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June 12, 2016

Postpartum Depression to Recovery: Danis’ Story

I would like to share my story with other mothers in order to prevent postpartum depression. I am so thankful that there is growing awareness on this issue and that we don’t have to be afraid to tell our stories. If I can help even one person, that’s all that matters. This is my story.

My story.

DanisMy name is Danis. I had my first son, Phoenix, when I was 26 years old. It was a bright and happy time in my life. I had just graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American Studies from the University of Lethbridge. I had met the love of my life, Ian, and he was also about to finish his Bachelor of Management degree in First Nations Governance.

We shared a great group of friends in the University community and a great support system. We weren’t rich as we were both students, but we were healthy, happy, and full of excitement about our life together.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, I developed insomnia. I was concerned but everyone told me that it was just my body preparing for all the sleepless nights ahead. Everyone told me, “It will pass.”

On December 5, 2009, the joy of our life, our son, Phoenix, was born. He weighed 8 pounds 2 oz., was completely healthy and carried to full term. What an amazing gift. We brought him home on a snowy blustery day and our lives began as parents.

We were both completely in love with our baby. The only concern I had was the ongoing insomnia. Nursing was going wonderfully, no problems with Phoenix, but the sleeplessness started getting worse. I would be awake for 30 hours, sleep for 3 or 4, and then the cycle would repeat. I was fighting to function for my family.

When Phoenix was 2 months old, Ian’s mother offered to come stay with us until Ian finished his degree. The plan was that she would help us move to Ian’s hometown of Saskatoon. My mother in law ended up being a tremendous support to us and I loved seeing how close my son was to his grandmother as I was also close to mine. When Phoenix was 6 months old we made our move. Ian found work with his degree and I stayed home with Phoenix.

 

I was completely depressed and felt so alone.

Being in a new city, having no friends of my own and dealing with insomnia proved to be too much for me. I was completely depressed and felt so alone. I remember days and days passing by where everything felt dark.

Why can’t I sleep? I would ask myself.

I constantly felt frightened and at times even paranoid.

I loved my baby with the most infinite love and yet I constantly felt guilty as if I wasn’t a good parent.

I hated Saskatoon and longed to be back with my family in BC.

It was then I realized I needed help. I called the local Postpartum Depression Support Group and they arranged for a taxi to pick us up once a week and drive us home. That group became my lifeline. I met other women like me who were struggling with depression and who wanted to become strong for their children.

I attended the group for 7 months until Phoenix was 13 months old. That group gave me a place to share what I was going through. I remember going there when I had barely slept for two days. All I felt was supported and no judgment. I started making friends with the other moms and arranging times to hang out on weekends. There was a little faint light at the end of the tunnel.

 

No matter what happens. I am going to be ok.

I remember when the insomnia ended. I was lying in bed wide-awake. I stopped fighting. This empowering realization came to me. “No matter what happens. I am going to be ok. No matter what. Even if I don’t sleep tonight. Even if I don’t sleep tomorrow. No matter what happens with my life. I am going to be alright.” I know it sounds too good to be true, but I actually slept after that.

Then, the real progress began. Ian and I started getting relationship and individual counseling. I began medication for anxiety. I have always loved helping others, and I began working as an education assistant with children who have special needs. Phoenix started at a daycare center where he thrived, and finally he began Kindergarten.

I didn’t think I would ever have another baby. I couldn’t bear thinking of going through postpartum depression again. When Phoenix turned 5, I realized that I did, in fact, want one more child. I started imagining the kind of mother I wanted to be for a newborn- healthy, happy, confident and peaceful.

AMothersJourneyfromPostpartumDepressiontoRecovery

Another baby on the way.

When we found out we were expecting, we were thrilled and cautious. I decided to go off of the antidepressant for my pregnancy and did not experience negative side effects. Most of the pregnancy was joyful and productive. At around 6-½ months gestation, I began to feel a shortness of breath in the evenings. It became overwhelming and I would wake up unable to catch a full breath.

Then, my feet began to swell. I looked puffy and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I had seen my doctor at 6 months pregnant and everything was fine so I didn’t think anything was wrong. I thought I had a bad case of edema. A new school year had begun, and I was working full days without too much stress. I was just frustrated by how big I was getting.

On September 2nd, exactly two months from my due date, I decided that these symptoms were too strange and it was time to get checked by a doctor. My mother in law came over to watch Phoenix.

