Nurturing the Nurturer: Self-Care for Dealing with Postpartum Depression

A woman relaxes into a bubble-bath.The holidays are swiftly upon us and, for many, it is a season of joy, anticipation, family and friends, decorations, and memories in the making. For woman experiencing postpartum challenges, however, the holidays can add an additional layer of stress to extricate oneself out of.

Women who are grappling with perinatal mood/anxiety disorder (PMAD), or as we can gently refer to as a “postpartum challenge,” endure a complex biochemical, hormonal, and emotional upheaval that requires the strength of a warrior for resolution. Add pressures surrounding the holidays (which are stressful for anyone, with or without a postpartum challenge), be it financial or family obligations, and you have a potential tsunami in the making.

So what can we do to help people who come to us who are dealing with such stress? When I am immersed in the juggle dance of life as a mother and therapist, I look to my favorite resources in the perinatal field, which are various blogs, websites, and books written by specialists who help women and their families. The key theme that runs through my favorite tomes and resources is: self-care.

Self-care is a frequently neglected key component of climbing out of postpartum challenges, as well as an essential ingredient to ongoing solid emotional health. What is self-care? Simply put, self-care is generating the motivation to put into action a conglomeration of strategies for physical, emotional, spiritual, and social health. Such wellness skills can include habits such as journaling, regular exercise, good sleep habits, solid nutrition, building social supports, meditating, creating time for oneself, creative hobbies, spiritual development, prioritizing, and banishing perfectionism.

The subject of self-care is important, not only to the people we help, but also to ourselves, as therapists. Because we thought it so relevant to the prevention of practitioner burn-out, my colleague, Gabrielle Kaufman, and myself put on a workshop for perinatal practitioners: Self-Care for the Postpartum Support International/LA County Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce Conference in August 2009. We were happy to see a growing body of work (books, blogs) on the subject of self-care beginning to surface.

I’ve put together a list of resources (blogs, websites, and books) which have inspired me in my own journey of self-care as a therapist, they are:

Books on self-care:

  • Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Effectively as You Care for Everyone Else by Alice Domar, PhD and Henry Dreher
  • Inner Peace for Busy Women: Balancing Work, Family, and Your Inner Life by Joan Z. Borysenko, PhD
  • Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Moms Postpartum Survival Guide by Ann Dunnewold and Diane Sanford
  • Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juicebox: Cut Yourself Some Slack and Still Raise Great Kids in the Age of Extreme Parenting by Ann Dunnewold

Blogs which discuss self-care for the perinatal woman:

  • Postpartum Progress—the most widely read blog on perinatal challenges (Katherine Stone):
  • Living Self Care—subscribe to daily/weekly self-care tips, specifically for moms (Ann Dunnewold and Diane Sanford):
  • My Postpartum Voice (Lauren Hale)—a blog with question and answers:
  • Postpartum Support International—the largest non-profit in the world dedicated to women’s reproductive mental health:

Every day there is a growing body of blogs and books on the subject of self-care. If I have forgotten any specialists’ titles in this article, please forgive me and I will happily add an addendum to the article.

Here’s to your self-care!

© Copyright 2010 by Andrea Schneider, LCSW. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • LINA

    December 6th, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    This is what is called finding the right thing at the right time! My sister gave all of us the joy of a lovely little baby girl just last week and we were discussing about her dealing with the holiday season and all the stress that comes with it, and now I found this useful resource! Thanks a lot!

  • Andrea Schneider

    January 6th, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    I am so glad this article was helpful, Lina. I know I could have used these resources myself at one time. Glad it was informative. Best to you and your family. Andrea :)

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