Coronavirus and Postpartum Depression – Are You at Risk?

Does postpartum depression put you at a higher risk for contracting coronavirus?

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is officially a global pandemic and causing all kinds of anxiety and uncertainty.  It can be especially hard on new moms who are already dealing with mental health issues.   Moms with postpartum depression might see an increase in their symptoms during this time.  Yes, it’s a stressful time for everyone, but could moms with mental health issues actually be at a higher risk?

If you have postpartum depression, find out if you are at risk of contracting coronavirus. 
Coronavirus and Postpartum Depression: Are you at Risk?
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.

Coronavirus and Postpartum Depression

Coronavirus and Postpartum Depression


Those most at risk for contracting coronavirus include the sick, elderly and people with a weakened immune system Many mothers with postpartum depression may suffer from a weak immune system, which is what puts them in the high-risk category.  Depending on how recently a mother has given birth, her immune system may not have had a chance to recover properly.  And certain behaviors caused by postpartum depression can affect our immune systems as well. 

Symptoms of a weakened immune system:

    • Frequent and long lasting illnesses and infections
    • Fatigue
    • Digestion issues (diarrhea, nausea, constipation)
    • New or increased allergies
    • Joint pain or inflammation

Think about whether or not you seem to catch every cold or still get the flu despite getting the flu shot.  Do your symptoms drag on for a long time? Do your wounds take long to heal?   These are all warning signs that you could have a weak immune system.  And if you’re likely to catch a cold from someone sneezing nearing you, then you’re also likely to catch coronavirus.

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How does postpartum depression cause a weakened immune system?

Stress

Stress is the number one culprit when it comes to a weakened immune system.  High levels of stress can increase our cortisol levels and decrease our lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off infection).  This imbalance within our bodies makes us more susceptible to viruses, like COVID-19.  Moms with postpartum depression and anxiety often find themselves under a lot of stress.  It’s never easy to manage the kids and a household, while trying to maintain our own mental health. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

Sleep Deprivation

New moms, especially those with symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, are not getting nearly enough sleep as they need to.  Chronic sleep deprivation can affect our immune system in a negative way.  Normally while we sleep, our body works to produce certain antibodies that help us fight infection.  Sleep is also our body’s time to recharge and refill.  But when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune system goes into overdrive.  Then it doesn’t work when we need it to the most, like for fighting off the coronavirus. 

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Isolation

Both postpartum depression and anxiety can cause a new mother to distance herself from others, long before the CDC recommended it for the prevention of the spread of Coronavirus.  Moms normally take extra measures to keep baby away from crowds and strangers, in order to protect their fragile immune systems.  But all this time spent in isolation results in the opposite for moms.  Without being exposed to normal, everyday bacteria in the outside world, moms haven’t been able to build up any immunity to it.  Our immune system needs a lot of practice in order to keep it in good, working condition.

How to NOT feel isolation while in self isolation
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Fluctuating Hormone Levels

While the underlying cause of postpartum depression is still unknown, some theories suggest it could be due to changes in hormone levels after giving birth.  We know this to be the cause when it comes to the baby blues, which is why it’s so common and doesn’t last long.  Postpartum depression is a much more complicated illness, however.  Either way, lower levels of estrogen may contribute to weakening the immune system.  All women who experience a hormonal imbalance of estrogen might be susceptible.  This includes women who are postpartum, peri-menopausal or who have had a hysterectomy.

Unhealthy Eating Habits

Our body needs a steady source of vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy.  But moms with postpartum depression or anxiety don’t always have the greatest eating habits.  Whether it’s binge-eating junk food or skipping meals all together, these bad habits can weaken our immune system and make us susceptible to the coronavirus.  If food was an issue during your pregnancy (due to hyperemesis gravidarum, gestational diabetes, anemia, etc.) you may already have some type of vitamin deficiency.

Warning Signs Your Body is Screaming for a Detox
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How will coronavirus affect a mom’s mental health?

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    • Those with postpartum OCD might be overwhelmed about keeping germs away, hand-washing and disinfecting everything they touch (more than usual, that is).
    • Stress.  Lots of stress.  Stress about running out of food and supplies.  Stress about entertaining the kids while they’re off school.  Financial stress, marital stress, etc. 

What to do about it

The coronavirus is so new that not much is known about it yet.  Studies are being conducted on the effects of coronavirus on pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding moms, but they are still in the early stages.  Experts are working hard for answers but until then, it’s up to us to try to keep it contained. 

Here are some things that moms with postpartum depression can do during the coronavirus outbreak to help maintain their mental health.
    • Stop reading all the global news stories. Instead,  stick to the local news coverage, which will keep you updated on the issues that affect you the most.
    • Follow the CDC’s recommendations for prevention of the spread of coronavirus, and bear in mind that these are updated as more information becomes available. 
    • Eat healthy.  Or take vitamin supplements to help boost your immune system.
    • Drink lots of water.  Regularly drinking water not only boosts your immune system, but helps to flush out any unwanted bacteria in your body. 
    • Get plenty of fresh air in wide, open spaces.  Avoid crowded parks and playgrounds and take a stroll through nature instead. 
    • Practice deep breathing and meditation. Not only does meditation help to calm stress, but taking long, deep breaths will actually improve your lung function.  Strong lungs will help in the event that you need to fight off coronavirus. 
    • Focus on the positive. This worldwide pandemic is one for the history books!   As scary as the times are right now, we are living in a moment of history.  Try journaling your experiences, or take photos.  Look for ways that you can help out someone else, even if it’s just by making a phone call to check in. 
    • Continue practicing self care.  Increase the amount of self care you do daily, if that’s an option.  In order to keep yourself from getting cabin fever, you’ll need to find time to yourself each day. 
    • Try online therapy. If your mental health is truly suffering during the coronavirus outbreak, this is something you can always do from home. 
100 Self Care Ideas that are Social Distancing Approved
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The thought of a global pandemic killing thousands of people across the world is truly terrifying.  With the intense amount of media coverage on the coronavirus, it can get very overwhelming for a mother with postpartum depression.  It’s terrifying because so much of it is out of our control. 

We need to focus on the small things that we can control.  Don’t waste your time hoarding toilet paper.  Instead, work on getting your immune system ready by eating healthy, getting enough sleep and finding ways to reduce your stress levels. In time, this too shall pass. 

The Best Info for Explaining Postpartum Depression to Your Partner

Talking about postpartum depression is never easy, even when it’s to the one we love the most.

Many women struggle with explaining postpartum depression to their partners, friends, family or other loved ones.  It seems strange that we would allow ourselves to be vulnerable around our closest people, except when it comes to mental health.  When it comes to explaining postpartum depression to our partners, having the right information is important.

This guest post by Betti Wilson is a summary of some of the best info about postpartum depression to help you communicate with your partner. 
The Best Info for Explaining Postpartum Depression to Your Partner
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author. This post may also contain affiliate and/or paid links. Rest assured that I only work with companies and individuals that I trust. While some of those companies and individuals may work in the medical field, this post is not intended to be a substitution for medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental or physical health.

Description: A baby has just been born, and you expected that only joy and tenderness would overwhelm you. You would soar with happiness. Instead, you are overwhelmed by fears; all feelings have become aggravated to the state of bare wire.

What is postpartum depression and how it is detected?

Such increased emotionality is characteristic of many mothers in the first months after the child’s birth. Moreover, it’s not only a constant lack of sleep, the fact that your life has changed a lot, establish breastfeeding, look after the baby, etc. While your child is tiny and still very closely connected with you, your usual psychological defenses are weakening, and this is normal. 

However, if time goes on and your feelings deepen more and more, you may have experienced postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. It does not mean at all that something is wrong with you or that you are weak. Instead, this condition can be considered as a physiological complication after childbirth, like a postpartum hemorrhage.

In this article, we will give you the postpartum definition, tell you what postpartum depression is, how to know its symptoms, and help you understand how to deal with it.  The more you know about the condition, the better you will be at explaining postpartum depression to your partner or others. 

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What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, because of which, in the first months after the birth of the baby, the mother experiences strong negative emotions. Below we list the main symptoms of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can occur not only after the first birth. As a rule, it begins between the first and third weeks after childbirth. However, some women experience depression for a few months or even a year after giving birth.

If you are now in postpartum depression, remember that you are not alone.  Your partner is likely more than willing to help you get through this. This condition is temporary, it should not be hidden, and when you get help, you will feel better.

A New Mom's Guide to Postpartum Anxiety
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Postpartum depression symptoms       

To understand if you have postpartum depression or not, listen carefully to yourself. Here are the signs of postpartum depression:

    • Depressed mood
    • Very sharp mood swings
    • Increased tearfulness
    • Difficulties bonding with baby
    • Separation from family and friends
    • Increase or loss of appetite
    • Insomnia
    • Persistent drowsiness
    • Weakness and fatigue
    • Decreased interest in everything you liked
    • Increased irritability and outbursts of anger
    • Fear that you are a bad mother
    • Feeling of worthlessness, shame, guilt
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulties with doing routine activities
    • Constant anxiety and panic attacks
    • Thoughts about harming yourself or your child
    • Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
What to do if you think you have postpartum depression
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What causes it?

It is still not fully known what causes postpartum depression. The reason is a combination of physical and emotional prerequisites. Among them are:

  • Hormonal changes. After childbirth, the amount of pregnancy hormones — estrogen and progesterone — sharply decreases in the body. It can affect mood swings. The level of other hormones produced by the thyroid gland also decreases. That is why you can feel tired, depressed, and lethargic and you may experience postpartum hair loss.
  • Permanent lack of sleep. The body needs to recover from childbirth. However, you need to take care of the baby, so few mothers can generally relax and recover. Lack of sleep can cause physical discomfort and a constant feeling of fatigue. Moreover, this, in turn, triggers all the other symptoms of postpartum depression.
  • Emotional experiences. After the birth of a baby, a woman’s life changes dramatically. The body and self-identity are changing. It seems that your life has gone out of control and no longer belongs to you. All this, coupled with constant anxiety, also contributes to the development of postpartum depression.
13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know
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How to deal with it?

Consult doctors with complaints of postpartum depression. They will tell you about possible treatment options, which include working with a psychologist and/or taking particular medications. These tips will increase the effectiveness of treatment and will contribute to your recovery:

  • Rest, and sleep. Set aside all household chores, and take time and attention for yourself. If your baby falls asleep, do not try to do all things during this time. Try to go to bed and also sleep.  Ask your partner to take over for you while you sleep.
  • Simplify your life. Think about how and on what you could save energy and time? Do you often cook food for the whole family? It may be worthwhile to increase the volume and cook not every day, but a couple of times a week.  Or make larger portions in advance and freeze them.
  • Speak with your partnerThe child belongs to both of you and even if your partner supports the family, part of the childcare will fall on their shoulders. Explaining postpartum depression will help them to understand what you are going through.
  • Ask for help and accept it. All relatives live far away, and your partner disappears all day at work? You will be surprised, but help may come when you least expect it. However, it is essential not only to ask but also to be able to accept help. If you hear an offer to help you, do not rush to refuse out of politeness. Support can be very different.
  • Take time for yourself. As you know, if a mother is happy, then the baby will be satisfied. Make sure to practice self care daily and don’t neglect your needs, even with a demanding baby. 
  • Stay in touch. Many mothers think that they suddenly found themselves in isolation, and they suffer from it. Make sure that the internet does not suck you in.  Get acquainted with moms at the playgrounds, call friends to visit and do not be afraid to go out with baby.  Found out are postpartum girdles safe and do not hesitate to go for a walk or to the gym.
  • Separate responsibilities. Your partner will be happy to help you – you just need to ask him for support.  Explaining how postpartum depression affects you will open up the lines of communication.  They will be more willing to help take on some of the duties around the house. Even short breaks a couple of times a week will help you feel better.
Postpartum Depression Self Care
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Conclusion

Postpartum depression is not your fault. Unfortunately, many women feel guilty or feel ashamed. Some indeed encounter misunderstanding or condemnation from others. Remember that postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, which requires contacting a qualified specialist for help, like any depression definition. It is vital not to experience it alone and share with your partner. By explaining postpartum depression to them, you will feel more supported. Soon everything will be fine, and you will enjoy each new day spent with your baby.


Author Bio:

Betti Wilson is a coach for moms and a mother of three kids. She studied baby, mother behavior, and now teaches moms to deal with all difficulties at the beginning of the new life. 

Everything You Need to Know About Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety is a common mood disorder that affects up to 15% of new mothers.

Postpartum anxiety is just as common, if not more so, than postpartum depression.  It’s seldom discussed and when it is, it’s usually grouped together with postpartum depression as if they’re a package deal.  The truth is, women can get BOTH postpartum depression AND anxiety or they can get one of the two. 

Here’s what all moms need to know about postpartum anxiety.
A New Mom's Guide to Postpartum Anxiety
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.
A New Mom's Guide to Postpartum Anxiety A New Mom's Guide to Postpartum Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Basically speaking, anxiety causes a person to worry.  Anxiety, in itself, is a common and natural human reaction.  It’s our body’s instinctive way of protecting us from a possible threat.  For new and expectant mothers, anxiety is almost expected, and seems to be part of the maternal instinct.  We need to worry about our newborn babies in order for them to survive. 

