Now, look at me. Rest when the baby rests. I don’t want you getting the blues.
I looked at my Harrison Ford lookalike doctor, bleary eyed, nodded my head, and faintly smiled. We went over every possible symptom that would either warrant a phone call to his office or an ER visit. I spent all night feeding, rocking, and snuggling my third born, so I was tired. I wanted to get in my bed and relish in the newness of my youngest baby! But I couldn’t shake what he said.
Me? Blues? I’ve done this before! Why would I get postpartum depression? Of course, I wasn’t asking these questions a week later when my new mom joy disappeared. I suddenly felt overwhelmed. What happened to me feeling like me?
What is postpartum depression?
My friend, Laura Pryor, a mental health therapist who specializes in depression, trauma, and substance abuse, gave me an excellent resource that goes into depth about Postpartum Depression. Here’s a condensed version:
- A new mom feels overwhelmed more than normal
- Mom doesn’t feel connected to her baby
- She feels irritated, angry, guilty, or even resentful
- She doesn’t feel anything
- She is overwhelmingly sad or hopeless
- Lack of appetite
- Something just feels wrong
These wide array of symptoms not only cover postpartum depression, but other disorders such as postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD, or postpartum psychosis. It’s not just feeling blue; these are real illnesses that need immediate and careful treatment. So what can we do about it?
How it can be Treated
Laura clearly outlined how she prepares her clients for postpartum self-care.
- Know the signs
- Identify your support team
- Practice asking for help
While this may appear simple, once a mother has her baby, she often doesn’t concentrate on herself. In these past few weeks with my newborn, I rarely had a chance to use the restroom or even brush my teeth, so how I could even think about taking care of myself?
Know the Signs
First, moms need to know the signs. Before talking to Laura, I knew little about what to look for. I didn’t know depression could appear vastly different among women. Laura made me feel empowered. She also said that while postpartum depression is debilitating, “you can heal from PPD. You are not alone.” And that’s exactly what a new mom needs to know: she is not alone and should not feel alone.
Identify your Support Team
Next, a new mom needs to be able to identify her support system. When Laura was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, she sought and identified her tribe. “Spouse/partner, friends, family, doctors and/or midwife, nurses, co-workers, therapist, yoga teacher, doula, postpartum doula, massage therapist, etc. I have no idea where I would be today if it wasn’t for my tribe.” Without my own tribe, I couldn’t have gotten through those first crucial weeks.
Practice Asking for Help
Lastly, ask for help. I can safely say that this was the hardest part for me. I wanted to be super mom, but guess what? I needed help. The friends and family that brought over meals, watched my children, called, or even texted me to see how I was, helped more than I could imagine. Once I got off my high horse, I was so thankful for the help that was easily and readily available to me. In Omaha, specifically, Laura also said that there are physicians and licensed herbalists at your disposal, but you just need to ask.
While I love my newborn, the past few weeks were hard. There is a great deal of pressure for moms to feel as if they need to squeeze into the pre-pregnancy jeans immediately or have Pinterest perfect homes. However, it is okay to admit that something is wrong. Finally, Laura left me with this last thought:
Through connection, we lift the veil of isolation and begin to find solace in the space held with compassion and love.
Don’t be like me and assume that it can’t happen to you; prepare yourself and remember that it’s okay to ask for help.