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:
- Transition to motherhood
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.