Postpartum depression is a serious issue that many women struggle with. It’s important to know what to do if you find yourself sturggling after childbirth.
This is going to be a completely different kind of post. A little shorter than usual, way more personal than usual.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what to do if you think you might have postpartum depression because I am not a doctor. I am not a mental health professional.
I am, however, a mom. A mom who has birthed three babies and had three very different postpartum periods.
A mom who has grieved the loss of two babies.
I am a mom what has struggled with the inevitable flood of emotions that comes with each birth. And I have learned a lot.
My Postpartum Depression Story
In the interest of full disclosure I will say that I was never officially diagnosed by a doctor with postpartum depression. But I know depression (I’ve struggled in the past) and I know baby blues and I’ll tell you that what I felt after my third baby was far more intense than your run of the mill baby blues.
About five months ago my third (well technically fifth) baby was born into this world in the middle of the night after a frantic car ride to the hospital. During most of which I squeezed my husband’s hand and told him that he better “drive like a bat out of hell or this baby is going to be born in this car!”
It was an incredible moment for us as a family/couple and for me as a woman. I accomplished a vaginal delivery after two c-sections and between that and all the new baby feels I was on cloud nine.
I did very little planning and prepping for this postpartum. Partially because I spent most of my pregnancy paying my dues to the porcelain gods. Partially because I spent a great deal of time preparing for labor. And largely in part because it was my third baby.
I’ve done this before, I’ve got this.
I had even written an article about how to handle the postpartum blues, I was good to go.
And then a few sleep deprived months in I started to notice that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. And not because I was tired, there was something else there. Something………heavier.
I was paralyzed by fear and anxiety. Taking my older kids to the park was out of the question because I was convinced they would be kidnapped while I was busy focusing on the baby.
I didn’t like the lights on or the curtains open, it was just too much. I cried all the time and had huge mood swings.
At first I told myself all of this was normal since I had just had a baby.
This isn’t postpartum depression, this is just normal hormonal stuff. I’ll be fine.
So I plugged along, but the symptoms worsened. I would find myself sneaking away “to go to the bathroom” and then I would lay down. But when it was time to get up I couldn’t move. My anxiety got worse, to the point that I would lose what little sleep I was managing.
I was always checking on the kids… all three of them….all night long. Are they still breathing? Am I doing this right? Surely I’m failing them.
And then one day another thought came along:
I wish I was dead.
Where did that come from? That’s not true. I love life, I have a lot to live for.
The heavy feelings and the anxiety got worse and worse until one day I started to cry and just couldn’t stop.
I remember laying in bed crying, completely frozen. I couldn’t get up. My legs felt heavy, my whole body felt heavy. And this little voice in the back of my head quietly whispered:
So I did. First I texted my husband (he was at work) and told him I was pretty sure I was struggling with postpartum depression.
Within about five minutes my husband was on the phone checking in with me and asking what I needed.
Then I texted a friend who is also a mom.
I think I have postpartum depression.
“What can I do?” She asked, without hesitation.
What happened after that is lots of help and research and talking. A couple of months later and I’m feeling (mostly) back to normal, thanks to my husband and my friends and family. I won’t go into details about the steps we took from that first text, because what worked for me might not work for you.
This post contains affiliate links, you can read more about that here.
If you are currently pregnant and are preparing for your postpartum period I highly recommend this book. It completely changed the way I approach my postpartum time. And while all the reading in the world can’t prevent or solve postpartum depression, certainly proper perpetration is a positive step toward a better healing after childbirth.
What to do if You Think You are Struggling with Postpartum Depression
Say something to someone you can trust. Someone who will help. Just say something. And don’t stop saying something until you get the help that you need.
Don’t brush it off as sleep deprivation or hormones. That could be all it is, sure, but it could be something more. It could be postpartum depression.
And if you are the person that a new mom comes to and says “I think I have postpartum depression” help her. And don’t stop helping her until she’s on the other side.
Postpartum depression isn’t talked about enough. Everyone thinks they’re going to push out a baby and go back to life as usual and that’s not always the case.
And postpartum depression can sneak up on you. Just because you feel ok at your six week postpartum check with your doctor doesn’t mean that what you’re feeling at eight weeks postpartum is normal.
Say something to someone. Please speak up. You are not alone, mama. You are not failing, mama. There is nothing wrong with you.