The pregnancy period, labor and caring for a newborn are all challenging parts of a new life as a mom. These parts take a toll on both our physical and mental health as a first-time mom. When mom is happy and healthy, so is the baby. Hence, new moms should pay special attention to maintaining their mental health in order to raise a happy and healthy child. After giving birth, moms often focus on their newborns and neglect their needs. Due to those reasons, they often disregard their physical and mental health. That’s why postpartum depression frequently happens.
You have a lot to take in as a first-time mom. Regardless, you shouldn’t neglect your mental health. To avoid doing that, you should learn how to recognize a mental health issue, for starters. Then, you should reduce your to-do list. It’s essential to indulge in self-care to maintain your mental health. Decreasing the time you spend on social media can also have positive effects on your mental health. And finally, what also helps is practicing positive self-talk.
Recognize a mental health issue
To maintain your mental health as a first-time mom, you should first be aware of its importance. Only after you’ve grasped its importance can you focus on recognizing a mental health issue. The more you know about the most frequent mental health issues for new moms, the quicker you can start dealing with them. After delivery and follow-up appointments, most doctors discuss signs of postpartum depression with their patients. Typical signs of postpartum depression include lack of sleep, focus and overwhelming feeling of sadness and irritability. Other common mental health issues that can affect new moms are clinical depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. There are therapies that can treat each of these.
Reduce your to-do list
When you give birth and come home from the maternity hospital, you’ll have a lot of daily tasks related to your baby. And this should be your main focus. The baby requires constant care. It will nap, eat and need a frequent diaper change. That leaves you little time for other household chores. You shouldn’t force yourself to try and do everything, because it’s almost impossible. And what’s more, it can lead to mom burnout, which can cause other issues. So, to avoid this from happening, you can ask a family member to help you or hire temporary help. Try to minimize the necessary errands by shopping online for newborn baby clothes or groceries.
Indulge in self-care
Self-care is an integral part of our mental health. Everybody should indulge in some form of self-care, especially first-time moms. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours at the gym or spa. You simply need to do something that relaxes you. That can be reading a good book, taking a brisk walk, going for a swim or booking a relaxing massage. You shouldn’t feel guilty for doing this. You know what they say – a happy mom equals a happy family. Keep that in mind. You deserve to take a break and devote some time to yourself.
Decrease the time you spend on social media
Spending way too much time on social media can have detrimental effects on our self-esteem, well-being and mental health as a first-time mom. To avoid that, it would perhaps be the ideal time to take a social media break and go offline for some time. In that way, you will be able to focus more on your newborn and nurturing yourself. You will also be less inclined to compare yourself to other moms and your baby to other babies.
Practice positive self-talk
Being a new parent, more specifically a new mom, as moms tend to spend practically their whole day together with their baby, is quite challenging. It is also exhilarating at times. This is all normal, most parents have good and bad days. One of the best ways to make yourself feel good about yourself is to engage in positive self-talk. It will be crucial in those moments when you’re having bad days. Positive self-talk will allow you to focus on the positive things and in that way, boost your self-confidence. It’s difficult to start practicing it, but once you have a grip, it becomes much easier.
Being a mom is one of the best ‘jobs’ in the world. It is also one of the most important ones. That’s why you should do whatever makes you happy and calm.
Jess Cooper is a part-time journalist and blogger based in Sydney, Australia. She is an energetic, creative highly motivated person with plenty of interests. The most prominent areas of interest include makeup and cosmetics, fashion, style, event organization and decoration, healthy food, fitness, learning languages as well as home improvement. Jess loves learning about new things and having the chance to combine those insights with her ideas and spread them to the world. She enjoys having a mindful and well-organized, healthy life, filled with all kinds of different activities and interwoven with close friendships.
Not all women instantly enjoy being pregnant, some need additional motivation.
There’s little doubt that being pregnant is one of the most profound experiences of a person’s life, but it’s not as if it’s always a stroll in the park. Indeed, sometimes women begin to feel sick of carrying a child, and look forward to it being over. Since wishing for it to be over won’t make time speed up, it’s best to find ways to enjoy being pregnant. But good news: this isn’t so difficult!
Below, we take a look at a few tried and tested methods for getting the most out of your pregnant period.
Embrace the Status
Don’t forget – pregnant women have a special status in society, so make the most of it. You’re unlikely to get so many strangers offering to do things for you on a regular basis, so why not relish the status and let them do it for you during pregnancy? There’s going to be plenty for you to do when you’ve had your child; for now, enjoy being treated as a queen. This is also a chance for you to indulge yourself. If you want to spend 10 hours lying on the couch, then go ahead – you’ve got a free pass to rest as much as you want.
