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.
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.
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 ownminds 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.
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.
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.
Mobile ultrasounds are a great way to beat a case of anxiety for expectant mothers.
Many women choose to get non-diagnostic ultrasounds during their pregnancy, where they can view their baby in the womb in 2D, 3D and 4D (video). But thanks to modern technology, a mobile ultrasound is the newest option for expectant moms to view their babies in-utero from the comfort of their own homes. This helps moms feel more relaxed and at ease during the process.
With Jess expecting her third baby in February, we thought it would be a great opportunity to test out the mobile ultrasound process for ourselves. So we collaborated with Prenatal Peek, Winnipeg’s ONLY mobile ultrasound company, and the first mobile ultrasound company in Canada.
Check out some of these awesome features of mobile ultrasounds that can help put anxious moms at ease.
Jess elected to have a mobile ultrasound from Prenatal Peek at her home, surrounded by her husband and two girls. At the time, she was 24 weeks pregnant and they had been told the gender of the baby over the phone by their doctor but wanted to confirm it. Jess had non-diagnostic ultrasounds with her two prior pregnancies, each at different locations in Winnipeg. This was her first mobile ultrasound experience.
One of the best things about Prenatal Peek‘s mobile ultrasound process is the service. Owner, Tracy, has been doing mobile ultrasounds for nearly 7 years and as a mother herself, she knows exactly how to make moms feel comfortable and at ease. She has seen hundreds of babies via ultrasound, but when it was finally time to see Jess’s baby on the screen, she was just as excited as if it was the first time.
An amazing benefit of the mobile ultrasound process is the flexible scheduling. Unlike most elective ultrasound locations, there wasn’t a long wait to get an appointment. Tracy fit us in on a Saturday afternoon and often works evenings and weekends because she understands what it’s like to be a busy, working parent. We even had to make a few last minute changes to our appointment time, which she easily accommodated.
Atmosphere + Environment
One of the biggest factors for an anxious mom-to-be when it comes to an ultrasound is the atmosphere and environment. For moms who have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss or who have anxiety about hospitals, ultrasounds can make for an unpleasant experience. This includes siblings and fathers-to-be who might also have a fear of hospitals due to a past trauma. The option of having the ultrasound done in your own home is a great alternative.
It took almost no time for Tracy to get her equipment set up in Jess’s living room. In fact, I was surprised at how little equipment was actually needed for the process. With just a few cables, Tracy was able to link her screen onto the television, making it possible for everyone to view baby.
A Family Affair
With the ability to project the screen, a mobile ultrasound would make a fantastic option for a gender reveal party, a baby shower or to include grandparents and other extended family members. Or, as Jess and her family chose to do it, a private and intimate family affair. However you decide to host your mobile ultrasound, Prenatal Peek can usually accommodate. But keep in mind that moms should be relaxed and comfortable in order to get baby to cooperate.
Great for Siblings
Many children can have a fear of doctor’s offices, hospitals or new places and strangers. This can make taking siblings along to an ultrasound quite difficult. But Tracy did a great job of including Jess’s two daughters during the mobile ultrasound process. The girls felt at ease in their own home and were excited to see the new baby on the television screen. They each got their own stuffed animal that had a recording of the baby’s heartbeat and it was clearly their favorite part!
One of the most special moments during the mobile ultrasound was when Tracy handed over the controls. Jess, her husband and her children each took a turn performing the ultrasound themselves. This was a great way for them to connect with the baby. And I’m certain it made dad and big sisters feel more involved in the pregnancy. This unique experience really made mobile ultrasounds stand out among standard ones.
In the end, we think that the personalized one-on-one service, convenience and comfort make mobile ultrasounds the way to go for moms to be and their families. It’s a great option for moms suffering from prenatal anxiety or depression as they get all the benefits of seeing baby without the hassle normally associated with elective ultrasounds. With the variety of different packages available, Prenatal Peek mobile ultrasound is totally affordable and you get to keep the images and video of your ultrasound for no additional cost, regardless of which package you choose!
It’s normal for moms to experience weakened pelvic floor muscles.
Pregnancy, labor and delivery weaken our pelvic floor muscles and so it’s especially important to work at strengthening them during the postpartum period and afterwards. The added weight of pregnancy wears down our pelvic floor muscles and the pressure of labor contractions overworks them. And then there’s the big deal of pushing a human being right through them. Women who experience a c-section are not exempt either, as we tend to tense our pelvic floor muscles whenever we feel pain or strain to move after surgery.
