Coping With Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Bridges to Recovery

Coping With Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

2. Focus on Bonding With Your Baby.

Attachment between mother and child is essential for the mental health of both. With PTSD, bonding is challenging. Once you have been through care, focus on building this attachment, relying on experts for guidance if you are struggling.

There are many simple things you can do to develop a strong, healthy attachment:

  • Respond to your baby’s emotional needs, providing comfort and cuddles when distressed or smiling and laughing when happy
  • Increase physical contact, touching, holding, and carrying your baby whenever possible
  • Talk to your baby throughout the day
  • Read and sing to your baby
  • Make eye contact with your baby regularly and mirror movements

3. Manage Expectations.

Exactly how and why PTSD develops after childbirth isn’t known. However, there is an idea that expectations for the mother can play a role. Many women never expect to have a difficult birth. Instead, they expect what every new mom wishes for: a smooth, if painful delivery and pure joy at seeing their new baby.

But the truth about childbirth and being a mom is often drastically different from idealistic expectations. If you are struggling with the trauma of birth and new motherhood, adjust your expectations. Understand that no mom has a perfect experience. Every new mother has challenges and struggles. Take that pressure to be perfect off yourself and embrace the difficulties.

4. Get Active.

Making time for exercise isn’t selfish. As a new mom, you’re busy, but exercise is a great way to manage the difficult memories and emotions associated with PTSD. Exercise is a stress buster and a mood booster.

Finding time is the difficult part, but there are ways to squeeze it into your day. Take your baby for a walk every day, for example. You can even sign up for baby and mom exercise classes that engage both of you. And, when possible, let someone else watch your baby while you fit in a more intense workout.

5. Find Support in Other Mothers.

For too long women have not talked about the unique mental health challenges of motherhood. This silence promotes isolation. You probably feel alone, as if other mothers are doing just fine and that there is something wrong with you.

Look for support in other mothers with similar experiences. There are many more out there than you may realize. Support groups for postpartum PTSD and depression, or even just regular coffee sessions with moms you know, can be a huge relief. Share your experiences, learn from each other, and know that you are not alone.

6. Work on Your Relationship With Your Partner.

It’s so easy for both moms and dads to neglect their relationship. This may feel amplified when you’re struggling with mental health. Having a supportive partner can make all the difference, though, so keeping your relationship strong is an essential coping strategy. Here are some things you can do:

  • Keep communicating about everything, especially as your roles and expectations shift with a new baby.
  • Bond together with the baby, spending time reading, singing, laughing and playing as a family.
  • Let the grandparents step in to help with the baby so you can spend time together, even if only for a walk around the block.
  • Go to therapy sessions together, both to help manage your PTSD together and to work on strengthening your relationship.
  • Avoid turning your frustrations on your partner. Address your challenges together, not divided and against each other.

Postpartum PTSD is a real phenomenon, and it affects more women than most people realize. You don’t have to live with this in silence or alone. PTSD is manageable. Get professional help first and then try these coping strategies to heal and to be able to fully embrace the joys of motherhood.

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