As new mothers we may have felt a bit weepy, sad, irritable, or vulnerable after giving birth. I mean, we just created a new human, our hormones are recalibrating, we’re breastfeeding every couple of hours, sleeping in fits and starts, recovering from what may have been a traumatic birth, and we put pressure on ourselves to behave just as we did before our babies were born.
What I expected after giving birth was to love every minute. To have a lot of support. To be able to juggle multiple tasks and do things I used to without guilt (like shower every day), and to experience joy in my new role. What I didn’t expect was to feel isolated. A loss of freedom, a sense of guilt about nearly everything, and insecure about my abilities as a parent. This was especially true after giving birth to our second child who was extremely fussy and irritable.
I needed to know it’s normal to feel weepy at times, or what we call the “Baby Blues.” Anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep will get the blahs. The difference with Postpartum Depression is when a mother fears being alone, experiences weight loss or gain, and has difficulty concentrating or sleeping (even while baby sleeps). About 1 in 7 mothers get PPD. It happens at any age, any income level, any ethnicity, and in any culture.
It’s up to partners or those closest to us to recognize the symptoms of PPD. Why? Because it’s hard for mothers to articulate how we feel, other than “different,” “unsettled,” or “detached.” We need to talk about it openly with our families, OB/GYNs, and pediatricians. If you’re awaiting your baby’s arrival, talk to your OB at your next appointment about what to look for in your postpartum behavior. Or talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. Bring a family member along and make sure your doctor takes the question seriously.
Many women surveyed by Sister Circles Peer Support groups across the country have reported that their doctors brushed off their concerns. PPD must be taken seriously, especially by medical professionals, or dealing with it will remain unmentionable.
Without appropriate intervention, poor maternal mental health, such as mood and anxiety symptoms, can have long term and adverse implications for a mother, her child and her family. Her partner may feel overwhelmed, confused, angry, and afraid she will never be well. This can undoubtedly place a strain on the couple’s relationship. Fortunately, a wide variety of treatment options are available for mothers with Postpartum Depression. Including peer support groups, individual therapy, self-care, and short-term medication.
You’re not now, nor ever, alone in your feelings. You are not the only woman who has felt this way. You’re not a bad mother. There will be many times when you feel like you have failed. But in the eyes of your child, you are everything and more.
Visit www.postpartum.net for more information about local postpartum support international coordinators.
By Kim Amato / Founder / Baby’s Bounty