Depression of any sort is horrible. It makes its way into your life so quietly and somehow seems to suck the life and joy out of your every essence. It's debilitating and raw and I am sure in some way we have all suffered it at some point along the way. Postpartum depression is nothing different. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it and it has a really nasty way of thieving you of all the 1sts that you should be overjoyed by.
1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression. Often its hard to identify and can easily be confused with the raging hormones that most new mothers experience after birth. For me, the signs were obvious. I had a general overall sense of sadness. Things didn't feel like they were supposed to. I was crying all the time, I was tired, but more than new mum tired... It was the kind of tired that ate away at my whole body. I felt hopeless. I had spent 5 years trying to get pregnant. 5 rounds of IVF and 3 Miscarriages. Add to that the loss of my 3 day old baby nephew Jack and my desire to get pregnant and be a mum was higher than ever. I lived and breathed being a mum. When I finally got pregnant I spent every day of the next 9 months on eggshells. Would this result in another miscarriage, or even worse, a fault during labour that would cost my child their life the same as it had Jack. And then she was here, a perfectly healthy veracious baby girl who had my heart immediately.
My journey to start with was difficult. Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I had ever done, then Millie got Colic and I felt like she would never sleep unless she was right ontop of me. I definitely didnt notice the PPD creep in. How could I? I was barely able to feed myself in those first few weeks let alone have time to self diagnose a depression no mumma wants to admit to. There were days all I did was cry. Millie cried and I cried and I suddenly felt like I couldn't do the mum thing. I rationalised in my head that the reason I hadnt been able to fall pregnant naturally was because god didn't want me to be a mum. I was clearly hopeless at it and instead of accepting my fate I had pushed and pushed through the IVF journey until I finally got what I thought I wanted. At the time I viewed this as a weakness. Stubborn old Katie had not taken the queues again.
It all came to a boiling point one Sunday night when my husband came home from a 12 hour shift at work. He walked in on me sitting in the corner crying and Millie laying in her crib screaming. She had been crying all day. From the moment he left until the moment he came home. He immediately scooped us both up, put us in the car and drove directly to the closest hospital where we were both able to get help and assistance in my journey with PPD.
The next few months were difficult, but I implemented a self care routine that slowly changed my mindset. Being a mum is hard. You will learn things about yourself you didn't even think were possible. Those first few weeks are life changing and even if you may only be experiencing a slight case of PPD we highly recommend seeing a healthcare professional.
Here are some of the things that I found helped me to get through and even today help me to be a better mum.
Talk to your healthcare provider:
PPD is a medical condition that requires proper treatment. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the best course of action, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It’s important to remember here that you are 1 in 7. PPD is not uncommon.
- Connect with other mums:
Joining a support group or online community of other moms who have experienced PPD can provide much-needed support, understanding, and validation. Joining a group also gets you out of your home and can help to create a support network that you can use in this new stage of life.
- Get enough rest:
Taking care of a new baby can be exhausting, and lack of sleep can make PPD symptoms worse. Try to get as much rest as you can, even if it means delegating some responsibilities to your partner or asking for help from friends and family.
- Take time for yourself:
Make sure to schedule time for yourself each day to do something you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a walk. This can help to boost your mood and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
So often the foods that we eat have such a big impact on our mental health. By ensuring you are eating all the required vitamins and minerals each day, you are ensuring you are feeding your body and that of your baby (If you are breastfeeding) Instead of the Maccas run for dinner, ask some friends to help with grabbing you something healthier from the grocery store, or even ask if they can cook you some meals and drop them off. Most people love to help and if you are open and honest about your current experiences they will jump at the chance to offer assistance.
Remember, postpartum depression is a common condition and it is important to seek help and not to suffer in silence. It is important to be kind to yourself and take the time to take care of yourself and your mental health.