Postpartum, Postpartum Stories

Living with a PMAD After Birth: 5 Women’s Stories

PMAD Stories: Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders

Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) affect over 20% of moms. Surely that is more than one mom that you personally know. However, you might not know that she has struggled because the stigma remains high and the conversation is kept behind closed doors.

The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety, and other postpartum mood disorders (see types of disorders here) can be obvious or they can be hidden. The mission to remove maternal mental health stigmas is a very important one. In the depths of new motherhood, the last thing a woman needs to feel is alone.

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WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?

infographic for postpartum depression signs, symptoms and treatment

Image via: AHealthBlog

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Postpartum Depression doesn’t feel the same for everyone and can be identified by a number of criteria. We often think of depression as feeling tired, uninterested, and sad. While this can be true, these are not the only markers.

Other presenting symptoms may be irritability, guilt, loss of energy, and more. Because having a baby creates a big shift, it is important to know the distinguishing signs and talk to your medical provider about the severity of your symptoms. While the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is given at most postnatal checkups, postpartum depression (and other maternal mental health disorders) can present at any time within the first year of postpartum, therefore many women go unidentified and untreated. By raising awareness and sharing stories, we give moms hope support, and encouragement. Remember, HELP is not a bad word. It is a sign of strength!

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM ANXIETY?

Less discussed, but no less important PMAD types are often housed under the “anxiety” diagnosis. More specifically, some women experience postpartum anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or psychosis.

Postpartum Anxiety infographic signs and symptoms

Image: Anxiety Canada

RELATED: Mom’s Story of Postpartum Anxiety

TELLING OUR POSTPARTUM PMAD STORIES

We bring light to one another with our stories, and women have shared their stories in this post in hopes that it will bring normalization and light to other moms. If you or someone you know identifies with the symptoms of Postpartum Depression, reach out (get help here). There is no shame in helping yourself so you can better help your family.

The following is a collection of responses from moms willing to share their experience with Postpartum Depression.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS (PMAD) PRIOR TO YOUR EXPERIENCE?

  1. I knew about PMAD prior to postpartum in the sense of what they are, however, I didn’t know the reality of them or how common they are. I also really prepared myself and felt prepared for pregnancy and labor but did not feel as prepared for postpartum. I read January Harshe’s book Birth Without Fear pre-birth (and first of all it’s amazing and everyone should read it), which helped open my eyes to postpartum. But the actual reality of postpartum really shocked me. I’m starting to feel human again, my baby is 6 weeks old, and as I reflect on the past 6 weeks it’s been tough, unknown, and scary at times. It’s also been so beautiful and I love being a mom, but mentally and emotionally I was not prepared.

  2. I didn’t know much about postpartum depression going into my first pregnancy. I heard people talk about getting tired, sleep deprived, and having child get on your nerves, but it sounded like the norm. Like it was something every mom dealt with. After my sons birth in 2016, the first couple of weeks were rough but that was because I was breastfeeding and he was eating every 2 hours. I had no time to sleep! My husband and I came up with a night time routine and everything was fine after that. A couple of years later getting pregnant with our little girl, I started to worry how I was going to balance two small children. No one could give me an answer. I kept hearing, “It’s great for your kids because the will have someone to play with so close in age.” But what about me?!

  3. I work in the medical field to we studied PMDs in school so I was aware of them from the stand point of signs/symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. I also knew that I was at risk for a PMD because i have a history of anxiety. I knew that a lot of Moms struggle with PMDs but dont seek help.

  4. I was familiar with postpartum mood disorders, mainly because my twin sister suffered horrible postpartum depression. When I got pregnant, this was a fear of mine, as I’ve struggled with anxiety for my whole teenage/adult life.

  5. I did not know anything about them when I was pregnant or really after

WHAT MADE YOU REALIZE YOU MIGHT HAVE A POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER?

  1. I realized I had PMAD when I had a panic attack in the bulk section of my natural food me store. I’ve had anxiety on and off during different seasons of my life and was feeling anxious on and off during early postpartum. Once my mom left and the newborn honeymoon was over (my baby was sleeping for 5 hour stretches for 2 weeks straight, he was never fussy and rarely cried, loved to just hang out and snuggle, self soothed and put himself to sleep if we laid him down etc.

