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Just What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression?

By Sara Duggan

Hello my name is Sara and I am the proud Mommie of 2 beautiful boys. I enjoy my job very much. I can say that now with much confidence, but there was a time that I couldn’t. There was a time that I despised being a Mommie. I can remember that just the touch of my children sent me into a rage. This made me feel very sad and empty. Although I had these negative feelings, somewhere deep inside of me I still wanted, with all my heart to be the Mommie I was meant to be to my two little boys. I didn’t know what was going on with me. I read up on Postpartum Depression prior to the birth of my boys but what I was going through did not match up to what I had read.

I thought I would be a little flighty, weepy, and sad, but I also thought that it would go away soon after it came. Another thing I didn’t know is that Postpartum Depression can happen anytime within the first year after the birth of your child. (I didn’t experience postpartum depression with my second child until about 3months postpartum.)

Many people, like myself, think they know what postpartum depression is but, unless you have lived it, you will never know. Most women experience the “baby blues” which is crying and a little mood swings. They usually occur anywhere between 3 days to 2 weeks after she has the baby. It soon subsides and she starts to feel like herself again.

Postpartum Depression is something completely different. It is like a deep hole that you sink into and can’t get out of. It is feeling like you are unworthy to be a mom or to be alive. It is feeling like everything you say and do is wrong. It is not being able to care for your hygiene needs or the needs of your baby. It is not being able to get out of bed in the morning; the afternoon, the evening, and pretty soon, you’re just not getting out of bed. It is thinking that your children/husband/partner will be better off without you in their life. It is wishing you did not have this baby to care for. It is feeling like running away. It is angry outbursts and loving caresses. It is not wanting to hold the baby, hear the baby, or love the baby.

Sometimes it is intense fear of going outside, paranoia, or fearing someone is trying to take your child away from you. It could also be overly obsessing over the cleanliness and health of you and your child, to the point where you do not feed or care for the both of you properly.

Sometimes someone may look like a “together” Mommie, doing all the “things” she is supposed to be doing, but on the inside she is a wreck about to explode. All of these and more go on inside the head of a Mommie experiencing Postpartum Depression. More than likely, she is not aware of these feelings or does not completely understand what is going on inside of her. Is it normal? Should she tell someone? What if they think she is crazy? Or worse, What if they think she is a bad Mommie and take her baby away?

It is wise to note that PPD can happen anywhere from 3 days after the baby is born to 1 year postpartum. A mom can do well for the first 5 or 6 months postpartum and fall into a deep depression. Also, if you have had PPD with previous pregnancies, there is a chance that you will have it in subsequent pregnancies. Make sure you let your care provider know if you have had PPD in the past and they can curtail the symptoms before they cause deep depression. There are medications available today that are safe to take while breastfeeding. So don't let that keep you from taking care of you. After all, if you take care of you, you'll be able to care for your baby!

Although this is a dark place, with help, the time you are in the "hole" is lessened with medication and talk therapy things can and will get better. PPD affects a lot more women than most are willing to admit. It is very normal. It is a sickness and needs to be treated right away at the first signs. For a preliminary test to see if you are risk for Postpartum Depression, visit http://postpartumstress.com/ppd_risk__assessment_during.html

It is also helpful for husbands/partners to read the questions because sometimes it is they who recognize the signs first. Contact your doctor or therapist when you feel these symptoms. Sometimes all you need is talk therapy and a support group. Other times medicine may be necessary to get your hormones to balance out. For help online go to http://www.ppdsupportpage.com

Another illness likely to appear after the birth of the baby is Postpartum Psychosis. (Andrea Yates is the most recent publicized case of Postpartum Psychosis recognizable by most American.) This is a very dangerous disorder. It can occur from 3 days to about 2 weeks postpartum. Its symptoms include paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.
IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU GET THE MOTHER TO A DOCTOR OR AN EMERGENCY ROOM. This is nothing to take lightly. She could harm herself or others, including her children.

Having said all this, I would like to add, that PPD is very treatable. The sooner it is noticed and treated the sooner the mom will feel better. You can get past it. You can see the light at the end of the "hole" and you can get out. I am an example of this.

One more thing before I close, most women, about 80%, have baby blues and they go away within 2 - 3 weeks. Some even experience a heightened time of awareness and clearness. They feel Good and Happy with Mommiehood.

Something that you may want to keep in mind when preparing for the birth of your child is a Postpartum Doula. What is a Postpartum Doula you may be asking? Well, it is someone specially trained to support, encourage, and educate the Mommie during her postpartum period. You can check out the National association of Postpartum Care Services NAPCS for recommended certified doulas.

A postpartum doula will provide the Mommie with physical support, emotional support and household support. Unlike the Baby nurse, who is there for the babies needs, a Postpartum Doula is there for the Mommie. However, Postpartum Doula's do not diagnose medical conditions for the Mommie or the baby, but they will refer them to a healthcare provider. Postpartum Doula’s do not take over the care of the baby, but assists the Mommie, in learning to care for her and her baby's needs.
To better understand the differences between the “baby blues”, “Postpartum Depression” and Postpartum Psychosis, visit http://www.geocities.com/mommie_care/defineppd.html where you will find my Definition of Terms.

References for further Study:

Postpartum Education For Parents – http://www.sbpep.org/emotlyou.htm
Wings of Support – http://www.the-bright-side.org/site/thebrightside/
Center for Postpartum Adjustment – http://www.postpartumsupport.com
Just For Dads – http://staceyg.home.texas.net/Dads.html
Postpartum Recovery: Things to Know Before You Give Birth – http://kristensguide.tripod.com/family/pregnancy_and_Babies/postpartum_recovery.htm
Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding – http://staceyg.home.texas.net/breastfeeding.html
Depression After Delivery – http://www.depressionafterdelivery.com
California Postpartum Health Alliance – http://www.capphealthalliance.org
Mood Disorder Questionnaire – http://www.psycheducation/depression.MDQ.htm
Building A Support System – http://www.postpartum.net/buildingsupport1.htm


Personal Stories:

Ruth Rhoden Craven (March 9, 1966 – December 5, 1999) – http://www.ppdsupport.org
Karen’s Story – http://www.bcrmh.com/womens_voices/karen.htm

Postpartum Doula’s:

DONA, Doula’s of North America – http://www.dona.org
CAPPA, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association – http://www.childbirthprofessional.com
 
About The Author:
Name: Sara Duggan
Email: mommie_care@yahoo.com
Website: www.geocities.com/mommie_care/
Sara Duggan is the proud Mommie of Noah and Jonah. She is the wife of Terrence, her best friend. She owns MommieCare, a place for Mommies to turn to when they need information or products to enable them be the BEST they can be. She is a Volunteer Doula and plans on opening a Volunteer Postpartum Doula Practice in the Near Future.






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