"The hardest part for me was acknowledging the problem. I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it's so important for women to talk about. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure." – Gwyneth Paltrow
May is Maternal Mental Health Month!
While there is just so much about motherhood to be celebrated (and we just love celebrating all mothers!), there is also a darker, tougher side to being a mother that tends to be ignored or just simply misunderstood. Just as with anything else in life, there is darkness and lightness, yin and yang, positive and negative. It is the nature of humanity. But in order to maintain health, we must be able to express all sides of our experiences, both good and bad.
So in honor of Maternal Mental Health Month, we want to do just that.
First, we send infinite love and light to ALL mothers - we see you and we honor you!
And for any mothers that feel like they are struggling, we see you….and we got you too. This blog post is dedicated to supporting you in your journey and hopefully providing you with some validation about what you might be feeling. Specifically, we want you to know that you are not alone. And there is support available to you if you are feeling depressed, anxious or are in grief..
Did you know that one in seven mothers experience symptoms of anxiety and/or depression during the postpartum period? It is actually much more common than folks realize.
In fact, Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) can be diagnosed any time within the first year after childbirth. What most women don’t realize is just how much hormones shift and change during pregnancy, childbirth, or loss of a pregnancy. The hormonal shift after pregnancy is the biggest hormonal change the body will ever go through. And for birthing parents who have children close together in age, this could mean an even bigger increase in hormonal changes.
Some common symptoms of PPD and PPA include:
- Feeling constant sadness or ‘numbness’ to feelings
- Brain fog
- Extreme worry or fear
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of interest in baby
- Feeling angry or irritable
Some less common symptoms of PPD and PPA might look like:
- Frequent physical symptoms like headaches or stomach pain
- Feeling unable to focus on tasks
- Wanting to escape
- Intense feelings of worry or dread (without reason)
Perinatal grief can come from the loss of a child before, during, or within the first month after childbirth. These forms of loss can include misscarriage, termination of pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and newborn death. The impact of perinatal loss can affect the pregnant parent as well as their family. Some signs of perinatal grief to look for include:
- Lack of appetite
- Extreme guilt
- Stomach pain
- Anxiety and/or depression
Now that we have a better sense of what postpartum anxiety, depression and perinatal grief may look like, let’s talk about how to find support and care.
One of my favorite tools is a checklist called the Perinatal Mental Health Discussion Tool. This can be helpful to introduce to your partner if you suspect they are having difficulty after pregnancy, childbirth, or loss. Bringing this tool to your OBGYN can be helpful as well if you have difficulty bringing something like PPD or PPA up during your appointment, or feel like you don’t know what to say. Most appointments (aside from your 6-week checkup) focus solely on baby, so it is important to be able to meet with a doctor or health professional you trust so you can share these feelings and get the resources you need to help with these very common feelings.
If you or your partner is in need of confidential support or resources, the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is now available 24/7, 365 days a year at 1-833-943-5746. A diagnosis is not needed, and it is a hotline available to any English or Spanish speaking individuals who are in need of pregnancy, postpartum, and post-loss support. This is a great mental health resource that is now available and powered by Postpartum Support International.
Finally, if you are looking for more in depth and regular support, a therapist with knowledge and experience around PPD and PPA might be for you. Working with a professional can help when you feel like you can’t describe how you are feeling to your partner and/or family, or if you feel like you might not be supported or validated in those feelings.Finding time to do anything as a pregnant person or new parent can be very difficult, but one of the most important things you can do is take care of yourself! At Be Your Best Self & Thrive, we work with women going through major transitions in life - in particular the Perinatal and Postpartum transitions. Book a free consult call to chat more about how we can provide you the support you need!
Xenia loves working with all women,
especially new mamas.
She has a lot of experience with individuals and couples and can help you navigate a variety of difficulties, including life transitions and relationship issues you may be experiencing. Schedule your free consultation with her to learn more about how she can help you feel better today!