Postpartum depression is a real thing. I know it is a real thing, because I suffered with it so badly with my first child. This topic is awkward for most people. Most women don’t want to admit that they have shortcomings. I know that I refused to be one of those women who suffered with it, but alas I was hit with it with full force.
My beautiful amazing son entered painfully into this world on April 12, 2014. He was six days late and I finally told the doctors to break my water, because I really wasn’t in labor and nothing was happening. I asked for an epidural (that didn’t even work) my boobs and mouth were numb and nothing else. I felt every contraction and every rip. I pushed for about an hour and a half and they finally handed me the largest baby in the world! My son was a whopping 10 lbs! Maybe even more since he pooped on me twice before they weighed him. I was so completely exhausted. They measured his head which came in at the 100 percentile (size of a three month old). I sat there holding my baby while they sewed me up and waited to make sure that I didn’t need a blood transfusion. Thankfully I didn’t.
My body was completely mangled! They gave me a little can of numbing spray (we had to buy more later) and they gave me an ice diaper. I was in so much pain. I had to take percocet in order to even lay on the bed. On top of all of this body mutilation my son would not nurse! He just screamed at my boob and tossed and turned his head. I had to manually squeeze out Colostrum into a little spoon and give him is milk through a syringe. The hospital staff had to wake me up every 30 minutes to make sure I was still okay (from losing all that blood). Then every hour they would prick my sons feet to make sure his blood sugar was fine due to how big he was. The whole experience of the hospital was miserable and I got no sleep.
We went home (thankfully we were living with my parents at the time) and my son would still not nurse! So my son just wouldn’t eat! I knew he was just starving but I didn’t know what to do he cried all night long! We went to the doctors the next day and the lactation nurse said “sorry you’re going to have to pump!” So began the journey of pumping. Every time my son woke up (every hour and a half or so) I had to wake up, warm up the milk (while he was screaming), feed him, and then pump! Oh my gosh it was miserable. I got mastitis five times before my husband and decided to buy a better pump. I produced so much milk and so I could never get empty. I never wore a bra because I would get huge lumps if I did (no matter what bra). Therefore I could not exercise! I was so completely broken!
This is the pump I used. Totally worth the price!
I had anemia due to all of the blood loss and nursing which made me even more tired, drained and I would get lightheaded constantly.
Everything was just…hard. On top of all of this I didn’t have any friends to talk to. The only girl friends I had didn’t have children yet and couldn’t relate to my experiences. Thankfully my mom was there because she could give me the woman support that I so desperately needed, but it was still very difficult.
At some points I did not like my child. I wished I hadn’t become a mom. He was so annoying, needy and I just wasn’t worthy! I wanted to return him. Why did I even become a mother?! I was so emotionally drained that I caught myself just yelling at him! A baby! I would yell at my poor baby. I didn’t feel like myself.
My son was a fantastic newborn (minus the nursing). I am so glad that he was such a wonderful baby. I don’t know how I would have handled him if he were a bad baby. It’s funny…my son actually started getting harder around 5 months which is when I started feeling better. My stitches were finally out, I was able to start exercising, I didn’t have to pump every hour, my son was sleeping 8 hours at a time (he was a good sleeper as a baby), and I started feeling more myself.
With my second child I didn’t experience postpartum at all!!! I avoided it at all cost and I decided to write down 8 ways to avoid postpartum.
1. Sleep! I don’t care what you have to do to get sleep…you need to sleep! With my first I refused to go to sleep if my son was awake. I would wait until his eyes were closed to close mine. However, this is the only time you can sleep while they are awake. They aren’t mobile. They will just lay there! They can’t get into any trouble. If your child is fed, changed and is just chilling out in a safe place…sleep!!! Don’t play on you phone, wash the dishes, do the laundry…SLEEP!! Did I mention sleep? My little apartment was a complete mess with my second child for the first month of my kid’s life because I slept! My lovely mom would come over and clean every once in a while (she’s amazing) because she felt sorry for my sad messy home. She also watched the toddler for a week which didn’t hurt 🙂
2. DO NOT EXCLUSIVELY PUMP! I totally understand there are situations where moms need to pump to start building up a milk supply for various reasons (work, vacation ect) but whatever you do…don’t exclusively pump. Do whatever you have to do to get that little person to latch to you OR do formula! We couldn’t afford formula so I pumped, but at six months we found out my son was tongue tied. Nobody told us! By that time it was too late. We found out when my son was 7 months that we were pregnant and I lost my milk! So we had to switch to formula. I was not sad to see that pump go into the closet! Thankfully my second baby latched immediately with no problems! I will never ever pump again knowing how much better naturally feeding my child is! I would do formula WAY before pumping!
3. REST! This is different then sleep. Just rest. You don’t have to do everything! You don’t have to be super woman! Sit down mama! You also need to recover! I think it took me so long to recover, because I was struggling just sitting down and taking a break (I am a goer and a doer). Those dishes and laundry aren’t going anywhere. Sit down, snuggle that baby and watch a movie!!! You just brought a baby into this world. Nobody is judging you lady!
4. Join a mom group! I tried to do it alone! This was not good. I ended up being lonely, sad and well…depressed! They have mom groups everywhere!! Go to a play group (even if you kid can’t play), go to the library reading groups, go and do! I know I told you to rest, but we are social creatures. You really need to be around other women at this time. Go and sit and chat with them at the park while their kids play. Moms LOVE to talk about the bad, the good and the ugly of parenthood SO you will know that you are not alone. I wish I would have done that with my first. I needed somebody to talk to.
5. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Keep taking those vitamins! Make sure that your vitamins have iron in them. There are a lot of women who suffer with iron deficiency especially after giving birth and nursing.
6. EAT! If you are nursing you need to eat! I know that I would totally get so short tempered when I would not eat while I was nursing. Just eat ladies! Nursing has been the only time in my life where I just eat and eat and nothing ever happens. I could have a huge meal and my son eats and then I am starving! When I am hungry my blood sugar drops and I get sad.
7. Don’t forget about yourself! I remember not taking a shower for like 5 days because I didn’t want to take a shower when my son was awake and then I didn’t want to take a shower when my husband came home because I wanted to spend time with him and didn’t want to leave him with the baby. Oh mom…stop it! Your baby will be fine! Just put that baby in the crib and go and do what you gotta do. If you don’t take care of yourself I promise your self esteem will go down and it will just aid your depression. Take care of yourself. Don’t let being a mom take away your identity as a woman. You are still a beautiful woman…not just a mom!
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I don’t care how easy all of the other moms make it look. They are struggling too. Trust me. They also have a junk drawer that they are embarrassed about 😉 You are not super woman and nobody expects you to be! Ask your hubby to help! He wants to help! He just doesn’t know what he can do to help. I remember once asking Derek why he isn’t helping he looked at me and said “just tell me what to do.” Daddies are clueless sometimes and we have to steer them in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to ask somebody to come over and watch the baby while you get some things done.
I think the most important thing is that you are not alone! You really aren’t! Just talk it out!
My Aunt (who happens to be a pediatrician) said that we should also talk to our doctors about our issues as well! They are trained in this sort of thing and can get you the help you need!
Also do your research before you give birth so you are aware of the sign.
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