Before I dive into this topic, I want you to be aware that this may be triggering. Also, if you are dealing with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, know that you are not alone. You are an amazing mom and your baby loves you so much!
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After having my son William, I was SO EXCITED. I had a very traumatic birth experience but was so excited he was here. After delivery, I never expected to experience postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. I labored for over 24 hours and pushed for 2 hours and he still didn't come out. He ended up turning sunny side up and he was stuck. My doctor told me I had to have an emergency c-section or I could trust an on call doctor to turn William and guide him out with forceps.
I remember looking at Mason and sobbing saying something like, "Please don't let them do a c-section after all I've been through." We decide to put our trust in the doctor and let him use forceps to guide William out. It hurt like hell but it worked. William was a perfect baby. He snuggled on my chest and everything was right in the world. Little did I know I was having a huge adrenaline rush and felt great after labor. About 45 mins later my body went into shock from the traumatic labor and delivery and I crashed. I couldn't even keep my eyes open and thought something was wrong with me.
After getting back into the room, William wouldn't latch and I had to hand express and pump right from the get go.....And the journey with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety started.
Right from the get go, William wouldn't latch. At first, I was okay with it and knew we would figure it out. But, I immediately felt a lack of connection with William because I thought he would breastfeed easily and we would have that connection. Boy was I wrong.
He didn't latch the entire time I was in the hospital and before I knew it postpartum depression was sneaking in. I was hand expressing, trying to get a screaming baby to latch and pumping. It was a nightmare.
We headed home. William still wasn't latching, he wasn't sleeping, my boobs were engorged and I wasn't sleeping. We decided to see a lactation specialist. She was able to get William to latch and I was ecstatic but he wasn't transferring enough milk. She told us he didn't have a tongue tie or lip tie and to keep trying.
And that is what I did. I tried SO FREAKING HARD. He was on my breast the entire day and wasn't getting enough milk. And I was dealing with postpartum depression and didn't even know it.
One night at about 2am William wouldn't eat or sleep and we had to try formula. I remember Mason coming in to try to help me and I was just sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at Mason. I desperately wanted Mason's help but instead of accepting it I screamed "Go away." I remember feeling like I wanted to disappear and was so sorry I talked to Mason like that but I couldn't help it. I fed William 3 ounces of formula and he projectile vomited. I was alone (after pushing Mason away) and I was physically shaking, wondering if things would ever get better. I was right in the middle of postpartum anxiety and depression and didn't know it.
My Journey with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
I saw the lactation specialist 4 times and William wasn't gaining weight. I was devastated. She put me on a schedule where I had to try to breastfeed every 2 hours and if he did't eat, feed him a bottle and then pump. I had to do this for 4 weeks, even in the middle of the night. I wasn't sleeping, William wasn't sleeping or eating and I was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety.
I was an absolute wreck, emotionally, physically and mentally. Every single day I would pump and just sob for hours at a time, uncontrollably.
I was physically hot and tense all hours of the day. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Little did I know I was experience postpartum depression. I constantly felt restless and irritable no matter what was happening, good or bad.
It was worse in the middle of the night when William would wake up. I thought things like "What if he never goes back to sleep?", "He deserves better than me.", "Why can't I fix this?", "I can't live like this forever."
I would constantly yell and push Mason away, but inside I desperately wanted him to be with me. Mason didn't know I was experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. He felt lost and confused and wondered why I was pushing him away.
There were multiple nights where I told Mason I just wanted to get in the car and drive away, with no end in sight. I didn't feel qualified to be William's mom and wanted to leave, even though I loved him so much.
I was nervous to go to sleep at night because I didn't know what the night would hold. I was nervous to wake up because I didn't know what the day would hold. I was always nervous and felt like everyday would repeat itself. It was a horrible cycle and I thought it would never end.
When William was 3 months old, I hit my breaking point. There was one day where I cried for the entire day, hours on end. I called Mason and he knew we had to change something. Even though he didn't know I had Postpartum anxiety, he knew something was wrong.
He sat down with me when he got home from work and we decided I needed to stop breastfeeding. I sobbed and sobbed but knew it was the right decision. William wasn't eating enough and I was constantly feeding him, feeling anxious he wasn't getting enough.
At that point, we decided I would pump and supplement. This HELPED TREMENDOUSLY with my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Even though I felt like I failed, I remember giving William a bottle and feeling so good about knowing how much he was eating.
Pumping was extremely challenging, but it did lessen the anxiety and depression. BUT, it didn't go away. I still felt hot, irritable, anxious, angry and sad during the day.
I continued to battle postpartum depression and anxiety until William was 13 months old.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Here are the most common symptoms that come along with postpartum depression (information from Healthline Parenthood)
- You feel sad or cry a lot, even when you don’t know why.
- You’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep.
- You sleep too much.
- You can’t stop eating, or you aren’t interested in food at all.
- You have various unexplained aches, pains, or illnesses.
- You don’t know why you’re irritable, anxious, or angry.
- Your moods change suddenly and without warning.
- You feel out of control.
- You have difficulty remembering things.
- You can’t concentrate or make simple decisions.
- You have no interest in things you used to enjoy.
- You feel disconnected from your baby and wonder why you’re not filled with joy like you thought you’d be.
- Everything feels overwhelming and hopeless.