Ian and I drove to the hospital. They told us to go to straight upstairs to the postpartum ward and they hooked me up to a fetal monitor. They discovered a very scary fact. The baby’s heartbeat was barely audible and my blood pressure was off the charts high.

 

We have to get the baby out right now!

Suddenly, a hospital employee came into the room and barely acknowledged me. Another lady came in and said, “Unhook the bed.” The doctor returned to the room and said “Danis, we have to get the baby out right now.”

There was nothing calm about this experience. It truly was an emergency C-section. Professionals looked scared. I was frightened beyond belief. I thought I was going to go home and take care of my 5 year old. Now I was going to have the baby?

They rushed me into a room. I was shaking. The anesthesiologist got my permission to operate and bring my baby out into the world. A kind and thoughtful nurse kept rubbing my hair and telling me I would be all right. I wish I could find that woman and thank her. She kept me from losing it. Ian was not allowed to be with us. I was told he could come in after. Then, everything was black and they delivered my sweet baby boy.

Our second son, Bodhi, was born at 31 weeks gestation at only 2 pounds. I couldn’t believe that I carried a baby that tiny. I was completely in shock. Preeclampsia was the diagnosis. Both of us nearly died. The doctor told me that if I had waited even one more day to get checked, my precious baby would have passed away and I may have had a stroke.

The recovery from the C-section was horrible. The physical pain was unbearable. I didn’t see my baby until almost 48 hours after his birth because I was in too much pain to leave my room.

When we saw him, I felt so much love and simultaneously, an uncertainty for his future. He was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. Our baby was in the hospital for 88 days. He went through surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, he overcame feeding difficulties, jaundice, and our family was at the hospital constantly.

November 23rd was the happiest day ever. He was finally allowed to come home. I remember the moment I removed his last wire that hooked him up to the machines. Such a great moment.

Today, Bodhi is 9 months old. Bodhi is perfectly healthy, and he is the happiest person I have ever met. I am so grateful beyond words. We all are. Every day I’m so grateful that we are both here!

 

Steps I took to prevent postpartum depression from happening a second time.

When I was in the hospital, one of the nurses who was unaware of my history of postpartum depression told me that I was at risk to go through it because of the premature birth. I chose not to tell her my fears. Instead, I immediately took steps to prevent myself from slipping.

There were many challenges we endured as a family. These are some of the steps I took to prevent postpartum depression from happening a second time.

  • I called a counsellor a.s.a.p. to help me through the process of Bodhi’s hospital stay. This was invaluable, as a woman can experience PTSD symptoms from traumatic birth experiences. I needed to talk to a professional to process that and the painful feelings of being away from my baby.
  • I went back on antidepressants. I didn’t want to, but I knew that I wanted to do everything possible to be healthy for my children.
  • I connected with friends. The last thing I wanted to do was be social, but I had one of my best friends come to stay with me and she was a great encouragement. I also visited with friends on afternoons when I needed a break from being at the hospital. I have a great group of mom friends who get together at least once a week now and it’s amazing how much happiness this brings.
  • Finally, here is the key to my recovery. I started looking at my health as a mother, a woman and individual through concepts I had learned in my education of the medicine wheel. We are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. Every day I take care of each of the parts of my life and do things to stay whole and balanced. Daily exercise and healthy nutrition is not optional for me. I stay vigilant in taking care of myself. It’s not selfish, it’s a gift to our children to take care of ourselves.

So, that’s my story. Today, I’m enjoying my life and my family. Postpartum depression does not have to happen. I think we as a society, need to get serious about postnatal and antenatal health. It starts with talking about it and having the hard conversations. We can all help one another!

– Danis Clare

**Thank you to our guest poster, Danis Clare, for sharing so openly and honestly about her journey.  
Cindy and Jana

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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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February 25, 2016

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: What You Need to Know!

 

 

“I have all but 4 of the risk factors! Why didn’t I hear about this during my pregnancy?? I could have prepared myself”

 

 

Postpartum depression affects 1 out of every 4 or 5 women.

 

If you are experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety, you are not alone. 1 out of every 4 or 5 women will experience it in the first year after childbirth.

You are also not to blame! You did not bring this on yourself!

 

Having a baby is the biggest change a woman will experience in her lifetime.