Handle the Problems
One of the downsides of being pregnant is that things can become a little uncomfortable from time to time. And that’s not surprising, since you’re putting your body through a pretty intense experience. So it’s important that you have the right set up at home, so you’re able to handle the problems that pregnancy may throw your way. Create comfortable seating and sleeping areas, stock up on stool softener and indigestion relief medicines, and be mindful of your mental health. The more problems you’re able to quickly handle, the more you’ll be able to enjoy being pregnant.
Share Your Joy With Friends and Family
One of the best things about being pregnant is that you’ll have so many people who are happy for you. So embrace the happiness of others, and have some fun. There’ll be times for celebrations with your friends and family, and special weekends away with your loved ones. Essentially, pregnancy should be fun — it is, after all, a wonderful experience that you’re going through. So if you have opportunities to get together or you have people who want to get involved and make a fuss over you, take it.
Look to the Future
Pregnancy can feel like a whole new world, but really, it’s just the beginning of a long journey. In order to enjoy being pregnant, remember that this phase only last 9 months and then you have en entire lifetime that follows. So while you’re pregnant, take some time to think about all that you’ve done so far and where you’re going in the future. It’s a time to reflect on all areas of your life, and be blessed for all that you have.
It’ll Only Happen Once
Finally, keep in mind that this pregnancy is only going to happen once. Even if you end up having more children, every pregnancy is unique! Be present, and aware of all that’s going on. Schedule a maternity photo session to help you remember your changing body. It’ll allow you to see just how wondrous and magical a pregnancy can be.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New moms often find themselves in a vulnerable state – physically and emotionally.
Unfortunately, many people don’t see the vulnerability of a new mom’s spirit and inadvertently do things to harm it. Offering unsolicited advice, judging a new mom’s parenting choices, or making her feel incapable in any way can all do damage to a mother’s mental and emotional health.
Jess shares some of her experiences as a new mom, feeling judged and made to second guess her choices. She talks about how dangerous it can be to do anything but support a new mom. New moms don’t need us to tell them what to do, because we all figure it out eventually. What they do need is a community of people who they trust and can go to for advice when they need it.
So the next time you see a new mom struggling, don’t give her unsolicited advice.
It really isn’t that hard to not judge other moms. Whatever your excuse might be, it does not matter. Whether you are from the older generation where you did things differently, or maybe it’s because the way you opted to do things worked for you, you assume it’s the only way.
But when you give unsolicited advice to a new mom, the only thing that she will take away from your statement is that she is not doing a good job.
When I had my first child, I felt so prepared. I was ready. I read the books. I went to the classes. My husband and I had talked endlessly on how we wanted to raise our children. We talked about what was important to us, our family values and the importance we placed on everything from Montessori toys to how we felt about screen time. I knew we were in for a huge adventure as we became parents, and as scary as it was, I felt like “yes, I can do this!”
And then you came along. Someone who obviously knew more than either my husband or I when it came to raising our own child. Everything I did received criticism or was questioned. Maybe you felt entitled to say it because you are older than me, or you had raised a child of your own.
I honestly don’t know what triggered it, but I started to hate you. I had a newborn baby and I was exhausted. Sure, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I 100% knew better than you did when it came to the well-being of MY baby.
This was not just one person, it was several people. Maybe I was just overly sensitive, but you don’t know how the words you said to me affected me. I would cry in the car on the drive home because your unsolicited advice made me feel inadequate. I cringed at the thought of seeing you and even avoided gatherings that I knew you would be at.
That unhelpful, toxic energy was not good for my soul.
I was so new into motherhood and I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice that was being thrown at me left and right. I did not know then, as I do now, how much I would have to protect my spirit so I would not be broken.
Motherhood is heavy, oh so heavy, and the weight of it can crush you.
People feel as if they have the right to give you unsolicited advice because you NEED it. I was fortunate that I never went through the darkness of postpartum depression. But having someone question or belittle me when it came to making decisions about this perfect little human that I shared a bond with, was one of the most frustrating things I have experienced as a mother.
As a practice of self-care, I developed a circle of support. I now surround myself with people I love and trust and can turn to at any minute of the day when I need my spirits lifted. I could also feel my “motherly intuition” grow stronger as my baby grew. I knew when she was hungry or tired. I could sense her emotions and I grew confident in my abilities.