    Once that 3rd week hit all of that changed) I started realizing I was getting anxiety especially during car rides, driving, being out in public on my own, when I wasn’t holding my baby, at night (I kept checking to make sure he was breathing often and not getting much sleep), and if we stayed home for extended amounts of days. My husband and I had been running errands together and the baby fell asleep in the car so my husband stayed with him while I ran into the store. I couldn’t find the one thing I needed and started getting really panicked and then couldn’t breathe and just started crying in the middle of the store for “no reason”. I immediately left and cried all the way home because it was such a scary and unknown feeling. Since I’ve had a few other episodes like that.

    Once I had a second panic attack at takeoff on the plane while traveling with my husband and baby (all I could imagine … and the images were so vivid and clear … was my whole family dying in a plane crash which triggered it), I reached out to my midwife.

  2. Afternoon my daughter was born, I immediately started drinking to cope with the stress. Balancing drinking with breastfeeding was easy with her because she slept longer than my son (4-5 hours). I was angry, short to discipline my son, easily agitated, arguing with my husband, sleep-deprived, and not getting a break. Even when I went back to work, I had to breastfeed every couple of hours therefore my “mommying” never stopped. I knew how I was feeling after birth was different from my son because I couldn’t shake it with a simple schedule change. My life was entirely different.

  3. I realized I have a PMAD because I did not want to leave my baby at home without anyone but myself. Whenever I would leave even to go to the grocery for an hour, I would not be able to focus on what I was doing, my legs would get weak, my heart would race and I would feel nauseated. I cried almost every night, partly due to normal postpartum hormones but I would cry at night before bed out of sheer terror that something would happen to my baby overnight. By the same token, I would fear falling asleep because I did not want to not wake up to my baby if she was in distress.

  4. Luckily I was prepared for the warning signs. Once my baby was born, I had the “normal” crying spells and attributed that to sleep deprivation and hormones. However, when I was having nightly panic attacks and scared to leave the house, and constantly fearing about worst-case-scenarios — I knew my anxiety was back. I also began to feel really sad, mourning my “old self” and wondering if I’ll ever be “myself again”

  5. I didn’t really even know, I just knew I was not okay.

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Source: http://www.stylist.co.uk

WHO WAS YOUR SUPPORT THROUGH POSTPARTUM?

  1. My mom is amazing. She’s a labor and delivery nurse and was present for weeks leading up to my birth, during my birth, and for 2 weeks after my birth. I talk to her on the phone almost everyday and she’s been so honest and open with everything. My midwife and I have a close bond so she has been a big support. And I’ve also been attending a Mother’s support group that is absolutely amazing. The first time I went I cried when I did my check-in because I finally felt normal. So many other women were experiencing the same things I was. I heard other mothers verbalize and really be honest and open I felt so safe and known.

  2. I got untraditional help from a prayer specialist and stopped drinking on New Years’ Eve 2018.

  3. My husband. My sister is also a big support system of mine but I ca not talk to her about these things like I can my husband. She is very “chill” and laid back, not easily stressed.

  4. My husband and my midwife were incredibly supportive. Even with them, though, (and with my knowledge that this is normal) I was nervous to be completely honest in my postpartum evaluation. I felt ashamed for not being 100% thrilled about motherhood.

  5. I am not really sure I had any support. I never really shared where I was or what I was going through. Does anyone ever really understand? I wish my family would have seen the signs.

    RELATED: Postpartum Resources

WAS IT HARD TO SPEAK UP ABOUT NEEDING HELP? WHY?

  1. It was hard to acknowledge that I needed help to myself. I was having so much guilt for my feelings and struggles. We walked along 2 1/2 year walk of infertility and during that time I would have given anything for a baby. I fell pregnant naturally right before starting fertility treatments. It felt/still feels like such a gift that I feel guilty a lot when I’m feeling like it’s so hard or crying or being negative.