  • She is suddenly responsible for keeping another human alive, 24 hours a day.
  • Her sleep is interrupted; she will feel sleep deprived.
  • She may be in pain.
  • Her hormones are shifting after giving birth.
  • She has lost the freedom to come and go as she pleases.
  • She has lost her former identity.
  • Her schedule is no longer predictable or structured.

 

ALL new mothers are overwhelmed! Caring for a newborn is a big job. It is no wonder this can be a high risk time for the flare-up of anxiety and depression.

 

What are the risk factors?

There are predisposing factors that can make this time of adjustment even more of a challenge. These include:

  • lack of available support people in her life.
  • isolation.
  • marital tension.
  • a demanding, colicky or “high-needs” baby.
  • being a perfectionist.
  • previous history of depression or anxiety.
  • a difficult pregnancy.
  • a traumatic birth.
  • mothers of multiples (see this fact sheet).
  • additional major life stressor (e.g. financial problems, ill family members.)
  • history of trauma or abuse.
  • history of loss (e.g. miscarriage, stillbirth, death of a loved one.)

 

What can help:

  • Talk with your loved ones or a trusted friend about how you are feeling.
  • ppd help is availableSpeak to your healthcare provider and ask for help.
  • Find a support group in your area.
  • Be good to yourself; take time to care for yourself.
  • Do some physical exercise.
  • Ask for and accept help with household tasks.
  • Rest as much as you are able.
  • Try to have a healthy diet.
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor.

 

 

To learn about the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety, visit these posts from the Postpartum Progress website:

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English)

6 Surprising Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

 

 If you or someone you love is suffering, please talk to someone.

 

Want to read more? Click here to read about Tamara’s Journey through Postpartum Depression and learn what was helpful in her recovery.

 

ppd blog post and pinterest

References and More Information:

  1. Frequently Asked Questions About Postpartum Depression.” Postpartum Progress. N.p., n.d. Web.
  2. Haddon, Lynda P. “Postpartum Depression and Mothers of Multiples.” N.p.: Multiple Births Canada, 2007. Print.
  3. The Postpartum Journey.” Pacific Post Partum Support Society. N.p., n.d. Web.

 

phpTJhnGTPMCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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October 8, 2015

Depression after Weaning

“I’ve never suffered from depression but since I’ve weaned, I think I might be. Can depression be triggered by weaning?”

 

Depression CAN occur after weaning a breastfed baby. It is not well understood and is not often discussed.

 

Mothers tell us:

 

“The weaning process was very emotional for me. I cried just about every day. It was the kind of “down” that I couldn’t control or talk myself out of. It was overwhelming to know it was the end of something I had treasured so much.”

“I stopped breastfeeding when I found out I was pregnant again. I felt really sad and cried a lot because it was not easy on either of us. I didn’t realize you can continue to breastfeed during pregnancy. I feel really guilty. It kind of consumes me.”

 

Depression after weaning a baby

 

Postpartum depression is known to affect 1 out of every 4 or 5 mothers. It doesn’t always begin immediately after birth but can begin anytime in the first year. (Read more postpartum depression here.)

 

Is depression after weaning part of the postpartum depression continuum or is it something separate? We aren’t sure. We do know that depressed mothers are at risk for discontinuing breastfeeding.

 

 

 

Why does depression after weaning occur?

From a hormonal perspective, it makes sense. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of hormones such as oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. In its absence, especially after abrupt weaning, mother’s mood may plummet.

 

Women wean their babies for a variety of reasons. Depression after weaning may, in part, be influenced by the reason for weaning.

  • Mothers may wean due to ongoing pain and trouble establishing breastfeeding. (Breastfeeding difficulties are known to increase the risk of depression.)
  • Others may be forced to wean abruptly due to a medical reason.
  • Still others may wean after a long and satisfying breastfeeding relationship.

 

Despite the reason for weaning, women may experience a sense of loss and grief. These feeling are usually short lived and subside within a few weeks. They can be exacerbated, however, if a mother feels she has ‘failed’ at breastfeeding.

 

If you are currently in the process of weaning, a gentle weaning approach, if possible, may be protective. Slowly eliminate one feeding every few days; allow yourself to be flexible with the timing.

 

How common is depression after weaning?

Again, we aren’t sure. We do know that women with a history of depression are more at risk for both postpartum depression and post-weaning depression.