Now, fast forward five years down the road and another baby later, I do not let what other people say get to me when it comes to parenting. Yes, I let my kids watch YouTube Kids and occasionally have a lollipop with their breakfast. But I know I am a good mom to my kids and I have stopped comparing myself, or my kids, to anyone else.
So while the same people might still make the same sly comments every now and then and offer their unsolicited advice, I have learned to just smile, nod and hum Backstreet Boys songs in my head until they stop talking.
Here is my advice to all the new moms out there.
No one knows how to take care of your baby better than you. It will be hard to remember at first, but eventually you will find that mama bear spirit lying deep within.
And to all the well meaning people out there who have so many words of wisdom or “helpful” comments, here is some advice for you: unless you are directly asked for advice about something, all you need to say is… repeat after me…
Putting effort into our outward appearance is not a sign of vanity. It has a significant impact on how we feel inside.
Being happy means aiming to both look and feel good, but it’s not always easy to do. For mothers, how we look is not always representative of how we feel (and other times it is all too accurate).
We may feel young and sexy and full of life but we look tired, worn out and as though we’ve given up on ourselves. Or alternatively, we may feel like we’re dying on the inside, so we overcompensate by layering on makeup to give the appearance that “everything is fine.”
This spring, as the weather begins to warm up, we should challenge ourselves to match how we look with how we feel.
Start From The Inside
How we look on the outside all begins with how we feel on the inside.Self esteem comes from within and if we are happy with who we are, it shows in a physical way. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or substance overuse, then the first place to start is therapy.
Working with a therapist, either in person or online, can help you manage everything that is creating self-doubt or a poor self image. Online therapy in particular, is extremely convenient, especially for moms.
Schedule your online or video therapy sessions over the winter, ensuring that you get the most out of spring and summer.
Focus on Health
Weight issues are some of the most common hurdles to looking and feeling good. As mothers, we’ve stretched and shrunk, been cut open, torn apart and pieced back together. Our bodies have changed in so many ways and it can be difficult to accept it as it is now.
One way to look and feel good is to forget about the extra skin on our stomachs or how much we weigh and just focus on being healthy. Exercising to stay healthy is different than exercising to lose weight or tone muscle. Don’t worry about counting calories or inches, just try to eat healthier food and incorporate vitamins and nutritional supplements to avoid deficiencies.
If our main focus is on being “healthy” rather than being “fit” there is less pressure on us to meet certain goals and we can learn to love our bodies again.
In addition to being healthy, we also need to feel strong. Strength comes in many different forms. We can train ourselves to be physically strong by joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming, or playing a sport. It’s important to find emotional and mental strength, as well. Try meditation, journaling, art or aromatherapy.
Being strong, both physically and mentally will inspire confidence and a sense of pride in ourselves.
Make a Statement
Your outward appearance tells the world about you, so what is it you want to say? Make a statement with your appearance by choosing clothing and accessories that speak to you. This “Be Kind” Necklace is a simple and elegant way to remind yourself and others of the power of kindness (get 15% off with code FRIENDS15).
Clothing lines like Shine The Light On create pieces that help raise awareness about mental health. Modern, minimalist messages imprinted on soft, luxurious fabrics make it simple to spread messages of hope and acceptance wherever you go.
In addition to looking good while making a statement, a portion of the proceeds from the Shine The Light On collection goes towards mental health initiatives – so you can also feel good knowing that you are helping to end the stigma of mental illness.
Click here to see the stunning clothing line from Shine The Light On and get 15% off with coupon code RUNINTRIANGLES15
Take Care of Your Skin
You don’t need to do your hair and makeup to look and feel good this spring, but you should always take care of your skin. Glowing, healthy skin looks good from the outside and can make a person feel good on the inside.
As mothers, when we feel over-cuddled and overstimulated after a long day, it’s our skin and sense of touch that suffers. This is why caring for our skin plays such an important role in how we look and feel. Plus, the act of massaging lotion onto our skin can stimulate our lymphatic system and help keep our bodies healthy from the inside.
So splurge on a good, all natural skin care line to make sure that you’re not coating your skin in chemicals. Soak in a bath filled with Epsom salts to help soften and relax your muscles. Use sunscreen all year round, especially when you plan to spend longer amounts of time outdoors.
Try a new look this spring. Cut or color your hair, try out a new clothing style or color that you would never normally wear. Get a piercing or tattoo, eyelash extensions, permanent makeup or micro-bladed eyebrows. You don’t need to go so far as getting plastic surgery, but if there are specific problem areas that have always bothered you, then consider booking an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options.