An anxiety disorder, however, is different.  It’s when you lose your natural ability to stop worrying when the threat has passed.  Postpartum anxiety is what it’s called when a women develops an anxiety disorder following the birth of her baby.  Women can also suffer from prenatal anxiety during pregnancy.  A postpartum anxiety disorder can cause a mother to worry so much that it disrupts her life and affects her health and well being. 

Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)

    • Constant worrying
    • Racing thoughts
    • Intrusive thoughts
    • Paranoia (always feeling like something bad is going to happen)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Insomnia
    • Hyperventilating
    • Perfectionism
    • Needing to be in control of everything
    • Physical manifestations including nausea, excessive sweating, shaking or trembling, heart palpitations or fatigue

While the symptoms themselves might not seem overly concerning, living with postpartum anxiety can be extremely debilitating.  A mother who suffers from postpartum anxiety may suffer from extreme sleep deprivation if she stays up all night worrying or watching her baby breathe.  She might start to avoid leaving the house or socializing with friends.  The constant worrying, paranoia and intrusive thoughts can take a severe toll on her mental and physical health.

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Symptoms of Postpartum OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

    • Compulsive and repetitive behavior
    • Scary and intrusive thoughts
    • Going to extreme lengths to avoid bad thoughts from becoming reality
    • Becoming obsessed about things like germs, illnesses, death, accidents, etc.
    • Extreme fearfulness 

Postpartum OCD is a form of anxiety that manifests as compulsive behavior.  It’s similar to other forms of OCD, just in this case, the worries relate to a new baby.  For example, a mother suffering from postpartum OCD may clean, wash or sanitize everything obsessively for fear of the baby getting sick.  Intrusive thoughts are very common in a mother with postpartum OCD and she may rearrange her entire life in order to avoid bad things from happening, even if they seem like a long shot. 

Symptoms of Postpartum Panic Disorder

    • Profuse sweating
    • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
    • Nausea
    • Chest Pain*
    • Racing heart beat
    • Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
    • Chills or hot flashes
    • Numbness or tingling in hands, feet or face
    • Claustrophobia
    • Hyperventilating or shortness of breath

*always seek medical care if you are experiencing any kind of chest pain.

A panic attack can feel so bad that it’s often mistaken for a heart attack.  It’s important to rule that out, especially if it’s your first panic attack.  But if you become prone to panic attacks in the postpartum period, then it’s likely you suffer from a postpartum panic disorder.  This is a more intense form of anxiety that can have several effects on a new mother’s life.  It can often happen when a mother’s fears become severe and she feels like she has no control over what’s happening. 

Intrusive Thoughts
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Are My Worries Postpartum Anxiety?

First of all, having a baby is terrifying.  There is a lot worth worrying about.  Starting from the moment of conception, you will likely worry about your child their entire lives.  So how do you know if your worries are truly postpartum anxiety or just the normal worries that come along with motherhood?

This best way to answer this question is by determining how much your worrying is affecting your life. 
    • Do you avoid leaving the house because you’re worried about your baby getting sick? 
    • Do you lose sleep worrying if your baby is breathing? 
    • Do you avoid driving because you fear getting into an accident with baby?
    • Is your relationship suffering because you don’t trust your partner with the baby?
    • Do you panic when you can’t control absolutely everything?
    • Are you losing weight from worrying so much?

If your entire way of life has changed in order to accommodate your worries, then it could be a sign of a postpartum anxiety disorder.  It’s best to keep a journal or workbook to keep track of your worries.  Seeing it on paper can help you identify if they’re getting out of control. Even if you’re not sure, speak to your healthcare professional about your worries.  If nothing else, they may be able to provide you with some solutions to help ease your anxiety. 

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage
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Postpartum Anxiety Treatment Options

In the same way that mothers can suffer from both postpartum depression and anxiety, they can also suffer from either one to all three forms of postpartum anxiety.  Often, if a general anxiety disorder is not treated in the early stages, it can progressively become worse and worse.  That’s why treatment is essential.

Some popular treatment options include:

There are many treatments available for anxiety, including alternative and natural treatments.  You may not find success until you’ve tried several different ones, or a combination of them.  Even if you have established a proper treatment plan for your postpartum anxiety disorder, you should never ignore it.  Anxiety, like most mental health disorders, is something that can easily be triggered again.

Natural Methods for Coping With Anxiety
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Self Care for Postpartum Anxiety

Living with anxiety can cause a lot of stress and even lead to bouts of depression or other mental illnesses.  Practicing self care is extremely important to avoid triggers and relapses.  But keep in mind that self care alone may not be enough to eliminate your symptoms.  Instead, it should be used in combination with an anxiety treatment plan.

Remember to:
7 Days of Self Care
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Postpartum Anxiety + Addiction

Just as there are good ways to manage symptoms of anxiety, there are also destructive ways.  Drugs or alcohol can  numb the pain and help you forget your worries, but they only offer temporary relief and do more harm in the long run.  Addiction is something that many people with anxiety struggle with, especially those with OCD, as addiction is a type of compulsive behavior.  For more information and addiction resources, visit Addictions.com/anxiety-disorders.

Talking About Postpartum Anxiety

Anxiety, in general, is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world.  While postpartum anxiety isn’t talked about as often as postpartum depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important or as dangerous to mom and baby’s health. 

If you’re suffering from symptoms of postpartum anxiety, including OCD or a panic disorder, make sure to seek help from a qualified professional and establish a treatment plan.  Speak up about it with other moms too, and I promise you’ll find that you’re not alone.  (If you’re interested in sharing your postpartum anxiety story with us, click here for more info).


Additional Resources:

Healthline | What You Need to Know About Postpartum Anxiety

What to Expect | Postpartum Anxiety

Verywell | Do You Have the Symptoms of Postpartum OCD?

PostpartumDepression.org | Postpartum Panic Disorders

Postpartum Progress | A Toolkit for Postpartum Anxiety & Panic Disorders

Addiction Center | Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The Tapping Solution App | App to Help You Discover EFT 

The Danger of the “Fake it ‘Till You Make it” Advice for Postpartum Depression

Moms have to deal with all kinds of advice when it comes to being a parent.

Many mothers with postpartum depression are told to “fake it ’till you make it” which is a common psychotherapy practice.  And in many cases, it’s a great way of building up a person’s confidence and self esteem.  But it’s not always the best course of action and can actually be more dangerous than good.  There’s a reason why this advice is best given by a licensed therapist and not just anyone on the street.  

Here’s some more information about why the “fake it ’till you make it” advice isn’t always best for managing postpartum depression. 
The Danger of the Fake It Till You Make It Advice for Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.

What does “fake it ’till you make it” really mean?

