Smiling through PPD

Postpartum depression is no easy thing. While fairly common, PPD isn’t talked about nearly enough. While most days are good days for me, I still deal with the symptoms. Lets dig into postpartum depression and talk about it. I hope that by doing so, I help someone who is also going through this.

My first child came with so much joy. Having had difficulty with conception, I was over the moon to be a mother. I was aware of that thing called baby blues, but I thought I was so happy it wouldn’t happen to me. But ever so slowly the sadness crept in.

How could one of the happiest moments of my life turn into a well of sadness and despair? I though I was the worst possible mother. After breaking down during a conversation with my mother, she mentioned talking to my doctor about PPD. I made an appointment and got the help I needed.

There is quite a stigma attached to Postpartum Depression. It’s expected that a mother be completely fine post birth and ready to be a mom. Yet so many mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Just as pregnancies differ so does a mother’s experience with PPD. Let’s break down Postpartum Depression.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Eating to much or not enough
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Loss of energy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Lack of ability to concentrate
  • Insomnia or sleeping to much

How Does PPD Differ From the Baby Blues?

First let us ask, what causes the baby blues? The baby blues happen immediately after the birth of a child. When your body’s hormone production from pregnancy slows and then stops. These changes cause mood swings, anxiety and mild sadness. The baby blues are entirely normal and almost every mother goes through some from of them.

One main difference between the baby blues and PPD is the severity of symptoms. While the baby blues make you feel sad, postpartum depression is like a fog you can’t escape. PPD is very common but requires a medical diagnosis for treatment.

Treatment is usually based on the severity of your PPD. Therapy and medication are the treatment options available to mothers dealing with postpartum depression. There is no shame is seeking help if you feel the need. I have sought help myself for my postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression doesn’t make you a bad mother or mean you are a bad person. This is a medical complication from giving birth. PPD is not to be taken lightly, as it can lead to harming yourself or even tragically your own baby. If you need help there are resources for you.

What Are Some Risk Factors?

If you are concerned with possibly developing PPD, here is a list of risk factors that can contribute to your likelihood of getting postpartum depression. Remember, while this can add to the possibility of PPD, it doesn’t exactly mean you’ll develop it.

  • A history of PPD from other pregnancies.
  • A personal history of clinical depression.
  • A family history of mental illness
  • A high risk pregnancy
  • Experiencing trauma during pregnancy
  • Having a preemie
  • NICU stays

My pregnancy with my daughter was exceptionally high risk. She was born at 31 weeks and 4 days and she stayed in the NICU for a month. I understand the stresses and risks that can lead to PPD. After my daughter was born, I felt immense amounts of guilt. I felt like I had failed her. My daughter is now three months old and she is developing well.

There Is Hope

The good news is that postpartum depression does go away. With treatment you can find yourself again. I have been feeling happier and more at ease since I began treatment. Over time I’ve noticed my symptoms lessening. I believe as my body adjusts and returns to normal, I am seeing an improvement in my overall mood.

Bonding with my baby has been better now that she’s home from the NICU. I’m sleeping better and now I have the drive to get things done. While there are mostly good days I still feel myself having occasional bouts of sadness. I try to use the coping techniques I learned during my daughters stay at Valley children’s hospital.

Resources If You Need Them

You aren’t alone in this. There are many forums and resources out there to help. Finding support is the best advice I can give in dealing with your PPD. Remember you are a good mother and your baby loves you. Postpartum depression does not mean you are a bad person and it’s going to be okay. Trust me, I’ve been there and through to the other side. It does get better.

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