When becoming a mom, you imagine having the perfect labor, bringing home your baby and having the perfect baby, knowing you will have to get up a couple times a night to feed then everyone falls back asleep. Then you wake up, and have the best routine waking up, cook breakfast, play, eat lunch, lay the baby down for a nap while you get your me time. Then you cook dinner, have family time, then it’s bedtime.
It’s sounds amazing. This is somewhat what I thought it was going to be as a mom. I knew there were going to be some struggles, but I was not fully prepared for how hard the struggles were going to be.
If you are a new mom or expecting mom and you’re reading this, please don’t get the wrong idea. Being a mom is the most amazing, complicated thing I have ever experience and it’s worth every moment.
However, these struggles need to be talked about. I feel like mom’s mental health is put on the back burner and the hard times and depression just comes with the territory. But, that is not how it’s supposed to be.
It defintily needs to be talked about more and the fact that moms need help and time for themselves need to be addressed and not a laughing stock, and brushed under the carpet.
When we aren’t feeling like ourselves, it’s more than just because we are tired and it’s an “adjustment”. There’s SO much that goes on with our bodies and brains when a women is pregnant and after giving birth.
There’s just not much out there that talks about how it really effects our bodies and minds…yet.
But there is good new. When you aren’t feeling like yourself, there are so many things you can do to try to get back to feeling like yourself. Never be ashamed to reach out and ask for help or seek help from a medical professional. There are things we have no control over and that’s where meds, therapy and self care can come into play to try to help you.
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What all is involved with postpartum
Hormone Changes Prenatal and Postpartum
The minute you become pregnant your body’s hormones are all over the place trying to prepare your body, and create a sustainable environment for your baby.
- Estrogen and progesterone: the most important hormone that supports the baby’s development. They transfer nutrients, and improve the formations of the blood vessels. And implants the egg.
- HCH: pregnancy hormone that is found mainly in the placenta. This hormone maintains that pregnancy
- HPL: Is produced by the placenta and helps bring nutrients to the fetus. It also helps stimulate the milk glands providing breast milk.
After you are pregnant these hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone, will rapidly drop, and if it gets too low, it can cause depression symptoms. Also, in some women their thyroid hormone drops which causes low energy and can stimulate depressed or irritated moods.
Lack of sleep
When you announce your pregnancy one of the first things you may hear is, get lots of sleep now because you won’t after the baby is here. It’s kind of true, but in reality you can’t bank your sleep right? It would be nice but whether you rest a lot before your baby comes, it will take your body time to adjust to your new sleep schedule.
At first it may seem like you will never get the hang of your sleep schedule or ever get sleep ever again. Well, you will get sleep, just maybe not for awhile. But, after a few weeks your body will start to adjust to the new sleeping patterns.
This study shows how sleep deprivation effects mood and can cause issues like anger. “…research has indicated a connection between sleep deprivation/sleep debt and mental health, it could be hypothesized that sleep debt could correlate with anger—irritability, aggression, and short temper.” ( Department of Research, California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology, Fairfield, USA Corresponding author. Javeria N. Syeda)
When you become a mom, this fear kicks in. The fear of not knowing what to do, how to take care of a newborn. What to do when they are sick, keeping them safe. Being scared of things or situations you never knew you would have to deal with.
You tend to develop this worry all of a sudden becoming a mom, and that worry never seems to go away. Worry if you are parenting good enough. Worry about your child’s well-being. Worry if you are showing enough love to you child. Thoughts and worries just pop into your head completely unexpected.
Another feeling we deal with as new moms or experienced moms, is guilt. It could be that you didn’t feel the connection with your baby at first sight that other moms talk about. You feel irritable and latch out when your child isn’t doing what you want them to do. Or maybe the feeling of wanting to run away to be by yourself.
These are all feelings that most moms have felt at one time or another. Society doesn’t help in these feeling either. We constantly hear how we should parent, what we are doing wrong, comparing ourselves and kids to other moms and kids.
So, put all these things that we experience during postpartum, no wonder why us moms feel and think the way we do. There’s so much that goes on in such a short amount of time, and our lives are forever changed just like that.
Now these are realities of what could happen. But, the goal is to try to not let these thoughts and feelings consume you. Yes, parenting is extremely hard. But, these cute, wonderful little bodies are beyond worth it.
Baby blues is super common among new moms. About 70-80% of moms experience baby blue signs, it’s not alarming, but when these signs last longer than 2 weeks, that’s when we need to start seeking help.
So, what are the symptoms of baby blues?
- Crying for no reason
- Mood changes
- Hard to concentrate
If you have these symptoms and they last longer than 14 days, make sure to talk to your doctor right away.
If you have baby blues and it lasts longer than a couple of weeks, you may have postpartum depression and or anxiety.
Postpartum depression can happen because of the sudden chemical changes your brain goes through after pregnancy, and the negative impact of sleep deprivation.
With PPD there are a lot of ways that can help you, talk to a doctor, therapy, medication, self-care, journaling and get sleep when you can (easier said than done, I know). You always hear the “natural” way to help with depression like exercise, diet, etc. will cure depression.
Although, these are good for you, but they may not be a “cure”. With depression there is a chemical imbalance in your brain that possibly only medication can fix, so if you are taking medication do not be scared, embarrassed or worried. These doctors went to school for this, they know exactly how to use them to ensure it’s safe.