It’s all about pretending.  Let’s say a new mother is struggling to bond with her baby or feel any emotions other than sadness and despair.  She may be given the advice to “fake it ’till you make it.”  What it means is that she should pretend to be happy.  She should smile and cuddle with her baby as often as possible.  The theory is that acting happy will convince her brain that she actually is happy until eventually she’s not depressed anymore. 

I know, right?  It sounds ridiculous.

But believe it or not, there is some merit behind this advice.  It falls into the same category of things like positive affirmations, self help books, pep talks, or other self esteem building activities.  They all work by building up our confidence and helping us to feel positive, empowered and worthy.  The “fake it ’till you make it” advice basically says that if you want to be happy, you have to do what happy people do. 

11 Things Moms Do That Can Harm Their Mental Health
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Why it’s not the best advice for postpartum depression.

While the practice of “faking it ’till you make it” does work for many people, it’s not the best thing to say to a woman suffering from postpartum depression.  First of all, it’s dismissive. Telling a new mother simply to “fake it ’till you make it” is kind of like a slap in the face.  It can leave her feeling ignored and neglected and makes light of her suffering.  Postpartum depression is a major mental health disorder and being told to “fake it till you make it” treats it as no big deal.

The “fake it ’till you make it” advice is often misunderstood. 

It’s not at all about faking a state of happiness in front of other people.  But this happens too often, especially among mothers.  When someone asks us how we feel following the birth of our child, we hide all of our pain and suffering and fake a smile. 

Instead, the “fake it ’till you make it” advice should be focused inwards. 

The idea is for mothers to act happy in order to train their own minds and not to convince anyone else.  Smiling in the mirror or dancing and singing to music when no one else is around are ways that we can fake a state of happiness for ourselves and no one else. 

“Faking it” can also make it difficult to gauge whether or not your condition is getting better or worse. 

The lines between real and fake can start to become blurred.  This makes it difficult to tell whether the symptoms of postpartum depression are truly improving or not.  If you’re planning to “fake it ’till you make it” you still need to be honest about how you are feeling in order to determine if it’s working.

5 Reasons Why Self Care Does Not Make You Selfish
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What to try instead.

Boosting your confidence and re-training your brain to focus on the positive are both very important for healing from postpartum depression.  But there are lots of ways to do it.

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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Without the help of a trained therapist, it can be all too easy for a mother to get stuck in this “fake” world.  Postpartum depression already has a way of isolating us from the outside world and keeping us apart from our loved ones.  When it comes to mental illness, things can get out of control without warning if left untreated.  If you’re considering using the “fake it ’till you make it” method for boosting your confidence, do so with caution and preferably with the help and support of a medical professional.


How to Survive the Holidays with Postpartum Depression

There are several reasons why the holidays aren’t as enjoyable when you have postpartum depression.

In order to get through the holidays with postpartum depression, most women wear a smile for the sake of their families.  After all, celebrating the holidays with our children are some of the happiest memories we’ll ever make.  But it’s also one of the most stressful times, especially for mothers.  They tend to take the lead when it comes to cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating and wrapping gifts. 

If the thought of getting through the holidays with postpartum depression is already stressing you out, check out some of our tips for making it through unharmed. 

How to Survive the Holidays with Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.
How to Survive the Holidays with Postpartum Depression How to Survive the Holidays with Postpartum Depression

Start Planning in Advance

The holidays have a way of sneaking up on you.  It’s as though you’ve just begun to cope with sending the kids back to school and then suddenly, there are Christmas carols playing on the radio.  Feeling the pressure of time running out can have a big impact on our mental health.  The best way to avoid the added stress of last minute shopping and decorating is to start planning for the holidays well in advance. 

Get your calendar and write out all the important dates.  Mark down family dinners, holiday parties, school or work functions, vacation time and anything else happening over the holidays.  Once you know these dates, you can start planning meals, gifts, outfits, babysitters, etc. Keep your calendar in sight, even if it’s still a month or two away so that you can mentally prepare for what’s coming up.

Start your holiday shopping early.  You always say that you’re going to be one of those people that starts shopping early but end up leaving it until the last minute anyway.  Make a list of everyone you need to shop for and carry it around with you whenever you go out.  You never know when you’ll stumble across something great.   Check out online sales or discount sites like Zulily and sign up for e-mail lists at your favorite stores. 

Having a head start is one way to survive the holidays with postpartum depression.  Making lists and planning in advance can reduce the amount of stress, sleepless nights and anxiety.

12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
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Minimize the Holiday Traditions

Special family traditions around the holidays are what makes this time of the year so memorable.  When you think back to holidays as a kid, what were some things that you remember doing every year?  Was it waiting up for Santa, baking cookies with grandma or watching a favorite movie?  These days, there are so many different traditions that you can start with your kids (especially on Pinterest).

But be careful which traditions you choose to start with your family and don’t try to adopt them all.  If you’re not much of a chef, then skip the holiday baking.  Or if crafting isn’t your thing, maybe buy a special ornament each year instead of trying to make one.  And take it from me, the Elf on the Shelf will use up way too much of your time and energy.  (But if you must follow through on this one, here are some adorable ideas using your home security camera!)

Consider sending virtual Christmas cards this year.  Buying cards, signing them all and mailing them out can be time consuming and not something a mother with postpartum depression wants to do.  But sending a paperless card is both easy and good for the environment.  Paperless Post has a huge selection of beautiful holiday cards and invitations, plus you can store all your contact’s e-mail addresses for next year! 

If you plan to survive the holidays with postpartum depression, it will mean downsizing the festivities a bit until your symptoms are under control.  Having one or two special things that you do together over the holidays is more than enough to make it memorable.  Besides, your children would much rather spend time laughing together as a family, than do a bunch of baking and crafts with a stressed out mom. 

Gifts for Mothers with Postpartum Depression
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Set Aside Some “Me” Time

We can’t forget about self care during the holidays.  It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the spirit of giving that we forget about taking care of ourselves. If you want to make it through the holidays with postpartum depression, you need to take a break every once in a while. 

With all the holiday events coming up, book yourself a salon day and get your hair and nails done. If it’s something you splurge on once a year, now is the time to do it.  If you’re not sure where to start, chat with a professional Esthetician and get a free serum personalized for your specific skin care needs at Beauty by Design.  And don’t forget to put a massage or spa day on your wish list.  Winter is also a great time to try out a thermotherapy spa

With the change in seasons, many mothers with postpartum depression can get hit hard with the winter blues (a.k.a seasonal affective disorder).  This makes self care even more important during these colder, shorter days. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and exposure to sunlight to avoid falling deeper into a depressed state.

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Find a Socializing Buddy

As much as you don’t want to do it, socializing is good for you.  You may be dreading having to answer the annoying questions that everyone asks new moms, like “is the baby sleeping through the night” or “shouldn’t he be walking yet?”  And the thought of having everyone fawning over your baby might be unbearable, even if they are family.  