    So it was really hard to say to my husband – I need help and it was really emotional at my 6 weeks check-up last week to tell my midwife. I wasn’t scared to tell her and not necessarily ashamed but I acknowledged how guilty I was feeling and was met with a hug and affirmations that I didn’t need to feel guilty and that this was all ok. My brain knows that I’m not my thoughts and anxiety but my body reacts like that and sometimes I feel so out of control of my anxiety it scares me.

  2. It’s still a constant battle dealing with postpartum depression because as moms, we never stop. We have moments where we really kickass and somewhere we beat ourselves up because we didn’t balance our day accordingly. But what I have learned is that we have to ask for help, we have to give ourselves grace, and, most of all, we are not the only ones dealing with this. All moms do in one form or another.

  3. It wasn’t hard to speak up but it was hard to let myself be vulnerable and accept that I may need to ask for help. I am an extremely confident and independent person so to let my guard down was hard. It was also hard to accept that I have a PMAD because of my medical career..you do not want to acknowledge the fact that you HAVE what patients come to you to TREAT. Also, it is the mentality that “I know what this is and what is happening but why can’t I overcome it?”

  4. Somehow I was able to be brave and honest with the questionnaire about PMD- and my midwife was SO understanding. We talked and she wrote me a prescription for breastfeeding-safe anxiety medication/anti-depressant. She talked through my fears of risks associated with breastfeeding and showed me statistics about the safety of the medication she prescribed.

  5. One day I sat in my PCP office and I told her how I had these thoughts of “Well what if a car hit me when I turned at an intersection” or “What if I hit this parked car driving down the road?” One day I very vividly remember thinking if I could just go somewhere like even a hospital for a few days to get away- I told her- and she looked at me- and I never cried or anything. She asked me what stopped me and I said: “ Well, of course, my kids.” She asked if I was okay that day and I said “Yeah, sure” and she immediately prescribed me medication.

HOW DID YOU FIND SOME RELIEF FOR YOU POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION/ANXIETY/OTHER?

  1. I’m still working on relief. I feel like acknowledging it and speaking about it has helped a lot! Also, I started working out again – I worked out often prior to pregnancy and as often as I could throughout my pregnancy. It’s my outlet for stress relief and something I enjoy doing. It makes me feel strong and empowered. I’ve only been to 2 workouts but have noticed such a change in my mental clarity and emotional being after.

    I’m seeking out counseling and have an appointment in the next few weeks. I was prescribed medication – my midwife and I really talked long and hard about it. I told her that I wanted to see how these other things I was implementing helped me and felt comfortable in waiting to take medication until I felt like I needed to. I’ve had anxiety in the past and I know my limits. I don’t suggest this for everyone … but I feel confident in that choice for now because I am an open book with a conversation with my husband and my mom and have a lot of support and a place and multiple people to go to when I feel like I need it.

  2. I got untraditional help from a prayer specialist.

  3. I found relief by talking to my husband. I also was honest with my OB and I am on low dose Zoloft with has been a game-changer.

  4. I’ve only been on medication for about a week now, but am already feeling relieved to have been honest with this experience. Knowing this is normal brought a lot of comforts.

  5. I am not confident I had really ever found relief, it just became more manageable. I came out of the deep depression with better food and exercise but even to this day I still struggle with mom guilt and I do seek counseling for it all.

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WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A NEW MOM ABOUT POSTPARTUM MENTAL HEALTH?

  1. I am very honest with friends who are about to have their first babies when they ask how everything is going. I tell them that I love being a mom and I love my baby more than anything but that I’ve been struggling a lot. I tell them about the support group I go to and how important it is to have support.

    I tell them that if they have struggled to please be honest and reach out. I tell them that all those feelings and emotions are ok and that they aren’t in our control. I remind my friends with babies now that they are the best mom to their baby and to fight the need to feel perfect and meet the standards and expectations of others. And to ask for help – ask for help holding the baby so you can have 5 minutes alone, or ask for help around the house, or with other everyday tasks, etc.

  2. We have moments where we really kickass and somewhere we beat ourselves up because we didn’t balance our day accordingly. But what I have learned is that we have to ask for help, we have to give ourselves grace, and, most of all, we are not the only ones dealing with this.

