Category Archives: Postpartum Depression

Are we forgetting about mothers?

I don’t pose that question lightly. It is a topic worthy of our thought, our discussion. It is a reality that demands to be paid attention to. 

We rush to the hospital to give birth to our precious babies who quickly become the center of our worlds. They are carefully looked over and checked up on with appointment after appointment. All the weight checks, the shots, the checking to make sure their hearts sound well, their joints are developing correctly, it goes on and on..and for good reason. These are our babies and they are small and tiny, and oh so new to this world. We should be paying attention to their health and their development but what about moms? 

Moms are sent home from the hospital after just going through a major life transformation with some guidelines, maybe a painkiller or two, and in many cases a few stitches. They aren’t followed up with. They are supposed to figure it out. It is their God-given ability to be a mother, so they should just know how to do it, right? Society expects that mom will seamlessly adjust. She will adjust to this new normal with little help. Yea, it won’t be easy but she will get through. The only follow-up she has to look forward to is six-to-eight weeks postpartum when in many cases her incisions are looked over and she is sent on her way. 

There is no depression screening, no required well check, no one helping mom adjust. Mothers need to be ok too. After all, happy mothers raise happy children. It is hard to care for anyone if you don’t first care for yourself. Let’s check in with our mothers. Ask if they are ok. Make sure they are ok. Let’s listen to our mothers, hear their cries for help and honor their need for support even when they themselves might not realize how much they need it. It takes a village to raise a child, that is for sure. We can’t expect a mother just because she has a uterus to suddenly be thrown into a whole new world like nothing ever happened. It is a shock to the system. She deserves support and she needs it. 

Finding YOU after pregnancy

You went through the whole nine (really 10) months of pregnancy and were excited, scared, anxious, elated about the new little human entering your life. Now the baby is here and you are consumed with sleepless nights, overwhelming days, and a profound loss of who you once were.

Having a child is a major life change—we all know this—but what can be shocking is that feeling that you don’t recognize yourself. You don’t know who you are anymore. It is important that you reconnect with your old self, embrace your new normal, and not lose sight of what is meaningful to you. Yes, of course, that new bundle of joy is your world and he/she is at the top of the list all day every day but you also need to care for yourself. By failing to take time for you—even if it is a short coffee outing with a friend or a solo trip to the gym—you are hurting yourself. If you don’t take care of you, it is a lot harder to take care of the others in your life.

It is common for moms to feel like that is all they are— “I am a mom, but what
else?” It is the new mom identity crisis and it can be rough. So what can you do to reconnect with yourself after pregnancy?

Reconnecting with YOU

1.) Connect with friends in new ways—Instead of late nights at bars or concerts,
meet your friends for book clubs, coffee dates, or playdates at the park. You need
to continue to have adult conversations and adult time, and support from others
who understand your challenges.

2.) Embrace a hobby—Maybe it is going for a run, hiking, knitting, painting, or writing…whatever it is that makes you feel alive and gives you a sense of accomplishment make time for it. It can be daunting to think about adding another thing to your list, but this stuff is important for you, your happiness, and the happiness of your family.

3.) Don’t compare— You are your own person. It does you no good to compare yourself to others. The mom guilt is there, we all have it but it is not necessary. You need to care for yourself, and you should not feel guilty that you are doing something for you rather than staring at your sleeping child for hours on end. It just hurts your soul.

4.) Ask for help — Don’t be afraid to ask a grandparent or a friend, or hire a part-time babysitter so you aren’t doing it all, all the time. If you are feeling like you could really use an hour away then take it. Losing your cool and your sanity isn’t going to be helpful for you or baby.

5.) Take care of you—Find time for that shower, or to get that haircut. Take naps when you are tired. Forget about the laundry, it will get done eventually. Take a deep breath. You will get through.

If you are struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed, depressed, sad, alone, or you just feel like you could use someone to talk to seek out a qualified counselor. And, know you will find yourself again.

Why Aren’t We Talking About Miscarriage?

Mark ZMark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that he and his wife Priscilla Chan are having a baby girl. In the midst of the happy announcement, he spoke of the emotional pain of suffering three previous miscarriages.

Zuckerberg candidly talked about the loneliness that he and his wife endured during the pregnancy.

“Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something to cause this, so you struggle on your own.” wrote Zuckerberg on his Facebook post.

Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg for bringing attention to the issue of grief and loss accompanied by miscarriage. His high-profile post creates safety for others to share their stories and in turn reduced the stigma of pregnancy loss.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 10-25% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. 50-75% of all miscarriages are chemical miscarriages (early stage of pregnancy before it can be detected by ultrasound).

Miscarriage is traumatic. I know this on a personal level because I too have had a miscarriage. Most women undergo the feelings of grief and loss after a miscarriage. It’s well-documented that women who have experienced pregnancy loss can also get “postpartum depression”. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 11 percent of women who had a miscarriage suffered from major depression following the event. There is no doubt that women who have experienced pregnancy loss need additional support from family, friends and medical community.

Since miscarriage is common and the emotional consequence is serious, why aren’t we talking more about it openly? Stigma – miscarriage is a taboo topic for many people. Many people are not comfortable hearing about it. Most do not know how to respond when someone tells them about miscarriage, and therefore we don’t want to burden our loved ones with the sad news when we experience the loss.

Another reason we don’t talk about miscarriage is that traditionally it is thought of as a “woman issue.” Society holds women responsible for everything related to child birth. When a woman experiences a miscarriage, our society doles out implicit blame that it’s somehow the mother’s fault. Women internalize this message, and may subconsciously blame themselves for the loss. Why would women speak up when we are the blame for the misfortune? Why would men listen when it’s thought of as a “woman issue”? It may sound sexist, but it’s also a reality.

Mark Zuckerberg’s post brings awareness to four things; 1) miscarriages happen often, 2) miscarriage is emotionally painful, 3) this emotional pain affects both men and women and 4) we need to talk about it. Throughout times women talk among themselves about the pain of miscarriage, but there can’t be meaningful discussions and true compassion for this frequent pain until more men join in the conversation. And I am glad we are heading to the right direction.

(Image source: Facebook)

 

Mabel Yiu is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in girls’ and women’s mental health at the Women’s Therapy Institute in Palo Alto, CA. You can reach her at mabel@womenstherapyinstitute.com for more tips or tools, or schedule an online appointment.