November 13, 2013

You just had a baby...why aren't you happy?

A new baby brings a lot of joy.
And sometimes a lot of changes that don't necessarily feel joyful.

Why is this?

It's estimated that around 80% of new moms experience the "baby blues"-short lived,temporary episodes of crying and feeling a bit blue.
It's also estimated that approximately 8-12% of new moms have more intense,longer lasting periods of sadness,moodiness,irritability-enough to dramatically effect their daily life and mindset.


I experienced baby blues with my first three babies for about a week postpartum I had post-birth moments of crying for no real reason.....just overwhelming happiness,confusion and hormonal changes.
If you've explored my blog much,you also know that I experienced a surprise with my fourth baby:

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION.

(you can read my other posts about PPD HERE)


At times it's too overwhelming.







Why do women experience PPD:


BIRTH EXPERIENCE

One might believe that only birth trauma-a cesarean section,forced interventions or a loss-would trigger depression,and those things definitely can play a role in how women feel psychologically and emotionally.
From my experience,a GREAT birth experience can effect emotions as well.
It can be so hard to process our births-good and bad-when we are faced with a culture who says "birth experience doesn't matter".
I disagree.
I believe that they way we give birth needs to be talked about-it only benefits us and others to work through it,to share and feel less alone in what we perceive our births to be.

The physiologic process of birth is often very disturbed:

Interventions and medications which interfere with Oxytocin production;a slew of events during third stage (after baby is born,during the time of waiting for the placenta to expel,and anytime in the first few hours after birth) which directly effect the re-connection of mother and baby.
In a truly physiologic birth,mama and baby are able to experience the natural effects of the birth hormones,leading to a happier and healthier connection.


EXPECTATIONS

The laundry can wait.The dishes can wait.Food can wait.
But can it?
New moms are thrown back into the fire with not so much as a blink.

Being a new mom is a lot of work,but we have this thing called "expectations" that can make it overwhelming.

I think that as a new mom,I feel this pressure to "perform" (if you will) and show that I can master it all.
I can balance a baby,a checkbook and a telephone.I can clean the floor,cook the meals and still keep my husband happy.

The laundry is always washed and folded,the surfaces in the home always dust free.

What I can't do is all of the above with a baby (and several other children!) and still take care of myself-emotionally and physically.

It takes time after the addition of another baby...babies are a huge master of time-well worth it-but working around the biological needs of a newborn isn't something most people can do overnight.


CULTURAL LINKS

In our world today,many women don't have the support system post-birth that they need or deserve.
Healing from birth is a chore on it's own,let alone taking care of a helpless infant 24/7-not to mention if there are other children in the home.
In many cultures,there are mothers,sister aunts and cousins who-if not living IN the home-come by,taking turns to help the new mother with her household duties while she heals and bonds with her new baby.
Most of this ties into the previously mentioned causes-birth experience isn't important to most people in American culture,and the expectations are deeply effected due to lack of support.

It's essential to recognize that families weren't designed to do it all alone.

"It takes a village"



OTHERS VIEWS

There are sometimes friends and family who-often unintentionally-put pressure on a new mom.
Comments of what she "should" be doing or pointing out her failures (not getting the laundry done or stressing how she needs to "snap out of it") only heightens her feelings of incompetency and depression.
It's important to see that most people who say these things aren't aware of the impact of their words or the seriousness of her struggles.


RELATIONSHIPS

Stress from a marital conflict or family/friendship altercations can just add to what a new mom is already experiencing.
What a new mom needs is people to love and support her,gather around and say:
"You are on a new journey.It can be overwhelming,confusing,joyful and scary.What can we do to help you find your way?"
A new mom doesn't need to fight with her husband or feel threatened and alone.

There is a high number of women in America who experience domestic abuse-sometimes physical,but often it's emotional/psychological abuse.

This should be considered a huge factor in why so many women develop PPD.


