Not long ago, I was speaking with a friend about her experience right after her babies were born. She confided in me that she suffered from postpartum depression and started to tell me her story. I asked her if she would be willing to share what she endured so that other women can learn from her struggle.
Here is my brave friend Nicole’s story.
Please describe you postpartum experience
What measures did you take to help relieve the situation?
What measures best worked for you?
Did you feel like you could discus what you were feeling with other people ie- partner, friends etc?
* Infant temperament and maternal anxiety and depressed mood in the early postpartum period. (1)
What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?
It is normal to see a change in mood and desires postpartum, especially considering the huge hormonal shift your body experiences after birth and sleep deprivation. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression listed above (2) for more then two weeks, it is best to consult with your care provider. Your doctor can figure out if your symptoms are caused by depression or something else.
I clearly remember one difficult Wednesday afternoon when Shay was about 2 1/2 weeks old. All the family had left and our postpartum doula was not in that day. At this time, our pediatrician wanted Shay to eat every two hours. I had been up with him since 6am and managed to get him down for a few rounds of feeding. But the the successful cycle of eat, change him and put him down for a nap stopped abruptly. He had gone straight through three feeding and no nap. He was tired and irritable and I was exhausted. I tried every position and trick I had learned in my few weeks of motherhood. We bounced on the birth ball, I swaddled him, rocked him, sang to him, Sh’d him. Around 3 pm that afternoon, I called my husband asking him when is he going to come home. He said soon. I hung up the phone and just started crying. Fifteen minutes later, my husband entered the apartment to find me sitting in our bedroom, rocking on the ball with the baby in my arms and tears streaming down my face. He gave me a kiss and took the child. After a few minutes, he said, “Thank you for calling me. Now please go to sleep.” I had never been so grateful for the opportunity to rest and for help to arrive.
As Nicole explained in her story, it may be challenging and disappointing to face that one can not “pull themselves” out of the funk they are feeling by themselves. Some people may even be a level of embarrassment or shame that goes along with experiencing PPD and needing a medication. Even though pharmaceutical drugs are very prevalent in our society, some may still feel stigmatized for taking SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). A close friend of mine talked to me about how she was finally able to accept taking medication. She said she could acknowledge that if she had diabetes and needed insulin, there would be no doubt that she would take the medication. So she was able to rationalize, taking a medication for her mental health was no different then taking a medication for her physical health.
No matter what level of depression or anxiety one feels, there is always a way to find support and feel better.