9 Reasons Why Mothers Don’t Speak Up About Having Postpartum Depression

I battled with postpartum depression silently for a long time and didn’t speak a word of it to anyone, nor did I have any intention to.

The reason why I finally decided to share my story was because I was so emotionally moved by the tragic story of a woman from my hometown, Lisa Gibson, who suffered and died from postpartum depression in 2013 (along with her two children).  The story, in itself, was truly heartbreaking but what bothered me the most was the public reaction.  Many people seemed to believe that she got what she deserved.

Her story was a worst case scenario, but I dreaded what others would think of me if they knew the dark thoughts and feelings that I battled with while I had postpartum depression.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy like that to encourage someone to speak up but it made me realize two important things:

1.)  I was not alone.

2.)  We need to annihilate the stigma of postpartum depression.


As a survivor of postpartum depression, bringing awareness and help to others who are suffering is a cause that is close to my heart.  While it can be terrifying to “speak up when you’re feeling down” it is so important both for our own mental health and to help bring awareness about this debilitating condition.

[You can read my own personal story about battling prenatal and postpartum depression here.]

postpartum depression

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

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1. We are in denial.  

Prior to becoming a mother myself, I had heard about postpartum depression in all of it’s notorious glory.  But I never, ever, in a million years, thought it would happen to me.  I had ZERO risk factors and an awesome support system.  So when the first few symptoms started popping up, I laughed it off…  “ME??? Postpartum depression??? Never!!!”

This comprehensive guide to maternal mental health disorders from Parenting Pod offers plenty of information to help you understand your symptoms.

Mayo Clinic
Postpartum Depression Risk Factors

2. We think this is “normal” motherhood.

All we ever hear about when it comes to parenting is how hard it is.  The sleep loss, the crying, the breastfeeding struggle – it’s all normal… right?  A brand new mother experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression may assume that this is what everyone meant when they said it was hard.  I’ve heard stories of women opening up to others about what they were feeling, only to be told “welcome to motherhood.”

Think you might have postpartum depression?  Take this quiz from PostpartumDepression.org.

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3. We are terrified of having our child taken away from us.

Obviously we want what’s best for our child but it would be a mother’s worst nightmare to be deemed incapable of caring for her own child (the child who got her into this mess in the first place, might I add).  If anyone knew the thoughts that a mother with postpartum depression has on a regular basis, they would lock her up and throw away the key. (If you are feeling the urge to act upon your bad thoughts, seek help immediately as you may be suffering from a rarer case of postpartum psychosis). 

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4. We are ashamed of ourselves.  

For some reason, society has led us to believe that having postpartum depression is our fault.  Admitting to it is admitting that we were one of the weak ones who fell susceptible to the curse that is postpartum depression.  We feel like terrible people for thinking and feeling the way we do, even though we have no control over it.

5. We are concerned about what others will think of us.

If we are diagnosed with postpartum depression that means we are classified as “mentally ill” and will need to accept the stigma that comes along with that label.  All of a sudden we are dangerous and unpredictable.  Will other people start to question our parenting skills now?  Will they treat us as if we are delicate and fragile and weak?  What will our co-workers or employers think?  Will having postpartum depression jeopardize our futures?

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6. We feel like failures.

This is not the way it was supposed to happen.  In our dreams of becoming mothers we pictured it blissful and beautiful.  We imagined sitting in a rocking chair, singing lullabies to a sleepy, happy baby.  And when it wasn’t like this, we felt like we had failed. We failed our children and robbed them of a happy childhood.  We failed our spouses and robbed them of a happy marriage. We failed ourselves and all of our dreams of motherhood.  No one ever wants to admit that they are a failure.

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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7. We think we can cure ourselves.

We think it will go away on it’s own, eventually.  Or maybe we are planning to tell someone when it gets worse… it just hasn’t yet.

We think that if we sleep a little more, relax a little more, meditate and do yoga that our postpartum depression will magically go away and so there’s no need to burden anyone else with our problems.  Self-care while battling postpartum depression is extremely important but it’s highly unlikely that the symptoms will go away without a proper treatment plan.

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8. We don’t trust the medical system.

It’s a sad truth that many women who open up about postpartum depression still don’t get the help they need.  Unless you already have a trusting relationship with a medical professional it can be difficult to find the right person to seek help from with such a personal matter.  The fear is that we’ll be told we’re over-exaggerating, drug seekers or that it’s all in our head.

Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada
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Regardless of how difficult it is to find good help, it’s so necessary to seek treatment.  Postpartum depression will NOT go away on it’s own, and even if the feelings do subside after a while, there is always chance of a relapse.

