shorter days and colder temperatures can exacerbate postpartum depression. However, by getting outside, meeting up with others, UV therapy, and even getting professional help can ease postpartum depression.
Are you having a baby this winter? Are you concerned about postpartum depression? Be proactive, set up an appointment with one of our postpartum Therapists or Nurse Practitioners.
About the author: Sharon P. Fisher, MS, PMHNP-BC, PMH-C is the founder of Nurtured Well, LLC, a boutique women’s mental health practice, in Towson, MD.