Postpartum Stories

Being Postpartum After Delivering a Stillbirth Baby

HOW TO SUPPORT A MOM AFTER STILLBIRTH

When Taylor experienced a stillbirth, so much was unexpected and after all of it, her body was still postpartum as if there was a baby. Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your story.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY FROM TTC THROUGH PREGNANCY?

I am Taylor, I am 26 and married to my High School sweetheart. A SAHM and we currently reside in Minnesota. We have three kids: Kane, Macy, and Jagger. I was almost 22 at the time we lost our son Kane, so we’re pretty young.

So A tiny back story- I was engaged to my now-husband at the time, just turned 21, and completed my first semester of nursing school. I was the .0001% of women that got pregnant on the pill. We found out I was pregnant two days before my finals for the fall semester. It was definitely not planned, but we decided to go through with it. I quit nursing school after that semester.

My son who we named Kane, died from a placental abruption that summer. We don’t know why or what caused my placenta to detach from my uterus. I was 36 weeks along when my water broke and blood gushed all over. Who would’ve thought his birth would be the worst AND best day of our lives. He wasn’t planned but we were SO ready to be parents and bring him home. Kane was also our first pregnancy, and first born.

Being a Postpartum Woman After a Term Stillbirth

I have Kane’s whole birth story linked from a blog post I did. It goes into more depth about the exact day and what happened.

I just want to say, these are all of my experiences with postpartum after a term stillbirth. His death gave me PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), PPD (postpartum depression) , PPA (postpartum anxiety) , and certain things you may not think are triggering, are for myself. Nothing I experienced was “normal,” but I don’t know how anything is normal after losing a baby.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

when parents lose their child

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I truly knew absolutely nothing about postpartum when I was expecting him, and after I had him. All I knew is my vagina will hurt for a while, there will be blood, and my milk will come in a few days later. I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t. No one explained anything to me really. And as a naive 22-year-old, I thought I’d be happy all the time. They warned me of baby blues turning into something more.  That was it! All I knew was to watch for huge blood clots, no sex,  and I’ll be good by the 6 weeks check-up

DID YOUR BODY STILL ACT “POSTPARTUM” AFTER YOUR STILLBIRTH DELIVERY?

I bled, a lot. I know that’s common especially after vaginal birth, but it was so traumatic for me. My mom and aunt went to my apartment before I was released from the hospital to clean up all of the blood in my bathroom. Every time I went to change the pad and pee, I cried. It physically hurt to pee, but mentally and emotionally hurt more when I had to see the blood. My milk came in full force about two days after I was home. I had HUGE boobs before pregnancy, like size H cup- no joke, so I used lots of frozen peas and tight sports bras.

Milk, Hormones, Recovery

My milk went away generally fast, all thanks to my mom. She told me what to do to get rid of it. Otherwise, I would’ve been extremely lost and suffering from swollen boobs for who knows how long. My hormones were jacked, I was a complete mess. I felt like all I did was cry and feel extreme sadness. The first week home was probably the worst. I almost threw up at the funeral home signing papers for his cremation. I barely ate, felt sick, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. Things would be okay one minute and I would be angry the next. Something would make me laugh, then I felt guilty for being happy for a split second and would burst into tears. Half the time I was surprised I still had actual tears running down my cheeks because I wasn’t sure how my body could constantly produce them after crying for a week straight.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR LOSS AND POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

We got a lot of sympathy cards in the mail. Many sent us money, which was extremely nice because I didn’t feel like cooking until 2 months postpartum. My husband’s job sent us flowers, a card, and some other things. Everyone was very sympathetic, which is a very common response to death. My mom was my rock, I don’t think I would’ve made it out alive without her. She was strong for me, took care of the hard things so I could grieve.

My husband’s coworkers constantly asked how he and I were doing, checking in. Family responses were mixed. They wanted to help us and take away the pain but didn’t know how. They didn’t know what they could say or do, they didn’t want to upset us or make it uncomfortable. Of course, they were devastated too, he was the first grandchild on both sides. Our two really close friends were very supportive and both lived further away and almost flew/drove to be with us the day I delivered him. I went out for drinks and dinner with my best friend 3ish weeks postpartum and it was the first time I went out in public, laughed, cried, and actually enjoyed myself. With strangers, even today I get the sympathy looks and the “I’m so sorry,” then they feel super uncomfortable.

HOW DID YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE, AFTER STILLBIRTH, IMPACT YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

It was so hard to feel like I could relate to moms because my baby wasn’t with me physically. I went through all of that and can’t compare anything besides how sore my vagina was. Emotionally, and mentally I was lost. It physically hurt to look at other moms with babies. I was angry and jealous every single time someone on Facebook announced that they’re pregnant. We didn’t have answers as to why he died, so I was pitying myself and was extremely bitter. After I gave birth to him I felt like a piece was missing, I felt like a mom but was baby-less. I never expected to feel that way about motherhood.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED)?

Share his pictures without our consent. It’s been four years and I still can’t hang his picture up. Talking about him in front of our kids. They’re too young to understand and we want to tell them on our own terms on our own time!

Some things people have said:

He’s in a better place.

God needed another angel.

It’s in God’s hands.

Everything happens for a reason.

The list is so long! It was all with good intentions but the last thing I personally wanted to hear.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE SAY/DO TO BE HELPFUL TO A FAMILY AFTER STILLBIRTH?

Bringing us food was a huge one! I had zero drive to cook for a long time. My aunt donated a brick with his name on it in our town. His name is with a whole bunch of other children that have passed away. It meant more than she’ll ever know. When people would empathize vs sympathize with us. There is no “but” or silver lining when losing a child. Telling us something like “I know you’re hurting, if there is anything I can do to help let me know, I’m here for you.” I don’t want your pity. Bad things happen, things we can’t control and no amount of your pity will change anything.

When you lose a child, there is no normal. Nothing about you and your story will ever be normal.

WHAT WAS YOUR MEDICAL CARE DURING POSTPARTUM?

My 6-week checkup was complete bs. I was cleared for Postpartum Depression (PPD) because I didn’t mark that I wanted to harm myself. Because I checked off every box besides suicidal thoughts, they told me I was just grieving. It wasn’t baby blues, it was PPD. I truly believe if someone stopped to tell me I wasn’t okay and feeling this way wasn’t the normal grieving process, I wouldn’t have had as bad PPD. They never made me go to counseling or therapy, it wasn’t ever brought up. Our postpartum culture (or whatever you want to call it) already needs to change because it’s failing mothers. It’s even worse for those who’ve lost a baby(s). There should be mandated therapy, and even more check-ins. Child loss is still a taboo topic, yet so many babies are dying, and the system is failing mothers after birth. 

Experiencing stillbirth and need someone to talk to? Find Taylor here:

mom shares story of stillbirth son

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby

Postpartum Stories

Being on in an Infertility Story With Chronic Illness

Fertility Journey, Crohn’s Disease and Motherhood

Amanda joins us to talk about her infertility story, how Crohn’s Disease impacts that, and being a new mom dealing with chronic illness.

Mom getting Crohn’s Disease treatment

WHAT IS IT LIKE TRYING TO CONCEIVE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS?

Hi, I’m Amanda! If you know me in person or follow me on social media ( @heartfeltbeginnings), you know a few things about my life, in no particular order. I openly share my infertility story and the journey to my daughter.

  • I have a 6-month-old daughter.
  • My partner and I struggled with infertility and went through IVF to conceive her.
  • Have a snuggly pup named Ollie (after Oliver Queen on the TV show Green Arrow).
  • I am a fierce advocate for mental health.
  • Have Depression and Anxiety and Crohn’s disease.
  • Believe in compassion.
  • I am an Enneagram 2.
  • My favorite book is is “If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski.
  • And most importantly, I find myself sitting with a lot of feelings and emotions on the regular.

Let me share more about the reason I’m here.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I was born to be a mother. I started babysitting at age 11 and immediately was drawn to the art of caring for others. Also, I love children. I always have.

Our Dreams of Parenthood and the Entrance of Infertility Story

From the time my now husband and I started dating, we talk openly and extensively about our hopes and dreams with regards to our future and growing a family. Because I have Crohn’s disease, I did not exactly know what the journey to motherhood might look like for me. The more I was open about this, and the way it made me feel, the easier it was to talk to my partner about it. We talked specifically about how if I couldn’t get pregnant, or if I couldn’t stay pregnant due to my complicated health history, our hearts were open to both surrogacy and adoption.

After our engagement, our conversations began shifting from faraway dreams to close up action steps. With each passing day, my heart got louder and louder. I realized that I could not deny what I was feeling. I was adamant about trying any way possible in order to carry my first child.

The entrance of Maternal and Fetal Medicine in our Infertility Story

Being proactive (call it slightly neurotic, careful, worried, or just an experienced patient), we scheduled a meeting with a highly recommended Maternal and Fetal Medicine (MFM) physician. During our two hour appointment, we reviewed the most recent years of medical records, my prescription history, and my current medications and supplements. The MFM suggested a couple of small changes, and then we were sent on our way with “official” approval to start trying to conceive. We were ecstatic and so grateful. Truthfully, as a Crohn’s patient, it’s rare that I walk out of any doctor’s appointment feeling optimistic. This felt like a sign that my body might let us move in the right direction.