If you truly want to survive socializing over the holidays with postpartum depression, then what you need is a wing-man (or woman).  Find your person, the one who is going to help you out through all the holiday socializing.  It could be your spouse, sibling, a favorite cousin or friend.  It should be someone that you trust and have a great connection with.  Tell them what you are going through and ask them to help you out at family functions.  If they notice someone annoying you, they can swoop in and save you. 

You should never have to battle postpartum depression alone but that doesn’t mean you need to announce your condition at the dinner table.  Having just one person who understands how hard this is for you can make it so much easier.  And who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy yourself!

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Don’t Avoid the Fun

Celebrating the holidays with postpartum depression is no fun.  But that doesn’t mean you should hide away or avoid the festivities.  You might think that your presence will just bring everyone down or make others feel awkward and so you decline invitations or leave the party early. 

Even if you don’t think you’re much fun, I assure you that others are glad you’re there.  Your children, especially, are happier when you are there.  So be in the pictures, sit around the fire and join in the dinner conversations, even if you have nothing to say.  It’s hard to remember all the days when our kids are young.  But you’ll remember the holidays, and so will they.


This is Why I Write About Postpartum Depression

Ever wonder how I came to write about postpartum depression and act as an advocate for maternal mental health?

For the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with women suffering from all kinds of mental health issues after giving birth.  It’s for those women that I write about postpartum depression.  I spend my days creating resources, infographics and researching, all the while wishing I had access to this same information when I was heavily battling postpartum depression.

Recently, someone asked me how and why I decided to write about postpartum depression.  It got me thinking about my journey to becoming a maternal mental health blogger and advocate. 

And so, in keeping with the Running in Triangles tradition, here is my story.
Why I Write About Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.

I always wanted to be a writer.

From a young age, I knew that writing was one of my strengths.  Not only did it come naturally to me, but I loved doing it.  Having the ability to tell an entire story just from words felt like a superpower.  The English language gets a lot of criticism for it’s wide array of spellings, meanings, synonyms and slang words.  But I think having so many different words to express a single emotion is one thing that makes it great.

Throughout my life, I struggled to find the right path for my writing.  Books, journals, diaries, poems, short stories… all started and forgotten about.  I knew I wanted to write, I just didn’t know what I wanted to say.

My first mom blog.

In my late teens and early 20’s I took to the internet to showcase my writing on sites such as My Space (and other infamous ones that no longer exist).   I enjoyed having a space to write knowing that someone else other than myself might actually read it.  

I started my first, real, mom blog in 2013.  At the time, I was in the thick of postpartum depression and needed an outlet for my emotions.  But I didn’t write about postpartum depression.  I wrote about recipes and crafts and funny things my kids did because that’s what all the other mom bloggers were doing.
10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

The story that changed my life.

A few months after starting my fluffy mom blog, a news story from my hometown hit headlines – two young children found drowned in a bathtub and the mother had gone missing.  They suspected postpartum depression (or psychosis).  I became obsessed with the story and constantly checked for updates to see if she had been found.  The online comments were filled with things like “I hope she’s dead” or “what kind of monster does that” and “she doesn’t deserve to be a mother.”

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think about anything else other than poor Lisa Gibson and her two babies.  I still cry at the mere thought of it.  Yes, it’s tragic and heartbreaking, but that’s not the only reason I cry. I cry because it could have been me.  At 4 months postpartum, I was fighting suicidal thoughts on a regular basis and imagining drowning my colicky baby in the bathtub.  But I was not a terrible mother, I was just sick.

Two days later, Lisa Gibson’s body was found floating in the river.  It was a tragic ending but I felt relieved for her.  She was finally free of the mental anguish she was likely consumed by.  Would she have even wanted to live after finding out what happened?  The story tormented me for weeks, and the public reaction was even worse.  No matter what I did, I could not silence the voice in my head that kept saying, “do something about this.”

Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada 1
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The first time I spoke up.

I couldn’t just sit by and spectate anymore.  I knew why people said the things they did… they didn’t understand it.  I couldn’t be mad at the online commentators because postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders are NEVER talked about.  And unfortunately, Lisa Gibson would never get the chance to tell her side of the story.

But I could tell mine.

And that’s what I did.  I sat down at my computer and just wrote.  Tears streamed down my face as I choked on the giant lump in my throat.  I would write something truthful and then immediately delete it.  What would people think of me?  What would others say?  Would they take my kids away if they read this?  I would imagine Lisa Gibson floating in the river and I would write it all over again.

Nearly every single sentence had me second guessing the decision to share my story.  And every time, I would picture Lisa Gibson or repeat the hateful online comments and push onward.  Finally, it was finished but I was struggling to publish it.  Once I hit that button – everyone will know.  Will people treat me differently?  Will I get hateful comments too?  I felt sick to my stomach as I hit the “publish” button, but it was done.  There was no going back now.

Prenatal & Postpartum Depression - Vanessa's Story
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The reaction to my story.

Once my story went live, I thought I would feel better.  But it was the opposite.  I was consumed by anxiety.  I couldn’t sleep.  Was this a mistake?  Is it too late to take it down?  I waited for the mean comments, for the misunderstandings and the judgement.

I got nothing but love.

Those who knew me reached out with complete empathy and the sincerest praise.  Friends that I saw in person told me how moved they were by my story.  I started to get comments and emails from women who experienced something similar.  They all said one in thing in common… “me too.”

Fast forward 5 years later.

After sharing my story, I finally felt fulfilled and stopped writing for a while.  I couldn’t go back to blogging about nothing when I had just said so much.  I decided to take control of my postpartum depression and began treatment.  I even had another baby without experiencing a postpartum depression relapse

Five years after hitting the publish button on my postpartum depression story, I found myself as a stay at home mom looking for a side hustle.  Mom blogs had not disappeared, in fact they seemed to be taking over the internet.  Moms were replacing their full time jobs running their own blogs from home.  Could a blog be a way for me to turn my writing into a full time career?  I had to give it a try.

How to Start Blogging About Postpartum Depression
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The Early Days of Running in Triangles

Running in Triangles was initially targeted towards moms of three kids (hence the name).  I had learned that, in order to be a successful mom blog, I should write posts that were helpful.  So I started by sharing my best advice for sleep training and breastfeeding.  They quickly became popular and are still some of my top articles. 

I desperately wanted to write more about postpartum depression, but I was still afraid to say exactly what I wanted to.  Out of that fear came the post, 9 Reasons Why Moms Don’t Speak Up About Postpartum Depression.  It was the blog post that changed the entire direction of Running in Triangles.