Don’t be afraid of change, though it might take some time to get used to. Only make changes that are truly something you want to do, and never in an effort to please anyone else or be someone other than yourself. Changing something about your outward appearance can make you feel mysterious, spontaneous and empowered.
Deciding to change something about your appearance should remind you that you are in control of your body and what happens to it.
Comfortable Is Beautiful
“The mom look” is normally one associated with comfort and function. But comfortable can also be beautiful so don’t feel like you need to trade one for the other. It is entirely possible to look good and feel comfortable at the same time, as long as you choose the right pieces.
If you feel uncomfortable in your clothing, whether it’s shoes that pinch or a waistband that’s too tight, you will act uncomfortably. So just bite the bullet and get rid of anything that you hate wearing, no matter how expensive or “designer” it might be.
Being comfortable in your own skin is the best way to show the world your confidence and beauty.
I’m not normally the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions but there is just something about a new year that makes me feel inspired. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to change your life and that’s exactly what the Running in Triangles blog has been for me.
This month marks the two year anniversary of Running in Triangles and it has been quite a journey. When I first started, I knew that I wanted to talk openly about postpartum depression and help raise awareness about maternal mental health. But I had no idea what an impact it would make on my life and the lives of others.
In 2017, I wrote about all kinds of things I learned while raising my three kids, from sleep training and breastfeeding to party planning. But it was my posts about postpartum depression that gained the most popularity, and the ones I felt most inspired to publish.
I didn’t know it at the time, but those two posts have become the cornerstone content of Running in Triangles. The fact that women don’t talk about postpartum depression was something that needed to change and a big part of the problem is the lack of support.
Their popularity confirmed what I already knew: women with postpartum depression wanted to speak up and their loved ones wanted to help them, but no one knew how or where to begin.
This discovery led to last year’s Postpartum Depression Guest Post Series. It was my way of giving these women a safe space to tell their stories without worrying about being judged or criticized. I accepted and published every single guest post that was submitted, no matter who it was from.
I read about women who spent thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to conceive, and others who ended up pregnant unexpectedly.
I heard from women who had incredibly supportive spouses, and those who suffered from divorce and separation at the hand of postpartum depression.
I watched some women struggle openly and others do everything in their power to hide what they were feeling.
But one thing was the same… their pain.
Knowing that thousands of other women, from all around the world, were dealing with the same pain, no matter their backgrounds, made me feel incredibly empowered; as if I had an army of women behind me who could validate my feelings.
To help put it into perspective, I chose ten questions about postpartum depression and decided to ask as many women as possible to answer them.
I am excited to see how the answers will compare and my hope is that they will prove to other women who might feel isolated and afraid of speaking up that they are not, in fact, alone.
My goal for 2019 is to get as many women with postpartum depression as possible to answer these 10 questions.
If you, or someone you know, has postpartum depression, please click below to submit your answers and help me share this questionnaire so that it can reach women from all around the world.
In addition to this exciting challenge, I hope to continue providing more information about postpartum depression and maternal mental health this year. They say knowledge is power and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to mental health. Being misunderstood, judged and stigmatized are some of the biggest barriers for a woman with postpartum depression and it’s my mission to change that.
Thank you so much to all of my supporters, readers, contributors and of course, to my fellow postpartum depression survivors who inspire me to keep going.
Most women with postpartum depression know two things – that they should talk about it, and that they don’t want to.
New mothers are bombarded with information telling them that they need to speak up if they just aren’t feeling right. But they don’t – and for several good reasons. So how do we bridge the gap between the terrified mothers living silently in darkness and the concerned support system who can only help if they know what’s wrong?
Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would break down so many barriers. And more women talking about postpartum depression would help to do that.
The women who DO speak up, are courageous for doing so. They have decided to ask for help and tell their stories, despite the barriers presented by the medical system and society in general.
Here are some tips for women who want to know how to talk about postpartum depression.
Read About It
Reading the stories of other mothers can help you figure out how to talk about postpartum depression. Try to read as many stories as you can, because each mother’s experience is different. You never know which ones will relate to you specifically. And if you find a story that feels like the author took the words right out of your mouth – then save it and read it over and over again. Share it on social media or with someone you love. Let the courage of other woman inspire you to want to share your own story.
If you want to know how to talk about postpartum depression, then you need to practice what you’re going to say. Writing it out is a great first step. You don’t need to be a professional writer nor feel any obligation to share your story with anyone. Write it just for you.
Write it out on paper, in pen, so that you can’t erase or delete anything. You can scribble words out but they will still be there like an everlasting reminder that running away from your thoughts doesn’t help.
