To start our Newborn November Series I wanted to start the very first post with something I unknowingly struggled with. Postpartum Depression can happen to anyone and it can be very serious.
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What You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression
After a rather traumatic labor and delivery with my first son, new mom life was scary for me. My husband had used up all his paid time off and had to return back to work almost immediately. I struggled with my anxiety of motherhood failure throughout pregnancy and missed the almost immediate onset of postpartum depression. I told myself I felt this way because my hormones were still going crazy. However there were some things I couldn’t understand.
What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
Depression that occurs after child birth (source). However some women experience symptoms during pregnancy.
Your body went through a lot during your pregnancy and labor and delivery. It is normal for your hormones to be out-of-wack as your body adjusts. It’s important to be aware of the typical signs of postpartum depression but also important to note that depression varies from person to person and you may not know you have it until you speak to a professional about your concerns.
Below are some signs of postpartum depression that you may experience (source):
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Among many of the symptoms listed above, I felt these two symptoms the most:
Difficulty bonding with your baby:
I never thought about how I’d feel once by baby was born and in my arms. Looking back, I think I would’ve thought I’d be happy – relieved even, that pregnancy was finally over! – but instead, I felt nothing. I remember thinking that it wasn’t normal but I also told myself that the shock of everything during labor and delivery – how fast it went, how unprepared everyone was, etc. – lead me to these feelings, or rather lack thereof.
I remember my husband telling me to hold my son because I remember just staring at him. He was laying on chest and to my shock, had his head up – almost looking around and then he started crying! Everything about it felt awkward at best and I felt like I didn’t really know what to do next.
Fears that you’re not a good mother:
When I was pregnant, I remember talking to my mom friends and they told me how much I need to cherish those moments right when my baby was born and spend as much time as I could with him before I returned back to work. I thought I would be excited about spending time with my son but instead, I almost dreaded it. I seriously thought my son could die if he was left with me. I felt like I wasn’t a good mother and couldn’t give him what he needed to even survive. When my husband went back to work almost immediately the following week, I remember having to call him and just freaking out about how scared I was to be left with him.
During the wellness checks, I took it very personally if he wasn’t at the percentile in weight and height that I thought he should be at, even though he was in all the normal ranges. I stressed out about breastfeeding him and how he wouldn’t take a bottle. Even though I had read all the books that told me that my son was a normal, healthy baby – I didn’t believe it. I thought I was failing as a mother so early on.
I was feeling off and thinking there was something wrong with me but I never talked to my doctors or anyone else about how I was feeling. This is where I failed myself. I knew something was wrong but it never even occurred to me that it was Postpartum Depression. I had read all about it in my baby books and my doctors told me about it; probably even asked me in my follow-up postpartum appointment but I never gave it much thought.
I look back and think how much better my first 6 months, even up to two years would’ve been had I gotten help for my postpartum depression. For so long I thought I was a bad mother even though I wasn’t. No matter what I saw in front of me, a healthy and happy boy, I told myself I was failing him and that he would be better off with someone else. I was harsh and down right mean to myself when it came down to being a mother and constantly compared myself to other mothers just to prove to myself that I was a failure.
It wasn’t until after the birth of our second son that I noticed significant differences. With my second son, I wasn’t feeling confused or thinking something bad might happen. I was happy, even excited about not sleeping well for the next year. When I saw a therapist after my second son for completely unrelated reasons, she was the one that told me that I probably was suffering from untreated postpartum depression. It took 3 YEARS for my diagnosis. That’s 3 YEARS of telling myself I am just a horrible mother.
If you’re following our Pregnancy Series on Mommy Engineering, I just want to make sure you are taking care of YOU! It’s okay to ask or tell your doctors how you’re feeling, even if you think it’s normal.
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