Self-Care During the Postpartum Period: Strategies to Minimize the Risk of Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders

The postpartum period is filled with many physical, psychological, and emotional changes. Matrescence is a term that aptly captures this experience. It is defined as the physical, social, hormonal, and identity shifts associated with becoming a mother and is a distinct stage of life (Sacks, 2017). In reflecting on matrescence, Ignacz (2018) states, “Life will never be as it was before––motherhood changes not just your body, but also your mind, your heart, your soul, your identity. We are involving ourselves, immersing ourselves in the processes of growth and development of other human beings. We are trying to respond appropriately and creatively to the needs of other human beings, while also taking care of ourselves.”

Yet, the postpartum period can also bring about significant emotional challenges. Postpartum mood and anxiety issues, such as postpartum depression and anxiety, are more common than you might think. Collectively, the mental health disorders women may experience during the perinatal (pre and postpartum) period are known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). 15 to 20% of women experience symptoms of depression or anxiety during the perinatal period (Howard et al., 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

However, with access to factual information and effective strategies, you can set yourself up for success in the pre and postpartum periods as much as possible!

In this post, we’ll explore effective ways to take care of yourself to minimize the risk of postpartum mood and anxiety issues, ensuring your well-being and that of your baby.

1. Build a Strong Support System

During the postpartum period, social support is your anchor. Every parent of an infant needs help in some way during the newborn stage. It may take many forms: having someone hold your baby while you take a shower, asking a family member to get groceries on their next visit, joining a support group, connecting with other new parents via Facebook/Meta groups, handing the baby over to a friend while you drink a cup of tea, mobilizing support so you can nap peacefully without worrying that your little one will wake in five minutes and require attention. Reach out to friends and family members you trust, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Having a support system in place can make a world of difference in managing the emotional challenges that can arise. The key is to recognize the need for help and explicitly ask for it!

2. Prioritize Self-Care

In order to care of your baby in the early months, you must seriously prioritize your own self-care. Taking care of a newborn is a demanding task. Prioritize self-care by setting aside time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s a warm bath, a good book, or a short walk, these moments of self-focus can help replenish your energy and mood. Your physical and emotional energy is a finite resource. Use it wisely and refuel when you are running low. This can take different forms: sleep, take an hour away from home, have coffee with a friend, do gentle yoga, meditate, and make a decision not to wash the dishes. Whatever you do, respect the voice inside you that is demanding space for self-care. This will help you be present to the most meaningful aspects of having a baby at home.

3. Communicate Your Feelings

Minimizing, avoiding, or dismissing how you are feeling can lead to these feelings building up over time and then spilling out sideways. Share your feelings with your partner, friends, your support group, your OBGYN, or a mental health professional. Expressing what you’re going through can bring comfort and help you feel less alone.

4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Eating nutritious meals and engaging in gentle physical activity (like stretching your shoulders or back if you’re spending time hunched over trying to figure out nursing!) can help support your mood and energy levels. Do whatever you need to to ensure that you are nourished. It is incredibly easy to relegate the task of feeding yourself to the very bottom of your to-do list. Your body and mind will pay dearly for it if you do. You will find yourself feeling more exhausted and overwhelmed. Make sure to stock your fridge with easy to access snacks. Prepare meals that are simple and quick. If there are close friends or family who could help, ask them to.

5. Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep deprivation can intensify postpartum mood issues. Enlist the help of your partner or a family member to ensure you get sufficient rest. Even short naps during the day can make a significant difference in your mood. Prioritize rest. Once your baby lets you have several hours of uninterrupted sleep, you will be able to do more and more. Try to be patient with yourself. Parenthood is a lifelong journey that requires pacing; it is not a sprint!

6. Seek Professional Help When Needed

If you feel worried about potentially experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, such as overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. You can start by asking your OBGYN for recommendations or reaching out to us at Wildflower. Mental health professionals, specifically those trained in perinatal mental health, are well-equipped to provide the support and guidance you need during this time.

7. Join a Support Group

Participating in a postpartum support group can be immensely reassuring. These groups provide a safe space for parents to share their experiences, connect with others who may be going through similar challenges, and receive valuable advice and feedback. Oftentimes you might be able to find new parent support groups through Facebook/Meta communit, or by asking your pediatrician or OBGYN for recommendations.

8. Manage Expectations

It’s important to remember that the postpartum period is a time of adjustment, and it’s normal to have mixed emotions of excitement, relief, anger, frustration, regret, guilt, and more. Be patient with yourself. Your journey is unique, and it’s okay to seek help when needed. No one is an expert at parenting. It takes time and practice to develop confidence. Bonding with your baby is a process. It is impossible to always be happy and fulfilled as a new parent. It takes more than six weeks to regain any sense of “normalcy.” Reflect on some of your other expectations and ask yourself whether they are realistic. If not, do your best to let them go.

9. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness exercises, meditation, and deep-breathing techniques can help you manage stress and anxiety. These practices can be incorporated into your daily routine, allowing you to find moments of calm amidst the chaos. Apps such as the Calm app or YouTube videos can be helpful in finding guided meditations that work for you.

10. Connect with Your Baby

Bonding with your newborn can be a process and can take time. Spend quality time cuddling, talking to, and playing with your baby. These moments of connection can help build your bond with your baby over time.

11. Monitor How You’re Feeling Physically

If you’re noticing prolonged periods of physical pain, discomfort, excessive bleeding, or any other concerning physical symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your OBGYN to discuss these concerns. Physical health can have a huge impact on emotional health, and in order to feel our best selves emotionally, we have to also take care of our physical body.

12. Stay Informed

Knowledge is your ally. Educate yourself about postpartum mood and anxiety issues before giving birth. Understanding the potential challenges and available resources can help you feel more prepared. Read our Pregnancy and Postpartum Guide to learn more.

The postpartum period is a time of profound transformation, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. By building a strong support system, prioritizing self-care, seeking help when needed, and practicing mindfulness, you can work to minimize the risk of PMADs as much as possible. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and there is support available to help you nurture your well-being and embrace motherhood with confidence and joy.


Howard, L. M., Molyneaux, E., Dennis, C.-L., Rochat, T., Stein, A., & Milgrom, J. (2014).

Non-psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period. The Lancet, 384(9956), 1775–1788.

Ignacz, G. (2018, October 29). Becoming a mother is a process – and it has been given a name:

Matrescence. Wellbeing for Mothers. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from

Sacks, A. (2017, May 8). The Birth of a Mother. The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2022,