I tried to find a picture of me during that horrible time, but believe me, you'll be glad I didn't. I looked tired and just...over it.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I've posted quite a few times about postpartum depression, and that's because I know how debilitating it can be. I suffered through this for at least two years and didn't know what the hell was going on, so my mission is to make sure that every client of mine is aware of this condition and is prepared.
Let's start with the fact that I gave birth to three children within a four year span. Now, that's a lot for most people, but for me, well...it was too much. Way too much.
I was a stay-at-home mom in my twenties whose husband worked two (or sometimes three) jobs to pay the bills, so I was alone most of the time. I had no real support system or anyone to talk to.
I was angry.
I felt guilty all the time.
I was sad.
I wasn't eating (while trying to breastfeed).
I was resentful.
I literally dreaded opening my eyes EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I was exhausted and in a very dark place.
I actually hadn't even heard of postpartum depression at that time. I just thought I was a being a "bitch" and being ungrateful. Someone actually told me how lucky I was and asked me why I was having such a hard time. I mean, after all, I was able to stay at home with my babies, right? And I thought, yes, why was I having such a hard time with this? How does everyone else make it look so easy?
If I had known that because I have a family history of depression, I was more likely to experience these feelings, I would've been more prepared. In fact, the realization that I had postpartum depression didn't even hit me until TWO YEARS AGO...25 years after! How??
Well, I became a doula because of a traumatic birth experience with my youngest child in 1996. When I first read about doula work I thought, omg this is a THING? There are people out there who do this? I immediately decided that was my calling...to help other parents not have to go through what I went through.
But it took me until 2019 to actually get into doula work because ya know, life. And that's when a huge lightbulb went on over my head.
"THAT'S WHAT THAT WAS??!" Holy shit. Wow, what an awakening.
So, what advice can I give to you? Well, first I of course have to tell you that I'm not a mental health practitioner, so please, if you think you have postpartum depression symptoms, please call Postpartum International at this number: 1-800-944-4773. They will help you find local resources.
My first suggestion to all of my clients and their partners is to prepare. Read about it, know the symptoms. A very informative book is This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression. (This is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.) But please read this ahead of time, not when you're exhausted after your baby is born.
Secondly, talk about your feelings! I think many new parents who are experiencing these feelings are ashamed or embarrassed to admit it. They might think, "what kind of a horrible person am I??"
❤STOP. All that does is let those feelings fester and eat away at you. Talk to your partner, share with a friend or your doula. Sometimes just letting it out and knowing that you're not losing your mind helps! My clients know that my support of them doesn't stop just because they've given birth and I'm always here to listen.
My third suggestion is to take some time for you, if you're able to. I think that's one of the reasons I had such a hard time. There was just no escape for me, and there certainly needed to be. I distinctly remember being so desperate for alone time that I drove to McDonald's, ordered some french fries (that's all I could afford at the time), and read my book in my car (that was heaven, by the way)!
Finally and honestly, sometimes and for some people, these things won't work. Talk to your provider. Believe me, there's nothing they haven't heard before and there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I feel like embarrassment is what keeps a lot of folks from asking for help.
Here are some FAQ's about postpartum depression from the ACOG to get you started.
If you'd like to talk to a doula and learn more about how to prepare for the postpartum period, click on the link below. Our 30 minute consultations are always free...and always judgement free.❤