Before the Postpartum

Judging by my postpartum experiences, one might expect that I had traumatic birth experiences. Well, I didn’t. I gave birth two both of my children easily. I received the epidural with my son when I was dilated to 7 cm and I received an epidural with my daughter at 9 cm (I should’ve skipped it but I was tired by that point). Each pregnancy and birth are different for each woman. I had two perfect pregnancies (except for the fatigue in the first trimester) and two easy births.

Postpartum depression doesn’t take that into effect, I guess, and according to Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, there is no one cause of PPD. Hormones seem to overwhelm my body and the chemical imbalances in my brain cause me to suffer postpartum depression (and psychosis with my daughter). According to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health, there is a spectrum of mental disorders that occur after birth including the baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. The center also claims that 85% of women suffer from some sort of postpartum mood disturbance.

Postpartum depression and mood disorders are serious, but more common than you might think. I will be continuing my research and am participating in research through the MGH Center for Women’s Health with their study on postpartum psychosis. I am lucky to have support, medical care, and an outlet in this blog to help me recover.

If you, as a new mom, or someone you know is feeling guilty for no reason, has changes in sleeping or appetite, has obsessive thoughts about the baby, or has thoughts of harming themselves or others, call 911 or go to the nearest ER. This post is not to diagnose or treat postpartum disorders. The symptoms I have listed are from the MGH Center for Women’s Health website and from the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy offers some suggestions for treatment but talking with your doctor is the most important. I advise that you speak honestly with your doctor as well, something that I was too ashamed to do when I suffered PPD with my son. The Mayo Clinic offers tips such as exercising daily, eating well, staying connected with family, and asking for help. Above all, talk to your doctor.