READY TO INTENTIONALLY TRY TO GET PREGNANT

I went out and bought two different ovulation testing kits, and found an app for my phone to keep track of everything. Along with that, I even made my husband download it so he could see in advance what days would be most important for being intimate.


@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

This was all well and good, except 8 months passed without any success. My Crohn’s disease was managed better than it had ever been, and yet, I still wasn’t pregnant. Every time my period came, my heart sunk a little more. I became concerned that maybe Crohn’s disease was standing in my way of conceiving. I also noticed some inconsistencies in the length of my cycles, so I scheduled an OB/GYN appointment with my regular doctor. Then, she recommended that my husband go for a semen analysis, and said that she would follow up with us after she got the results.

Infertility Story: It’s Not Just From Crohn’s Disease

Her insight that Crohn’s alone shouldn’t be preventing us from getting pregnant was correct. My husband’s analysis was deemed “poor” – indicating a lower number of sperm, reduced sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape/size. It was then that my OB/GYN let us know that we would not likely be able to get pregnant without the help of technology.

I feel horrible to admit that this provided me a sense of relief. My husband is as healthy as a horse. Besides a running injury and kidney stones, he has only seen a doctor for a few colds or sinus infections in the 5.5 years I have known him. To hear outright that my non-chronically ill spouse was also experiencing problems impacting fertility helped me realize that our challenges in conceiving may not be because I have Crohn’s.

The Transition to Infertility Specialists

After nearly a year of trying to conceive naturally, our fertility journey transitioned from something we talked about only inside the walls of our apartment to something we spoke about often, and in public. Next, with the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist (REI), my husband and I both went through a series of tests, hopeful we would obtain a diagnosis or a reason for our infertility story.

Unexplained Infertility

The positive was that his analysis results improved, and all of my tests came back completely normal. The negative was that this meant our challenges with conceiving fell under “unexplained infertility.” This new diagnosis felt cold and hard and frustrating. Much like my Crohn’s disease, there wasn’t one specific thing that caused our struggles with our infertility story, and there wasn’t one certain route to fixing them either. Emotionally, I was transported to the years before my Crohn’s disease diagnosis. I felt vulnerable, frustrated, and discouraged. 

RELATED: Infertility Story and Vanishing Twin

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION (IUI)

Our REI recommended we start with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and if we were still not pregnant after at least three successive cycles, we would move on to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Although the intended outcomes differed (better health vs. carrying a child), the feelings were so similar to me. Both IBD and infertility were filled with the same set of emotions: Hope. Fear. Heartache. Cautious Optimism. Patience. Preparedness.

Compared to the medical tests, procedures, and treatments I have experienced in relation to my Crohn’s disease, the IUI experience was gentle and uneventful, and the actual procedure itself was fairly anticlimactic.

The Waiting Between Treatments

To be honest, the hardest part of the process for me was what came next. After the procedure, you cannot take a pregnancy test for two weeks. The waiting was incredibly anxiety-provoking. It felt like every time I had waited for the pathology reports from a scope, or the results from labs or the doctor to call me back. I couldn’t do anything but be patient.

Our first IUI was not successful. When my period arrived, I felt such deep and significant heartache. We had done everything right, and yet, we were still unlucky. What I realized though was that I had been in this place before. This place always only had to do with me and my health, and not my husband or the child we were trying to create, but it was still a familiar place.
Devastation.
Disappointment.
Frustration.
Fear.
I had already cultivated coping mechanisms during trials and tribulations with my Crohn’s disease, and I felt relieved knowing I didn’t have to pave an entirely new path in these moments.

Two Failed IUIs

Our second IUI also failed. As a somewhat professional patient by this point in my life, I reflected on the idea that completing the third cycle in exactly the same way felt repetitive and was unlikely to succeed. Based on my history, our REI (Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist) instituted an autoimmune protocol, adding a low dose of prednisone during the first half of my cycle, and a combination of antihistamines from the day of the IUI through test day. We did not get lucky with our third or fourth IUI either.

Let me tell you that the waiting period – it does not get any easier with time or repetition. And the disappointment, while no longer a surprise, still burned. 

My husband and I then moved forward with IVF.

IN VITRO FERTILIZATION

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

The IVF process was more time-consuming, more invasive, and more emotional than the IUI’s we walked through, but knowing the chances of success were higher we marched forward as best as we could. Twice-daily injections, daily monitoring visits (including bloodwork and a transvaginal ultrasound) and the high dose of hormones affected me so much, but the dream of being a mother gave me the courage to continue on.

After 13 days of stimulating my ovaries, I had my egg retrieval procedure, where they removed 12 eggs, of which 8 fertilized, and 4 matured into embryos. 5 days later, I went through a fresh embryo transfer. The 8 days that followed between the procedure and being able to test for pregnancy were torture, and the negative tests that followed really affected my husband and I. We were so disappointed.

Embryo Genetic Testing

At that point, we chose to have the 3 embryos we froze genetically tested to ensure they were chromosomally normal before they were transferred back to my uterus. This made me feel a lot more confident about our second cycle, which ended in a successful frozen embryo transfer.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

I took a positive pregnancy test at the end of September 2018, and outside of “normal” pregnancy challenges: morning sickness, exhaustion, aches and pains, heartburn, and frequent urination, my health, and my IBD remained relatively consistent during my pregnancy. This can be attributed this to two things: I continued the exact treatment plan I was on when I found stability and entered remission, AND, I was incredibly lucky.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN INFERTILITY STORY?

This answer will, unfortunately, be much shorter! I didn’t know very much at all about the postpartum experience. My labor and delivery doula had encouraged me to get some pads before I had the baby, and some nursing bras, but that was probably the extent of my preparation/knowledge.

RELATED: Where Do We Learn About Postpartum?

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

I didn’t know I was going to bleed for what felt like forever! (Okay, 4 weeks, but still) I had NO idea about pumping, hands-free pumping bras, or exclusive pumping, and that was learning and trial by fire. Also, I didn’t know that my hormones would fluctuate and change for so long after delivery – I thought by the time the fourth trimester ended I would be back to “normal.”

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE? – WORKPLACE, CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY, STRANGERS?

Honestly, I controlled a lot of the narrative, which I’m really grateful for (mostly because I chose to share both the great and the hard). I had been laid off from my job during my pregnancy. I wasn’t working when I gave birth and I didn’t start looking for a new job until a few months postpartum. There was no workplace/colleague response for me. My close friends that are moms did a lot of “me too” and “yes girl” encouragement to things I shared. Thankfully, they were available for questions/conversation, but to be honest I felt surprised (and a little sting) that they hadn’t shared more/warned me during my pregnancy of what was to come.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY AND IN THE MIDST OF ONGOING ILLNESS?

For me, my postpartum experience has been much harder as a chronic illness patient. Not only have I had to manage my postpartum body, physical mental, and emotional changes, and my baby, and the whole breastfeeding/pumping situation. I had to watch my Crohn’s disease like a hawk. Making time for infusions and medication, and doctors appointments and routine labs, and to maintain vigilance too in case my symptoms started flaring.

I wish people realized how hard it was for me to manage everything. Think about everything. Have to feel in control of so much. To still be expected to entertain visitors and write thank you notes. I wish people realize that sleep is critical for my Crohn’s disease. And while the new parent badge of honor is running on fumes, that was actually a danger to my health. etc.

RELATED: The Postpartum Cookbook

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL RE: ILLNESS OR FERTILITY?
(EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED?)

I didn’t know about it until I began walking through it, but like IBD, conversations about fertility come with an associated stigma.

As many IBD patients have probably experienced at one point or another, being open about the intimate details of Crohn’s disease with family and friends is challenging. I remember when I first became symptomatic, I tried to remain as vague as possible.

Private Life in Secret

Even though it was one of my main frustrations, I completely avoided the word diarrhea. I used to feel like it was too embarrassing to say out loud! Without being comfortable talking about how I was feeling, I became a much quieter, more introverted person during the first few years I was sick. I t felt like my private life had to hold all of my secrets, and it became easier to put less and less out into the world.

How Little Fertility/Infertility is Discussed

In the time my husband and I tried to conceive, we realized how little fertility is discussed. Everyone celebrates pregnancy announcements and births. But in many circles, things like timed intercourse and tracking ovulation are not talked about. However, in my experience, when we were unable to conceive naturally, this divide in conversation became increasingly pronounced. Within a few months of our wedding, family and friends started asking when we were going to grow our family.

@amanda.osowski

@amanda.osowski

Amanda’s Infertility Story Quotes

I found myself saying open-ended and non-specific things like “we want to” or “it’s something we are hoping for.”
It felt completely off-limits to tell them that we were trying everything we could to conceive.

I started to wonder why I was prohibiting myself from being honest, and I realized that I felt ashamed about failing to get pregnant on my own.

Feeling At Fault

Similar to when I first began struggling with IBD, I felt like maybe our challenges with infertility could somehow be my fault. Although this is of course not the case for either situation, I realized I was feeling parallel emotions – embarrassment, frustration, fear. By not talking to my friends and family, I was re-creating the conditions that led me to fold up around myself years ago.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WAS MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME OF YOUR INFERTILITY STORY?

People who asked “What do you need?” instead of “Ask if you need help” opened the door with more concrete and honest feeling invitations to jump in with support. Also, more than the average bear, I wanted emotional support both during illness/infertility and postpartum.

RELATED: How to Start Exclusively Pumping (Online Course)

Postpartum Narratives

This series, Postpartum Narratives, brings awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same. As a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc.

If you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Motherhood and Crohn’s Disease

We provide free content as a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Pumping

5 Must-Know Tips for Exclusive Pumping While Traveling

TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Adapted from an original post written as a guest post for Belibea (not sponsored, but because their nursing cami saved me on a daily basis and I want everyone to have that.) This post contains affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make from the links. To skip right to the FREE DOWNLOAD pumping while traveling checklist, click here!

How to breastpump while traveling

BEING PREPARED FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING OVER THE HOLIDAYS

So the holidays are upon us and you’re making lists and filling your calendar and probably feeling a mix of excitement and overwhelm.

If you’re traveling, that’s an added layer.

Pumping?That’s an added layer.

If you’re PUMPING AND TRAVELING, woo girl buckle up. Okay, I’m kind of kidding, but also I know it can be a mental, emotional, and physical strain and I want to help you be best prepared.

When you feel extra stress or lack of routine and schedule, your milk supply can be compromised during this time. I want to help you ensure that you can both enjoy the holidays with your baby and family and maintain your feeding goals and health.

RELATED: Amazon Pumping Shopping List

KEEP STRESS LOW, THE SCHEDULE CONSISTENT, AND THE BAG PACKED.

When considering holiday travel, there are a few factors to think about. How are your emotions and stress levels during travel and extra activities? What logistics do you need to think about beforehand to ensure you have the gear and space you need?

The following tips will help you to prepare for and enjoy the season so that you can focus on making memories with your baby and family.

5 TIPS FOR PUMPING WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

1. TALK WITH THE HOST PRIOR TO THE EVENT TO DISCUSS WHERE YOU CAB PUMP.

Knowing that there is a quiet, private space for you to pump will allow both you and your host to be prepared. If you want privacy, communicate that and ask that your host have a room accessible. Discussing this beforehand can take away the awkward conversation in the moment (hey can you pass the turkey AND my boobs are about to explode!) and give you peace of mind and less stress entering the gathering.

2. DRESS FOR EASY PUMPING.

Belibea Pumping and nursing nourish cami

RELATED: Easier Exclusive Pumping

Save time and stress by dressing with your pumping in mind. The Belibea Nourish Tank allows you to have a comfy stylish undershirt while also making nursing or pumping very accessible. I had two of these tanks throughout my year of pumping and basically wore one every time I went out of the house and knew I would need to pump. No thinking about the “double shirt’ method or strapping a pumping bra on awkwardly. EASY. (You can use CHELS20 for 20% off any Belibea purchase. Wohoo! You’re going to want to wear this baby everyday!)

3. HAVE A PLAN FOR MILK STORAGE.

Again, this is a good conversation to have with your host beforehand.

Is there a refrigerated space you can store your milk during your visit?

If you will be staying in a hotel, ensure that a minifridge will be provided in your room.

You also want to consider long car rides or plane rides. If you are traveling by plane, make sure you know your rights for traveling with breastmilk.  For any long ride (plane, car, train) be sure to have means to keep your milk cool and follow milk storage guidelines.

4. WRITE OUT YOUR SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

This is a balance, and no one is going to do it perfectly (have grace momma), but doing your best to stick to your schedule without letting it stress you out, can be vital to supply and routine for both you and baby. The schedule tells your body when and what to produce and helps maintain your milk supply. Skipping feeds or pumps can lead to clogged ducts and possibly mastitis- which is not how you want to enjoy your holidays! Write out your schedule beforehand and plan for when you will “sneak away” to pump. Perhaps you won’t need to have privacy, but hey, it might be nice to get a few minutes to yourself.

RELATED: Online Exclusive Pumping Course

5. MAKE A CHECKLIST OF ALL THE GEAR YOU WILL NEED AND DOUBLE-CHECK IT BEFORE LEAVING HOME.

Write it out (or print it out) and double-check before you leave! Many of these items are things you may be using day-to-day so it can be hard to pre-pack everything. Double-check the list before leaving home so that you won’t need any middle-of-the-night store runs during your trip!

Pumping checklist for traveling

HERE ARE PUMPING PACKING LIST IDEAS TO GET YOUR LIST STARTED:

Download this checklist for FREE here!

Car adaptor: Allows you to plug your electric pump in so you can pump in the car

Battery Pack: If you don’t have a battery-powered pump like the Spectra S1 or Medela Freestyle, you can use a battery pack to make your pump portable (I used this for my Medela Pump in Style and Spectra S2)!

Breast pads: There will probably be a time your feed/pump is delayed and you want to preserve your shirt!

Sterilizer bags: This makes it quick and easy to sterilize pump parts and bottles

Quick clean wipes: Especially helping during travel- these wipes give you a way to clean your gear without soap and water

Easy feeding system: The Kiinde system allows you to skip milk transfer and quickly go from pump to feed.

Bottle cleaner and soap: For when you get the chance to do a good scrub on your pump parts and bottles!

Nursing tank: The Belibea Nourish Cami is my go to because it’s so easy (and extra cozy!)

Cool/heat packs: In cases of engorgement or the need to help milk flow, these little tools are so helpful!

Cooler bag: For when you’re traveling and not able to refrigerate, cooler bag to the rescue!

Nipple cream: Because we have to take care of the girls!

Milk bags: Easily cool and store

Cover: If you prefer privacy, might as well make it stylish.

Pump: Don’t forget your pump!  It can be helpful to have a manual on hand even if you regularly directly nurse- sometimes babies don’t eat as much during travel and visiting and you still need to get that milk out!

Hand sanitizer: For when the soap and water aren’t available but you need to keep those hands clean!

Download this free checklist here so you can put it on your door and double-check before heading out!


Free download checklist for pumping moms

So sister, you can do this. The biggest work is in making sure you get everything packed up and on the go with you and then communicating your need to step away. Enjoy those breaks, sneak some extra apple pie with you, and shoot me a message to say hello while you’re pumping over the holidays (Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s weird if you message me while your boobs are being milked. I’m cool with that.)

Happy Traveling!

RELATED: Sex After Baby

Postpartum Stories

Infertility Journey: Wishing to be Postpartum

OUR INFERTILITY JOURNEY CONTINUES

Infertility Journey Acronyms:
2WW, AMH, BBT, BFN, BFP, B/W, CM, CD, DPO, ENDO, FET, FP, FSH, HSG, IUI, IVF, LAP, LH, LMP, OPK, PCO, RE, SA, TTC

Each acronym serves a purpose in our fertility journey. Owner and operator of Fertility Warrior Podcast, Robyn Birkin, once said on her podcast, “Not everyone tries to get pregnant. If you don’t know these acronyms (she listed a long list like the one above), then pregnancy happened to you. If you know these acronyms, you too have tried to conceive.” This quote has stuck with me for the 464 days that we have been TTC.

A question many people ask married couples is, “When will you start trying to have kids?” I too have asked people this question in the past. Now that I have been TTC, my perspective has shifted, I don’t ask this question anymore. The word “trying” implies if you aren’t pregnant then you’re not trying or not trying hard enough. Trying gets to my core. I am trying more at conceiving a child than I have at anything in my entire life; school, work, career. Without the end result of a pregnancy to show for, people assume that we aren’t trying…that word.

dealing with infertility but i’ve dreamt of being a mom for a long time

MY LIFELONG DREAM OF BEING A MOM

Since I was a little girl, I imagined being a mom, mommy, momma. Little did I realize, that dream wasn’t as easily attainable as I had always imagined. Being the oldest of 5, I was always a helper with my siblings, a babysitter, and naturally grew up with motherly-like tendencies. From a young age, family, friends, and strangers would comment on how natural motherhood would come to me.

Those comments are now gut-wrenching. It’s so difficult to hear how good you’ll be at something that you want more than anything else you’ve ever wanted before. Something that you are going through emotional, physical, and spiritual roller coasters to figure out the steps to achieve a positive pregnancy test. Deep down I know that people- family and friends- people aware of our fertility difficulties and people not aware, mean well and it is their perspective. However, I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

RELATED: Infertility and Vanishing Twin

WHAT IS THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY TO ME?

The infertility journey is:

  • Hard

  • Sad

  • Test after test, month after month…BFN (big fat negative)

  • Knowing your cervical mucus

  • Timed intercourse

  • Smiling through the silent pain

  • Hearing about oops pregnancy announcements and cringing

  • Attending a baby shower for another person that isn’t yourself

  • Facing your fear of needles for acupuncture

  • Addressing your fear of needles for weekly B/W (blood work)

  • Facing your fear of needles for ovulation-inducing injections

  • Changing your diet to decrease the possible internal inflammation

  • Reading blog after blog about other woman’s fertility stories

  • Journaling about gratitude, seeking the positives, when each day you are hurting inside more than the yesterday

  • Seeing a naturopath while working with a fertility clinic (whole-body wellness and approaches)

  • Taking vitamins upon vitamins to fill any possible gaps

  • Crying at any given moment

  • Mood swings

  • Talking to insurance on a weekly basis to ensure appointments and medications will be covered

  • Paying out of pocket for specialty drugs

  • Excluding yourself from social gatherings to avoid the talk of babies

  • Excluding yourself from family members who continue to say “just relax and it’ll happen”

  • Listening to pregnant women complain about how long 40 weeks of being pregnant is (we’re at 464 days TTC)

  • Being bloated from the hormones; looking pregnant but not actually pregnant

  • Intensely irritable

  • Situationally depressing

  • Sitting in silence with your partner

  • Long embraces

  • Hand holding

  • Pictures throughout the journey with staged smiles

  • Not fair

    RELATED: Infertility and Postpartum with Chronic Illness

getting infertility treatment shots

WAITING THROUGH INFERTILITY: NOT YET POSTPARTUM

I’m not yet postpartum. When I listen to women sharing about their postpartum experience, I connect with them on various levels. Although I have not carried a child in my body, I have various symptoms that women going through postpartum have. I often wonder what my emotional and physical self will do when we do become pregnant, initially and during pregnancy. Will my emotional stance be elated because I finally have a pregnancy, or will I continue on this struggling journey as we embark on a whole new path; pregnancy and motherhood?

Until then we will continue TTC through our Infertility Journey .

story of infertility pinterest

Supporting Someone Through Birth Tragedy

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

RELATED: Preventing Postpartum Depression (Ecourse)
Women who struggle with conception and/or pregnancy and birth complications have preexisting factors that can contribute to postpartum depression. If this is you, you can be proactive with this course.

Postpartum Stories

Infertility, Vanishing Twin and Postpartum

POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY AND VANISHING TWIN LOSS

Emily shares her experience being pregnant with twins, having a vanishing twin, and then birth and postpartum all following her struggle with infertility.

newborn baby after vanishing twin syndrome

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US SOME BACKGROUND TO YOUR STORY- TTC (TRYING TO CONCEIVE) TO NOW.

Hello! I’m Emily. I’m a 33-year-old graphic designer and live in California with my husband, our two dogs, and our baby boy who is about to turn one. My journey through infertility to becoming a mom is not typical, and for that reason, I get nervous sharing it publicly. I know so many “born mothers” who fight the infertility battle for years, losing babies and hope. That’s not me. But I did experience infertility. My story is real and I’m honored to have the chance to share it.

My husband and I spent 12 years together without children. Some of those years, the childfree life was a willful choice (I got married when I was practically a baby myself) and some of those years, it wasn’t. There were seasons of trying and seasons, like during graduate school, when having a child was the furthest thing from my mind. After grad school, I settled into my career and got ready for the next chapter of my life…and it never came. I was pretty embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed. All I could think about was all those times I had flaunted my carefree life in front of my friends who had children. Karma…she is a bitch.

Seeking Infertility  Help

After trying consistently for two years, my husband and I decided to seek some help. We went through fertility testing and got the diagnosis that nobody with infertility wants to hear….”unexplained.” We had a wonderful fertility doctor who created a protocol with increasing intervention. I’m incredibly lucky that just three months after starting fertility treatments, on St. Patrick’s Day 2018, a doctor got me pregnant (seriously, that’s my favorite infertility joke).

I conceived twins, the biggest shock of my life. Unfortunately, a twin pregnancy can often make women incredibly sick and I was one of those lucky few. I did not experience the dreaded hyperemesis gravidarum that some women suffer from, but I did end up in the hospital once and spent many of those early days sicker than I ever thought possible. Sadly, around the time I was released from the fertility clinic and put under the care of my OB/GYN, I found out that “Baby B” hadn’t survived. They call it “vanishing twin syndrome.” I’m a very practical person and took heart in the fact that my doctor seemed concerned about my ability to successfully carry twins. “Baby A”, my son Finn, was healthy and strong in utero and stayed that way when he came into the world on December 4, after a 48 hour labor that included 6 hours of pushing 🙂

RELATED: Postpartum after Stillbirth

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR YEARS WITH FERTILITY TREATMENTS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR PREGNANCY EXPERIENCE?

Infertility Grief

Infertility robbed me of that “moment” of finding out I was pregnant. When I took the test, my first thought was “No, that’s just the hormones from the shots still in my system.” I didn’t believe I was expecting until I got the results back from my doctor nearly a week later.

Vanishing Twin Grief

Then, because of the vanishing twin, I was left with some unpleasant side effects – extreme nausea and vomiting for the duration of my pregnancy and a higher than average down-syndrome risk, just for example. So practically speaking, fertility treatments gave me twins, which caused me to have some atypical experiences.

Postpartum and Lack of Space for Grief

Because of all it took for me to conceive my son, I felt like I should avoid feeling sorry for myself, never complain, and soldier on, which I did. This proved to be both good and bad. It was good, in that I do believe in “mind over matter” and I think a positive attitude is important. But it was also bad because people around me had no idea what I actually needed, how sick I really was, and seemed to have high expectations of me and my abilities. I thought if I talked about my symptoms, people close to me would remind me that at least I had gotten pregnant and I didn’t want that reminder. I knew how lucky I was, but I also knew that I felt like shit for nearly nine months.

RELATED: Emotions of Postpartum

Mixed feelings getting pregnant after infertility

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

Women, at least in my circles, love to share their horror stories about the wasteland their bodies became postpartum, so that is basically all I knew. I knew about the endless weeks of bleeding, the tearing, and stitches, the raw nipples, etc. I did not, however, know about the night sweats…would have been nice if someone had told me about THAT, haha!

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

So many things surprised me! I was surprised by how good I felt right away. My nausea ended as soon my son was out and food tasted good again! Additionally, I had retained pounds and pounds of water and that started disappearing immediately. And in the days following his delivery, I realized that I didn’t like being pregnant, even though I was so grateful to have been able to conceive and so in awe and respectful of my body for being able to do what it did.

Maternal Instinct

I was also surprised at how much love and maternal instinct I felt immediately. Many women don’t talk about that part, but taking care of a newborn was straight-up magic for me. I had an aversion to the idea of breastfeeding before my baby was born, but after, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to want to feed him.

Breastfeeding

And on that note, I was surprised at how difficult breastfeeding turned out to be. I did not go into it naively – I had family and friends who dumped ALL the dirty secrets on me – but I thought that, in time, my son and I would figure it out. We weren’t able to, despite having amazing support, and I started exclusively pumping for him. Now, almost a year postpartum, I’m surprised at myself that I’m still pumping.

Postpartum Anxiety

I was surprised when I had postpartum anxiety more than four months after having my son. I thought postpartum mental health issues happened within the first few weeks, and I thought they happened to women who had spouses who went back to work (mine stayed at home for the first 9 months of our son’s life). But when I returned to work, my anxiety became almost crippling. I still battle that demon now at 11 months postpartum.

Postpartum Community

Lastly, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would need other women. I’ve never had a large circle of friends, nor felt like I needed much more human interaction than my experiences with my coworkers and my husband. But after having my baby, I sought out the company of other mothers and, in turn, women I had never considered befriending welcomed me into their lives with dinners, gifts, support, advice, and love.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (Ecourse)

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY TREATMENTS?

Just because a woman has success with fertility treatments, doesn’t erase the experience she went through. Nothing will ever take away the memories of sticking myself with needles and crying over negative pregnancy tests. My identity as “infertile” didn’t end when my son was born. Many times when I’m rocking my son, I think of my fellow infertile sisters whose arms are empty and my heart breaks for them.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

I felt very lucky to have a solid local support system who responded favorably. My husband was an unrivaled supporter (no joke, he did EVERY night time feeding while I pumped) and my friends showed up with food and love.

My workplace was wonderful, allowing me to flex my leave, and, when I returned to work, outfitting my office so I could pump there. They even supported me when I had to bring my son into the office from time to time.

I come from a very large family and, unfortunately, I didn’t feel support from them. My mother has nine children (of which I’m the youngest) and my sisters and sisters-in-law have collectively birthed nearly 50 babies. I felt like their attitude was “We’ve been there, done that, survived it, and you will too.” Definitely not what a new mom needs.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for Moms

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED)

Someone very close to me said “After all the work you did to get him here, you’re going to leave him and go back to work?” That comment hurt.

I also don’t appreciate when people ask me when my son is going to get a sibling. Besides it being none of yo damn business, I’m also not sure I can actually have any more children. I may not even want to go through that experience again.

I WISH FOLKS WOULD STOP COMMENTING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S REPRODUCTION.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

A few months after my son was born, after I went back to work and when my postpartum anxiety was at its worst, my sister-in-law had Door Dash delivered to me dinner one night. Another night, a friend randomly brought me take-out. Their gestures were more than having a hot meal to eat. It meant somebody could see me, knew I was having a hard season, and cared enough about me to lighten my burden for a minute.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

I know it’s easy for me to say now, but I wish I hadn’t felt so much shame surrounding my infertility diagnosis and subsequent treatments. If I could go back, I’d tell myself how brave I was to seek answers and help, how fearless I was to stick myself with needles full of hormones, and how strong I was when I walked back into my doctor’s office to start again after failures. I think infertility needs to be destigmatized. It’s not a woman crying and clutching her bum ovaries in the baby section at Target. Infertility is a fighter, getting knocked down over and over again, but getting back up every single time.