MINDSET

All of the above can lead to altering the mindset of new moms.
My experience is that being unable to "do it all" and feeling so alone and unable to express my feelings about my birth,led to a lot of negative self talk.
I put so much pressure on myself and when unable to perform,I mentally called myself out.

"What's wrong with you?Other mom's do it!"
"If you can't handle this,you shouldn't have any more babies!"
"You stay at home,this is your job!"
 


The list goes on and on.
Negative self talk is so effective at making yourself feel like crap-which is why it does so much damage.



An overall view of why these things effect new moms so easily:

Childbirth opens up a window of vulnerability.
The hormones released during and post-birth enable a woman to embrace motherhood with a vengeance,protecting and loving her new baby with everything she is.
We know that loving someone and bonding with them takes vulnerability-and a new baby is no exception.
The postpartum period causes a woman to have no choice but to be more sensitive to life.
Sadly-and so unfortunately-events and outside expectations wreck havoc on a woman at this vulnerable time.
It's cultural abuse.

I am calling it what it is.

Women alone are not to blame for postpartum depression.
I am tired of hearing that it's merely emotionally,psychologically or hormonally driven to feel depressed after childbirth.

It's a cause and effect:

  • Woman has a baby.
  • Woman becomes vulnerable.
  • Woman doesn't receive support.
  • Babies are a lot of work and bring changes.
  • Woman doesn't meet her own expectations or those of others.
  • Woman experiences negative self talk.
  • Woman gets depressed.


PPD effects more women than we think because many (like I did for a long time) keep quiet,plaster on a smile for charms sake and struggle silently.
For the women reading this who relate:

It's not you.  

Or at least it's not ALL you.
It's the world deserting new moms nearly before they birth their placenta.


But we aren't going to be victims.

We don't have to be.

There are various ways to fight it:

Know about it beforehand-
Understand that you will be vulnerable and talk to your family about it.
Tell them that you will need their support to help you find your feet once your new baby arrives.
Ask your husband to stay connected with your needs and let him know that you might not do all the things you normally do in the time manner he is used to....he'll survive,but it will help you both to understand you need time to get a routine going again.

Check into having your placenta encapsulated-
I wish I would have done this with my fourth baby.It has really helped since having baby #5.

Get support-
Find online groups of like-minded women where you can go to share what you feel.
I am a part of an unassisted group of women and we are actually very close.
Maybe join a breastfeeding group or stay at home moms group.

Don't forget your in-real-life relationships-
If you can open up to your mother or a close friend,do it as soon as you start to feel not-yourself,anxious or depressed.
I made the mistake of holding it all in and it slowly ate away at my self esteem.

Seek out groups of women who have experienced PPD-
There are forums,groups on Facebook and bloggers like myself.
It helps just to know you aren't alone,but you can also try some of their tricks to feeling better.

There are natural treatment options-
I used Hylands Calm,Fish Oil and Magnesium for a while.
Do your research-these things can help many women.

Meditation and prayer-
Praying and taking time to quiet my mind really helped me.

Take time for you-
Motherhood can make it easy to forget about yourself-you lose yourself in doing for others (which can be rewarding,but don't lose your individuality!)
Make time to do your nails,curl your hair,go to a movie with a friend....or all of the above if you really want to go all out!
Sometimes it's the little things-like reading a good book or watching a favorite show.

Try counseling-
I went to a therapist for a while.
I cried and cried,and I dumped all of my thoughts out to an unbiased person.
This can really help when you don't feel anyone else understands and you need professional guidance.

This can also open up the access to Medication-
I opted not to go the medication route,but if you feel you need to explore your options,it's there.


"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right."



Stop the negative self talk.

We can control what we think-so perceive yourself as trying.
As Amazing.As a loving mother.As imperfectly perfect.



Marlena and I-8 hours post birth




I am doing my best. 
Doing my best to be a loving mother. 
Doing my best to be a loving wife. 
Doing my best to love myself.

1 comment:

  1. Denee, I love this. Thank you for writing. I'm sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete