Posts Tagged ‘PPD’

Newborn Coping Strategies

Friday, August 26th, 2016

IMG_1141The newborn days pass by in a blur. Often, parents of a newborn are so tired they could cry, frazzled from learning their new baby’s cues and trying to get into a routine, possibly stressed or sore from breastfeeding, plus working through the postpartum hormonal roller coaster. It’s hard to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, smell that new baby scent).

One thing that helped our family get through the early days was having made up meals and packing them in the freezer before hand. If you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a meal train, even better! You’ll need nutritious and hearty food to keep up and help your body heal from birth, and sometimes (most of the time), you’ll be too tired to want to mess with much.

If you can, getting help with older children from other adults is a real blessing. Just picking up your older kids and taking them to the park or a movie can give you a chance to catch a nap or even possibly have a couple moments of silence. Likewise, don’t be afraid to accept offers of help cleaning up or with the laundry. If you don’t have help, letting the laundry sit a couple days won’t hurt (though if you’re cloth diapering, this probably isn’t an option).

Try and get out and get some fresh air and stretch your legs. When my first son was born deep into the Alaskan winter, it was difficult because of snow and ice to walk outdoors, so I would walk on the track at the gym. This isn’t a fitness or weight loss activity, but a mental health activity. My younger son was born in the summer, so I could walk outdoors with him right away.

Lean on your partner (and your partner likewise) to get a little self-care time in. Shoot for every day. Before you have a newborn, you will never fully appreciate having ten minutes to shower, brush your teeth, and put on some lotion. This may not happen everyday, but it makes a huge difference in your outlook when you are able to get those few moments to yourself.

Finally, keep close watch on yourself. Baby blues are normal. If you continue to feel depressed or anxious, please reach out to your partner, family or friends, and to your doctor. It’s important to you and your baby to watch out for your mental health.

And remember to take time to enjoy that new-baby smell, it will be gone before you know it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Is it Baby Blues or PPD?

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 7.25.28 PMWelcome to motherhood! Now get ready to experience a whole new body–mentally, physically and emotionally. While your new little bundle of joy is bringing so much joy and happiness to your life your body is busy trying to figure out what to do with a shift in hormones. Things are moving around, readjusting, and for lots of moms that includes some of those dreaded “baby blues” or maybe even postpartum depression.

What is the difference you ask? In a nutshell, baby blues is pretty mild and doesn’t last too long. Postpartum depression is much harder to deal with and in some instances anti-depressants are prescribed to help new moms deal. They both start in the same way with the same sort of symptoms including mood swings, crying, sadness, and irritability. The thing is that these also happen to sound like symptoms of sleep deprived new moms or really anyone that’s sleep deprived.

According to Psychology Today 50-80 percent of women experience baby blues and it typically only lasts about 2 weeks after delivery. If you are one of the 15 percent of women who continue to have these symptoms or they get worse past the two weeks then it’s most likely post partum depression and it might be time to ask for help.  Some telltale symptoms include: fear of harming your baby, panic attacks, feelings of worthlessness and despair, a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy and nightmares among others.

Just like with baby blues it is thought that the main cause for PPD is the shift in hormones experienced after giving birth. Unfortunately some women happen to have a higher risk of developing ppd. Psych Central states a past history of depression, lack of an adequate support system, a pregnancy or birth with complications and multiple births are a few of the possible issues that can contribute to the depression.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to know that you’re not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. So many other moms go through this, which means that finding help can be easier than you think. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. The symptoms can be serious and seeking out a professional with experience in the area will do you a world of wonders. If you’re not sure where to go for help I suggest starting with your OBGYN. Talk to them about your symptoms and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

It also never hurts to nourish yourself with anything you can that can have an impact on depression. While it’s not a substitute for professional help a healthy diet can definitely work in conjunction with talk therapy or an antidepressant. Try keeping sugar and highly processed foods to a minimum. Instead focus on getting plenty of healthy protein, whole grains and healthy fats such as wild salmon, avocado and nuts. If you can try to get some time for yourself each day, practice self-love and above all be patient and forgiving to yourself.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. 

My Pregnancy: Postpartum Week 5

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

postpartum week 5Postpartum anxiety and depression are very real things for many mamas. It is not something I can speak about from personal experience, so I will link a resource below. I will speak to my daily experience as just a typical overwhelmed mom—I imagine all new mamas feel overwhelmed.

I feel overwhelmed for short bursts about half the days of the week. I feel tapped out, sometimes as early as the moment I wake. I’m an introvert and spend all my hours with children. I’m the classic prototype for the flourishing mommy presence on the Internet, particularly in Facebook groups these days. I did the working mommy thing for a year last year but I’ve mostly been a stay-at-home-mom. It’s very isolating unless you make effort to connect with others. For some mamas I’ve heard it’s isolating even when you make the effort to connect or are already well connected.

I’m introverted in my socialization. I don’t say that as an excuse but rather to emphasize that it’s not my style to initiate friendship. At the playground I sit to myself. I am not one to jump at social outings like mommy and me or MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) groups. Did I mention I’m already tapped out? Strangely the bonding with other people over three feet tall would probably do me good but it comes at the cost of energy, which I have very little of these days. Luckily I have a couple of mamas I can rely on when I need some contact.