 

Symptoms of depression

Not all women experience depression in the same way. Everyone’s journey is different. Women often describe feeling:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Sad
  • Guilty
  • Worthless
  • Hopeless
  • ‘Lost’
  • Disconnected
  • In a ‘fog’
  • ‘Numb’

Women may also report:

  • Being easily irritated or annoyed; quick to become angry.
  • Difficulty sleeping when they have the chance (or they may find themselves sleeping all the time).
  • Crying often.
  • Lack of appetite (or consistently overeating).
  • A loss of interest in things they used to enjoy.
  • Thoughts of harming themself or their baby.
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks, remembering information and making decisions.

 

What helps?

Knowing that depression can occur after weaning is the first step.

  • Find a trusted friend to confide in. Talk about how you are feeling.
  • Get some exercise, even if it is only walking around the block.
  • Try to get outside, into the sunshine.
  • Be kind to yourself; try to do something for yourself every day.
  • If these feelings persist, talk to your health care provider.

 

Weaning is a change in the feeding relationship between you and your baby. Your emotional relationship will continue. It may look and feel differently, but it will continue to remain strong.

 

Learn more about depression in these posts: 12 Insider Truths About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety and Myths of Motherhood.


thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

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July 23, 2015

12 Insider Truths About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

We have the privilege of working with women who are journeying through postpartum depression and anxiety. They have taught us many valuable lessons about what it means to be a woman and a mother. Here are 12 of the most important lessons learned.

 

 

12 Important Truths about Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

 

 

1.  Postpartum depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Your race, your occupation, your religion and your social status do not guarantee protection.

 

2.  The postpartum period is a time of huge risk for a flare up of anxiety or depression. Becoming a mother is the biggest life change a woman will encounter. Sleep deprivation, coupled with lack of time for usual coping strategies, compounds the risk.

 

3.  Talking about postpartum depression and anxiety is important. Making others aware of its existence helps to remove the stigma and encourages women to get the help they need.

 

4.  Not all women feel a connection to their baby at birth. This can especially be true for those who have had a difficult or traumatic birth. Some begin to feel bonded within a few hours while others take weeks or even months. It is hard for struggling women to believe but the feelings WILL come.

 

5.  Women with postpartum depression and anxiety are adept at putting on a ‘mask’. Outsiders may not realize they are suffering. It takes an incredible amount of energy to maintain this mask.

 

6.  Women are strong, even though they may not feel it themselves. Postpartum women have an incredible desire to become well again.

 

7.  Postpartum depression and anxiety are isolating. Women gather strength when they learn they are not alone.

 

8.  Sleep is important in recovery. When women begin to get more sleep, their symptoms begin to improve.

 

12 Lessons we have learned about postpartum depression and anxiety.

 

9.  Recovery is not a straight upward path. There will be bumps along the way. This is discouraging to a woman who feels she had been improving. Although dips in mood may come as you recover, these dips will not be as low, and will not last as long.

 

10.  Women who planned to breastfeed, encountered difficulties and had to stop breastfeeding are most at risk to develop PPD. Be kind to yourself. You are still a wonderful mother, even if you have to use formula.

 

11.  Not every doctor or healthcare professional is knowledgeable about postpartum depression and anxiety. If you are not getting the help you need, keep reaching out. Speak to another health care professional. Help is available.

 

12.  Every woman’s journey will be different. No two women will follow exactly the same path for recovery. Some may require medication, some may require counselling for trauma in their past. All can benefit from the unwavering support of people in their lives.

 

If you are suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety, please know you can and WILL feel better. Please reach out for help.

 

Other posts you may find helpful: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: What You Need to Know! and Postpartum Depression Recovery: Tamara’s Story.

 

References and More information:

  1. Frequently Asked Questions About Postpartum Depression.” Postpartum Progress. N.p., n.d. Web.
  2. The Postpartum Journey.” Pacific Post Partum Support Society. N.p., n.d. Web.

 


thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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October 31, 2013

Postpartum Depression Recovery: Tamara’s Story

 

We first met Tamara through her blog, Discovering Parenthood. We admired her openness and honesty about her journey through postpartum depression. At our request, she has written this guest post.

Thank you, Tamara for sharing what has been helpful during your recovery.

——————————————

Tamara’s Story

I found myself dealing with postpartum depression very soon after my daughter’s birth. I was overwhelmed with being a first time Mom, and I also had my hands full supporting my little girl who was suffering from severe reflux, and ptosis of the eyelid.

