Things are not as they appear, at least not when it comes to postpartum and the ease (or lack thereof) of new parenting.
Friends, social media and tv personalities tend to make parenting look effortless. Clients sit in my office crying (sometimes sobbing), asking me what they’re doing wrong and why their friend, neighbor or sister is able to take on the role of new mother so easily.
The answer: it’s NEVER easy.
Some of us are just better at outward appearances. However, it is this exact thing-this lack of honesty about the challenges and the very real struggles of being a new parent that drives women to suffer alone in silence. Utah has the second highest reported rate of Postpartum Depression in the Nation and hiding the truth about how the postpartum period can feel is only going to drive this rate up. So what can we do? Share with your friends, neighbors and sisters your struggles, and share your solutions too. Reach out When you see a new mother in your community give her a kind word.
So many mothers are crushed by disparaging statements that you may not realize. Here are some examples of what NOT to say:
Oh! Your baby is so skinny! = Your baby is not eating enough, do you have enough milk?
You’ve really got your hands full! = You don’t appear to be doing this well/You’re not a great mother
Wow, your baby cried all night (said the neighbor) = Your baby isn’t normal and you don’t know how to help him/her
Do something unexpected: Leave an iced tea (because its 102 in Farmington right now!) on the front porch. Pick a few flowers and leave them in a mason jar. Drop lunch off (everyone thinks of dinner but no one thinks of lunch). In Utah we live at an increased elevation, which scientist are finding means we are at higher risk of depression overall. This includes postpartum depression. It is important to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and seek out solutions.
Postpartum Support International has an extensive list of symptoms for every type of postpartum mood disorder, for purposes of this article I’d like to focus on a lesser known issue: Postpartum Anxiety. Postpartum Anxiety is seen in our practice on a weekly basis. This may be because we recognize it keenly considering one of our own suffered from acute postpartum anxiety (she’ll share her story below). Postpartum Support International lists the symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety as:
· Constant worry
· Feeling that something bad is going to happen
· Racing thoughts
· Disturbances of sleep and appetite
· Inability to sit still
· Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Sounds just like normal postpartum right? No sleep, constant worry, the inability to ever sit down, time to eat? Really? This is what makes it so difficult for friends and family members to recognize postpartum anxiety. It masks itself as a normal worrying parent who only wants to the best for the baby and family. But postpartum anxiety is a monster who hides in a cloak of normalcy. What starts out as your average concern turns in to hours and hours of research online, dozens of calls to the doctors office, staying up all night worried about a healthy baby, skipping meals in order to focus on these concerns, pacing, jogging, worrying, researching, disconnecting from family and friends, more research, calls to doctors, check ups, late night pacing, and on and on. There’s more, so much more. Showers? No showers. Who would watch the baby? What if he/she stopped breathing? What if my spouse didn’t hear the baby? What if… what if… no shower. That’s the safest option. These are just some of the symptoms of postpartum anxiety. Postpartum anxiety may appear on its own or in combination with depression or other forms of mood changes.
What can you do? Visit: http://www.postpartum.net/ Contact your Midwife or Dr : Need a referral? https://www.miraclemidwifery.com/contact.html
Attend a local Support Group: https://www.themothersnestutah.org/for-moms-and-families/ is a Davis County Postpartum resource program
You've got this momma.