  3. It is ok to ask for help. Were tough but the emotions and stress of motherhood is A LOT for anyone to handle. Do not let something get in the way of the happiness and joy and new memories to be made with your baby. Also, the concept and risk factors for SIDS are HAMMERED into your head in the hospital before discharge..follow the recommendations and it will be OK. I did and still do obsess over the temperature in the bedroom and making sure my baby is breathing but if you are following the rules your baby will be OK!

  4. I want a new mother to know PMDs are NORMAL and to be brave and honest in their postpartum evaluation. In fact, reach out sooner than your 4-6 week follow up if you are concerned. Your doctor/midwife/OB will be glad to help— they won’t judge you 🙂

  5. I would and have told a mom to not be a hero and ask for help. Be okay and don’t rush. It’s like empathy vs sympathy and somethings can’t be understood until they experience it.

WHAT DO YOU WANT SOCIETY TO KNOW ABOUT MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH?

  1. I wish more women would be more honest and didn’t feel like they had to mask postpartum struggles and disorders. I wish society wouldn’t pressure me into feeling the need to be perfect or meet standards or expectations. I wish people would stop asking me how my baby sleeps and then making me feel bad when I tell them he wakes up every 2 hours to eat … he’s 6 weeks old and is a freaking baby!

    I wish people would ask me … how are you doing and take the time to listen and actually act on being supportive- bring me a coffee, come hold my baby so I can enjoy a hot shower AND wash my hair and shave my legs in the same shower session, drop off a meal at my door, etc.

  2. All moms face this in one form or another.

  3. Motherhood and the postpartum phase isn’t all glamorous Instagram pics and full nights of sleep. It’s hard, it’s scary, it’s a lot of work for everyone involved. Women are ALLOWED to struggle and ask for help. Women are ALLOWED to break down and be vulnerable. Let’s support these women. I am by no means a feminist but unless you have a baby and have experienced postpartum ANYTHING, you cannot possibly understand so educate yourself.

    Offer a hand or an ear to a new mom. Don’t offer to watch the baby so mom can “sleep” because what mom is going to be able to sleep while someone who doesn’t know anything about their brand new baby babysits? Offer to do the dishes, vacuum, take the dog for a walk, go to the grocery.

  4. I want society to realize how common postpartum mood disorders are, to de-stigmatize them, so ultimately women feel more comfortable getting the support they need.

  5. That this is real and there is help- too many women have too much pressure and not enough support in postpartum.

RELATED: Why Mom Guilt is Bullshit

Image: AHN Women

Image: AHN Women

Want to read more stories and learn about how maternal mental health affects women daily? Search #mywishformoms on Instagram and show some moms love!

RELATED: Preventing PPD (eCourse)

What’s your story momma?

What do you want moms and/or society to know about Postpartum Mood Disorders and Maternal Mental Health?

Keep the conversation going in the comments. Share this with loved ones so they don’t feel alone. If you’re currently pregnant and wondering how to prepare for your postpartum, I took some of the work off your plate with this Free Postpartum Plan Checklist.

WOMEN SHARE THEIR POSTPARTUM PMAD STORIES: PIN ME!

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marriage, Postpartum

Marriage After Baby: 5 Communication Tips to Save Your Relationship

5 TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING POSTPARTUM TO YOUR PARTNER

Postpartum is a huge transition. Our partner doesn’t understand all we are going through. It’s not surprising that marriage after baby and communication needed can be difficult in those early days (and beyond!)

The truth is they are also undergoing a huge transition AND we can use a few intentional tools to shed light on the things we are experiencing and needing as moms. By being purposeful about communicating your postpartum experience to your partner, you can improve the postpartum relationship and be a team in postpartum recovery.

When we talk about postpartum, people often assume it can be boiled down to postpartum sex, postpartum depression, and your postpartum body. Yes, these are factors, but there are MANY MORE. Helping our partners to understand the wide array of transitions we are experiencing, AND normalizing the reality that postpartum is more than just 6-12 weeks, we can have less misunderstandings and resentment and more of a team approach to this new way of family.