How do you know if you have weak pelvic floor muscles? Check out some of these signs and find out how to strengthen them.
You pee when you sneeze.
Or cough or squat or bend over to put on your shoes. Leaking pee (a.k.a. urinary incontinence) is one of the most common signs of weak pelvic floor muscles. It’s almost become a right of passage for moms, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
You need to pee all the time.
Another common sign is the urge to pee more frequently. If you’re feeling the urge to pee and just can’t hold it in, it could be due to the weakened muscles supporting your bladder. During pregnancy there is added weight on the bladder combined with additional fluid intake so it makes sense that you need to pee more often. But in the postpartum period, you should be able to go longer periods between bathroom breaks, or at least hold it in until you can get to a bathroom.
You have trouble emptying your bladder or bowels completely.
The inability to empty your bladder or bowels completely is another warning sign to watch out for. The muscles in your pelvic floor are used for pushing out pee or poop. They might need strengthening if you really need to strain on the toilet. If you’ve been using a stool softener but you’re still having trouble pooping, this could be the reason.
Can’t control your farts.
(Oh this just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?) Do you avoid yoga class because you’re worried about farting during downward dog? Afraid to bend over in public or get up too quickly? The uncontrollable passing of wind is yet another sign that your pelvic floor muscles are weak, as they should be tight enough to keep those in until you can release them privately.
Tampons or menstrual cups don’t stay in place.
Inserting tampons or menstrual cups might be easy enough, but if you find that they slip out of place or feel uncomfortable when they’re in, it could be due to your pelvic floor muscles. You shouldn’t need to try too hard to hold your menstrual products in, as your pelvic floor muscles should automatically keep them in place. But when they’re weak, they don’t do a great job at that.
Sex isn’t as enjoyable.
And finally let’s talk about the ways that weak pelvic floor muscles can affect sexual intercourse. Many moms report that sex isn’t as enjoyable after giving birth and a lot of the time, it’s due to those weakened muscles. Since these muscles control the vaginal opening, if they are weak then both partners will feel less sensation. In addition to the uncontrollable peeing and farting, the entire experience may cause a woman to feel stressed out and not be able to enjoy it all.
There’s a bulge in your pelvic area.
This can be a sign of a pelvic organ prolapse. Basically, it means that one or more of the organs located within your pelvis falls through the pelvic floor. It can cause a whole bunch of uncomfortable symptoms, depending on which organs it is. The most common sign is that you will notice a bulge near the vaginal opening.
How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
There are specific exercises we can do that target the pelvic floor muscles, including pelvic lifts, squats and perhaps the most famous… Kegels. But similar to working out our other muscles, it’s hard to remember and/or find time to do them. And the results are often less impressive than working out a bicep.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is helpful in that you get targeted exercises to work the right muscles. Plus, there are ways for physiotherapists to test your pelvic floor strength and monitor your progress. But it does have it’s downsides as well. Besides the costs and time associated with seeing a professional, many women also feel embarrassed talking about it and would prefer a more private solution.
Thankfully, there’s a third option.
It’s called Perifit and it combines the power of pelvic floor exercises with the benefits of professional guidance. Perifit is a small, medical grade silicone device that connects to an app via Bluetooth. Once inserted, you use your pelvic floor muscles to play games on your smartphone which actually help to strengthen them over time.
Yes, you heard me right… you get to play video games with your vagina.
It sounds a little strange to stick a game controller up your hoo-hah but it’s the only way to test your pelvic floor strength. Inserting it is similar to inserting a tampon and once it’s in, you don’t even really feel it.
All you do next is get comfy, grab your phone, download the Perifit app and follow the on-screen instructions. Basically, all you need to do in each game is squeeze and release your pelvic floor muscles. It feels similar to doing Kegels, but having a purpose for each one keeps you from getting bored and giving up. Like other games, the levels get harder and harder, so they work to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles over time.
At the end of each session, you get to see how strong your muscles are and track how they have improved. Perifit also keeps track of how often you are performing the exercises as it should become a regular habit. Try to incorporate a few minutes into your daily self care routine and you can see results within as little as 2 weeks.