IN CASE YOU’RE FIGHTING THAT FIGHT AND NOBODY HAS SAID IT TO YOU, LET ME: YOU ARE BRAVE, FEARLESS, AND STRONG. HOLD ONTO YOUR HOPE, SISTER.

pinterest vanishing twin

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be.

By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

Postpartum

The Quest to be More than a Mom

LOSING AND FINDING YOUR IDENTITY AS A MOM

“Mom” is an incredible title. It brings us new experiences, new love, new ways to see the world, and life. This brings out parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. It connects us to a bigger picture. Mom is a title we don’t take lightly because it is a privilege. But as women, there is more than mom.

mom looking at herself in the mirror feeling lost as a new mother

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

I’M A MOM, BUT WHO ELSE AM I?

Women can easily feel lost in this identity shift and wonder where the “woman” behind mom has gone.

An informal survey on my personal Instagram page showed that 92% of respondents said they struggle with the identity shift.

How Women Describe Identity as a Mom

Here’s what women responded when asked about their struggle of identity after becoming a mom:

  • I felt completely lost

  • I didn’t have a personal identity (as a new mom)

  • It felt like my sole purpose was to keep the tiny human alive

  • No clue who I am or what I like

  • I’m so isolated

  • Torn inside- it’s a tug of war

  • Grief over what was lost

  • Seemed like I didn’t matter anymore

  • Shame and curiosity about the difference in me

  • I am a mom…and not even a good enough one

There are different ways women can deal with this identity shift, I believe you can use this time of transition to be empowered, inspired, and become truer to yourself than ever. 

Dealing with Identity as a New Mom

You don’t have to bottle up resentment.
Don’t have to fully lose all aspects of yourself to be absorbed in the role of “mom.”
You don’t have to live in the pressure of what a “good” mom is and looks like. (Spoiler alert: A good mom looks like a mom being true to HERSELF in serving and loving herself and her family.)

RELATED: Things You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

REASONS WHY YOUR IDENTITY CAN SLIP AWAY AFTER BABY

There are numerous factors that contribute to the identity transition after the baby. These are things many women face, so don’t feel alone. The goal is not to AVOID these factors, but to acknowledge them, understand them, and when the time is right… move past them.

Brain Neuroplasticity

Your brain is literally rewiring itself. During pregnancy and postpartum, the brain’s neuroplasticity is in a great transition- very similar to adolescence. Dr Alexandra Sacks calls this time “Matrescence

Body

Loss of autonomy of your body mixed with a changed physical body that may feel foreign to you

Time

Being constantly needed by another person and lacking time for yourself, hobbies, friends, etc.

Finances

Budget changes, lack of maternity/paternity leave pay. Less money perhaps means less opportunities for “YOU” things

Emotions

Emotions are highly impacted by hormones and new and changing circumstances. In postpartum, hormones are fluctuating greatly and you are experiencing both new and changing circumstances. This flux of emotions can be exhausting and confusing.

Thoughts/Mental space

You may find your thoughts are taken up by mundane daily tasks mixed with how to do all of the new things to provide for a baby.

Relationships – Partner

The connection, communication, and relationship roles you knew pre-baby have shifted. Pair this with body image, lack of time, lack of sleep, and compounding stress, and a changed relationship can impact the identity of the new mom.

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Guide to Postpartum Sex

Relationships- Friends

Friends want to see/hold the baby, conversations are usually about kids, social experiences and expectations change, some friendships fade and new ones emerge leaving you wondering where you fit.

Purpose

Perhaps you have changes in your work situation leaving you feeling a lack of purpose outside of the home. You may have less time for hobbies/volunteering. While you may thrive on the purpose of taking care of a child, this isn’t the case for all women. You may also have a difficult time with it.

Outside Pressure

Our culture has an unspoken “Supermom” pressure you can feel from all sides. You may feel a loss of your own identity as you feel wrapped up in being the “right” kind of mom.

“I long for “old me” because we don’t know/understand who this changed “me” is yet.”

— POSTPARTUM TOGETHER PARTICIPANT

how do i find myself as a mom

TENSION BETWEEN THE “NEW” ME AND THE “OLD” ME

There are few times when so much of your identity and self transitions overnight like it does in the transition to motherhood. You know other women are facing it. You know there are a number of factors that contribute to this. There are also a number of ways it can manifest. You are frustrated that you don’t feel “at home” with yourself. It is confusing because you’re not even sure what you like anymore. You’re lost in the day to day shuffle.

WAYS IDENTITY FRUSTRATION MAY MANIFEST:

  • Bitterness/resentment towards a partner who seems to have fewer limitations and changes.
    Do you ever feel yourself welling up with bitterness? Are you playing out conversations in your head about how much your life has changed but your partner’s has not? Are you possibly feeling resentment towards the baby who has turned your whole world upside down? (I know, it feels unspeakable and so we are ashamed to admit this feeling, but honestly many women feel this way sometimes.)

  • Increased comparison to others
    Have you found yourself thinking “If I’m mom, why aren’t I THIS kind/good of mom”? Do you find yourself scrolling social media comparing yourself- your body, your daily habits, your house, etc.? Are you experiencing negative thoughts towards yourself and other women as a defense

  • Feeling apathetic
    Are you wondering why you can’t get excited about anything? Trying to figure out if it’s just the pure exhaustion of being a new mom or something else? Are you afraid to take a step because you’re not sure it’s the right one or if it’s really “you”?

  • Obsession with talking about/caring for the child(ren) Have you found yourself starting every conversation with talk of the baby? Do you quickly change the topic from you to the baby instead? Do you do extra things to busy yourself with caring for the child(ren) so that you aren’t leaving space and time for yourself? Are you in full immersion of “mom” because that’s the identity you know how to be right now?

    RELATED: Communicating With Your Partner After Baby
    RELATED: Relationships After Baby (Course)

Want to Feel More than Mom- You Are Not Alone

Chances are you’ve answered “YES” to some of these questions.
It is:
Nothing to be ashamed of.
Nothing to avoid.
Something to notice. Consider. Think through. Peel back the layers.

It’s a chance to recognize and commit some space to reclaim time and energy for YOU again.
An opportunity to not harness frustration and resentment, but to see it and “bless and release” to free yourself up from the heavy weight.
It’s a chance to be intentional about your postpartum space and transition and connect with other women in a similar space.

WAYS TO FIND YOUR IDENTITY AFTER BABY

Reconnecting with and reclaiming a personal identity after a baby looks different for everyone. Two worlds collide as you bring the YOU that you have been and introduce the role of mother. Every dynamic shifts. While you might feel alone in this, remember most women transitioning into motherhood feel it too. You aren’t alone.

If you’ve read my blog before or follow me on social media, you know that I don’t believe in “How-To” articles. I don’t believe in telling you that X, Y, or Z is going to fix what you’re facing. I don’t believe there are ANY one-size-fits-all methods to motherhood, marriage after baby or postpartum identity shifts. However, there are suggestions that you can try on for size. You may try one and it’s a good fit. You may try 3 or 4 before you find something that really feels right for you.

Here are ways you can try reconnecting with yourself after baby to find the “Me Beyond Baby.”

  • Daily self-check-in: This could be mentally, a white board, a check box on the fridge, a journal, etc. Think of a system that works for you to remind yourself to stop and do a mental and emotional check in through the chaos of the day.

  • Alarm for time just for yourself: Set an alarm on your phone for 2-4 times throughout the day. When it goes off, take a few moments to reconnect with yourself. Do something you enjoy (listen to a favorite song and dance, do some yoga stretches, read a page of a book)

  • Notes/talk to text/voice memos to yourself when driving or walking: Use your phone for good. “Write” yourself a letter via talk to text or voice memos. Make it a letter telling yourself about who you are, things you enjoy, goals you have

And a few more to keep you going….

  • Take purposeful time off of social media: Social media can be a bitch who whispers lies into your ear. Don’t let it overtake you. Take purposeful time away and replace it with something more life giving for yourself

  • GET OUT (And figure out where there’s childcare if needed!): Maybe this is work, maybe it’s a pottery group, maybe it’s a running group or workout class, maybe it’s another way to get out by yourself but JUST GET OUT and be part of the bigger world. Motherhood can be a bubble sometimes. (Note: I fully believe that for a few weeks after baby, you shouldn’t push yourself to get out. Recover and rest.)

  • Visualize yourself as a new “birthed” person and giving her space: With every baby born, so is a mother. Visualize your birth into motherhood with space to grieve what is gone and welcome what is new.

  • Tell your story: Your birth story. Your “this is how today is going” story. Whatever. Talk about it- don’t feel pressure to always be 100% supermom.

  • Leave “mommy” groups that make you feel like shit: Honestly, leave any space (online or in person) that makes you feel like shit.

Redefine Your Thinking to be More than Mom

Listen, sister. You might have to practice thinking. Yes, you’ve thought for your entire life, but with so much new, you need to give yourself space to practice thinking, feeling, experiencing. Try different approaches. Be graceful about imperfections.

The transition to motherhood can be lonely, but momma you’re not alone. The feelings you’re feeling- other women feel it too, even if it’s not talked about much.