When you’re done writing it out – you will want to burn it or tear it up into a million pieces and flush it. But instead of doing that, find the courage to keep it. It will help you greatly when you are ready to talk about postpartum depression.
Help Someone Else
Helping someone else who is in the same situation as you are is a great way to learn how to talk about postpartum depression. One way to do this by joining a private online support group where you can talk more freely with strangers. Mothers are usually quite honest and open in these groups and ask questions about everything from medications to marriage problems. If you don’t feel quite ready to ask your own questions, then start by answering one for another mother.
Supporting someone else is incredibly empowering and can give you the courage to talk about your own struggle with postpartum depression.
Here are some online support groups you can join: (I am a member of all these groups as well)
No one knows how to talk about postpartum depression better than a survivor. I should mention that, when it comes to maternal mental illness, there are no REAL survivors because there is no REAL cure.
What I mean by a survivor is:
A woman who has lived through the worst of it in the first year postpartum.
A woman who decided she needed help and asked for it.
A woman who spoke up about what she was going through.
A woman who made changes in her life to avoid the chances of a relapse.
A woman who has established a treatment plan.
A woman who’s mind told her to end it all but she didn’t.
Survivors are still battling the pain of postpartum depression and/or are at risk for a relapse. But survivors have one thing that you don’t… they have spoken up about postpartum depression and lived to tell the tale. So find a survivor and ask them how to talk about postpartum depression.
Don’t Do It Alone
Fighting a battle alone is never a good plan, no matter how much courage you have. It is much easier to talk about postpartum depression when you have someone holding your hand. Asking for help with postpartum depression doesn’t always mean asking for medication or therapy. Asking for help can mean something as simple as helping you talk to someone about what you’re going through.
Who do you want to talk to about postpartum depression? Your spouse? Your doctor? Your family or friends? Find a person or group to stand with you as you do it (physically or virtually). Having someone else there for “emotional support” can give you the courage you need to speak up, and also hold you accountable so you can’t back out at the last minute.
One option to consider if you’d like help to speak openly about your postpartum depression to your family and friends is to access an online psychiatrist. Thanks to the privacy and anonymity that it offers, you can speak to a licensed professional, on your own time, without anyone needing to know until you are ready. Find out more at Online-Therapy.com.
Consider the Worst Case Scenario
Make a list of all the things keeping you silent. Which one do you fear the most? Are you afraid you will be treated like a criminal or child abuser? That your children will be taken away from you, or that your spouse will leave you? Maybe you’re worried that someone will judge you, say insensitive things to you or avoid you altogether?
Now make a list of all the reasons why you want to speak up. Are you struggling and don’t know how to cope? Do you want to be a better mother and wife? Do you want others to know why you’ve been acting strange? Do you feel alone? Are you scared of what you might do? Contemplating suicide?
Which list is your worst case scenario?
Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you decide to talk about postpartum depression. Think carefully about the consequences of staying silent when you should be speaking up. Talking about it won’t be easy, and neither is battling in silence – but wouldn’t you rather have an army by your side to fight the war raging inside of you?
Make Plans For the Future
Thinking about the future can help you decide how to talk about postpartum depression. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the darkness happening right now, but the future is that light at the end of the tunnel. Without help or a plan to get better, the future seems bleak. It seems like a never-ending life of sadness and despair.
Imagine what you want your future to look like.Do you want to have more children? Think about watching your children grow up, helping them with homework and taking family vacations. Aim to achieve it instead of mourn what would be. So make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan for your life. Having a future will give you something to fight for.
The simple act of talking about postpartum depression can feel like an insurmountable task for many mothers.
The hundreds of reasons for staying silent are completely valid and understandable. Postpartum depression is a private matter and there is no need for the entire world to know about a mother’s inner most thoughts and feelings.
But the hundreds of reasons for speaking up are also valid. It will take a lot of courage, and make a person feel exposed and vulnerable. But it means that you won’t have to fight this battle alone. And if you don’t have to fight it alone, you have a much better chance of winning.
While healthcare in Canada is free for citizens – and I wouldn’t want it any other way – it can be a challenge for mothers to find and access proper postpartum depression resources.
Obviously, speaking to a doctor would be the first step. But often, our family doctors, obstetricians or gynecologists were not our first choice, but rather, the ones with the shortest waiting list. It’s difficult to speak to someone about something as personal as postpartum depression when a strong relationship doesn’t exist.