The thing that surprised me the most while using Perifit was how hard I had to squeeze my pelvic floor muscles to complete some of the levels. While doing Kegels, I never would have squeezed that hard, which is probably why they didn’t work well enough. Having a real guideline for how hard to squeeze, and for how long, makes such a difference compared to winging it with Kegels.
If you are struggling with symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, Perifit is the best way to strengthen them. You get the professional guidance of a physical therapist within the convenience and privacy of your own home. Having weak pelvic floor muscles following pregnancy and childbirth is totally normal and never something you should be embarrassed about. But that doesn’t mean that you have to live with it forever.
So far, I have spent almost 2 years of my life being pregnant.
I am now 22 weeks pregnant with my third baby. Just over halfway there! As a family we have decided that this will be our last baby, and with that comes a roller coaster of emotions. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I knew we had planned for 3 kids in total, so I feel as though I did not appreciate every moment of that pregnancy.
But there’s something different about the last pregnancy:
This will be the last time I will feel those flutters and kicks, so I am trying to stop and really feel every movement.
This will be the last time I grow a life inside of me.
The last time I will wash newborn clothes and prepare a nursery.
The last time I will choose a name for a new person.
I thought maybe I would feel sad about it, but to be honest, I am feeling very at peace about the whole experience. In a way, I feel like this little bonus baby is a gift for my two girls. Both my daughters, who will be 6 & 3 when baby arrives, are beyond excited about the arrival of their new sibling. I think their excitement elevates my own. In a way I think it’s so special that I am growing this little gift for them, who they lovingly refer to as theirbaby.
With my first pregnancy, I was so anxious about everything.
I had no idea what to expect. I was your typical first time mom, I read everything, I googled and researched and went to birthing classes. I bought everything brand new, planned fashionable outfits and decorated a beautiful nursery with matching bedding. We spent hours looking for the right stroller and car seat. I thought all the right “things” would be so important. Looking back now, I laugh at myself for putting so much effort into the things that didn’t matter as much.
With my second pregnancy, I worried about the adjustment to having two kids.
I worried about my oldest daughter feeling replaced. I worried about how to care for two lives. I worried about how to love them equally. I worried about the logistics and how to manage being out in public with two kids. I worried about how I would split my time and attention. I worried so much, I couldn’t sleep. And when she finally arrived, life worked itself out, just like everyone had assured me it would. Her older sister was in love with her, and I learned just what exponential love really was. Just like that, our love had doubled.
Now with my third, I am excited.
I know that this baby will add another level of love. I have heard from other moms of three (or more) that a second baby is a harder adjustment than a third and I believe it. I am already so busy and I am already used to juggling schedules and attention. After the initial first trimester where I was a pukey nauseous disaster, I am in that second trimester sweet spot. I am still getting sleep, I can eat anything I want and I can walk without waddling. I know that will all end very soon, but for right now, I am enjoying this stage. And while I am SO excited to meet this baby, I am in no hurry. I am savoring every last minute of this pregnancy… the stretchy maternity pants and all!
So while the thought of this being my last pregnancy does feel like the end of an era, it also feels right for me and my family. I will try my best to keep you updated on this journey with my growing family. I appreciate the outpouring of love I have received as I start my own adventure Running in Triangles.
Daylight savings time can be a mother’s worst nightmare.
Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. This all sounds well and good for most people, after all, it’s just a one hour difference. But if you have little ones on a strict bedtime schedule, or if your mental health suffers from changes in your routine or sleep pattern, it can be a difficult time of the year to manage.
Here are a few tips on how to protect your sleep during daylight savings time.
Yes, it’s just an hour. For many people, it doesn’t even make a difference in their lives. But for young children, it can mean some trouble adjusting to the change for a few days, if not longer. This can disrupt mom’s sleep patterns as well, which is bad news if she suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety. Sleep deprivation can be a big trigger for those suffering from a mental health disorder.
If you’re worried about your sleep being disrupted, then try to prepare yourself ahead of time. Don’t over-schedule yourself the weekend that daylight savings time changes and try to get in some extra rest. If you’re concerned about your child’s sleeping habits, then consider consulting with a baby sleep training expert for advice.
Go to Bed Early
Technically the time changes at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but it’s a common practice to change all the clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night. Whether you’re losing or gaining an hour, consider going to bed early that Saturday night to ensure that you get enough sleep no matter what time you wake up.