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Postpartum Sex

marriage changes after baby

WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT:

  • In postpartum, a lot of changes from the start and continues to change for weeks, months and years beyond.

  • Limited time together as a couple can cause added stress.

  • Shifting the focus on the baby means less focus on one another.

  • Sleep deprivation is hard on everyone involved.

You can tell your partner, in a moment of frustration, that he (sub she if applicable) doesn’t understand. He probably already knows this, though, and your reminder doesn’t help. Read on for things to try instead to help your marriage after baby.

1. Marriage After Baby: Pass Along What is Helpful to You

Do you find yourself following social media accounts or reading blogs to help you understand your own postpartum experience?
Do you have a go-to place that you learn and normalize with other women?
Have you googled a scenario and found information on a specific webpage?

Forward this to your partner. Share with him the accounts, pages, or books that have been most helpful to you.

Give him some insight into your thinking by passing along some outside insight.

sharing the mental load of parenthood through communication

(Important: This does not mean YOU do all the reading and work and pass along the cliff notes. Marriage after baby is STILL a 2-way street. You do NOT need to create more work for yourself. You simply pass it along and let him know that this information would be helpful for him to know and improve mutual understanding.)

Topics that you may want to pass along to your partner include:
Breastfeeding/pumping: Choosing to or not to and the implications of that
Birth Trauma
Hormone changes
The mental load of motherhood
Deciding to return to work or not return to work
Keeping a family schedule
Society pressures women face that men usually do not (body back, milk production, always joy)

2. Marriage After Baby: Change Criticism into Questions

This goes for both partners- so this is something to discuss and keep coming back to. In the heat of moments, it’s easy to throw around criticisms. I’m not immune to this, but training the brain for this mental shift can save a lot of heartache and the temptation of escalated emotions. When I want to criticize my husband, I try to remember to turn it into a question. Sure, I might think he’s totally sucking at something… but let me give him the benefit of an explanation and his perspective.

Usually, this insight allows us to connect. I ask the same of him- what he might see as an explosive wife might be a postpartum mom who feels lost in her escalated emotions that she doesn’t understand but is surely tied to a huge hormonal shift. Asking questions gives us both the chance to understand. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities, and beyond.

3. Marriage After Baby: Use a Code Word/Phrase

Sometimes we know that what we are going to say isn’t what we want to say. Sometimes a question or comment can provoke us to say it anyway… here enters the need for a code word or phrase. Having a keyword or phrase allows you to say “Not right now” to your partner and create a barrier. Give yourself the time to be in your emotions without reacting to them… and then plan a time to talk when you feel more rational and at peace.

4. Marriage After Baby: Share Lists and Resources

Trying to juggle doctor appointments, baby meds, grocery needs, and the ongoing to-do list? Let me tell you right now- you do not have the mental capacity for this. You do not need to carry that alone and your partner most likely doesn’t expect you to. Using a few resources to share the load can help everyone breathe a little more.

  • Utilize a family calendar. Whether this is digital or physical (check out this family whiteboard or this JUMBO calendar)

  • Share a digital grocery list that makes it easy to add when needed or know what to pick up when someone has a chance to stop at the store. We use Anylist

  • Have a priority-based to do list. Personally, one of my biggest triggers is my husband saying “What can I do to help?” Don’t get me wrong, the gesture is great but I don’t want to have to mentally think through what’s a priority. By using tiered lists, either of us can easily see what’s most important when spare time arises. We use Todoist

shared family calendar for mental workload of motherhood

5. Marriage After Baby: Be Mindful of Your Language

The way WE talk about our postpartum frames the way we encourage others to talk about our postpartum. If we want a cultural and societal shift, it has to start in our homes and this starts with how we talk to our partners. Take out the word “babysitting” when it is truly shared childcare. Take out phrases like “help me out by doing the dishes” and replace with “we need the dishes done.” Instead of saying “I’m just feeling crazy right now” say something like “I’m feeling overwhelmed with my emotions and I am not my best self.”

