If you haven't already, please feel free to read my personal story with depression and postpartum, which inspired the words of advice below.
Advice for anyone going through PMADs or hoping to conceive in the future:
My advice is to be proactive and start with a plan. We often create birth plans, but forget to go beyond. Creating a postpartum plan and starting a collection of resources is an important step in the journey of parenthood. Remember that depression and PMAD’s can occur in pregnancy, not just after the baby is born.
Get educated, get connected and get resources as early as you can. It's important to know there's often a waitlist to see many psychologists and Mental Health Specialists. Educate yourself on PMADs during your pregnancy; get partners to participate as well—just so you know the signs to look out for.
Don't underestimate the major transition that is parenthood.
The second largest transition we will ever experience in life is Parenthood. It may be wrong to expect that a transition this large will go completely smooth. That's why it's important to get connected early and prepare for this major life change.
The first (and largest) transition in our lives is from birth up to age 5. This is the time where we will experience the most developmental changes in our lives, but it’s not a time most of us even remember.
Seek help and be patient.
Seek help from professionals with whom you can develop therapeutic goals to work towards, and learn tools to cope with what’s going on. You will try things intended to help in decreasing your symptoms. Be patient, as you may go through a period of trial and error before you find the right treatment for your recovery and healing.
Talk to someone, anyone. The consequence of not talking about it and letting your mind go to the darkest of places can have a devastating effect.
Continue engaging in life.
There will be days where you just want to stay in bed, isolate, and cry. The desire to do so can be so strong and the lack of interest and motivation so low. I get it. Yet, I recommend you to be careful with that. It’s important to keep engaging in life, to get out of the house, to go on playdates, to make time with friends.
Don't be afraid to try medication or alternative healing approaches.
Many women are afraid to start medication, and fear addiction or dependence on these types of drugs. Remember that stress hormones produced by depression and anxiety can cause far greater harm on your children and family, than the risks of many medications.
As much as you can, prioritize sleep.
Sleep is critical to Mental Health and overall well-being. I know how tricky it is to “sleep when the baby sleeps”, or to get a good night’s rest. We need, however, to get creative and think outside the box to assure we restore our sleep. If you have the resources, you might want to consider postpartum doulas, or babysitters. Otherwise, you can involve your spouse, or family members to schedule time, and shifts, to make sure you get more uninterrupted sleep as much as possible.
Hold onto hope.
Feeling hopeless is a symptom of depression. It might be hard to do, but this is something we still want to cultivate, as hope keeps us going through tough times. Hope doesn’t mean thinking that everything will be amazing, or that you need to be super positive. Hope is a realistic expectation that something good will eventually happen. Cultivate the hope that this hardship will pass, you will sleep again, and you will be the mother you want to be for your child.
After 5 years, I am happy to say postpartum is behind me now, and that is what I want people to know. There is hope, and this is not permanent (even though it may feel like it at the time). Stay hopeful for having the life that you deserve and want to have. It will happen eventually.
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