Currently, postpartum depression affects 1 in every 7 Moms.
Perhaps your mother, your Grandmother or your sister experienced a bout of depression after the arrival of their baby. Or perhaps you've had a brush with it as well. Maybe you’re currently experiencing symptoms of post-partum depression, but haven’t yet labeled it?
No doubt there are moments in every mother's life when she feels like she has fallen short in the world of parenting, but things can be particularly hard when it's your first time around as a parent.
Keep in mind that postpartum depression can creep up on anyone, irrespective of social status. Serena Williams was the most recent celebrity to open up about her experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety.
Serena almost died from complications due to her labor from hell (she talks about in this interview), so perhaps her case that trauma was the catalyst that brought on some lingering postpartum anxiety.
Failing As A Mom
During her first few days on this earth, I breastfed my second child around eight hours a day.
Thankful that I could have fed 10 children with my milk production, it seemed that my daughter's insatiable appetite was never going to abate. Imagine my horror then, when my husband and I took her to her first pediatrician appointment to find that she had lost more than two pounds in weight.
A rush of shame and inadequacy washed over me as my Doctor said: “Your daughter is starving.”
My husband was staring at me with an accusatory look in his eyes, that screamed, "You had one job and you couldn't do that." He didn't actually say that, but what he did say instead was, "What have you been eating?" As if to accuse me that my diet was responsible for my daughter's huge weight loss.
That feeling of inadequacy was shocking because it was my second baby. That didn't happen the first time around. My son dropped less than 10% of weight and then quickly got caught up, but my daughter was really struggling and continued to struggle for the next 12 months. After that experience, I suffered from constant low-grade anxiety that didn’t subside for a long time.
What Happens When The Maternal Instincts Don't Kick In?
You know that moment when your baby's born and you're supposed to feel this rush of overwhelming love, joy, and connection? Well, imagine instead of feeling that, you feel nothing.
Imagine thinking to yourself as you stare at this little human: "I don't know you. I don't know who you are. I don't feel love for you, and I'm sure that you don't feel love for me."
The only way to describe it is a feeling of disconnection.
The maternal bond that's supposed to kick in doesn't happen for everybody. Just because it doesn't, doesn't mean that it's not going to, but the feeling of horror that you don't feel like you're in love with your baby is enough to alienate yourself from your own child and all other moms out there who do have that instant bond.
It’s surprisingly easy to convince yourself that your baby thinks that you're incompetent. Especially when he or she seems to cry even more when you're around. when you pick him up, or when you give her a bath and she accidentally slips out of your hands
It's in moments like those when you think,
"Oh my gosh, they're onto me. I'm a terrible mother. I wasn't cut out for this. This is not coming naturally to me at all."
Double down on that feeling anytime your mother or mother-in-law comes in to show you just how easy mothering a baby is. By which stage, you're convinced that you're completely hopeless.
Dark & Futile Thoughts
While daydreaming during breastfeeding, you catch yourself thinking about all the other things that you could be doing with your time. Anything but this reality would be an improvement.
How is it possible that your heavenly day-dreams during pregnancy have now turned into what feels like a daily nightmare?
I recall my husband coming home one night after work, and my daughter had had a really tough day that day, crying from the minute she'd awoken.
My dark eyes met his as I announced very quietly that he needed to take the baby. I was having some:
Really. Dark. Thoughts.
I thought about shaking her hard to get her to stop crying.
I screamed at her.
I cried in front of her.
He looked at me like I was crazy and stepped in to take over our very angry and upset child.
Thanks to Serena Williams and celebrities who aren't scared of speaking out about their experiences, postpartum depression isn't anything to be ashamed about. These little tiny tell-tale signs are just the segway to what could potentially become a real and lengthy problem for you if you don't get a grip on it.
Some Easy & Instant Things You Can Do Now
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do, is get outside. Take a walk and get some fresh air. Nature does wonders for the soul. First thing in the morning, get up and say a few words of self-affirmation or a short prayer.
Take a moment every day for yourself. If that means that you recruit your husband, your best friend, your neighbor or your mom. Find someone to come and give you a break, even if it's just to take a shower and put yourself together, then do it.
And don't feel any shame in doing so.
Talk to your husband, your doctor or even a trusted (non-judgy) friend if you feel comfortable doing so. Try to find somebody that you know will show you compassion and not be dismissive of your emotions.
Have a conversation. Tell people how you're feeling, and know that you're not alone.
Speak to a counselor or therapist. A doula can also be very helpful in this instance.
Sometimes people don't want to go to their doctor because they feel that there's a finality in that and there’s a fear they will end up on some kind of medication, but that's not necessarily the case.
Take comfort in the many Mommy bloggers out there who have bravely stepped out of the shadows to share their experiences. The old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings true in the case of postpartum depression.