What I wish I'd known about postpartum depression (PPD)

What I wish I'd known about postpartum depression (PPD)

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You may not be able to prevent PPD, but you can take steps to ease your transition into motherhood and get the support and treatment you need if PPD does strike. Here's what other our site moms recommend.

Dealing with stress and trauma

"I released stress by journaling regularly, especially if I couldn't sleep at night."

"I tried to combat anxiety by actively fixing what was bothering me. I made long to-do lists and scratched off as many worries as possible."

"My husband and I went on many walks together, to relax and talk about the baby. We also read pregnancy and parenting magazines aloud to each other while one of us made dinner. It helped us focus on the pregnancy rather than on our financial worries."

"I wanted to deal with the recent losses in my life as much as possible before the baby arrived. I believe that the quickest way is through a problem, not around it, so I talked about the losses a lot and let myself cry when I felt sad. This sounds contradictory, but I also watched a lot of comedies. It was good to laugh and take a break from my world."

"When I got pregnant with my son, I had had four miscarriages in the previous ten months, so I was extremely anxious that I would lose him as well. My doctors let me come in for ultrasounds or to use the fetal Doppler whenever I wanted. I even rented my own hospital-grade Doppler. (When my healthy baby boy was born, I had a different sort of 'baby blues': I cried for two weeks from relief!)"

"A disappointing birth experience can lead to depression. If you feel down about your baby's birth, it really helps to talk about it with others."

"I had intense anxiety during pregnancy because my twins were sharing the placenta and this put me at risk for twin-to-twin syndrome, which is usually fatal for the babies. After reading a lot about it on the Internet (and getting myself really worried), I decided not to read any more. Instead, I focused on eating healthfully and staying as stress-free as possible."

"I had a very rough childhood, which is a risk factor for PPD. I tried to remind myself that the kind of parent I was going to be wasn't determined by the kind of parents I had. I could be a better parent because of what I had gone through."

"We were renovating our house, and I clearly remember sitting in the room that was to become the bathroom and crying because I wouldn't have a home for my baby. A friend who was due a couple of weeks after me had her entire nursery set up: cot, changing table, wallpaper — the whole works. And I didn't even have plaster on the walls! But I reminded myself that so long as the baby was warm and healthy and got lots of cuddles, nothing else mattered."

Getting support from partners, family, and friends

"My PPD after my first child was terrible, so during this pregnancy I made sure my friends and family knew I might become depressed again. They called and visited me often, and my mother also hired a personal care aide to help out twice a week."

"We moved to another state when my daughter was 9 weeks old. To help myself cope, I called my mother and sister every day and encouraged people to visit. I also joined a website called Matching Moms and met some local mothers with babies around the same age as my daughter."

"When you're depressed, you want to isolate yourself from the world, but that's the worst thing you can do. My saving grace was a neighbor who recognized my PPD (she had had it herself) and called and took me out regularly. I never felt like socializing, but it always made me feel better."

"There's a lot of drama and conflict in my family, and my role has always been that of peacekeeper. When I got pregnant, I asked my family to do their best to keep me out of the middle of things."

"Having my mom spend a few nights a week at my house to handle night duty was huge. Those few nights of uninterrupted sleep made me feel so much better."

"My husband and I talked about PPD early in the pregnancy, and I asked him to pay extra attention to my eating, sleeping, socializing, and hygiene habits in the months after the birth, to make sure I didn't appear depressed. He also eased the pressure on me once the baby arrived by changing diapers, rocking the baby, bringing her to me for feedings, and so on."

"Don't associate with anyone who puts stress on you, even if they're family (you can include them at a later time, when you feel better)."

"It can be difficult to talk to your partner about depression for fear of being judged, misunderstood, or invalidated, but if he's supportive, it can be a bonding experience. If you suspect that your partner won't be initially supportive, ask a healthcare provider to speak with him first."

"Keep in mind that your significant other knows you very well. If he tells you that he's worried about your mood, listen to him. He may be right. Sometimes you don't realize when you have the blues too often."

Getting treatment

"Medication and talk therapy were key to my recovery, but yoga and Reiki classes also helped — they taught me how to relax."

"My original ob-gyn took me off my depression medication cold turkey once I got pregnant, and my life was hell for two months. But I changed to a high-risk ob-gyn and talked to the pediatricians I expected to use, and with their guidance, I took depression medication throughout the pregnancy and after the birth. It allowed me to enjoy my daughter to the fullest after she was born."

"A close relationship with your ob-gyn is important. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your doctor, make a switch or talk with another professional in the office, like a nurse practitioner or lactation consultant."

"I was up-front with my doctor about my history of depression, and she gave me a postpartum checkup two weeks after the birth instead of making me wait the standard six weeks."

"Tom Cruise's craziness aside, I do think supplements can help. I tried taking a multivitamin, a B-complex vitamin, and fish oil before beginning antidepressants. I ended up not needing medication because I felt so much better."

"The 'depression' part of postpartum depression is misleading. PPD can also include feelings of anger, frustration, or anxiety, seemingly without a cause. Be very open with your doctor about all your feelings."

Taking care of yourself

"Take at least a little time to recharge: A relaxing bath, a nap, or even a phone call to a good friend can be very helpful. And get a little exercise each day, like going on a walk with your baby or working out to a postpartum exercise video — it's like taking an extra antidepressant without any side effects."

"Ditch the social expectations for at least the first few weeks after the baby arrives. Sleep when the baby sleeps instead of doing chores — let the house get messy or hire a maid if you can afford one. I think lack of sleep was the number one contributor to my PPD. Number two was trying to be a good hostess to all the visitors. Now that I'm on my third baby, I point to the fridge from my chair if a guest wants a drink."

"I had PPD after my first baby. During my second pregnancy, I made a list of ways to take care of myself once the baby arrived, such as exercising (I put this baby in the nursery at the gym — something I never would have done the first time), scheduling a date night at least once a month, and putting on makeup for no reason other than to make myself feel good."

"When I got so frustrated with my son that I thought I was going to lose it, I would put him in his crib, shut the door behind me, go to another room, and shut that door. Then I would turn on classical music — something that relaxes me — and stay there for as long as I needed to calm down. Then I'd go back to him and start all over again trying to figure out what he needed. No matter how guilty you feel about leaving a crying baby alone in the crib, he's safe (and probably much better off than he'd be with you when you've had enough). Just because you're a mom now doesn't mean that you don't matter anymore."

"You shouldn't have to worry about work while dealing with PPD. If your workplace isn't supportive, contact HR and ask about a short-term disability leave (or even a long-term one) while recovering."

Losing the shame

"I tried for three years to conceive, so I thought there was no way I could get PPD. It took me a long time to acknowledge it when I did. My best advice is to talk about it. So many women are out there suffering in silence because they are embarrassed."

"PPD can affect anyone. I never thought I would get it, because I'm a very upbeat person with a strong faith, but I did."

"Don't feel ashamed or weak if you need to take medication. Treating depression is no different from treating diabetes: Both involve correcting something that your body isn't doing right. If you get treatment, you won't be the only one who benefits — your baby and other family members will, too."

"I see so many people reinforcing unrealistic expectations of motherhood. Delivery and early parenting are hard for everyone, and you're not a failure if you find it a struggle and not very rewarding. The 'glories' are small and take a long time to realize, and that's okay."

Watch the video: Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression: Signs, Risks u0026 Treatments! (July 2022).


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