Yesterday I heard from Atlanta Mom who also blogs about her PPD experience and tries to reach out to help new moms. She asked me how I overcame PPD with my subsequent pregnancy. Even though I've written about how I prevented experiencing PPD a second time, it's been a while, so I want to share what I wrote back to her.
Here's an excerpt from my e-mail to her:
I was determined not to go through PPD again at all costs, and began researching ways to avoid it. I came upwith a list of options/resources and spent much of the pregnancy planning on what I wanted my postpartum tobe like.
One thing I did was to hire a postpartum doula. That was absolutely the best money that I've ever spent!
I also enlisted my neighbors and close friends to help -- I told them my PPD story, if I hadn't already shared it with them, and asked if they would help with different areas that they felt like they could help with (ie: preparing meals, having my two older kids over for play dates, going to the grocery store for me, etc.). I got my friends to commit to certain things, and they were so happy to help out -- they were awesome. (It's so hard to ask for help,but once you do, you find that your close friends are so relieved to know what they can do that will truly help you.)
I also hired a neighborhood teenager to come over to my house nearly every afternoon just for a couple of hours or so toplay actively with my older kids, to give them really solid attention. My husband saved up his vacation time andwas able to take a full 3 weeks off after the birth, and he was great around the house and supervising everything.
I also started on an anti-depressant within minutes after giving birth, and also had a psychologist on call in case I experienced any PPD symptoms so that I could quickly get in to see her or have a phone consultation if I needed it.
So, basically I was very focused on creating a really strong support system, not only helping me with just about everything but also helping me monitor any PPD symptoms should they arise. Happily, I never even experienced a single symptom!! It was a wonderful postpartum and I was relatively rested even after having had a C-section. The doula helped me immensely with getting the baby on a schedule while juggling my older kids. I only needed her help for the first three weeks. I stayed on the anti-depressant for about 9 months or so just to make sure I was doing okay, and then I gradually weaned off of it and did great. PPD is totally preventable . That's my big message. The big thing is overcoming the fear of going through it again, facing that fear and then preparing/educating yourself on how to avoid it. Everyone should be able to experience a happy postpartum!!
I completely agree with the how-to in your message, Kristin, but I think that for some of us with a physiological basis for the depression, it is unavoidable. However, as you have written (really well, by the way), it is completely treatable. For me, it was a combination of time, adjustment, support, and medications. Pretty much what you said. :)
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