9. We feel alone.

We’ve joined online support groups.  We read the posts and silently agree without so much as a “like.” The women write about how they’re exhausted and overwhelmed.  They talk about how they can’t sleep at night, how they can’t eat or can’t stop eating and how they worry about everything all the time.  And we can relate to that.

But what those women don’t talk about is the bad thoughts they have.  It’s incriminating and requires a *trigger warning* and what if no one else feels the same way?

I’m here to tell you that I don’t care what bad thoughts you have, I don’t want nor need to know what they are because chances are, I’ve had them too.  You don’t have to say them out loud.  You can pretend like you didn’t even think them, so long as you know that you are not the only person who has thought them.  You are not alone.

To prove it to you, here is a list of postpartum depression stories from other brave mothers who have been through the worst of the worst and still managed to survive (myself included).

Postpartum Depression Blog Posts
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If you’ve read this entire post and can relate to all 9 of these things, then it’s time to do something about it.  Staying silent about postpartum depression helps no one.

Start by downloading this FREE printable PDF workbook to help you collect your thoughts and come to terms with what you are feeling and how you want to say it.

Then, write out your story.  It doesn’t have to be pretty – in fact, it probably won’t be.  But don’t hold back.  Think about all of the real and raw things you wish someone else had been brave enough to tell you.

Next, decide if you are ready to tell it.  Do you want to tell someone close to you or would you prefer to anonymously release it into the world for other mothers with PPD to read?  Either way is fine, as long as you’re not keeping it all inside.

If and when you are ready to tell your story – click here to find out how.
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9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Having Postpartum Depression
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How to Sleep Train a Newborn

As a new parent, you are probably bracing yourself for sleepless nights ahead.  Oh, they’re there.  I can’t get you out of that one.  Your baby is not going to sleep through the night on Day 1.  Or Day 7.  Or Day 64.  You may already be thinking about sleep training even if it feels like a long way off.

Having a routine is essential to sleep training at any age but the sooner you can implement it, the easier it will be as children get older.

This sleep training guide will help your newborn baby identify the difference between daytime and night time. 

It will lay the foundation for stricter sleep training at a later age. 

It will put the control back into your hands by helping you predict what your baby needs and recognizing the reason why they are crying.

How to Sleep Train a Newborn


Sleep Training
Sleep Training Guide Part 1: How to Sleep Train a Newborn Sleep Training Guide Part 1: How to Sleep Train a Newborn

* This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  ** Furthermore, I am not a sleep training expert, just a mother who’s been there and lived to tell the tale.


SLEEP TRAINING IN THE MORNING

Open the curtains  

Let as much sunlight into your home as possible or sit by a sunny window.  The point is to associate “daytime ” with brightness and noise.

Skin to skin contact  

Strip baby down to a diaper and lay them on your bare chest or cuddle next to them in bed.

Another great option for skin to skin contact is to carry them around in a wrap-style baby carrier while shirtless.

SweetBlessingsBaby on Etsy.com

Give baby a really good feeding

If you’re breastfeeding, now is the time to work on perfecting that latch.  Try out different breastfeeding positions, make lots of eye contact, stroke your baby’s skin and talk to them.  Keep them undressed and try not to let them fall asleep during the feed.  Check out my post on breast compression for more tips!

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Get a good burp

Different methods work for different kids but this is so, SO important.  Try gentle bouncing or laying them on their tummy across your arm or leg instead of patting their back.  The number one reason why newborn babies cry after a feeding is because of gas. Often, babies will put their hands to their mouths or seem to root around when they need to burp which can be confusing if baby just finished nursing.

Get a good poop 

This will usually happen on it’s own, so it’s really just a waiting game.  You can try “pumping” their legs or holding them in a “sitting position” to get things moving.

Encourage playtime 

Talk or sing to baby, have tummy time and lots of skin to skin contact – you want the environment to be stimulating and playful but not over stimulating, so watch for cues that baby is done with a certain activity.  (This proves more difficult than it sounds because many newborns and young babies spend more time sleeping than anything else!)

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Watch for signs of sleepiness

Eyelids will droop, they may stare off in one direction or may start to get fussy.

Put them to sleep in their crib (or wherever you want them to normally sleep)

It may be tempting to hold and rock that baby for the next 2 hours but the sooner you can get them accustomed to sleeping in their own bed, the better (don’t worry, you can get in lots of cuddles during “playtime”).

If they cry when you put them down, you can try feeding or burping them again but you don’t want baby to fall asleep too heavily, the idea is to put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep.  This habit is important for sleep training at a later age so it’s a good idea to do this as often as possible with your newborn because they don’t usually object to it at this age. 

Sleep Training Guide
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SLEEP TRAINING DURING NAPTIME

Keep the curtains open

Daytime sleep needs to be different from night time sleep, so keep the room bright.

