Let me preface this article by saying my doctors never discussed this with me before or during my pregnancy. I had no idea that this could or would happen to me!
This coming July seventh my son will be turning one and I have to be honest and tell you that this “almost” year has not been easy at all. As a first time mom I found out real quick that until you experience first hand all the things that go along with being a new parent you really have no idea what you’re in for. I am generally a happy-go-lucky person and was very excited to be pregnant, I enjoyed my entire pregnancy even when I was placed on bed rest. However after I gave birth to my son and left the hospital little did I know what I was going to go through physically and mentally. I was constantly crying and couldn’t figure out why, I didn’t want to go anywhere and I didn’t want anyone coming to my house. I had constant panic attacks that required a paper bag to assist me with breathing properly and that made it all the harder to breast feed my son.
I finally mustered up the strength to leave the house and went straight to my doctor to try to figure out what was going on with me. We discussed everything which consisted of me hysterically crying and sipping ice water for an hour in an exam room. Her answer was to immediately put me on an anti-depressant to help calm my hormones down but their was one big flaw in her plan… I was breast-feeding my son. She insisted that it wouldn’t affect my son so I did what any mother would do I took a trip to my pediatricians office. We sat down and talked and he confirmed that yes they didn’t have enough information to say that the anti-depressants wouldn’t hurt my son. So I decided to not take the medication because I was committed to breast-feeding my son. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t extremely hard to cope with all the hormonal changes that were happening post delivery of my son. But what I will tell you is that you should never feel ashamed of yourself or hide your feelings when and if you experience postpartum depression.
If you don’t feel right and your having a lot of problems coming to terms with all the hormonal shifts in your body please reach out to someone. It affects one in every ten women who have had a child, and can affect any woman, regardless of her age, race or economic background. It is not a character flaw or sign of personal weakness, and it does not mean that there is anything wrong with your ability to be a mother. The exact cause of postpartum depression is not known, but certain chemical changes that take place in your body during and after pregnancy may contribute to it. Get help right away if you have any thoughts of harming your baby or yourself. Tell a medical professional, clergy member, loved one or friend immediately.
I thankfully had my husband and mother there with me and I reached out to both of them and then eventually my doctor. You should not feel ashamed of yourself the safest thing to do is to consult with your doctor so that they can help you get back to a better place mentally and emotionally.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Feelings of sadness or “down”-ness that don’t go away
Inability to sleep, even when the baby is sleeping
Changes in appetite eating much more or much less
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
Inability to concentrate or make decisions
Inability to enjoy things you used to; lack of interest in the baby; lack of interest in friends and family
Exhaustion; feeling “heavy”
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Feelings of hopelessness or despair
Fear of being a “bad” mother, or that others will think you are
Fear that harm will come to the baby
Thoughts of harming the baby or harming yourself
Thoughts of death or suicide
What are some risk factors for postpartum depression?
A history of depression during or after previous pregnancies
A history of depression or bipolar disorder at any time
A history of depression, bipolar disorder or postpartum depression in blood relatives
Poor social support
Unpleasant life events happening around the time of the pregnancy or birth
Instability in your marriage or relationship
Feeling unsure or ambivalent about your pregnancy
Remember that you are not alone and you have to not only protect yourself but also your child, there are many contributing factors to PPD and many are out of your hands. Take back control and reach out to anyone you can and you will get through it just like many other woman and myself!