Since the blog was now seeing a steady amount of traffic worldwide, I was able to reach a lot more moms with postpartum depression.  They started emailing me and commenting about how they related 100% to what I wrote in that post.  They said they wanted to speak up about postpartum depression but were too afraid and didn’t know how to begin.  So I launched The Postpartum Depression Guest Post Series, making it possible for moms from any background to share their stories in a safe place.  The following year, I featured 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression in order to allow even more women to open up about their experience.

Mothers Answer 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression
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The Reason Why I Write About Postpartum Depression

Throughout this journey, I have finally discovered the true path for my writing.  I write about postpartum depression to help educate others on what it’s like living with this mental illness.  I write for all those mothers who are unable to find the words to say it themselves. I write for those who can’t tell their stories anymore, like Lisa Gibson and countless other women who lost the battle to postpartum depression

I write about postpartum depression because not enough people do.  It needs to be talked about more, to be included in regular conversation.  It’s not a bad word or something to be ashamed of.  I write for future generations, in the hopes that they will take the time to learn about it and put an end to the stigma of it. 

I write about postpartum depression in order to empower women.  New mothers should be able to access facts and information, find resources and support groups and know their treatment options.  But too often, the medical system fails them.  There’s not much I can do to change that, but I can give mothers the tools they need to take their mental health into their own hands. 

And at the end of the day, if I’ve saved even one mother from drowning in the river, then it’s completely worth it.
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To The Husbands of the Women With Postpartum Depression

It’s not easy to love a woman with postpartum depression.

We know that it’s tough on the husbands of women with postpartum depression.  The same goes for all of the boyfriends, fiances, significant others and baby daddies.  Not only are they thrust into this new role of caring for a child, but they’ve had to watch the woman they love suffer,  possibly for 9 long months followed by intense labor.  And then postpartum depression on top of all of that?

It’s common for new fathers to feel completely helpless when it comes to pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding .  If they could carry some of the burden for us, we know they would. 

Here are some things that we wish we could say to the husbands of the women with postpartum depression. 
To The Husbands of the Women with Postpartum Depression
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.
To The Husbands of the Women with Postpartum Depression

Thank you.

We say it all the time, nearly everyday, in every possible situation.  But this time, we truly mean it.  Thank you from the depths of our soul.  Thank you for giving us this incredible gift of motherhood, even if we’d like a refund some days.  Thank you for noticing that something wasn’t right.  Thank you for cancelling those dinner plans when you knew we didn’t want to go.  Thank you for being in our corner. Thank you for completely understanding, without understanding at all. 

We need you.

We act like we don’t need you, like we can do everything ourselves and say that we’d be better off on our own.  But it’s not true.  That’s the postpartum depression talking.  We need you now more than you will ever know.  

13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know
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It’s okay if you don’t get it.

How could we ever expect you to understand what it’s like?  We know you don’t get it, but we love that you support us anyway.  You don’t need to say anything clever or important.  Even though it might go against your nature as a man, you don’t need to fix us.  It’s okay that you can’t make it better or make it go away.  We don’t think any less of you for feeling helpless.

Your role is important too.

Dads simply don’t get enough credit when it comes to parenting.  Moms are normally at the forefront of the physical, emotional and mental battle that comes with bringing up children.  But we want our husbands to know that their role as fathers are just as important as our roles as mothers. 

You may not be able to breastfeed the baby, but supporting us in doing it (or deciding not to do it)  helps more than you realize.  The way you play with the children when you get home from work makes us feel a little less guilty about ignoring them all day.  Your ability to pick up the slack and not make us feel bad about it takes a huge weight off our shoulders.   The truth is, we couldn’t do any of this without you.
10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

We’re sorry for yelling at you.

Sometimes you’re just an innocent bystander and sometimes you’ve done something to deserve it, but we get angry a lot these days.  It’s harder to control our emotions and it doesn’t take much to make us frustrated, angry, irritated or annoyed.  Our crowded, heavy minds don’t even realize how irrational we sound most of the time.  We only take it out on you because we trust you.  We know that you can handle it and hope you don’t take it personally. 

You are our safe place.

All day long we have to be strong and put on a fake smile.  And when we finally see you, we let it all out because you are where we feel the safest.  We are not afraid to be vulnerable around you because we know how much you love us.  It may sound like we’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but really, it’s just emotional vomit.  We need to get it all out to feel better, and thankfully you’re there to hold back our hair. 

14 Ways to Help A Mother with Postpartum Depression
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We are trying to save you.

We feel like we’re drowning and we don’t want to drag you down with us.  We push you away, not because we don’t love you, but because we love you too much to see you suffer.   There is no point in both of us being miserable, so instead we keep you at a distance.  We are trying to push you further and further away from the dark cloud that follows us.

We really need that self care time.

It doesn’t seem fair because we know everyone enjoys alone time.  After a long day of work, we’re sure you need some alone time too.  It’s not that we don’t understand that.  It’s that working a job and raising kids are two different types of work for you.  But for us, it’s the same job over and over and over again, without escape. So being away from the constant chatter of our world is like taking a breath of fresh air after holding it in all day long.  Having that time away to do what we need to do makes such a huge difference for us.

Postpartum Depression Self Care
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None of this is fair.

Why me?  Why us?  None of this is fair and we both deserve better.  Our dream of having a family was so much brighter than this.  If we could reverse time and re-do it, would it turn out any different?  We don’t know why or how we got postpartum depression.  And it wasn’t anything you or I did wrong. But here we are.  These are the cards we’ve been dealt.

Please don’t let go.

Somewhere along the path to parenthood we got lost.  We will eventually find our way back but it will be so much easier if we do it together.  We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, and we don’t want you to treat us any differently.  We’re still somewhere inside of here and with a little help, we can be us again.  We just need you to hold our hands and never let it go no matter what we do.  Because we may do some pretty horrible things that we will come to regret (and please don’t remind us of or punish us for those things once we’re better.)  Just stay and be here and listen and love us.

Gifts for Mothers with Postpartum Depression
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To all the husbands of the women with postpartum depression…

You are our heroes but we don’t treat you like one.  We say demeaning things in fits of rage.  We confess shocking intrusive thoughts and threaten to do things completely out of character.  Perhaps you have a suicide hotline on speed dial or keep a closer eye on us these days.   Yes, we are struggling hard to cope with our mental illness and yet, you remain our rock and our beacon of light.  We love you for that.  We love that you have our backs and that we will never be alone, no matter how lonely we feel.  You are important to us, even if we don’t say or show it. 


11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Postpartum depression symptoms can be triggered by different factors, making the recovery process much longer than it needs to be.

With a proper treatment plan, postpartum depression can go into remission.  But postpartum depression triggers are internal or environment factors that can cause symptoms to flare up again. These can continue to affect mothers for years after the postpartum period. 