If you’re a new(ish) mom or expecting, check out the Postpartum Together groups. These quarterly small groups provide a place for you to go into the raw, authentic and often taboo aspects of postpartum with the safety of a small group of women going through the same things.

find my identity as a mom
Postpartum Stories

Postpartum Anxiety: 8 Things Everyone Needs to Know

Life as a New Mom with Postpartum Anxiety

Celeste shares her journey with postpartum anxiety with us at Postpartum Together. Postpartum anxiety affects approximately 10% of postpartum women. 

only 15% of moms with maternal mental health disorders are diagnosed and therefore received proper treatment

Image credit: www.motherhood-understood.com

8 THINGS I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDERS (PMADS)- CELESTE’S STORY

I had my baby eight weeks ago and I have Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Here are eight things that I would like you to know about PMDs and being a new mother:

1) THE TRANSITION INTO MOTHERHOOD IS BLOODY HARD AND THIS ISN’T ACKNOWLEDGED.

For me, becoming a mother is a right of passage and far more challenging and daunting than I had imagined. I have lived, volunteered, and worked in ten countries, as a teacher, janitor, and an organic farmer- and having a baby and recovering from PPA (postpartum anxiety) was one of the hardest things I have done.

It took every ounce of my strength and courage and the learning curve was steep, Now, just two months postpartum, I am more confident in my ability as a mother. I know that every sleep regression and struggle of motherhood has a season- and it will pass. I learned through reaching out for help that I had a community of people who would support me- even if I felt like I was failing as a new mom. Although I am still in recovery, I have grown mightily during the past eight weeks. My experience has felt like becoming a phoenix- I had to walk through the fire to be transformed and remade.

The Early Days of New Motherhood

 When I first became a mom, I felt isolated and was in survival mode. I was not prepared to feel dark and complex emotions. Frequently when I tried to express them, I was met with judgment, shame, and silenced even by people meaning well. I learned to put on a brave smile to family and friends- even for my husband. There began my journey into emotional isolation and the immediate feelings of my inadequacy as a mother.

 Although a new mom may be eager and happy to be a mother, there is nothing to prepare her for all that she will lose. We have no cultural narratives, stories, or rituals to prepare her for this journey. We are a society that largely ignores the pain and challenges of motherhood, and instead, share images of smiling babies who are easy to nurse and rock to sleep in an oh-so-cute nursery. Oppression is achieved by silencing the experiences of a group of people, making them feel isolated, inadequate, or even crazy for what they are feeling.

Failure to Acknowledge New Mother’s Needs

I think our society has silenced the pain and suffering of new mothers because women have historically been seen as emotional and hysterical (in fact, hysteria comes from the Greek root hysteria, meaning ‘uterus.’)l. Women have been labeled as such, so that our pain could be overlooked. The burden and pain of motherhood is not deemed worthy of our attention or resources as a country. The lack of maternal support paid parental leave, and healthcare for moms postpartum are a testimony to this. Moreover, the power of being a woman, someone who births life, could be minimalized and forgotten, pushing the collective power and wisdom of women and mothers to the margins.

 However, we are doing some of the world’s most important and challenging work- cultivating the next generation! I have learned that it is incredibly important for new moms to ask for what she needs, without apology. We need to support and advocate for each other- the road of motherhood is far too burdensome and challenging to walk alone.

RELATED: PMAD Stories From Moms

 2) WE HAVE A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT PMADS.

 I’m grateful to the public awareness campaigns and women who have gone public about their experience with postpartum depression. This lead me to know that it is a real condition that can affect any new mother. We have come a long way, but we’re only beginning to understand PMADs and how to best treat them.

I was not aware, however, that there could be a wide variety of postpartum mood and postpartum anxiety disorders with an even wider variety of symptoms. Understanding the symptoms is important so that signs can be understood and recovery can happen sooner.

Most new moms get the ‘Baby Blues’ in the first two weeks. Baby Blues include restlessness, anxiety, and crying- caused by the hormonal shift post-birth, and arguably the incredible life transition of a new baby and sleepless nights. Baby Blues is a mild and temporary form of depression that evaporates when a mother’s hormones become regulated. PMADs can be more severe and last longer or even start during pregnancy. PMADs include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum bipolar, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis.

3) IT IS HARD FOR A NEW MOTHER TO ACCEPT SHE HAS A PMAD.

 It took me until I was literally on my knees and unable to cope before I could accept I had PPA (postpartum anxiety). I considered myself a strong, independent, educated, healthy and emotionally intelligent woman.  I had prepared for the journey of motherhood physically, mentally and even spiritually. Surely I would not be a victim of a PMAD!  And yet, I did. I don’t think I could have done anything differently to prevent postpartum anxiety.  It is important for mothers to know that developing a PMAD is never their fault, but they are able to be proactive to overcome it.

Acknowledging the Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety

I had no idea before giving birth that insomnia and anxiety are classic symptoms of postpartum anxiety. In desperation, I messaged a close friend who is a midwife and she told me that insomnia and anxiety were quintessential PPA symptoms. The realization that I had PPA paralyzed me. I had no idea how or why I had developed postpartum anxiety and I didn’t think I would recover.

I felt completely overwhelmed.
How could I adequately care for my baby?
What did this mean about me as a mother?

My identity and confidence were shattered. Thankfully, I had understanding family and friends, and access to affordable and high-quality health care. Often, it’s the knowledge and support of a new mother’s community- from family to pediatricians- that help a new mother learn and accept that she has a PMAD and access the treatment she needs.

1 in 5 women experience mental health disorder like postpartum depression

Image credit: www.motherhood-understood.com

4) ALL NEW MOTHERS ARE VULNERABLE AND NEED SUPPORT.

I have ridden on the roofs of buses in the mountains of Nepal and slept in huts with spiders the size of my hand, but being a new mom was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Being a new mom and then developing PPA tops the list, second only to burying my mother.

In addition to grappling with a massive life transition and the vulnerability of deeply loving your baby who is so fragile and needy, a PMAD turns your life inside out. Who you used to be, your sense of security and sense of self are utterly transformed. I felt weak and scared, nothing like my usual courageous self. Recovery from PPA has felt like learning how to walk again. I had to gradually rebuild myself from the ground up.

The Support Needed in Postpartum Recovery

Recovering while being so vulnerable and afraid requires a network of support. Support can be created for moms by whoever shows up for them. For me, it was people who could support me without judgment. Friends I rarely ever talked to started reaching out, and this was key. Befriending a mother who had PPA and hearing her story of recovery was extremely helpful and made me feel less isolated, which is fundamental to my healing.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for Any Mom

5) IT’S HARD FOR A NEW MOTHER TO SPEAK UP AND SHARE HER EXPERIENCE.

As a society, we have come far in our acceptance of mental illness; but society will often blame the victim and our sense of shame can be crippling. It certainly was for me.

Sharing our stories of new motherhood and PMADs is essential to transcending shame and finding self-love. But this is nearly impossible to do. Why? Fear of judgment. We need to listen attentively to new moms and without judgment, without blaming, without interrupting to offer “advice”. We also need to ask the right questions. Questions that don’t only involve the baby, but also the mother.

Questions to ask a New Mom

A mother sharing her experience can start with a simple question, such as: “Are you able to sleep?” “How do you feel?” “Are you overwhelmed?” “What do you need from me?” and “How can I help you?”

The first month, it felt as though everyone was always giving advice and planting words in my mouth:
“Isn’t it the most magical experience!”
“Awww, having a baby is the best thing ever! I miss when my kids were so little!”
“Aren’t you soooooooooooooooooo happy!”
“Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!”

It felt impossible to share my true experience because everyone assumed I was over the moon.  This wasn’t the best thing ever, I wasn’t happy. It felt like a nightmare. When society only accepts two feelings from a new mom- love, and gratitude- sharing our authentic experience of new motherhood becomes impossible.

5) MOTHERHOOD IS MESSY- IT’S NOT ALL BABY GIGGLES AND FUZZY BLANKETS.

The transformation into motherhood is hard: it requires suffering, shedding the ego, losing our sense of self and our sense of freedom. It’s okay for a new mom to have negative emotions! We need to accept that motherhood is hard and our response to this new role is complex. Although we may be delighted to be a mother, some of our reactions to this new role can include emotions such as fear, anger, and even grief.

6) POSTPARTUM EMOTIONS AND MOOD DISORDERS ARE TEMPORARY. GETTING HELP HEALS.

The postpartum timeline varies for each mom. Some experience the baby blues for a week, others are in recovery from a PMAD for a year or more. Some develop a PMAD while pregnant, others a year after birth. Just like our birthing stories are different, so are our recovery timelines and journeys. But it is always temporary and it will get better.

During my hardest days of dealing with postpartum anxiety, I felt like I would feel anxious and overwhelmed forever. I didn’t think it was possible to recover. I found relief first through acceptance, but my anxiety spiked before I could accept this as the condition of my mental health. First I had to grieve that my maternity leave and time welcoming my baby into the world was not going to be what I had hoped.

Not How I Expected to Feel

I wasn’t over the moon; I was sad, anxious and afraid.
As a new mom, I had intrusive thoughts that made me question who I was.
I couldn’t sleep when the baby slept, day or night.
My body was still aching from a 30 hour labor.
I was a walking, nonfunctioning zombie.

One morning I had a panic attack. I didn’t know how I could care for the baby while my husband was at work. I was terrified. Only when I was brought to my knees by the gripping anxiety could I accept that I had PPA and needed help.

Postpartum Anxiety Recovery: Get Help and Talk About It

Getting help and talking about my mental health was imperative for my recovery. Apprehensively, I started taking Zoloft and sleep aids. Initially, I was afraid because I was exclusively breastfeeding and I was afraid of how this would impact his neurological development. But every professional I talked to-from a nurse practitioner, clinical therapist, psychologist, and OBGYN- said it was safe and worth it. For me, it was the right choice. Finally sleeping more than an hour at a time made me feel human again. I started feeling the effects of Zoloft after a week. Although I was still anxious, especially at night and in the afternoon, I could smile at my baby and see the light.

RELATED: How to Start Exclusively Pumping (eCourse)

Warrior bracelet from 10th floor treasures

Bracelet: 10th Floor Treasures

7) HAVING A PMD ISN’T THE END OF A MOTHER’S WORLD AND IT’S NEVER HER FAULT 

Developing a Postpartum Mood Disorder can feel like a living nightmare. The key is intervening as soon as possible and getting the help and support you need. Although accepting that you have a PMAD is hard to admit to yourself and to others, it’s the first step of recovery.

Postpartum disorders affect mothers from all walks of life and it is never the mother’s fault.  Needing help does not mean you’re weak, to blame, or selfish. Getting help for a PMAD is no different than getting help for a broken bone.  And every step towards health and healing brings hope, confidence, security. Every time I am able to overcome a fear (which were simple, everyday things, like driving or being alone with my newborn) brought me joy- I knew then that I would recover. Finally, I could see the clouds parting and the sun shining down.

8) MOTHERS ARE LIFE CREATING WARRIORS.  

Now, I know what it means to be a mother- and I know we are life-creating warriors. But even as warriors, mothers still need their tribe.  Being a mother and life-creating warrior is a role learned in real-time, with no previous training. This can be terrifying and overwhelming.

We are vulnerable and we can and should depend on others as we take care of our babies and children. Asking for help doesn’t make us weak, it shows our courage, our strength and our dedication to ourselves and our families.

Postpartum Narrative Contributions

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

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Thank you to Celeste for sharing her story. Every woman’s story is powerful, and when we share and diversify our understanding, we become stronger as women and as a society. If this story resonated with you and you would like to talk more with Celeste, you can contact her via her Instagram.

If you are struggling, help is available. Caring for yourself is essential to care for your baby. You can find a local resource by using the Postpartum Support International directory here. You can also call 1-800-944-4773 for Postpartum Support International Helpline (available in Spanish and English.) *The PSI HelpLine does not handle emergencies. People in crisis should call their local emergency number or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Support for New Moms

Are you a pregnant or recently postpartum mom looking for a supportive group to connect, process and have safety in the beautiful and difficult parts of early motherhood? Do you like to keep things real and raw and authentic? Do you find yourself wondering if you’re the only one feeling how you do? Are you feeling the pressure of social media and movies saying how we “should” be as moms?


Postpartum Together is a collective of virtual small group experiences that gives you a “home” as a new mom with other women who get it. Get the details and hop on the waitlist before it’s full! Momma- by taking the steps to live in your truth and safely process your transitions, you give yourself and your family the gift of a more confident and connected mom.

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Postpartum Stories

Postpartum Mom Recovery with a Baby in the NICU

HOW IS POSTPARTUM DIFFERENT FOR NICU MOMS?

When I think about the narrative that can be left out of the postpartum and motherhood story, I think about a NICU mom and her family. ⁣

Everyone has a heavy heart for a NICU baby, rightfully so, but NICU moms need extra love too.⁣⁣

The Choices of a NICU Mom

A NICU mom is choosing whether to rest and let her body heal or venture down long halls to sit in uncomfortable chairs and (maybe) snuggle her child with cords. Sometimes the snuggling isn’t even an option and she watches, through an isolet, as she hopes her baby hears her voice and feels her love. ⁣

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A NICU mom, if choosing to nurse or pump breastmilk, must learn to do so with an audience of medical providers in and out. ⁣

A NICU mom changes her blood-soaked Depends in too many public bathrooms. ⁣

She knows the hospital cafeteria menu and any food options nearby. ⁣

This mom doesn’t get herbal bath soaks and is doing all her self care in a sterile space void of the comfort of home. ⁣

She sleeps to the sound of beeping devices and continual stat checks through the night. ⁣

When we talk about postpartum, May we not overlook the voices of the NICU mom. ⁣

The complexity of a NICU Stay⁣

I had but a small taste of being a NICU mom. While our week inpatient felt long, it was so short in comparison to families we saw and families we know. The NICU experience often spills over into the struggles of maternity leaves and insurance needs, sibling care, and more. ⁣

NICU mom- you are heard. And we will work together to make sure your voice is part of the story when we talk about postpartum and motherhood.

Nicu mom story

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

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RELATED: Baby We’re Home, Now Let’s Sleep (Course)

Online Community for New Moms

Are you a pregnant or recently postpartum mom looking for a supportive group to connect, process and have safety in the beautiful and difficult parts of early motherhood? Do you like to keep things real and raw and authentic? Do you find yourself wondering if you’re the only one feeling how you do? Are you feeling the pressure of social media and movies saying how we “should” be as moms?
Postpartum Together is a virtual small group experience that gives you a “home” as a new mom with other women who get it. Groups vary in topic and are available on a rotating basis. Click the link above to find the next group for you.

Postpartum

No One is in Charge of Teaching Us About Postpartum

What is Postpartum?

For many women, postpartum isn’t thought until she’s in the depths of it- wondering what the hell she is doing wrong and why she feels so isolated. For many, postpartum is still an ambiguous term that may refer to the length of maternity leave or how long it takes the body to “bounce back.” In an age of independence and the loss of “village” living, women are missing the spaces to see pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in real life.

moms today miss the village that helped take care of children

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

POSTPARTUM IN THE PAST

Most of our grandmothers lived with or near other family members. They were able to have a first-hand look at how their sisters or cousins experienced the seasons of pregnancy through postpartum.

They were able to hear the cries of newborn babies in the middle of the night.

Able to see the struggle of a new mom walking to the bathroom days after birth.

They were able to talk with a new mom about the roller coaster of emotions and transitions.

Women who could see the beautiful, but there was also a first-hand look at the difficult.

  In an age of independence and the loss of “village” living, women are missing the spaces to see pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in real life.

This gap has an effect on the whole family as men and women alike struggle to understand the complexity of this time. The lack of knowledge, understanding, and normalization overflows to our homes, workplaces, community settings, and screens.

IN THE FAMILY

Women who have younger siblings or even cousins may see the process of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum first hand. In most cases, this is still at a young age and the ability to see the big picture and emotionally process is lacking.

However, even if we aren’t seeing our own mothers, aunts, etc. in their postpartum, the foundation it provides for us takes root. We carry with us a perception of who we believe these women to be at this time. We may even create memories that aren’t actual experiences based on what our minds tell us about filling in the gap of information.

It is likely that, in not noticing the struggles of our own mothers and family members, we create a story that these women were without struggle or fault. We may create a model to which we compare our own experiences that is not based on a lived reality. We may be harder on ourselves in our own time of postpartum, assuming that the women in our families were “stronger” than us because we do not remember being apart of their dark moments.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

IN SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS

meghan markle postpartum depression story

Women may see postpartum throughout their lives within different social constructs- church, neighborhood families, school teachers, etc. However, in these constructs, the emphasis usually remains on the arrival and celebration of a new baby.

Your teacher returns from maternity leave? You automatically ask to see pictures of the baby.

Do neighbors welcome a new baby? The neighborhood might get excited to shower them with diapers or new onesies.

Has anyone been in a church service where the transition of a new mother was celebrated alongside the dedication or baptism of the baby? She too has experienced a rebirth, but it is so often overlooked. 

A Mother has Been Born Too

It’s hard to dig into the depths of a new mom’s experience, and not everyone should or deserves to be in that deep place with a woman, but the reinforcement of social structures looking right past the mom can have a compound effect on her mind and spirit. Remember- she was just a goddess with her pregnant belly and people were holding doors and giving her compliments in public. When that suddenly stops and has a drastic change, the new mom feels it and every woman takes in a bit of the seen and perceived public reaction.

RELATED: Postpartum Together Group Coaching

POSTPARTUM IN WORK PLACES

Recently maternity leave and parental care in the workplace have received press and media coverage- some positive and some that would make a PR team cringe. The perception of postpartum in the workplace is often boiled down to how long you must have rights to maternity leave and how productive you can or cannot be upon returning with different needs and priorities. Approaches of our leaders and coworkers play a role in how we understand our own postpartum.

We analyze the experiences we see in our coworkers- how quickly they return to work, their productivity numbers upon return, their ability to balance different schedules and the ongoing illusion of “work-life balance.” Women create an understanding of what they are “allowed” to experience in their own postpartum journey based on messages passed from bosses, coworkers and workplace policies.

How may PTO days do you have?
How long does it really take to recover from childbirth?
Is it truly necessary for you to pump at work– can’t you just wait and do that at home?

These comments, questions, and policies play into our foundation of how we understand our own postpartum and what we deem “acceptable” for ourselves.

find answers about postpartum online

Magazines and Social Media

When postpartum shows up in a magazine, it’s most likely covering how quickly a celebrity got “back into shape” or is highlighting a struggle with postpartum depression. The media tends to dramatize things, this is no surprise, but the messages that come through these images and words subliminally add to the foundational understanding we have about postpartum: Get thin fast and make sure you don’t get depressed.