Take the Weekend Off
Thankfully, daylight savings time changes on a weekend so you don’t need to worry about school or work schedules. If you can, try to limit any scheduled or time-constricted activities. It’s a great time to plan a cozy hygge weekend or a family movie marathon where you’re sure to lose track of time anyway. And who knows, maybe planning a relaxing weekend when the time changes could become a favorite family tradition!
Make the Change Gradually
There is no rule that says the hour has to be changed all at once. One way to make the daylight savings time change seem less drastic is to change the clocks in smaller increments throughout the weekend. Start by changing your clocks in 15 minute intervals on Saturday morning and evening and then again on Sunday. The smaller the change, the less your body and mind will notice it.
Change the Clocks in the Middle of the Afternoon
Another alternative to help protect your sleep is to change the clocks in the middle of the afternoon instead of at bedtime. This is a great option, especially for children, because the afternoon hours can usually slip by quickly when we’re busy having fun. This will also ensure less disruption to your child’s bedtime routine and help you sleep better as well.
Try to Embrace it
When it comes to daylight savings time, it’s best to just not make a big deal out of it. Worrying or focusing too much on it can cause a lot of disruption. It can cause anxiety for moms who need every bit of undisturbed sleep they can get. Knowing that daylight savings time is coming can also contribute to symptoms of depression, including seasonal affective disorder. Instead of worrying about it, try to be mindful of the time change. Pay close attention to the changes in nature and embrace the opportunity to adjust your routine for the winter season.
Prior to having children or dealing with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, you probably never thought much about daylight savings time other than being on time for something important. With most smartphones automatically updating the time, you may even completely forget about it until you wake up Sunday morning confused about what time it REALLY is. Often, we don’t experience the repercussions of the time change until after the fact. So protect your sleep this season and be ready for it!
It can be tough to find the motivation for self care in the winter.
It’s in our nature to want to hibernate under the covers all winter long and avoid leaving the house. But staying isolated and failing to take proper care of ourselves during the winter months can lead to bouts of seasonal depression. Self care is important year round, so despite the miserable weather, we should always try to make time for it.
Here are a few ideas for self care in the winter that are sure to keep you feeling warm and cozy.
1. Light a Fire in the Fireplace
There’s no better way to warm up in the winter than sitting by the fireplace. You can read, write, listen to music, watch your favorite movie or even just sit quietly and enjoy the crackling sound of the flames. Flickering light is said to have a meditative effect on the mind which helps to reduce stress. In some parts of the world, firelight is essential to the practice of hygge during the winter.
2. Relax by Candlelight
In the same way, dancing candlelight can help you relax as well. Stock up on candles over the winter and light them whenever you get the chance. Light a few in the kitchen while you’re cooking or dine by candlelight. Keep one on your bedside table while you relax in bed or beside the tub while you soak. Just remember not to fall asleep while they’re lit or leave them unattended, of course.
3. Curl Up With a Cozy Blanket
Self care in the winter is all about wrapping yourself in warm, cozy blankets. You may have several blankets in every room that you use, or maybe you have a favorite one that you practically live in. The soft touch of a blanket wrapped around us helps us to feel safe and secure. Being warm is also better for our blood circulation and improves our overall mood.
4. Take a Hot Bath or Shower
Soaking in a hot bath or standing under a hot shower is a great way to warm up in the winter. Try adding Epsom salts to the bath water for an added dose of magnesium. Or throw in a few shower steamers filled with essential oils. If you find that you prefer hot showers more frequently in the winter, make sure to use all natural products that will keep your hair and skin soft and moisturized without overloading on chemicals.
5. Visit a Thermal Spa
If you haven’t already, check out a thermal spa in your area. They are great places to visit in the colder months because you can access the full range of hot and cold. Natural, mineral hot springs have healing waters that not only warm you up, but can provide relief from muscle and joint pains.
6. Get a Hot Stone Massage
Obviously any kind of massage therapy is a great way to practice self care in the winter. But if you’re not a fan of deep tissue massage, try opting for a hot stone massage instead. The warm volcanic rocks strategically placed on your body can loosen up tight muscles and reduce inflammation, stress and tension. P.S. don’t forget to put SpaFinder gift cards on your wish list to use for this!
7. Warm Up Your Feet
You can warm up your entire body simply by starting with the feet. Warm feet will help you sleep better but if you’re not comfortable wearing socks to bed, try plugging in a heated mattress pad or blanket just at the foot of your bed. Invest in a pair of ultra cozy socks or slippers to wear in the winter. For added benefits, roll some essential oil blends onto the soles of your feet before slipping them into socks to absorb all the goodness.