Some symptoms of PPD to be aware of are:
- Feeling hopeless
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Oversleeping, or not being able to sleep
- Eating too much or too little
- Avoiding socializing
- Worrying or feeling anxious
- Crying often for no real reason
Postpartum anxiety doesn’t seem to get as much attention as postpartum depression does. Not saying that’s a bad thing at all, but postpartum anxiety is a real thing.
I always thought I had postpartum depression because I didn’t feel like myself, but once I learned about anxiety, it can seem kind of simular, but I wasn’t really sad, or crying a lot. My symptoms were extreme irritablilty, latching out because I was easily triggered and I would get angry and yell, and my chest would feel tight. That was not who I was at all! I used to be the most calm person, did not get angry easily, tried to go with the flow type of person.
The thing about anxiety is a lot of people think of it as having panic attacks and hyperventilating. Those are symptoms, but those aren’t the only symptoms of PPA.
Other sypmtoms of PPA:
- Constant worrying
- Feeling like something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Muscle tension
- Panic attacks
- Fast heartrate
- Weakness and lethergy
- Increase or heavy sweatin
Postpartum psycosis is a very serious condition, and very rare for moms to have, 1-2 out of 1000 new moms may develope after childbirth. These symptoms are dramatic and could have onset signs as early as 48-72 after have a baby.
Postpartum represents biopolar epidoses The mom would display unusaul behavior like delucional beliefs focused around the infant. Also, hallusionations are symptom, hearing voices to harm yourself or the baby. Mother’s commiting suicide or infanicide is common with PPP.
If you are having thougts or even brief thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby seek help immediatley.
Postpartum Psycosis symptoms:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Erractic unusual behavior
- Disorientation or confusion
- Disorganized behavior
- Rapid distinct change in moods, sad to energetic
PPD vs PPA
Now that you know the symptoms of PPD and PPA, what are the real differences? Often, times you will see both of these paired together, often a mom will have both PPD and PPA.
Some symptoms are similar, but ppd brings extreme sadness, and ppa is associated with worry. Susan Gottfried M.D., author of The Hormone Cure, “I think of postpartum anxiety the loss of the normals sense of balance and calm, and postartum depression as the loss of heart.”
This article I read was very interesting, talking about how different research shows that PPA maybe more common than PPD. A mom’s mental state before becoming a mom plays a role also. If she had axiety before getting pregnany she is more prone to having PPA, but it can affect any mom.
With mental health for moms- new and experienced, there is still a lot of unanswered questions. Doing research while I was writing this article, many things I saw would say there aren’t a whole lot of studies yet. Like, why some moms get certain thoughts and feelings and some don’t, or even what exactly causes PPA in moms. Researchers suspect lack of sleep and hormone changes play a role in it, but really all they have so far.
Recognizing When You Aren’t Yourself
Listen to your body and thoughts- Do you feel like yourself?
Questions to ask yourself:
- Have I blamed myself unnecessarily when things go wrong ?
- Do I feel scared, worried or panicy for no apparent reason?
- Do I get angry easily for no apparent reason?
- Think my child would be better off without me?
If you answered yes to most of these, then talk to a doctor right away. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed for feeling these things. Most new moms have some of these thoughts and they go away. But if they are not going away or seeming to worsen then do not hesitate to talk to your doctor, they are there to help you!
When to talk to someone
When you become a mom, you have so many things going through your head, like if you are doing everything right, what if I do something wrong and it harms my baby. We are constantly making sure we are a good mom, and look like we are a good mom, and know what we are doing.
When I had certain thoughts and feelings I felt like I was a horrible mom, a failure, like maybe I wasn’t going to be the mom I always thought I was going to be. When you’re young being a mom meant having a baby and feeding the baby, and playing with them, and loving them.
So, it’s easy to think that you aren’t normal, that there is something wrong with you because it’s not all sunshine and flowers like we thought it would be.
But, in no way does that mean you are a bad mom, or that there is something wrong with you. With my second child my whole pregnancy I was scared because my first was kind of difficult. Also, I was working and finishing up school so I couldn’t appreciate this pregnancy as much.
I felt like I didn’t have the connection with him like I did with my first, I was tired and didn’t play and hold him as much as I did with my first. My first son, HAD to be help to stop crying, so I had no choice.
I knew I wasn’t myself, I was sad, I was angry and irritable very easily. I talked to a doctor at my child’s check up, and they just said it was normal because I was adjusting. Which yes, it was true, but I feel like it was a lot more than just me adjusting.
I didn’t feel right, I wasn’t overwhelmed just because I had more on my plate there was something else, but I couldn’t put it into words or pin-point it. After that I didn’t want to talk to a doctor because I didn’t want to hear, “oh, well that’s normal, you’re just trying to adjust.”
If you feel like something is not right, like you aren’t feeling or thinking like yourself, seek help even if you have to try different doctors to get the help you need. No one knows you better than you do.
By getting help, you are taking care of your family and keeping you and your family safe.
Motherhood can be complicated and lonely, all while being the most amazing thing you’ll ever experience, with the right help you can see that.
Make sure you give yourself some credit, you just created a freaking human-being!! Don’t expect perfection right away, just like everything else, it takes practice and learning. Everything will fall into place, trust me.
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