If we want the narrative, the societal expectations and norms to shift… we have to make these small shifts ourselves. Partners who understand postpartum more become not only better parenting partners, but better advocates in the workplace, communities and beyond.
So now I know what you’re thinking- this shit takes work. I know. I tried to find loopholes and couldn’t… but I leave you with these tips in hopes that you can feel more understood and supported in your postpartum- specifically from your partner. A supported mom is an empowered mom and empowered moms change the world.

Date Night Planner for Marriage After Baby

Wondering how to take the work out of reconnecting with your partner? I have you covered. Grab this Free Date Night Planner so when you have the time, you can use it to really connect!

Postpartum

Postpartum Emotions: The Changes and Feelings to Expect as a New Mom

The Stages of Postpartum Emotions You May Experience

When it comes to postpartum emotions of new moms, we have a long way to go in normalizing how big and different these might be.

“Women are so damn emotional.”

The statement, often said as an insult to belittle the experiences and feelings we have, is actually something worth celebrating.

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

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Humans are Made to Be Emotional

Humans are emotional. This is nothing to be ashamed of- it’s in our makeup. We learn to navigate the world through a mix of logic and emotional response. Our body naturally creates factors that impact our emotional experience. Our autonomic nervous system causes our physical and mental reactions in an emotional response. Emotions allow us to feel and experience our life.

Somewhere down the line, women’s emotions have been discarded as a joke or a bother. We have been trained to push our emotions away and out in times when they should be flourishing and serving us. We start to see it in menstruation. The flux of hormones in our body creates higher intensity emotions.

There are jokes and skits about disregarding a woman at this time. Further down the line, there are the emotions of pregnancy. This is a time that is full of transformation for a woman and yet we so often hear “Oh, she’s just so emotional.” Or we even say it ourselves “Don’t mind me, I’m just emotional.” While there is some jest in the extremities we can experience, it doesn’t change the reality that these emotions are a biological response and are often telling us something important. Brush over them, and we miss a chance to really see the experience in its’ entirety.

RELATED: How Long is Postpartum?

Postpartum Emotions: They are Normal

Months later we enter postpartum. This time following childbirth where everything has undergone a change. In this time there are a number of factors contributing to our emotional response- each valid and each with a place in our transition. Again, these are not something to be ashamed of. They are wired in us for a reason and they can shine a light on areas we need to give attention to. Tuning into these emotions, through different stages of postpartum, can help us to be mindful and intentional in our postpartum time and give us the prompts we need to take proactive steps in our own healing.

In this post, I will walk you through 5 stages of Postpartum Emotions. As a postpartum coach, I’ve collected stories of hundreds of women. These stories have allowed me to dig into the transitions we all experience, the questions we all have, and the ways we can proactively address them so we can have the most fulfilling emotional transition in postpartum and beyond. You can also get guided processing through these stages in the Postpartum Together Small Groups.

HOW LONG IS POSTPARTUM?

First, how do we define postpartum? Some women think of postpartum as 6 weeks. This is because at 6(ish) week we have a follow up with our medical provider. At this appointment, we are given the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. We are usually cleared to “go back to normal” in things like sex and fitness. Many moms walk away thinking things should be “normal” without guidance and support on what this new normal might look or feel like for them. (Spoiler alert: This “normal” continues to change and evolve.)

Some women see postpartum as the equivalent to maternity leave. In America, the average maternity leave alloted is 12 weeks.  This means many moms get to the 3-month mark and feel the pressure to have control of these evolved areas of their life.

When referring to postpartum, I am referring to a period of time after a baby in which you feel you are transitioning. For the majority of women I surveyed, 2 years was the average amount of time they felt “in postpartum.” This feels like a good baseline for me as well. Maybe your postpartum period is shorter and maybe it is longer, but 2 years is the general time frame I’m referring to.

5 STAGES OF POSTPARTUM EMOTIONS

So what are these 5 stages and what are they made of?

the birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother

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Immediate Postpartum Emotions:
THE HOURS AFTER BIRTH.

This is marked by:

  • Hormonal fluctuation

  • Your connection with baby (be it a feeling of instant connection or not- neither is “right”)

  • Exhaustion from the birth

  • Feelings about the birth experience vs. your expectations prior to the birth

  • Internalized feelings about your abilities- instant ideas about your ability to be a mother.