8. Sip Some Herbal Tea
Don’t forget to keep warm from the inside too! Sipping on herbal tea is a great self care activity to do daily. There are many health benefits of drinking green tea or just plain hot water with lemon. But you can find herbal teas for almost any ailment these days. There’s a reason why it’s such an integral part of any ancient culture.
9. Visit a Steam Room
Many gyms or indoor pools give you access to a steam room so definitely take advantage of them in the winter. Steam is a great way to detoxify the body, clean out the pores and help boost our immune systems. It’s especially helpful to loosen things up when you’re suffering from a stuffy nose or chest congestion. Just make sure to have a good shower and don’t forget to exfoliate and moisturize afterwards to get rid of all the toxins you’ve just sweat out.
10. Go for a Run
Staying active is one of the most important self care practices in the winter. It’s all too easy to neglect our bodies when they’re always covered up. So bundle up and go for a run around the neighborhood. You might start off feeling cold, but the longer you go, the warmer you’ll get. Or run indoors on a treadmill. It’s important to get your heart rate up at least once a day, which will improve your blood circulation to keep you warm all over.
11. Do Some Yoga Stretches
Meditative yoga is another great form of self care in the winter. Despite it’s slow and concentrated movements, you will work up quite a sweat holding those positions. Stretching daily will help our bones and muscles from getting weak over the winter months, when we might not as be as active.
12. Spend Time in a Sauna
Similar to steam rooms, saunas can be found at most gyms, indoor pool areas or spas. The dry heat of a sauna focuses directly on helping you sweat out toxins in your body. You can even find places that offer hot yoga, which is a yoga class done entirely in a sauna for added benefits. Search SpaFinder to see locations near you that offer these specific type of services.
13. Bake Something Warm and Delicious
Baking is a great winter activity, especially around the holidays. But don’t do it out of necessity or you’ll just stress yourself out. Bake just for the fun of it. Having a warm oven on will heat up the whole house and the delicious smells coming from it are an entirely different form of aromatherapy. And then go ahead and indulge. Use the real chocolate and the full fat cream and don’t skimp on the sprinkles.
14. Make a Pot of Soup
Nothing warms you up faster in the winter than a delicious bowl of hot soup. Soup days are perfect and easy for those dreary days when you’re stuck in the house. Or have a pot ready to go for when you get in from being outside in the cold all day. Try making a bone broth from scratch or get the kids to help you make an easy veggie soup. Soup is a winter time staple but also light and healthy.
15. Knit a Scarf
The winter months are a great time to start a new project. With all the extra time spent indoors, you’ll need something to keep you occupied or you’ll end up with a bad case of cabin fever. Knitting a scarf, hat or mittens for yourself, your kids or a loved one is a great place to start. Or work on some other form of art therapy. Creating something will give you a sense of pride and boost your confidence. Depending on how good your skills are, you can even give some away as handmade Christmas presents.
16. Cuddle With Someone You Love
Finally, the best way to stay warm this winter is to spend lots of time cuddled up with the ones you love. Whether you’re suffering from a mental illness like postpartum depression or just a case of the winter blues, nothing heals better than a hug. You’ll stay warm simply by sharing body heat, and you’ll get a mood boost from spending time with others. So this winter, if you plan to hibernate indoors, make sure you’ve got someone to spend it with and find ways to take care of yourself while still keeping warm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I recently collaborated with Katya and Cait, the founders of The Fragile Club. One thing we have in common is our shared passion for raising mental health awareness. We recognize that in order to do that, we need to encourage the conversation around mental illness. The more people who are brave enough to speak up about what they are battling, the less stigmatized it will be.
On both our sites, those suffering from mental illness are invited to speak up and share their stories, no matter how scary it might be. The Fragile Club also offers a line of merchandise, with profits going towards mental health organizations around the world. These simple pieces, including clothing, hats and even an adorable fanny pack, are branded with a single word “fragile.”
I took the opportunity to interview these two incredible women and find out more about what it means to be part of The Fragile Club.
1. What is the Fragile Club?
Katya:The Fragile Club, first of all, is a community. The place where we share our stories and support each other.