Log on to social media and use any hashtag that includes the word “postpartum” and you’ll be bombarded with before and after pictures. You’ll probably even get some DMs from people who can show you how to “get your body back” after a baby. Whatever your views of postpartum bodies, fitness, etc., the emphasis is damaging when we consider how many transformations happen in postpartum, and yet images often boil it down to one factor.  Even before we are in our own postpartum, these continual messages build a loud message in our minds.

TV Shows and Movies

TV shows and movies rarely show postpartum, but when they do we see a play on how dramatic women are. We might see the woman who can’t stop crying so her husband and family get frustrated. We may see depression or anxiety, but often we see life returning to “normal” when the family gets home from the hospital. It is few and far between that we see and hear the conversations of new moms figuring out this new life and how it ripples into the whole family. There are two shows that are currently nailing it, both made outside of the United States (can’t say I’m surprised) Workin Moms and The Letdown. Media is everywhere, and the messages (or lack thereof) that we see about postpartum drive into us how we believe we should think, feel, look, and act.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources

BUILDING (AND REBUILDING) OUR FOUNDATIONS

Foundations matter. They are what we build on. Foundations keep us steady when things start to get rocky.

When it comes to postpartum, our foundation of understanding begins long before we even realize it. The story we create in our minds is formed by messages coming from many different directions. The ability to see or not see other women experience this time shapes the expectations we place on ourselves.

We cannot go back in time and totally rewire the foundation we have created, but we can see it for what it is and patch up the missing pieces. It is in our power to go back and take out a piece of the foundation that may have been built on misinformation and replace it with a more informed and empowered view. We can seek out education, resources, and advocacy for our own experience- and that of women across the world.

Our postpartum foundation matters. Whether or not an understanding of postpartum came naturally to you in your life, you have the opportunity to build that foundation now.

Looking for support through your postpartum? Want to talk about topics like this one in a safe, guided space so that you can be empowered and supported? Check out Postpartum Together.

Preparing for a Better Postpartum Experience

Are you pregnant and wondering how to prepare yourself for postpartum? I made it easier for you. Check out the Postpartum Plan Checklist to make sure you have your bases covered!

Postpartum

Postpartum Resources to Support You in Life After Birth

HELP FOR EVERY POSTPARTUM WOMAN

Have you ever felt alone in your postpartum experience?
Ever wondered if anyone else feels the way you do?
Have you felt not like yourself?
Do you find yourself wishing you could just know that someone sees and understand you?
Are you wondering if there are postpartum resources that can help you in this season?

I get it, this season can fell lonely AF. But truth is, you’re not alone. There are resources to support you, whatever your postpartum needs are.

Medical Disclaimer: All information, content, and material on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

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Being a New Mom is Hard

It can be a struggle to find helpful postpartum resources. The American society seems to be obsessed with how quickly things can “return to normal” and make it look like transitions and changes are minimal with the addition of a new baby and a family dynamic shift. With quick google searches, you can find all the info about the baby, but all too often it feels like mom is overlooked.

We have resources, apps, classes, and more for pregnancy. We have childbirth classes and ways to practice breathing and visualization during labor and birth. These are great, but what about the hours, days, weeks, months, and years after birth? The postpartum stage is still elusive and unsupported in many ways.

Through conversations and surveys with hundreds of women, the sentiment is the same: Postpartum feels lonely, competitive, and confusing. Women are suffering in many ways because they don’t feel safe to have “imperfect” experiences. Women are suffering because there is growing pressure and not enough support.

RELATED: Where We Learn about Postpartum

FEELING ALONE AFTER BABY?

Momma- I want you to know you aren’t alone. Ever. No matter how it might feel. I want you to know the tears you cry aren’t shameful and the confusion you’re experiencing is okay. I want you to know that even in a society that fills your screen with images that look blissful and perfect, that isn’t the truth. You are already enough. It’s okay if you need more support- honestly, we all do, it’s just that it takes strength and bravery to step out and ask for it. You are strong and can reach out for help.

After my first baby, I didn’t know where to look for resources. I didn’t know where I could turn for a look at honest motherhood and postpartum. (This is why I’m so committed to keeping things real on my own Instagram– not curated beautiful squares.) Personally, I thought I had to fight like hell to have it all “put together” and I was so tired and worn from it.

I don’t want you to be that mom striving for an image that doesn’t bring peace and joy. I don’t want you to be wondering if there is something wrong with you. Never do I want you to feel alone in any struggle. This is why I’m sharing the resources I think EVERY postpartum woman needs to know about- resources for body image, mental health, emotional transitions, and more. Chances are, one (or more) of these resources can bring light to your life, and I want that for you, momma friend!

If we have missed a resource you know of, please let us know so we can add it to the list! We want this to be a comprehensive list that points mommas in the direction they need!

COURSES: PREPARING FOR POSTPARTUM

Preventing Postpartum Depression Course

Abby is a licensed psychotherapist and has been a maternal health professional for over 20 years. Through her work, she saw a need and knew that she had to do more to help. That is why the Prevent Postpartum Depression course was born.

Prevent Postpartum Depression is an online, self-paced course that was designed to help you prepare for a happy and healthy Fourth Trimester. In the course, you will learn the skills and strategies to prevent anxiety and depression during pregnancy and postpartum, in the fourth trimester and beyond.

Navigating Postpartum: An Essential Guide to Mom’s 4th Trimester & Beyond

After taking this program, you’ll have a better understanding of everything you physically, mentally, and emotionally experience during your own postpartum, and a peer support group to help you through every step so that you can navigate the way you’re feeling (whether it’s day 1 or year 1).

DAILY MINDFULNESS APP FOR MOMS

The Kite App

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This app allows you to choose an area you want to focus on regarding mom life and gives you small, daily prompts, and tasks that are manageable during your busy day. Go at your own pace as you focus on topics such as sleep, stress management, relationships, mum guilt, and coping with the juggle- to name just a few.

You may have seen I have recently partnered with Kite to work on developing support kites specifically for postpartum mental health and for fathers. I am currently working on securing partnerships and funding- if you know corporations that may be interested in this, please let me know! 

POSTPARTUM EMPOWERMENT/SUPPORT GROUP COACHING

Postpartum Together

This group is not clinical or medical, but coach-led and created for the mom who wants a space to discuss the parts of postpartum that often go undiscussed and leave us feeling alone. The group addresses physical, mental, emotional, relational, and personal identity transitions in postpartum. This is the space for you to grow through this season of transitions.

Postpartum to Powerful

Group and individual sessions offered. Alternative and holistic approaches to Long Term Healing, Support, and Transformation Programs for Mothers who have experienced PMADs.

Postpartum Resources for Body Image

4th Trimester Bodies Project

This is a real-life look at the bodies of mothers. This project is aimed at normalizing the changed body and restoring pride in what a woman does through the process of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Girls Gone Strong

Girls Gone Strong emphasizes the necessary rest and recovery after childbirth. Their approach is nurturing to the new mom and includes taking the time needed instead of rushing back into exercise and diet. They speak to combat society pressures of the “bounce back” and give ways to reconnect with your body.

love my baby but i feel alone as a mom

Postpartum Resources for Maternal Mental Health

DARE Response App

This app was created with techniques and practices to help you overcome anxiety and panic attacks. The format is easy to follow, the guided practices are calming and empowering, and having it as an app on your phone means you can stop and recenter no matter where you are.

The Bloom Foundation

Located in New Jersey, the Bloom Foundation provides in-person support, however, there are amazing resources on their site anyone can benefit from. Their blog and survivor stories are incredibly insightful and normalizing and they have free downloadables to help you navigate your journey.

The Motherhood Center/Scary Mommy Collaboration

Sometimes we need to see other stories to realize we aren’t alone and we aren’t doing it wrong. This is a beautiful collaboration between a center in New York and Scary Mommy. These stories bring to light what we so often leave as taboo.

2020 Mom

A leader in closing gaps in maternal mental health care through education, advocacy, and collaboration. You can find resources, events to be involved in, advocacy opportunities, and more through this site.

Cherished Mom

Cherished Mom works to promote awareness and education for perinatal mental health and the importance of self-care to new moms, families, healthcare professionals, and the community. They provide free self-care boxes to new moms after they view a series of educational videos surrounding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Motherhood Sessions Podcast

This podcast from Dr. Alexandra Sacks, lets you “sit-in” on a therapy session. The conversation exchange between patient and doctor is extremely insightful.

Motherhood Understood

Real talk about postpartum- specifically related to postpartum mental health. Motherhood Understood is a commitment to women’s stories and destigmatizing mental health.

Postpartum Support International

PSI provides resources, directs you to where you can find help locally, and is a leading training agency for postpartum mental health. They have a helpline you can call and be connected to helpful resources. They also provide online support meetings.

Perinatal Psychiatry Programs

If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms and need intensive treatment, there are inpatient and outpatient programs across the country to serve your needs.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.

  • Call your doctor.

  • Contact 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

  • Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

Are you currently pregnant and wondering how to prepare for postpartum? I took some of the work of your plate. Grab this Free Postpartum Plan Checklist to make sure you have your bases covered.

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