    The immediate stage of postpartum is a sacred time where women need to feel honored in their emotions. There is not one “right” way to feel after birth. No matter your experience- take time to process what birth was like, how it shaped your view of yourself as a mother and what it spoke to you about the days ahead. This is a time to rest, push aside anything unnecessary and be present with yourself and immediate family.

Early Postpartum Emotions

THE FIRST WEEKS AFTER BIRTH.

This is marked by:

  • Fluctuating hormones (Most hormones take 6-8 weeks to balance. However, factors like thyroid and breastfeeding can cause this to be longer.)

  • Breastfeeding or not breastfeeding

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Feelings about your “new” body

  • Feelings about your partner

  • Being needed 24/7

  • Expectations of others

The early stage of postpartum is a sensitive time when we are making intentional choices about this huge life transition. We are making these choices with limited sleep and fluctuation hormones. It is important during this time to draw boundaries to protect your own physical, mental and emotional health. This may mean boundaries around family and friends. This may mean boundaries around what you’re absorbing through social media, TV, etc. During this time you are being needed in a way you never have before and that leaves little room for rest and self-care. These boundaries are so important for our preservation and personal empowerment.

RELATED: The Breastfeeding Cookbook

Short-Term Postpartum Emotions

WEEKS TO MONTHS AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Hormones (yes, still!)

  • Presenting your “new self” to society

  • Returning to work/church/social groups/etc

  • The mental load of motherhood

  • Finding (or not) personal enjoyment

The short term stage of postpartum is a transition from a small circle to a larger circle. As you begin to return to old or new rhythms you are presenting a change version of yourself and learning how that integrates into old spaces. You are absorbing the mental load of motherhood as you work to create rhythms for yourself and your family unit. As you return to public spaces, you may feel overlooked as people dote over the baby but do not ask many questions about you. You may also be finding small pockets of time in which I encourage you to engage something for personal enjoyment- be it a hobby, friend, etc.brain neurological changes in postpartum

Mid-Term Postpartum Emotions

MONTHS AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Fog lifted

  • Possible identity crises/struggle

  • Internalized expectations from yourself

  • Perceived expectations from others

  • Balancing work/home/marriage/social

During these mid-term months, we start to think about who we are in a new season of life. You may be questioning or dialing in on our values and priorities. Additionaly, you may see changed friendships. You are putting more expectations on yourself as a mother and we are perceiving the expectation from others around us. We are working to find a balance- and balance does not mean everything is equal. This means we are figuring out what we need to sustain what is necessary. This is a common time women see their mental health needs as fog is lifted but they are not feeling “normal” like they expected to after the first few weeks of adjusting to motherhood. This is a great time to reach out to someone if you are still experiencing difficulty with mental health.

Long-Term Postpartum Emotions

postpartum lasts up to two years

MONTHS TO YEARS (2+) AFTER BIRTH

This is marked by:

  • Feelings about the evolved self

  • Feelings about your evolved family and family role

  • Experienced social dynamics

  • Perception of achievement and purpose

As our children grow and become more independent, we see another transition as we see our evolved self and family. We are responding to our experiences socially now that our own dynamics have shifted. We are also grappling with what achievement and purpose mean to us. While some women preserve their pre-baby interest, some women struggle to return to them and others have new interests that emerge. This is a time to think about your personality type, your role within your family, friends, and community and find ways to experience your unique purpose and sense of achievement.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

POSTPARTUM, TOGETHER

Postpartum is an emotional time, but that does not have to be a negative phrase. Our emotions give us insight and can propel us forward into new seasons and ways of life. By being aware of these shifts, we can address them internally and with those near to us so that we can feel understood and empowered during this time.

Momma- no matter what stage you’re in (or will be in the future), your experience is valuable and seen. Gone are the days of “putting on a pretty face and brushing over anything uncomfortable.” We are here to show up, be present and be confident in our transitions and experiences. If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

What is/was the biggest transition you experienced emotionally in postpartum? When did you notice this most? Let me know in the comments!

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postpartum emotions and postpartum groups for new moms