Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PPD Prevention: Building a Support System

When possible, prevention is always the best medicine. Studies have shown that new mothers with a strong social support system in place are at much lower risk of developing significant postpartum depression than those who do not have this kind of support. At Postpartum Support International they have an essay written by RN and BSN Carolyn White entitled How You can Build Your Own Social Support Network which presents a thorough easy to understand guide to building and maintaining your social support system including surveys that you can complete to examine how you as a new mother are feeling about your experience.

The author and PSI do make it clear that this essay is meant to be preventative and that if you are currently experiencing PPD or other severe emotional symptoms, it is imperative that you consult a professional in order to receive adequate care. New mothers who are already having emotional difficulties may be too stressed out to try to begin to employ these strategies, and the thrust of the essay is the importance of reaching out and asking for help which is what they suggest current struggling new mothers do albeit in a different way.

This essay is an interesting read with information that could be applied to the lives of people from all walks of life. White begins her How-To guide with five steps that anyone regardless of pregnancy status could benefit from.
Below are five steps that will aid you in the process of developing a healthier network: taking stock of social support, naming names for social support, asking for help, persevering in support and keeping reciprocity in mind.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in her conclusion White stresses the fact that you should not feel guilty for any negative feelings you have with regard to motherhood. She also illustrates the importance of taking care of yourself in order to offer your baby the best mothering possible.
Make time and energy now to reach out to the support system you already have in place or to begin building and enhancing your support network. By taking one small step at a time you can create a little victory for yourself everyday. Getting what you need enhances your ability to give to your baby. You and your whole family will be off to a healthier start.

Having a social support system is very important period, but especially during a trying experience such as new motherhood. It's a continuing theme in my posts about PPD but I can't help it. PPD is shrouded in unnecessary shame and secrecy and just the knowledge that you are not alone can be a big help in recovering. So hold your head up high, speak out, reach out, ask for help, share your story and remember:
You are not alone. You are not to blame.

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