It took a little while for me to fully admit, and to address that this was what I was going through, and that it was also okay to be going through it. I had no reason to be embarrassed about it, or to hide it.

I have been through times of depression before, so I knew that there was a strong possibility that postpartum depression may occur after the birth of my daughter. I went through denial about it, anger about it, and through thinking that I just needed to change some things in my lifestyle. Eventually I got to a place where I knew I needed to address what I was up against.

It took me a little over nine months to finally feel like I was conquering this mountain in my life, and to start to feel like myself again. I am still addressing postpartum depression on a daily basis, but I am getting there. There are a few things that helped me along the way.

  • Knowing the symptoms

I knew all of the red flags, signs, and symptoms of postpartum depression. My husband also knew them. Together this helped for us both to realize what was going on, and why I felt the way I did. This helped me to get to a place where I knew what I was up against, and that I could not go at it on my own.

 

  • Talking to my doctor

I suspected that I was walking a fine line that was bringing me near postpartum, and I knew when I was completely dealing with full on postpartum depression. I went and talked to my doctor. My doctor was a huge help in helping me decide what direction I wanted to go with help in dealing with postpartum depression. We talked about different sorts of medication options; we talked about counselling, about even just having someone to confide in about what was going on, and so much more. This was a huge moment for me, as it was also the moment when I first realized that I could and would get through this. It was also when we figured out a plan to help me start dealing with my postpartum depression.

 

  • Being confident in the path I took

I went with the option that was best for me, and my family, and what fits into our life style. This ties back to why talking to my doctor was so important. I knew that I needed to deal with this for my baby, for my husband, and for myself. I was not going to let anything make me feel ashamed for getting help in some form.

 

  • Getting back into what I loved, taking time for myself, and trying something new

I have always enjoyed crafts, and painting. I soon started to realize that some days I needed time to myself, time to do something I loved and enjoyed. Doing something that made me happy was a great push in the direction I needed to go. I had forgotten to do things that once would have always done, I was consumed with taking care of my daughter, that I never made time for even just a few minutes to draw. I started to do craft projects, and I also started blogging as a way of sharing and it also became a great way to remember the good things. I also made sure to take time for myself. I took the time some evenings to paint my nails, to read a book, or to even enjoy a nice warm shower or bath and to not feel rushed in doing so. I always felt human again after taking time for myself.

 

  • Talking to others

1016843_10151725928521303_1057077870_n copyI found a couple people who are very close to me, who I could confide in and share how I was feeling. I also started to let others know what I was going through and ask for their support. Talking to my husband, and letting him know how I was feeling each day was a major stepping-stone. I am one who often just tucks away all my emotions, and just does not share about what I am feeling, or how I am doing. I needed to talk; I needed to express what was going on. Doing this helped not only me, but also helped those around me to understand what was going on for me even just on a day-to-day basis. It also helped me to know that I was not alone, that others have gone through this too.

 

  • Sleeping

The need for sleep was huge. When my daughter had her waves of poor sleep during the night, which in turn made me get little sleep, I noticed that was when I really struggled. Some days I just had to ignore the housework, and go take a nap when she was napping. I had many people remind me that sleep is what helps to keep a mom functioning at her best. This was so true for me.

 

  • Walking did wonders

I started walking with my daughter, and with my husband. We made it family time to get out and about. Even if we just took a quick walk around the neighbourhood or a walk on a trail at one of the local parks. Walking has so many health benefits. I always felt so much happier after going for a walk. My daughter also loves being outside, seeing her smile and be full of joy on our walks also started to make me feel the same way.

 

  • Making a commitment to smile

When my daughter was five months old I made a commitment to always smile at her. Some days I did find it to be so incredibly difficult to smile, and to just be full of happiness around her and for her. I needed to smile though; I needed to show her how much I loved her. She gave me smiles and giggles so freely; I needed to do the same for her. Her smiles and giggles were a source of encouragement for me.

These are some of the things from my own, personal experience that helped me. Your safety and the safety of your baby are of the utmost importance. Please seek professional help if you need assistance.

 

What things did you find helpful in dealing with postpartum depression? 