It can be frustrating to battle symptoms of postpartum depression for years, and it might even feel like it will never go away.  Identifying your specific triggers can help you to avoid them, which means you’ll be less likely to experience a postpartum depression relapse.

Here are some of the most common postpartum depression triggers to watch out for.
11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid 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.
11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them 11 Postpartum Depression Triggers

Sleep Deprivation

Our brains need sleep and there isn’t an acceptable substitution for it.  No amount of caffeine, medications, diet changes or exercise can replicate what sleep does for our bodies.  If our brains don’t get the chance to reset each night, they don’t function very well during the day.

Sleep deprivation is an especially big factor for postpartum moms.  Babies have much shorter sleep cycles than adults do.  This means that a mother’s brain isn’t getting the chance to fully “reboot” because it’s constantly being interrupted by a hungry baby.  So it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation is one of the most common postpartum depression triggers. 

Sleep deprivation is also not synonymous with the postpartum period.  It can occur at any time in our lives.  It can be caused by a baby’s sleep regression or teething, illness, stress, interrupted schedules or sudden changes, anxiety or even daylight savings time

In order to get the most undisturbed sleep possible:

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is another one of the more common postpartum depression triggers.  In fact, many mothers report feeling more stressed about breastfeeding than they did about labor and delivery.  Breastfeeding can be a struggle and it can cause pain, frustration, shame and embarrassment.

Mothers who struggle with breastfeeding can feel guilty, unworthy, judged  or end up feeling resentful and full of regret. All of these feelings certainly contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression.  But some mothers found that breastfeeding eased their symptoms and helped them to bond with their babies.  Each woman’s experience is so different, but if this is a trigger for you, know that you are not alone.

Education can be key to successful breastfeeding.  While it’s promoted as “all-natural,” it doesn’t come naturally to the majority of mothers.  Consider hiring a lactation consultant, or take an online breastfeeding course from home.  If all else fails, know that it’s perfectly okay to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula for the sake of your mental health. 

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?
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Pain

When we think of pregnancy and childbirth, we associate it with some form of pain.  This is often thought of as a rite of passage and many mothers spend a lot of time preparing for it.  But in some cases, the pain of childbirth can trigger unexpected feelings and suppressed memories. 

A painful delivery or recovery can be one of the first postpartum depression triggers, but pain is a trigger that can linger long after the recovery period.  When we experience pain in another form, such as menstrual cramping, pelvic pain, back pain or migraines, it can trigger the symptoms of postpartum depression again.

This trigger can be especially difficult to avoid due to the fact that pain comes in so many different forms.  Identifying that pain is a trigger is a good first step.  Experiment with different pain treatment options, such as CBD oil, and try to deal with the root cause of any chronic pain, in order to avoid being triggered long term.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up About Chronic Pain
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Weight Fluctuations

The weight issue is another trigger that affects expectant and new mothers.  During pregnancy, a woman can gain 20 – 40 lbs in the span of 9 months.  And then immediately following childbirth, her body can look unrecognizable.  There will be pressure to lose all the extra weight as fast as possible.  She may also have to deal with a c-section scar, stretch marks, loose skin and sagging breasts.  

These weight and body changes can have a significant effect on our mental health.  Even if body image was not an issue for us prior to becoming a mother, postpartum depression can take a hit on our self esteem

While maintaining a healthy weight is important, embracing our new bodies is equally as important to keep weight changes from triggering postpartum depression symptoms.  

7 Ways Moms Can Look and Feel Good This Spring
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Hormonal Imbalances

The fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy and in the postpartum period are completely normal.  They are responsible for the extreme mood swings, weepiness and other symptoms referred to as “the baby blues.”  It’s not unusual for hormones to also take all the blame when it comes to postpartum depression, however we know that there’s much more to it than that.  

Certain hormonal imbalances can be postpartum depression triggers.  Some women find their symptoms are triggered upon the return of their menstrual cycle or with another pregnancy.  Certain illnesses can also cause hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid problems or diabetes

There are plenty of natural ways to keep your hormone levels balanced to avoid a postpartum depression relapse, but always speak to your doctor first to identify the cause of the imbalance and come up with the right treatment plan. 

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Relationship Problems

Marriage and relationship problems can begin or get worse following the birth of a child and they are a major cause of stress and anxiety for both parents.  Postpartum mothers are extra sensitive, irritable and sometimes prone to rage.  They can be extremely difficult to communicate and reason with.

In addition to the lack of communication and mood swings, it can be really difficult to open up about all of these scary thoughts and feelings.  Instead, women tend to shut down, retreat away from their spouses, and have difficulty with intimacy.  

Despite how hard it might be, try your best to talk to your loved one about what you’re feeling.  Getting an official diagnosis may help you both to understand what’s going on.  Couples therapy is also a good option to help break down the barriers.

To The Husbands of the Women with Postpartum Depression
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Grief/Loss

Grief is a major depression trigger that can affect postpartum moms.  Pregnancy and welcoming a new baby are symbolized by joy, happiness and new life.  It can be shocking when these actions cause an opposite effect, but sometimes they do.  

A mother who previously suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a child may be triggered by grief upon giving birth to a healthy baby.  Postpartum depression symptoms may also be triggered when a woman thinks of someone who previously passed away and isn’t present to meet their child.

Grief is a part of life and there’s really no avoiding it.  If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, talk about them openly.  Talk to your baby about them, look at an album full of pictures or share stories about them.  Try not to keep all that pain inside, and instead, memorialize the ones you have loved and lost. 

Miscarriage: Moving on Doesn't Mean Forgetting
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Holidays/Anniversaries

Special occasions can actually be quite difficult for a mother with postpartum depression.  Certain dates or holidays might stir up traumatic memories that are postpartum depression triggers.  Plus, social anxiety and the desire to withdraw from conversation are common symptoms of postpartum depression. This makes it very hard to get together in large crowds, even if they are all people whom you love. 

As these dates approach, try to be proactive about your condition.  Take the day off work, scale down the festivities or plan a vacation instead.  Changing your memories about that day might be hard, but not impossible.

How to Survive the Holidays with Postpartum Depression
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Weather

Cold weather and rainy days can make anyone feel depressed but it’s much deeper than that.  Depression thrives when a person feels isolated.  And there’s nothing better at keeping a mom with a new baby locked up indoors than some bad weather.  Hot weather can also encourage a new or expecting mother to seek out the cool air conditioning instead of a muggy back yard.

All this time spent indoors can deprive a mother of enough fresh air and sunshine.  Combined with the other effects of seasonal affective disorder, the weather changes should never be underestimated as postpartum depression triggers.