For mothers in Canada, it’s important to have a list of postpartum depression resources we can access when we don’t get the answers we were looking for from our primary healthcare providers. Free healthcare doesn’t have to mean that our options are limited.
Here are a few different postpartum depression resources available to Canadians…
Postpartum Support International
PSI (postpartum.net) is perhaps one of the best postpartum depression resources available to women regardless of where you live. View their list of postpartum depression resources in Canada for contacts you can reach out to in each province. At the bottom of the page, you can get information for different support groups available in cities across Canada.
The PSI helpline is available to Canadians (and internationally). If you’re not sure where to begin on your journey to recovery, but simply know that you need help, calling this number is a great first step.
A postpartum doula is a fairly newer trend in postpartum support. While many women hire doulas to help them through labor and delivery, a postpartum doula is specifically there to help you in the postpartum period. They will do anything that you need – from helping with the baby to cleaning the house and running errands. Even if you have the support of a spouse or family members, a trained doula comes with a ton of knowledge, both about newborn baby care and maternal mental health.
So if you’re struggling, or worried about getting through the postpartum period on your own – consider hiring a postpartum doula to help.
Where to Find a Postpartum Doula
The best places to find a postpartum doula near you is by searching the member directories on professional certification websites.
An online support group is a great resource for mothers suffering from postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders. There is something so freeing about chatting with a stranger, commenting on posts from women who feel exactly the same as you do, and being able to share any knowledge you’ve come across or support another mother who is struggling.
The Canadian Postpartum Depression Support Network on Facebook has over 600 members and is a very active group with extremely supportive members who comment on nearly every post almost immediately. There is a benefit to joining a specifically Canadian group, as the members can relate to the healthcare system and treatment options available. Join this group here.
If you’re looking for a more specific group, simply search on Facebook groups for one. Once you find a group that’s the right fit, it can easily become one of your most treasured postpartum depression resources.
A crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency or if you are contemplating suicide, hurting yourself or hurting someone else. The hotline operators are trained to handle emergency situations, especially those pertaining to mental health, so you can rest assured that they will understand what you are going through.
A local crisis hotline is one of the most important postpartum depression resources to keep nearby in case your mental health worsens suddenly. In the event that you need physical intervention or support, help can be dispatched immediately.
A list of different crisis hotline numbers available by province can also be found on the Your Life Counts website –www.yourlifecounts.org
Counseling is an excellent treatment option for women with postpartum depression, however, there are many barriers to meeting with a counselor in person.
Some things that may discourage mothers from seeking face-to-face counseling:
Difficulty finding a counselor that you feel comfortable talking to
Unable to arrange childcare while attending sessions
Unmotivated to leave the house for appointments
Scheduling conflicts or a lack of extra time
Fear of others finding out that you need counseling
Online counseling is a much better option for mothers with postpartum depression. Through sites such as Online Therapy and BetterHelp, mothers will be matched with a counselor based on their needs, and the sessions conveniently take place from the privacy of their own home.
Genetic Research Study
Mom Genes is a genetic research study being conducted in Canada by the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. (It’s also being run in several other countries by their own sponsors). They are currently trying to collect information from women who have postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. With this information, they will hopefully be able to find out the cause of postpartum depression as well as develop better programs and treatment options.
To take part in the study is very simple – it just requires downloading a free app. If you qualify, you’ll be asked to provide a DNA sample in the form of a saliva kit which will be mailed to you. In addition to contributing to this important study, the app provides postpartum depression resources, such as a tip of the week and important phone numbers.
One of the best online sites to purchase health and wellness products in Canada is Well.ca. Whatever natural products you need for your own self-care routine and to help improve your mental health can be found here. Check out Well.ca’s Women’s Health Section to find all the products you’re currently using.
Decent, Canadian, online shopping sites are surprisingly good postpartum depression resources because it’s difficult to find the motivation to leave the house to find the products we need for our own health.
Platforms to Spread Awareness
Postpartum depression is dark and ugly. It’s shocking and harsh and evil and all the bad things in the world. But it’s also something beautiful. It’s powerful and real and truthful. A postpartum depression story, when shared with the world, can change lives.
The Mighty(follow other sufferers of mental illness and submit your own story or poem about postpartum depression)
YouTube(view postpartum depression stories that other moms have uploaded)
Or, consider starting your own blog! Mental health bloggers are doing some incredible things to help spread awareness and end the stigma by speaking up and sharing their stories. If you’re interested in learning how to start your own mental health blog, check out this tutorial: How to Start Blogging About Postpartum Depression.
It’s unfortunate that there isn’t enough awareness about postpartum depression resources in Canada.
Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.
Know of a Canadian postpartum depression resource that’s not on this list? Let me know!
Endometriosis is a condition that plagues nearly 10% of women but is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Like postpartum depression, endometriosis is something that isn’t talked about enough. It causes a considerable amount of pain but so many women learn to live with it and don’t seek the proper treatment. And those who do seek help, are often told it’s nothing, because endometriosis doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or x-rays or ct scans.
While there is no link between endometriosis and postpartum depression, they do have a lot in common:
They are affected by hormones
They affect women in their childbearing years
They are under-diagnosed conditions
They are invisible diseases
They are stigmatized and need more awareness
Every women’s struggle with endometriosis is different, just like postpartum depression. Here is MY story…
It was a mere coincidence that both my endometriosis and postpartum depression were diagnosed at the same time, because the two conditions are not exactly linked to each other. But ever since that diagnosis, they have been intertwined throughout my journey of highs and lows.
It all began when my daughter was 5 months old. Actually, the postpartum depression symptoms had been going on for a few months already but I was still in denial.
We took a family trip to Disney World (both kids were still free to get in, so we thought we’d take advantage)! Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I got my first postpartum period – right there in the Magic Kingdom.
I was disappointed and annoyed but what else could I do, on this trip of a lifetime, but suck it up and waddle around in blood-soaked pants for the rest of the day?
The next day, we planned to go to Cocoa Beach. When you’re from the Canadian Prairies, trips to the ocean are few and far between, so I was definitely NOT missing out on it. I bought the biggest box of tampons I could find and tried my best to enjoy the day.
But the cramping was worse than labor pains and the bleeding was relentless.
I made it through that vacation but the following month was even worse. I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my doctor, except that it happened to fall on the same day as my daughter’s 6 month checkup.
I was lucky enough to have a great doctor with whom I already had a close relationship, and it was in that appointment that I broke down crying – overcome by the pain of the menstrual cramps and the dark place my mind had been in for the last 6 months.
Based solely on my symptoms, he figured it was endometriosis that was causing the pain and heavy bleeding. It was the first time I had ever heard the word. When he told me that it can cause infertility, I actually felt relieved because I had zero desire to have another baby. He gave me some samples of birth control pills and advised me to take them continuously in an effort to “skip” my periods.
Then we discussed the postpartum depression and came up with a treatment plan.
I was supposed to follow up with him in a few months to see how things were going. But by then, we had relocated for my husband’s job – a 9 hour drive away.
For a while, things were alright…
My mind was distracted by the move and I remembered to take my birth control pills everyday, avoiding the painful cramping that accompanied my periods.
Until I ran out of samples.
Trying to find a good doctor in a new town where I didn’t know anyone was tougher than I thought. So I chose to suffer instead. I loaded up on painkillers and wore adult diapers to soak up the extreme amounts of blood and just dealt with it.
With each month that passed, the pain got worse and worse. The cramping started earlier and lasted longer until I was only pain-free for one week each month. I turned to essential oils for help with the pain, but even their magic wasn’t strong enough.
The chronic pelvic pain exacerbated my postpartum depression symptoms.
I felt defeated by the pain. I didn’t feel like being strong or fighting through the pain – I hoped and prayed it would just kill me. I thought about how my daughter might someday experience this kind of pain, and I felt responsible for that. I felt like all I did was inflict pain on those around me, because I was also in pain. And I was certain that everyone would be happier, myself included, if I was just gone.
When my year of maternity leave was over, things got better.
I found a job that I loved and began to make friends. The daycare we chose for the kids was wonderful and they settled into it without any problems. I appreciated my children more because I cherished the short amount of time we had together each day instead of dreading the long hours of nothingness.
Finally, I was happy! I pushed through the endometriosis pain every month because I didn’t want anything to destroy my happiness.
But after a year of being happy and ignoring the pain – the pain pushed back.
I couldn’t ignore it anymore and eventually wound up in the emergency room. Much to everyone’s surprise – I was pregnant!I guess endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility…
The anxiety began almost immediately. I didn’t want to go through another HG pregnancy and I definitely worried about dealing with the postpartum depression all over again. Plus we had just moved again, and hadn’t even bought a house yet.
Despite the exciting news, the pain was still there… worse even.
The doctors suspected a possible ectopic pregnancy and rushed me into emergency surgery.
When I woke up, I had mixed feelings about losing the baby. Part of me was relieved to avoid another tough pregnancy, but another part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t get another chance to make things right.