Make noise

Play music in the background or open a window to let in street noise.  If you have older children, don’t shush them while baby naps.  Basically, go about your regular every day activities.  This will teach baby to nap despite life happening around them.

Wake baby up after 2 hours

… and start over again.  It might sound cruel to wake up a sleeping baby but wouldn’t you rather save that sleepiness for 3 am?


The goal throughout the day is to pump baby full of food and offer stimulation and attention.


SLEEP TRAINING AT BEDTIME

Make sure that baby has been up for at least 1 – 2 hours before bedtime

Even a 10 minute nap in the car can sustain a baby with enough energy to last all night. It will take some work to plan out baby’s nap times but it is much easier to put a sleep baby to bed than it is to wrestle with an energetic one.

You can try using aromatherapy to help calm babies down before bedtime.  Although kid safe essential oils are not recommended to use on the skin under 2 years of age, you can use them in a diffuser!

Dim the lights

The wakeful period before bedtime should be focused on quiet and calm – different than the wakeful periods during the day.  Close the curtains or install blackout blinds.

You still want to make sure baby gets a really good feed, burp and poop.

*Ahem* this is your life now…

Tone down the playtime

You can bathe and/or massage baby, but talk in soft voices and don’t offer too much stimulation or vigorous play.

The Johnson’s Baby website has some excellent tutorials and tips on baby massage.

JohnsonsBaby.com

Try NOT to feed baby right before bed

Aim for a 1/2 hour before bedtime so that they don’t fall asleep while nursing.

Initiate the “BEDTIME ROUTINE”

You will be performing this routine nearly every night for a long time, so decide now what it will include – a bedtime story or a lullaby?  Nightlight? Sound machine?

Over the years the bedtime routine will evolve as your child grows.  But it should always include a calming activity and something that is reserved specifically for bedtime so as to give your baby the bedtime signal.

Put baby to bed when you see the early signs of sleepiness

It’s worth repeating here – put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep. The younger the baby, the more they are acting on instincts and as long as all of their needs are met, they shouldn’t protest when you put them down.

If baby cries when you put them down… 

Try feeding or burping again until they get drowsy.  If baby falls asleep while nursing, just try to get them into bed as soon as possible afterwards.  Try your best to remain positive about the process, or baby will sense your anxiety.

6 Ways to Make Sleep Training a Positive Experience
Here are some tips for staying positive

Once baby is down for the night – DO NOT WAKE BABY UP TO EAT. 

They will wake up on their own (because food > sleep).  But hopefully they will sleep for longer than 2 hour intervals at night.

For added peace of mind, you may want to invest in a good baby monitor. Reviews.com has a comprehensive breakdown of the different baby monitors on the market and lists their top three here.

SLEEP TRAINING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 

If and when baby wakes up in the middle of the night…

Do not turn on any lights

Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible.  A soft glow nightlight or mood light offers just enough lighting for you to see what you’re doing but the idea is to help baby associate night time with darkness and quiet.

Keep baby dressed

Save the skin to skin contact for the daytime.  If you swaddle baby then it’s up to you whether or not to unswaddle them, but the idea is not to disturb or stimulate baby any more than necessary.

Feed baby

Because you’re pumping them full of milk during the day, you don’t need to worry about how much they’re getting in the middle of the night.  This is a great time to use the breast compression technique while breastfeeding.  Most likely, baby will fall asleep during nursing.

Do not talk to or stimulate baby in any way

If you’re smooth enough – you might be able to convince baby that this is just a dream and that they aren’t really awake at all…

Only change a diaper if it’s poopy

If baby had enough poopy diapers during the day then the chances of a poopy diaper at night are slim (though they do happen).  If you absolutely must change a diaper, use a warm wipe or washcloth and try to make it as quick as possible.

Get a good burp

but don’t try any fancy positions that might overstimulate baby unless they seem to be having a lot of trouble with gas.

Immediately return baby to crib

Don’t make a big deal out of night time wake ups, and if possible, try not to move baby out of their room.

Continue this routine for all night time feedings until morning and then begin the daytime routine all over again.

[Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Sleep App is a great tool for tracking your baby’s sleep patterns – Download it for FREE!]


see part two of the running in triangles sleep training guide For more TIPS

Sleep Training Part 2: 6 Months +
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Have you tried all these tips and your baby is STILL not sleeping through the night?

There could be something you’re missing.  All babies are different, and there isn’t ONE plan that works for everyone.  Don’t be afraid to seek help from an expert.  Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site for more information.

The Baby Sleep Site Review
Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site

For additional sleep training tips, check out this blog post by Taylor Jones from Dromma.

Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep
drommabed.com
How to Sleep Train