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)

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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!

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

PMAD Stories: Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders

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

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

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

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?

infographic for postpartum depression signs, symptoms and treatment

Image via: AHealthBlog

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

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

WHAT IS POSTPARTUM ANXIETY?

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

Postpartum Anxiety infographic signs and symptoms

Image: Anxiety Canada

RELATED: Mom’s Story of Postpartum Anxiety

TELLING OUR POSTPARTUM PMAD STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO WAS YOUR SUPPORT THROUGH POSTPARTUM?

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

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

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

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

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

    RELATED: Postpartum Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  2. I got untraditional help from a prayer specialist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED: Why Mom Guilt is Bullshit

Image: AHN Women

Image: AHN Women

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

RELATED: Preventing PPD (eCourse)

What’s your story momma?

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

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

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