Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

What is PPMD?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

PPMD“So what brought you into the emergency room tonight?” I was seated across from the patient’s bed, desperate to remain composed and professional. It was the beginning of my shift, so professionalism should not have been a problem: I was rested, refreshed, and should have been focused. However, this particular patient had a three-week-old baby in the room, and it was taking all of my energy to pay attention to the adult and not the adorable bundle she brought with her.

My priorities realigned, however, when I noticed the strained smile on her face. There was a pause before she answered, as she struggled to compose her response, and suddenly tears spilled from her eyes as quickly as the string of words expressing desperation, sorrow, and guilt over how she was feeling about her new role as Mom.

Postpartum mood disorders affect up to 25 percent of new mothers, and symptoms can develop immediately after birth or months after your little one has come into the world. Depression manifests differently in different people, but typical symptoms include chronic crying, increased anxiety, feelings of despair or guilt, weight loss/gain, sleep disturbance, feeling distant from your child, and fixation on your child’s safety out of paranoia that something dangerous could happen, or thoughts of hurting your child yourself. Dealing with depression by itself is an exhausting task, and doing it while caring for a child can border on the impossible. Doing it without help can create dangerous situations, for both you and your child, and it’s important to ask for support when you recognize that things feel harder than they should.

So what can you do if you feel you or a loved one is having a hard time adjusting to parenthood?

  • Know the signs. Postpartum mental health concerns can arise at any point of the journey, including during pregnancy. Taking the time to check in with your own mental health on a regular basis can help you recognize when things are taking a turn, and knowing what to look for can help you see the red flags sooner rather than later.
  • Have a support person. Depending on where you live, the resources available for treating postpartum mental health can be difficult to navigate. Having someone to advocate for you while you find a good therapist and/or medication provider can make the difference between getting help and giving up.
  • Know that you aren’t alone. There are more individuals who experience postpartum depression each year than who sprain an ankle in that same year. As postpartum mental health becomes more widely understood, a “Congratulations!” will ideally be accompanied with a genuine, “How are you doing?”

When you’re feeling isolated, alone, and experiencing all the difficulties of depression/anxiety/OCD/psychosis, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to reach out and ask for help. If you are struggling, know that you deserve support, not only because it will benefit your child, but also because it will benefit you.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

When Adding a Baby Means Losing Friends

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

When adding a baby means losing friendsSome women are lucky enough to be pregnant at the same time as a close friend, sister-in-law, cousin or sibling. But sometimes, you may be the only person you know with kids. Having a baby catapults you into another world, and sometimes not everyone makes the leap with you.

Immediately after you have a baby, most women are in a position they are not used to being in. After being the one who is always there for their friends and family, they are suddenly in need to help—lots of help. You may need someone to come and hold the baby just so you can take a shower. Your house might be a total wreck, which can be hard if you’ve taken a lot of pride in having a neat home. You may find yourself eating out a lot because you can’t manage to get through the grocery store with that tiny baby.  If you worked before baby, you had a whole network of people you saw every day. You had tons of stimulation, things to talk about, and things to do. Now, you may feel like the new baby is your whole world and that he or she is all you talk about. And while that’s as it should be when you’re a new mom, some of your friends, coworkers, and family may not understand.

This transition can affect your immediate family, too. Some dads have time off available to use right after the birth of a new baby, or they may be able to take Paternity leave or FMLA to spend time at home. Many dads don’t have this option. If you are having trouble communicating with your partner or your relationship just doesn’t seem to be adjusting to parenthood, check out marriage counseling. You don’t have to be on the verge of divorce to get counseling—having a baby changes your relationship and how you relate to each other. It’s totally normal to get help in finding your new happy place as a family.

Keep in mind that people have a variety of reasons for laying low after the birth of a new baby. Friends who are having fertility issues may have a very hard time being around a new mom. Often, fertility doctors advise patients to avoid these situations because of the emotional stress it causes them, so give your friends the benefit of the doubt in case this just hasn’t been something they felt comfortable sharing with you.

Other friends—and sometimes family–may resent the fact that you don’t have all that extra emotional energy to support them anymore. You can tell this is the case if they get annoyed or angry that you aren’t available for them, if they don’t seem at all interested in you or the baby, or if they just seem to disappear after it’s obvious that you are busy with your new addition. You should never feel guilty about putting your family or your baby first. It’s important to have me-time and time with your friends, but it’s not always possible right at the beginning. Having a new baby is an intense transition from your old life, and becoming a parent will absolutely change you and how you look at the world.

If your friends are concerned about you, or you feel like you are withdrawing from things you used to enjoy or people you used to enjoy being around, research post-partum depression or take an online assessment, and ask those closest to you if they are concerned about you. Depression closes you off from others and can make you feel very alone even when you are surrounded by people who love and care for you.

Some relationships won’t be able to survive this transition to motherhood, and that’s OK. Part of this transition includes making new friends and reconnecting with old friends who have also become moms and understand what it feels like to be home all day with an infant, or how heartbreaking it is to leave your baby while you work and provide for your family. Motherhood is full of hard choices, and it’s great to know other moms who understand what it’s like to make those choices every day.

Facebook, your local birth center or cloth diaper shop, La Leche League, MOPS, and your local library are all great places to meet other new moms in your area. Many birth centers have mom groups available for moms with newborns who need support and resources, even if you didn’t birth there. The Badass Breastfeeder also has a Facebook group where you can find your local “mama tribe” of moms who are looking for support and friendship.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.