 

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Twitter: @tamaraelda

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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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September 6, 2013

8 Myths of Motherhood

Before giving birth, we imagine life with a new baby… wonder, amazement, the sweet smell of baby skin, feeling more in love than ever with our partner.

The reality of life with a new baby often doesn’t match this ideal.

 

The difference between expectations and reality can cause women to question themselves as a mother.

 

Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mother?

“Am I a bad mother?”

If you have ever had these thoughts, please read these myths of motherhood.

 

1. A good mother gives birth “naturally”, without medical interventions.

Birth plans are a great way to communicate your wishes for your labor and delivery experience. Often, however, your birth plan will have to be modified during the actual event.

 

This can be difficult. If you had hoped to deliver “naturally”, unplanned interventions such as a cesarean section or the use of vacuum or forceps can be discouraging. Pain and disappointment with the delivery make the adjustment to motherhood even more difficult.
Please remember that you cannot always control what happens during birth. These events have absolutely no bearing on whether or not you are a “good” mother.

 

2. A good mother feels an instant bond with her baby at birth.

Many women report feeling love for their baby immediately after birth. Other women are surprised to feel nothing at all.

 

If you are feeling disconnected from your baby, you are not alone. Women have told us it took several days, weeks or even months to begin to feel that bond. As you spend time with your baby and you get to know each other, the feelings WILL come.
If you are not connecting with your baby the way you thought you would, talk to a health care professional. This feeling of disconnection can be a symptom of postpartum depression.

 

3. All other mothers are coping much better than me.

In our society, we are not always good at letting people know the truth about our feelings. It is easy to put on a smile and say everything is fine when in reality you are barely coping.

 

You may assume your friends are handling motherhood like pros. “Why can’t I do this when it is so easy for everyone else?”

 

In truth, you are measuring yourself against an image that is not based in reality. You don’t see what goes on behind your friend’s closed doors.
Try having an honest conversation with another new mother you trust. It can be reassuring to hear that you are not alone.

.

4. A good mother always puts the needs of her children and partner ahead of her own.

Mothers often feel guilty taking time for themselves. It is easy to believe that being a “good mother” means devoting yourself to the needs of your partner and children.

 

Life with a newborn is busy. Taking care of your own needs will better equip you to take care of the needs of others. Remember the airplane safety instructions: Put on your own oxygen mask first.

 

Taking time for yourself can be as simple as allowing yourself 15 minutes to have a bubble bath, uninterrupted. Ask a family member to hold the baby while you nap. Go for a walk or simply lie in bed and read.

 

Try to make sure your “priority list” includes you.

 

8MythsofMotherhood

 

5. A good mother has a clean house and cooks supper every night.

Looking after a newborn is time consuming.  A newborn feeds at least 10 to 12 times a day and will probably require as many diaper changes.  The feeding and diapering alone can take up 12 hours of your day. And you haven’t yet had a shower, eaten, done laundry or bathed your baby. No wonder you have no time to cook and clean!

 

One person cannot do it all. In some cultures, a mother or female relative stays with the new family to manage household tasks. This frees the new mom to rest and care for her baby. Unfortunately, not all families get this support.

 

Keep meals simple. Sandwiches and fruit make a great supper. Order in once in awhile if your budget will allow.
Ignore the housework as much as possible. Your home will be clean eventually. Right now you are just too busy. Focus only on the essentials. Dishes do not need to be done after every meal.

 

6. A good mother instinctively knows how to care for her baby.

The truth is that parenting is difficult. Mothering is a learned skill. We don’t immediately know how to soothe and care for our babies as soon as they are born.

 

If you aren’t sure why your baby is crying, you are not alone. The process of elimination is often works best. Is baby hungry? Need a diaper change? Lonely and needs to be close? You will learn the cries of your baby and what works for them – it is not an instinct!

 

7. A good mother always loves being a mother.

Motherhood can be wonderful but it is also a lot of hard work. Being “on call” 24 hours a day Is taxing. It can be difficult to find joy in motherhood when you haven’t had more than an hour of consecutive sleep.

 

Some days you may long to have your old life back, simply going to work, interacting with adults, having a break with a hot cup of coffee.

 

Being a mother means repeating the same task over and over again: feeding, changing diapers, laundry, dishes. There is no boss to tell you that you are doing a great job. It can be very lonely.

 

If you do not love being a mother, it does not mean that you do not love your baby.