Cait:The Fragile Club is a socially conscious brand created to bring awareness to mental health. For every item sold we donate the profits to one of our partnered Mental Health Organizations. We know that everyone has their own powerful story that can impact individuals and we encourage sharing as a core way to empower and support.
2. In what ways does the Fragile Club help raise awareness for mental health?
Katya:We are building a network of people with social influence (celebrities and social media influencers) who share their experiences dealing with mental health-related problems in order to show that it is okay to be open and talk about it. Also, we donate part of the profit from sold products to Mental Health organizations around the world.
Cait:Through our ambassadors, collaborators, partners and community we aim to bring mental health into normal conversation. And it’s through sharing our individual stories that we can raise impactful awareness.
3. How do you two know each other?
Katya:We both work remotely in the area of digital marketing and advertising. We met not too long ago through friends in common during our travels in South-East Asia and stayed in touch since then. We have a lot in common – modelling, that we both do, remote work, travel, etc. Cait helped me with the content for a few projects and during one of the brainstorming sessions, the idea of The Fragile Club was born.
Cait:As Katya explains, we both have lots of experience working remotely and we met via mutual friends during our travels in South-East Asia and have stayed in touch since then. The first time we worked together I was creating content for some of Katya’s projects and we really enjoyed working together.
4. Aside from the Fragile Club, what kinds of things are you interested in?
Katya:As a full-time job, I do digital marketing and advertising and I’m absolutely loving it! Besides that, I’m interested in fitness, art and travels.
Cait:Both Katya and myself have been in the modeling industry. I love fitness, health, personal growth and content creation.
5. What inspired you to start the Fragile Club?
Katya:As an entrepreneur, I always wanted to create something that would bring some value to society. As I personally have experience with depression and anxiety, I want to support people who deal with mental health-related problems.
Cait:Katya and I both are very passionate about creating positive change and our biggest conversation has been around mental health. We wanted to create something in the mental health space and the Fragile Club fell into place.
6. Tell us more about your personal experiences with mental illness.
Katya:I had depression, hypochondria and anxiety. After my first thought that suicide isn’t a really bad idea, I went to the psychiatrist on the same day. Had to go through the therapy and course of antidepressants to get to the point where I am now. I lived with it over 3 years without understanding what’s wrong with me (most of the time I was thinking that I have some kind of disease and I’m dying). I’m happy it’s over.
Cait:My sister’s story has had a huge impact on me and is a big reason why I care so much about Fragile. She grew up a middle child of 4 girls and always felt like the underdog in our religious family. Along with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this lead to her drinking and getting into drugs by the age of 12, pregnant by the time she was 16, and leaving home at 17. Years later, when she was 22, my family learned that she had become addicted to heroin two years earlier. This was devastating to my whole family. My mom has been amazing in helping her rehabilitate and she’s been safely on methadone for the past few years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over my little sister and how much I just want her to know she is loved and she doesn’t have to feel so alone and outcasted. I want anyone who’s felt the way she has to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and for the people around them to know how to help the people they love.
Personally, I’ve been through periods of depression, anxiety, self-hatred and multiple mental breakdowns. I’ve had anemia and endometriosis which both has fed periods of depression. And I know what it feels like to feel like no one supports you and you don’t know what to do.
7. What does being “fragile” mean to you?
Being fragile means that you are human. We want to highlight that everyone around us has gone through situations that we can’t understand, much less judge. Being fragile means that you accept your pain and become stronger by owning it. It also means that we need to remember that the person next to you has struggles and pain of their own, no matter who they are.
8. What do you feel is the biggest barrier to proper mental health care?
There are many barriers, but the biggest we believe is the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why we care so much about our mission to raise awareness and funds for mental health. We need both community and government to support each other as well as the funds to bring about proper treatment and research.
9. What do you hope to achieve in the future with the Fragile Club?
We want to bring this important issue to the forefront of conversation in society and culture. That is our biggest hope and dream.
10. How can others become involved in your mission?
Simply by making a single purchase donates funds to mental health organizations we’ve vetted and believe in their work. By someone wearing Fragile it helps to bring mental health to conversation in their daily life.
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
By removing judgement, we have room support and encourage each other to be the best versions of ourselves, and that includes understanding and supporting each other in our darkest moments.
For more information about The Fragile Club, to share your story on their site or to make a purchase and support mental health initiatives around the world, please visit http://fragileclub.com.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.