My Reality of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression (PPD). Let's talk about it...why it happens, who it happens to and how to tell if you are experiencing symptoms? I am passionate about this subject as I experienced it myself. I want to share my story with you.
Having my first child, I thought things would be easy. I read all the books and had so many great friends and moms surrounding me. I exercised, slept and had a supportive husband. My daughter was healthy and happy --so why wasn't I?
Symptoms of PPD can be tricky to identify because the early weeks of motherhood are challenging to both the mind and body, and so many changes are happening at once.
frequent mood changes and irritability
anxiety, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness
thoughts of harming yourself or others
Wait! Many of these symptoms are experienced by every new mom. Or, they can be found in other disorders such as hypothyroidism. Which the reason PPD can be difficult to self-diagnose. These symptoms can arise at any time during or after pregnancy. Whether we recognize them right away or later, many of us never seek help for PPD because the severity of our symptoms can be hard to distinguish or even admit to ourselves.
Photo by Jenna Christina on Unsplash
I remember distinctly a conversation I had with my mom one day. I was sitting in a rocking chair nursing my baby and crying to my mom on the phone "I'm the only one who will be able to feed her for the rest of her life!" It sounds funny to me now, but it was very real then. My daughter would NOT take a bottle from anyone else.....it was breastfeeding or screaming only! I was tired, desperate and feeling like a huge failure. I felt trapped and often thought in my head that my baby was a "ticking time bomb." I felt constant anxiety about to how to keep her happy and have her needs met as to avoid a screaming baby.
Thankfully, my mom recognized my symptoms right away and suggested that I seek help from my doctor. I ended up doing just that, which helped me immensely.
About 20% of women are reported by the Centers for Disease Control to have PPD each year. That's about 600,000 women in the US, per year! And we know these statistics are low. Are some women more likely to experience PPD? Perhaps, some risk factors that are shown to increase the likelihood of PPD include:
history of depression prior to pregnancy
limited social support
risk increases with subsequent pregnancies
younger moms are at a higher risk
Mommy Ready often brings up the fact that we as moms need to take care of ourselves in order to be great for our children. Our program is fitness focused, but we strive to improve each moms overall well being with mom support from coaching, Mommy Ready social groups and blog articles such as this one offering knowledge from medical providers on subjects related to motherhood.
Our biggest message is that you are not alone. Even when you are told or think that the way you are feeling is common with childbirth - it doesn't mean that it is normal, and there is something you can do about it. Stay tuned to our blog and social pages this month to learn more about PPD, both how to tell if you have it, and what you can do about it.
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For any mother out there who could be feeling overwhelmed or uncertain, talk to a spouse, a friend, a coach right now or seek out a medical provider who can help guide you.