The next day, I found out I was still pregnant. The pregnancy was a healthy one, and there was nothing they could tell me about the endometriosis because they didn’t want to do anything to disturb the pregnancy.
And so I had my third child. I suffered from the worst case of hyperemesis gravidarum of all three pregnancies, but for a while, I didn’t have to worry about the menstrual pain. This time I did everything in my power to prepare myself for postpartum depression again but thankfully was spared from it. I was given a second chance! I immediately felt a bond with this baby and she made our family complete.
I had a good, solid 8 months of bliss with my happy baby before my first postpartum period arrived.
And, in true dream-crushing fashion, it came back on Christmas Eve so I spent most of that night hopped up on painkillers and hovering around the bathroom door in order to change my tampon every 30 minutes.
After another steady 8 months of pill popping, I missed another period.Oh no, not another pregnancy. It can’t be. I can’t do it again. But the tests were all negative…
My menstrual cycle finally had a nervous breakdown.
It would skip months for no reason and then come every other week. The pelvic pain got worse and it was no longer limited to my menstrual cycle – it was there 24/7. I ended up in the emergency room regularly looking for something to help with the pain. Nothing ever showed up on any of the tests, and I’m certain everyone thought I was a hypochondriac. Even though I was in an intense amount of pain, I started to wonder if they were right.
The pain triggered the postpartum depression again.
It didn’t help that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, living in a city with no friends or relatives to help me out. Between the darkness of postpartum depression and the pain of endometriosis, life was very bleak for nearly a full year.
I finally met with a specialist.
He instantly validated everything I was feeling and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy to find out what was going on inside of me. Since he wasn’t sure what he would find, he asked me to sign a form that stated he could perform a hysterectomy if he deemed it medically necessary. This way, I wouldn’t have to undergo two separate surgeries if I did need one.
We discussed the fact that a hysterectomy would be the worst-case scenario, and I signed the form without hesitation.
In the 6 weeks leading up to my surgery date, I bled continuously. I should have known then, that more was wrong under the surface than I wanted to admit. If I had, perhaps I would have been more prepared for what was ahead.
The surgery was supposed to be a laparoscopic day surgery on a Friday. My husband, kids and I made the 2 hour drive into the city, expecting to stay with family for the weekend and be back home by Monday.
But when I woke up from the surgery, I was told I would not be going home that day.
My doctor came in to see me, head hung, disappointment in his eyes. He rested his hand on mine and told me that this was the first time he’s ever had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an abdominal incision (minimally invasive surgery was his specialty).
And then he filled me in on what happened in surgery.
He had to remove my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and left ovary. He left the right ovary so that I would not go into menopause but everything else was stuck together with adhesions and needed to go. My reproductive organs were attached to the pelvic wall, bladder and bowels which he successfully separated, but there would be scar tissue remaining. The adhesions had re-routed my blood vessels and so he cut into one while attempting to perform the hysterectomy, causing me to lose nearly 4 units of blood and require a transfusion.
It was the “worst case scenario,” and I felt completely blindsided by what had just happened.
I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days. Losing so much blood left me feeling weak and dizzy and moving around was almost impossible. Once I did get home to my own bed, I couldn’t leave. Walking up and down stairs was difficult and living in a 4 level split meant I was practically bedridden. Long after the scar healed, the pain inside my pelvis was excruciating. I was told to expect to be out of commission for a full 6 weeks but it took more like 8.
Dealing with the sudden loss of my uterus was difficult. Although I knew I didn’t want to have more children, I liked knowing that it was an option. I spent a lot of time thinking about my pregnancies and how the place where I grew my children and felt them move and kick was no longer there.
But once I recovered from the surgery, the constant pelvic pain that plagued me for years was finally gone. It was hard to believe that it was no longer there, I kept poking at it to see if it hurt but no – no more pain! And I never had to wear another giant tampon or adult diaper ever again.
Most days I forget that I no longer have a uterus. I still get some symptoms of PMS when my lonely ovary ovulates but it’s nearly impossible to track it without a menstrual cycle. The fluctuating hormones do still affect my postpartum depression symptoms and I have to take extra care of myself on those days, but otherwise, it’s no longer triggered by constant pain.
So while my battle with endometriosis, as well as my battle with postpartum depression, is over for now – they have changed who I am as a person.
They have both taken things away from me that I can never get back. They have killed a part of me inside and remain there, dormant, waiting for another opportunity to strike. I will do my best to take care of myself, to help others who are suffering, and to raise awareness about these two important issues, so that if and when they ever do decide to rear their ugly heads again – I will be ready to fight back.