Postpartum Depression Is Real, but You Aren’t Alone in This Fight
After childbirth a dramatic drop in hormones in your body is common, which is a great contribution to postpartum depression. You aren’t alone in this fight, read our article below.
When unrelenting nausea, constant sweating, and middle-of-the-night cravings for fast-food chili sound like happier times, you’re most likely in the depths of the postpartum stage of childbirth.
For starters, most of us get the “baby blues” after bringing a child into the world. We cry (a lot), can’t sleep, feel stressed, and experience mood swings that make the family dog run and hide. Rest assured, these are normal, and may last as long as two weeks.
Postpartum, though, is much more than that, so being aware of the symptoms gives you a better chance to weather the storm. To help you get through this challenging stage, we spoke to mothers who battled and survived postpartum depression.
What should I look for?
First, remember that every new mom is different. Will there be similarities to what your neighbor Carol dealt with? Sure. But your situation is your own, so when Carol says she knows “exactly what you’re going through,” she doesn’t.
This is depression, and it’s very real. It’s the “baby blues” plus debilitating degrees of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, and self-doubt.
Here are some of the comments from the mothers we talked to:
- Nothing made sense and I lacked the energy to even get out of bed.
- I shut myself off from my husband.
- I started cleaning and organizing everything and making all of my son’s food because truly it was the only thing that I had control over.
- Even though it was summer, and people told me to “get outside and let the sun warm you up,” everything felt dark and cold.
- I doubted myself as a mother and didn’t think I could care for my child.
- Breastfeeding was the worst, and I felt like a failure. (Check out our breastfeeding tips right here.)
- I had obsessive thoughts that if I wasn’t with my baby and hyper-vigilant, that he would die.
- I didn’t trust my spouse or my mom.
- I felt guilty going back to work.
Your symptoms might resemble these and dozens of others, and you probably have your own to add to this list.
So what can I do?
We’ll get to the most important tip in just a moment, but our moms also shared these strategies when discussing methods they used to find some levity in the muck.
- Insist that people bring food when they want to come over to see the baby! The thought of preparing meals stressed me out when I was battling postpartum, so I made sure visitors brought good eats.
- Be patient with your spouse if they offer comfort or “advice from Linda at the office.” Remember they’re just trying to help. They see you struggling and don’t know how to help, but they’re trying.
- Get Netflix or Hulu Plus or other streaming services, because you’ll have time to turn your tired brain off and watch lots of shows … I’m pretty sure I can remodel an entire house after all the home improvement shows I binged.
- Get outside. Yes, it’s a monumental achievement simply getting off the couch some days, but there is value in seeing the sun and breathing fresh air.
- Enlist the help of a friend. It sounds simple, but it’s so worth it. I gave my best friend a key so she could get in even when I was too upset to answer the door.
None of these tips are full-proof, and none will make the depression simply go away. But it’s important that you’re aware of postpartum signs and understand that there are things you can do to combat the obstacles.
Ok, so why do I feel alone?
That’s the depression talking. You are not alone. And this brings us to the most valuable tip we can share: Talk to your doctor. Not a friend who saw her doctor, or a cousin who is a nurse. An actual doctor.
Sometimes it takes a trained professional to notice the signs and help you through this, and that’s OK. Typically, mothers are too proud and often don’t want to admit that they feel like they are failing or need help.
Reach out to your doctor if you’re having any doubts or questions. If it’s not postpartum depression, then you’ll have peace of mind and your doctor’s advice. If it is postpartum depression, you’ll have the resources and support to get you back on the path to enjoying your new life with your beautiful baby and your hopefully-not-too-demoralized spouse.