My occasional isolation plays with my mind sometimes. Seeing the clock says only 9 AM and knowing I won’t come in contact with another adult for eight more hours can make me feel a little on edge. I get sad and feel desperate for a half-day here or there. I have short patience with my children sometimes and then feel guilty that I’m not fully engaged with them all day. I get anxious, a little fearful sometimes. I lend this, again, to my years in social work and hospital chaplaincy, fields that tend to see tragedy far too often, far too up close. Every night I check our doors to make sure they’re locked even though I am fairly certain I already locked them.

I say all of this to share that being a mama is hard for everyone. We’re human. But if it’s more than what I’m describing—if there is no hope, little or no connection with your child, strong feelings of guilt, sadness, unexplainable or frequent tears—talk to your doctor. If there is deep anxiety that harm will come your way or to your child, maybe you don’t often leave the house because of that fear, you can’t sleep or eat because your mind leaves you too tense or shaky, talk to your doctor.

There’s more. I can’t speak to your specific situation, but again talk to your doctor or read more about postpartum depression, psychosis, anxiety, and OCD whether you think it’s you or not. Because if it’s not you it is someone else, maybe even another mama you know who could use your support.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep. 

Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Warning Signs of Postpartum DepressionPostpartum depression is a hard topic to write about. No one really expects it, since for most people, the days leading up to and having baby are spent feeling hugely happy and hopeful. The switch to feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and alone is stunning. It’s so stunning that you don’t realize it’s your hormones, and not you, your husband or your baby to blame. That’s why it can be so hard to reach out and get help. Things are supposed to be vastly different after having a baby. Your whole life is supposed to change, and it’s easy to feel like this change just wasn’t the change you imagined.

I experienced postpartum depression with my first child, but not with my second and third. The difference is huge between seeing baby through those hormones and being clear of that dark veil. I think I would have gotten help much sooner if I had that experience with my second baby and not my first. But, I also experienced depression while weaning my third child. Even with all that experience with mothering and children and knowing I was capable, I still doubted myself when depression clouded my perspective.

Here is a list of the warning signs of post-partum depression, but what I am adding to it here is how it manifested itself, not in medical speak but in terms of real life fears and emotions, how it snuck up on me, and looking back, how I rationalized it in the moment.

  • Unable to sleep/Fatigue – This was confounding since I felt so totally mentally and physically exhausted. When I would lay down or try to nap, nothing happened. My mind raced, I made to-do lists, listened for phantom baby sounds, imagined terrible things happening to the baby or the house while I slept, or checked the clock every few minutes. With my first child, the insomnia was so bad that I started to feel depressed when evening came because I knew the entire night would be a struggle.
  • Anger toward the baby or other family members – The main difference I noticed in the newborn period with my second baby is that her crying didn’t make me mad. I felt sorry for her when she cried. This was new to me, because with my first I was depressed enough that the baby crying put me over the edge. I didn’t feel empathy for her, I felt anger, and I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. I was just so tired and frustrated and out of ideas of how to care for this child. Looking back, it was pretty scary. When you stop empathizing with your baby, step back. Take a break. Call in help.
  • Sadness/hopelessness – When you’re in your right mind, it makes sense that the odds of everything in your life going wrong at once are pretty slim. Usually, things fall one at a time. But when I’m depressed, I feel like everything is going wrong in every area all at once. It’s like I am unable to see good anywhere in my life. Although it feels genuine when you’re in it, I try to remember that it’s not likely to actually be happening in every area at once, and those thoughts have now become part of my red flags collection.
  • Feelings of doubt or guilt – This always came out of me in the form of, “I can’t do this,” “I’m just not cut out for this,” “I’m not meant to be a mom,” “Anyone else could do a better job than me,” and other expressions of self-doubt. During these times, I simply could not be on social media at all. Every post felt like knives aimed at my heart.
  • Loss of interest in things you love – As a new mom, it’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time for any of the activities that you used to enjoy. When I am depressed, the desire to go for a run is the first thing to go. If my husband suggested that I go for a walk or run because he knows how great it is for my mental health, I would get angry and make excuses. Even taking a shower, doing my hair and putting on makeup for the day felt like a huge effort that I just didn’t have time for.
  • Thinking about suicide – Sometimes my mind would wander this way. Not in a way that I was seriously planning it, but I would fantasize about what would happen to everyone. Would they be financially stable? Would my husband be able to find childcare? How long until everyone was in school—could I wait until then? At the time it didn’t feel like that was a dangerous thing to think about, I guess because I wasn’t making plans for me, I was thinking about them. But it’s the same thing–you are imagining yourself out of the picture. I think a precursor to suicidal thoughts may be when you just don’t want to go home. You might dread turning into your driveway, or imagine yourself just driving right on past your house. For me anyway, this feeling preceded my depression.

If you have experienced depression before, try to remember how you felt, what your red flags were when you looked back and recognized behavior that wasn’t normal. Try to make your own personal checklist and share it with those closest to you—because no one exhibits behavior in a strictly clinical way.

You can also do an online postpartum depression assessment with your partner, a family member or close friend to help determine if you are exhibiting signs or symptoms of PPD. I highly recommend completing it with another person—when you’re depressed, even when it’s pointed out to you in black and white, getting help just seems so out of reach, so much work, another thing you don’t have time to do. It’s a huge step you may not want to take, and having accountability can help you get the help you need.

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