Talking Points About PPD

Last night, I talked to a group of about a dozen therapists about postpartum depression.

Confession: I was nervous AF about this!

But: it was awesome! I talked for about 30 minutes, and when I was done, I felt like I had done a pretty good job of giving the therapists a crash course in helping moms with postpartum depression. I also prepared a handout, and I thought I’d share the information from the handout in case it helps someone else prepare a presentation about maternal mental health. Feel free to copy and paste whatever helps you!

Postpartum Depression Overview

  • Most Common Complication of Childbirth – Approximately 1 out of 7 moms experience PPD, but only 1 out of 3 get treated.
  • Spectrum illness with a range of possible symptoms, including: fatigue, rage, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, loss of appetite, overeating, difficulty bonding with baby, despair, shame, guilt, restlessness, and intrusive thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby.
  • Risk factors include prior experiences with depression, anxiety or eating disorders; a traumatic pregnancy or birth; miscarriages; giving birth to multiples; history of domestic or sexual abuse; traumatic childhood; troubling relationship with parent; stress like loss of job or moving houses; divorce or relationship issues; lack of social support; low self-esteem; perfectionist tendencies; baby with colic.
  • Hormones often play a huge part in PPD, but dads and adoptive parents can suffer from it as well.

Issues that Distinguish PPD from “Regular” Depression:

  • Hormones!
  • Transition to motherhood
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Newborn Boot Camp
  • Traumatic birth experiences
  • Mom guilt
  • Pressure to be Super Mom

Universal Message For Moms With PPD

  • You are not alone.
  • You did not do anything wrong.
  • You do not deserve this.
  • With proper support, you can make a full recovery.

What I Found Helpful When I Had PPD

  • Learning about PPD
  • Being told, repeatedly, that it takes a village to raise a child and I needed all the help I could get.
  • Baby gates and safe play areas.
  • Journaling
  • Building my MOMentum
  • Social media fast
  • Learning to separate my sense of identity from my thoughts. “I am not my thoughts.”
  • The airplane analogy: Put on your oxygen mask first before the child’s so you don’t pass out
  • Sharing my story to squelch the shame
  • Connecting with other moms who had similar experiences
  • Bringing my husband to a session with my therapist.
  • Embracing self-care.
  • Figuring out that self-care meant more than bath bombs and pedicures.
  • Anything that let me feel like I was in charge of my recovery.
  • Being told that life would get easier as my kids get older.
  • Brushing up on my mom skills.
  • Learning to leave my child alone.
  • Having fun.
  • It’s okay to be a mom who is not into babies!

What I Found Unhelpful When I Had PPD

  • Being told that I was in “denial” about my depression. I did not even understand what it means to be “depressed” and had to figure this out on my own. I think depression is one of those experiences that is easier to understand in hindsight.
  • Things like gratitude, mindfulness and meditation – I love all of this stuff now, several years after recovering, but when I was in crisis, this was more than my mind could handle.
  • People comparing “baby blues to PPD”
  • People telling me that newborns are like “boot camp” without asking deeper questions about the way I felt.

Pasadena Resources

  • PCC Parent Education classes – free! Awesome!
  • Peer-to-peer support group at The Family Room – familyroomcenter.com
  • Mom’s Club – Momsclub.org
  • Huntington Hospital’s weekly breastfeeding support
  • Huntington Hospital’s postpartum outpatient program

Resources Beyond Pasadena

  • Postpartum Support International – http://www.postpartum.net
  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies, by Dr. Shoshana Bennett
  • Pregnant on Prozac, by Dr. Shoshana Bennett – for moms concerned about medication
  • PPD in Plain Mama English – http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english
  • com, blog that has tons of old posts from different moms sharing their stories
  • My memoir, Adventures with Postpartum Depression, is available on Amazon.
  • Podcasts: My show, Adventures with Postpartum Depression, shares interviews with moms who have experienced a maternal mood disorder. Another great show is Mom & Mind, hosted by Dr. Kat, a psychologist in Claremont
  • Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t by Suzanne Barston. For any mamas struggling with guilt about breastfeeding.