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Bump & Beyond | Postpartum Depression

  • Category: Women's Health
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  • Written By: Sarah Mallonee
Bump & Beyond | Postpartum Depression

My name is Sarah Mallonee, and I am childbirth educator with Infirmary Health (Learn more about me here). I will not lie; this is an incredibly vulnerable post for me as I share about my personal experience following the birth of my daughter.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that impacts roughly 15% of women after childbirth. PPD is different than what is typically referred to as the “baby blues”. Many women will experience mood swings, crying spells and anxiety for a few weeks after birth. However, if those feelings persist longer than two weeks following delivery, you might be experiencing PPD. (Read our post on the “Baby Blues”).

I am surrounded by strong, accomplished women. The women around me seemed like they do it all: work, cook, clean, care for their families and the list goes on! After I had my baby, I felt inadequate when I couldn’t keep up. I tried hard to hide what was going on with me instead of seeking the support available to me. In the spirit of raising awareness and being transparent, here is my story.

I delivered my baby in February 2022. My first two weeks postpartum were rough. I had a spinal headache, which is a complication that sometimes occurs after getting an epidural. My head hurt so badly that I was in tears at my daughter's first pediatrician appointment. The pediatrician was very kind to me and told me that there was nothing wrong with asking for help if my emotions were getting the best of me after having my baby. At the time, I was offended! I thought he was implying something about me not being able to take care of my baby. Now, when I reflect on that moment, I have a different perspective. Sometimes pediatricians are the first people we see after having a baby. I am grateful that my pediatrician asked questions about my health as well.

The next few weeks to follow were still hard. I had a bit of trouble early on with breastfeeding and I was overwhelmed. I cried in the lactation consultant’s office even as she encouraged me that I was doing a good job. I wish I had felt that way. Together with her support we worked through my issues with lactation and breastfeeding got better for us. By the end of March, I was learning more about getting my baby on a better sleeping schedule and she was sleeping for longer stretches. It felt like everything was getting better. But mentally, I wasn’t getting better.

I was experiencing PPD and anxiety. I tried hard to hide it. I just wanted to stay at home where no one would see how I was doing. My family would come to try to help me with the baby, but I was ashamed of how my house looked. Anyone that knows me knows I am not afraid of a bit of hard work. But a simple sink load of dishes was overwhelming for me. I was diligent about my hygiene during my initial healing period, but once I had been cleared by my OB, I let things slip through the cracks. I wasn’t taking care of my hair or changing out of my pajamas. When my husband would let me know he was on the way home, I would do as much as I could to clean up around the house. Or if my family was coming over, I would panic clean. I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I was giving everything I had to my daughter, but I felt immense guilt that I wasn’t doing good enough. By April, I finally broke down and admitted to my husband what I was going through. I made an appointment with my OB, and she was very kind and understanding. We talked about options and came up with a plan that I was comfortable with.

When I got to feeling more like myself, and I felt more comfortable, I started talking to other moms about my experience. Many women I spoke to admitted that they didn’t feel like themselves either after having their babies. In fact one in seven women experiences post-partum depression after childbirth. However, that number is based on women that are willing to admit it.

The signs and symptoms of PP Depression look very similar to baby blues. The difference is baby blues is temporary. Baby blues resolves on its own in two to three weeks. Postpartum depression does not resolve on its own. Recent studies suggest that it can last for several years. So, don’t wait to seek treatment if you feel like this is happening to you. Here are some things to look out for.

  • Severe mood swings
  • Feeling tired
  • Lack of interest in yourself
  • Lack of interest in your baby
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Losing interest in activities that used to bring you joy
  • Feeling shame
  • Feeling guilt
  • Sleeping too much
  • Choosing activities to distract yourself from your thoughts, like scrolling on social media
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Partners, having open conversations during pregnancy about mental health can set the groundwork for being able to have open conversations during postpartum. Check-in with your partner, even if you think they are fine. This can happen to anyone after having a baby, and it is not something they can control. Research has linked genetics, the thyroid, and changes in hormones to the causes of postpartum depression. Hormones are chemicals in your body; some help control your emotions and mood. Hormone levels change dramatically after having a baby. So even if your partner has never exhibited or spoken of any mental health concerns before, it doesn’t mean they won’t experience this after birth. If you or your partner are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek medical attention immediately.

Seeking help for PPD was not just about me. It helped me have the mental energy to develop the relationship I have with my baby. She is thriving, and so am I! I am so happy that I was able to overcome my fear and be honest with my partner. He was supportive and encouraged me to talk to my doctor.

If you are reading this blog post and you feel like this is happening to you, let this be your sign to seek help too. I felt so much better when I admitted to my support system how I was truly feeling. For me, writing this blog post is a big step in transparency. There’s no need to hide how you are feeling. Talk to your loved ones, make the appointment, your health is just as important as your child’s. You don’t just have to survive life postpartum, you can THRIVE.