 


8. A good mother does not leave her infant in the care of others.

It is okay to admit you need a break. Even a short break can do wonders.

 

Talk with your partner about your needs. Try to negotiate half an hour to go for a walk or drink a peaceful cup of tea. Thirty minutes may not seem like a lot, but even a mini-break can be refreshing and help prepare you to face the demands of motherhood again.

 

Being a new mother is quite possibly the most difficult job on earth. If you are finding the transition from your former life difficult, you are not alone. There is no such thing as the “perfect mother”. You are the best mother your baby has!

 

 

Related posts12 Ways to Pamper Yourself without Leaving Home and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: What You Need to Know!

 


 

IMG_9687 4About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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July 19, 2013

Sarah’s Journey through Postpartum Depression

This guest post written by Sarah Witzel. Thank you Sarah for sharing your personal story. – Cindy and Jana

 

Sarah’s story

On October 31, 2011 I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. It was an unplanned, but very much wanted, pregnancy and my husband and I were very excited to finally meet our daughter. I had a natural childbirth at the Grey Nuns hospital in Edmonton, with almost everything going according to plan. Within 24 hours we brought her home.

 

 

It definitely took a little while to adjust to the concept of being a mother! I remember my first day alone with her, after our families had gone back home to Saskatoon and my husband had returned to class. I had a strange feeling that because I’d had this baby for two weeks already, she was probably due back at the library! Even the idea that she was mine, and that caring for her was my new life seemed so odd.

 

Like most women, I experienced the ‘baby blues’ after birth, with crying spells and mood swings as my hormones settled down. Unfortunately, my difficulties did not resolve within the usual 2 week period and developed into postpartum depression. I lost weight very rapidly after giving birth – all of my pregnancy weight plus another five pounds within ten days. I had lost another five pounds by my postpartum checkup (note that I was not trying to lose weight, was not overweight prior to my pregnancy and had only gained 22 pounds while pregnant). I had trouble sleeping during the day because I felt anxious, and at night I would lie in bed and have flashbacks to my labor and delivery. I had nightmares about hurting my daughter and frequently felt overwhelmed, guilty, agitated, and stressed.

 

 

Symptoms of postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is believed to affect at least 15% of childbearing women. The symptoms manifest differently for different women. Many people believe that depressed people feel sad all the time, but they may also feel angry, guilty, numb, or anxious. These feelings can be normal, but  when they are persistent or interfere with your daily functioning or your relationship with your baby or others, it is time to seek help. Other possible symptoms include loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, excessive fatigue, unusual weight gain or loss, and restlessness. Some mothers experience symptoms of other psychiatric disorders postpartum, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Women with postpartum depression are not at risk for harming their children as is commonly believed. Rather, that is a symptom of postpartum psychosis, a much more rare and serious condition.

Postpartum depression can be identified by your family doctor, your public health nurse, or your baby’s doctor, using a simple questionnaire. Seek help as soon as possible if you are having any symptoms. Postpartum depression and other mood disorders do not get better on their own and delaying treatment will only be more stressful for yourself, your baby, and your family. Postpartum depression usually occurs shortly after giving birth, but can happen at any time in the first year.

 

 

Road to recovery

Postpartum depression has been linked to breastfeeding difficulties, but continuing to nurse can be very beneficial to both mom and baby.  Breastfeeding allowed me to nurture and bond with my daughter even when I was feeling numb, detached, or otherwise unwell. Even on the days that I did not feel like I was doing anything else right, I took comfort in knowing how good breastfeeding was for her.  I watched her grow so quickly nourished by my milk.

 

 

My daughter is still breastfeeding now at almost 20 months old, and I am so glad that we persisted through the difficult early weeks. If you are struggling with breastfeeding at any time, seek help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) as soon as possible. Breastfeeding groups, such as La Leche League, can provide valuable social support as well as advice and information. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to choose between nursing and using medication, as there are many antidepressants and antianxiety medications that are safe to use while breastfeeding.

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Remember that postpartum depression will get better! The length of time it can take to resolve varies, and the recovery process can be frustrating, but it will not last forever. There are multiple treatment options for postpartum depression. Medication, support groups, individual counseling, and exercise are some commonly used options. Your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health are all linked and thus it is advantageous to use a combination of treatments rather than relying on a single approach. Remember that there is so much joy in parenthood, and you will find it, even if your road to get to that place feels long and rough.

 

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