Keeping a journal or mood tracker can help to identify if your postpartum depression symptoms are being triggered by the weather.  If they are, then there are several easy therapies and common practices you can do to help avoid it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder
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Financial Stress

Money problems are high on the list of depression triggers.  For parents, adjusting to the financial strain of adding a baby to the budget can be difficult.  In addition to the cost of diapers and daycare, a mother has to battle with the financial stress of staying at home instead of working – or feeling guilty for working instead of being home with baby.

Changes in finances are just one of the many overwhelming adjustments that a new mother will need to make, and it can be a big trigger for postpartum depression. 

One of the best ways to avoid this is to prepare for the financial stress prior to giving birth.  Meet with a financial advisor and make a plan for the future.  To save some money, research which baby products are worth investing in, and which ones you can probably do without.  And most importantly, stick to a budget to keep financial stress under control.

A New Mom's Guide to Postpartum Anxiety
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Changes in Treatment

To help fight all of these different postpartum depression triggers there are several different treatment options available.  The variety of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications available means that you should be able to find one that works well for you, even if you have to try out a few first.  Considering online therapy?  Check out this detailed review of online therapy companies to help with your decision. 

But beware when making changes to your treatment plan.  Sudden changes to any of your medications can trigger symptoms of postpartum depression again.  The same goes for stopping therapy sessions or another supplemental form of treatment.  If money is the issue for stopping, you can find out more information about the cost of online therapy here.

Consider weaning yourself off slowly instead.  If you plan on switching to a different medication, slowly wean off of the first one and gradually begin the second one.  Obviously, speak to your doctor about any and all changes in your treatment plan.  And make sure to be open about the symptoms you are experiencing, so that you can find the treatment that works for you.


Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: What Is The Connection?

There seems to be a significant connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Many women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression also report trouble breastfeeding.  Their struggles include latching problems, not producing enough breast milk, or an overall aversion to breastfeeding in general.  With this being such a common concern, it seems there must be a connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

A connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is not an easy one to decipher, however.  It’s likely caused by a number of different factors, both physical and psychological.  And the fact that postpartum depression also affects women who have no issues breastfeeding makes it even more complicated to figure out. 

Let’s dig deeper into the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

The “Unnaturalness” of Breastfeeding

The only thing that’s natural about breastfeeding is that it feels so completely unnatural. It may have been natural hundreds of years ago, when people lived more closely among animals and watched them raise their young.  In the days when daily life consisted of fetching well water and hunting for food, breastfeeding was the norm.  But modern civilization has taken the “naturalness” out of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression Infographic
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Breastfeeding exposes a woman, making her feel vulnerable and embarrassed.  Most women have never walked around bare-breasted before.  And now, suddenly, other people are inspecting and staring at her breasts, even grabbing them like hamburgers.  Plus, there’s the added feature of getting used to another human being sucking away on them in a completely asexual way.

But instead of admitting that breastfeeding feels unnatural, the message mothers are given about breastfeeding is that it’s what’s best for her baby, that it’s completely natural and instinctual, and that if she’s doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt.  Perhaps the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression stems from the gross misinformation that new mothers are given.

some truths about breastfeeding:

It’s painful.  Yes, even when you’ve got a proper latch, it can still hurt.

It doesn’t happen instinctively.  Babies will root around, looking for a nipple, but the majority of them don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

It’s embarrassing. And others will make you feel guilty for being embarrassed and say insensitive things like “we’ve seen it all before.”

It’s annoying.  Newborns eat often and can suck for a long time.  Having to feed a baby on demand means you barely have time to do anything else, let’s not even talk about pumping.

It gets easier? Yeah, sure, once you get the latch figured out, it might seem like things are going smoothly.  Until you have a 6 month old who likes to shove their feet in your mouth, pull your hair and scratch your chest while they nurse.

How, When & Why to Do Breast Compression
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The Guilt of Not Breastfeeding

Despite all of this, the majority of mothers will attempt to breastfeed their child because “breast is best” and what kind of mother would they be if they didn’t at least try to give their child the best?  This overwhelming pressure on mothers most definitely plays a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Contrary to (un)popular belief, mothers don’t just give up breastfeeding because it’s too hard.  They usually seek help from a professional, try supplements to increase their supply, pump day and night and do everything else in their power, which often causes a severe amount of stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness.  

A mother who is unable to breastfeed, regardless of the reason, will feel guilty for not doing it, despite the fact that it is not her fault.  She may even be embarrassed to admit to other mothers that she is not breastfeeding for fear of being judged.

Connection Between Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression
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Stress Inhibits Breastfeeding

All of these misconceptions about breastfeeding can set a new mother up for failure. Instead of experiencing something she hoped would be beautiful and natural, she feels frustrated and stressed out.  Stress then inhibits breast milk production, and not producing enough breast milk stresses a mother out even more.  So it becomes nothing but a vicious cycle.

We know that stress can cause all kinds of symptoms in our bodies, both mentally and physically.  Stress leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor eating habits, weight gain or loss, neck and back pain, headaches, depression and more.  So it’s no wonder that stress is the primary culprit in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public may be legal, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward for a new mother who is already feeling exposed and vulnerable.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of women being shamed for breastfeeding in public.  While we applaud those who do stand up for themselves, that level of courage is not in all of us.

Even if we are never actually confronted about public breastfeeding, we often take additional measures to prevent it from making those around us uncomfortable.  This comes at the cost of our own comfort, and that of our baby, usually resulting in an unsuccessful public breastfeeding experience.  Therefore, the mere thought of having to breastfeed a screaming, hungry baby in a public place can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. 

A new mother struggling to breastfeed may avoid spending time outside of the house for this reason.  Eventually, this feeling of being trapped in the house can have an effect on a mother’s mental health and the longer it persists, the more dangerous it becomes.

5 Things New Moms Fear about Breastfeeding
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Breastfeeding with D-MER

If you’re not familiar with the breastfeeding condition known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex) you can read about in this post.  D-MER can cause a mother to have an overall aversion to breastfeeding and develop negative thoughts and feelings towards it.  While D-MER is a physiological response as opposed to a psychological one, I believe that it can play a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

For a mother with undiagnosed D-MER, she may associate extremely negative thoughts and feelings towards breastfeeding, which could transfer over into negative thoughts towards herself or her baby.  This constant weight of negativity creates an environment where mental illness thrives.

It’s important for mothers who have negative feelings while breastfeeding to speak up about them and seek help.  It could be D-MER or it could be postpartum depression.  Either way, help and information are available.

D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad
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Ultimately, a lot of different things can affect a breastfeeding mother and prevent her from being successful at it. If breastfeeding is causing you to feel stressed, anxious, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed or creating a negative experience altogether, then it’s worth weighing the risks and benefits.  While there are so many wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers, forcing yourself to breastfeed at the cost of your mental health is not worth it.