- You feel worthless and guilty about your feelings.
- You feel like you can’t open up to anyone because they’ll think you’re a bad mother or take your baby, so you withdraw.
- You want to escape from everyone and everything.
- You have intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or your baby.
I experienced most of these when I was walking through this. However, I didn't have thoughts of harming William.
Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
Here are the most common symptoms that come along with postpartum anxiety (information from Healthline Parenthood)
- constant or near-constant worry that can’t be eased
- feelings of dread about things you fear will happen
- sleep disruption (yes, this is a hard one to pick out, since a newborn means your sleep will be disrupted even without having anxiety — but think of this as waking up or having trouble sleeping at times when your baby’s sleeping peacefully)
- racing thoughts
- heart palpitations
- nausea or vomiting
- shakiness or trembling
Postpartum panic attack symptoms include:
- shortness of breath or a sensation that you are choking or unable to breathe
- intense fear of death (for you or your baby)
- chest pain
- racing heart
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety from a Husband's Perspective
Mason journeyed through postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety with me. It was a LONG battle. I asked him how he felt during that season.
He felt a lot of things, but more often than not, he felt helpless. He felt like there was nothing he could do to fix the problem. He couldn't fix the feeding issues, he couldn't fix my anxiety and he couldn't make me happy.
He felt stressed out most of the day because he didn't know how I would be feeling when he got home from work.
He thought this was what it was like to have a newborn. He didn't know I was experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.
Mason also felt alone because he didn't have my companionship and didn't have any other men to talk to about what he was going through.
If you are a husband of someone experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, you are not alone. Talk to a close friend or a fellow father that has been in your position. It will help so much!
Tips to Help with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
There are few things that helped me through this season and I want to share them, BUT I want you to know this first... THIS IS A SEASON. It will end.
I don't know if you are a Christian, but I am and I firmly believe in the power of prayer. When I walked through postpartum depression and anxiety, I prayed and prayed and prayed. I also listened to worship music on repeat. It helped me keep pushing even when I felt like giving up.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Jesus is waiting for you to call on Him and He WILL bring freedom and rest.
Here are some things that help during postpartum depression and anxiety:
Prayer and Reading the Bible
While I was in the hardest party of this season, I relied heavily on Jesus. I had worship music on constantly and would cry and give Him my burdens. Sometimes I didn't even have the words to say, but just feeling His presence was enough.
Even when I was right in the midst of postpartum depression, one scripture would help me get through the night.
If you are in the trenches of this season and don't know where to turn, PRAY! Even if you don't have the words to say, turn on a worship song and pray. Here are a few of my favorite worship songs.
If you are walking through postpartum depression and anxiety, make it a goal to get outside at least once a day.
Walking outside gives you CLARITY. It brings you back down to earth. The sun or cold air is good for your body and your mental health. It also gives you something to do and keeps your mind from wandering.
I put William in the stroller multiple times a day and walked around our neighborhood. It helped me get outside and gave us something to do.
CLICK HERE to read a really good article on the benefits of being outdoors.
I wish I would have exercised more when I was going through the season of postpartum depression and anxiety. Exercise helps you physically and mentally in so many ways. It gives you time away from the demands of newborn life.
Moving your body decreases cortisol and releases endorphins. Endorphins are a "feel good" hormone that can increase happiness.
Exercise also builds up confidence. It makes you physically and mentally strong.
CLICK HERE to read an article on the benefits of exercise on mental health.
Vitamins and Supplements
As a family, we believe in supporting our bodies naturally. We all take vitamins daily. I can definitely tell a difference if I stop taking vitamins.
During my battle with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, I didn't know about the brand Mary Ruth Organics.
Currently, we take these vitamins and supplements as a family:
- The Liquid Morning Multivitamin- This Multivitamin, made for the whole family, includes essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, trace minerals and amino acids for your body.
- Liquid Probiotic- Our probiotics are raw, plant-based, highly potent strains sourced directly from Mother Nature: extracted with water from a proprietary blend of three organic grasses.
- Liquid Zinc- (we only take this in the winter or if we have been around someone that has been sick)- Our Liquid Zinc is a no-nonsense way of assuring your body gets the amount of this essential mineral it needs for overall health.
- D3 + B12 Gummies- Support cellular health with a tasty, chewable gummy, available in Raspberry or Strawberry!
- Collagen Boosting Gummies- (I took these postpartum)- This delicious gummy contains the necessary nutrients to promote collagen production: L-lysine, Amla fruit, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
- Liquid Nighttime Multimineral- This liquid Multimineral contains all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, trace minerals and nutrients your body needs while you sleep.
They also just came out with a prenatal vitamin!
Talking With Other Moms
Talking with other moms is HUGE in the process of walking through postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. The biggest lie I believed while walking through this season is that I was alone.
It is so easy to feel isolated and guilty for the feelings you are feeling. If you don't talk to someone else, you will continue to spiral.
When you are talking with a fellow mom, make sure it is someone you trust and truly know! The goal for this conversation is for you to open up and be honest. To do so, you need to truly trust the person you are conversing with.
Tell them how you are TRULY feeling and what thoughts you've been thinking. Let them pray for you and listen to you.
If you don't have a community of mom friends that you can talk to I highly recommend finding one. Check out MOPS. They have groups all over the country.
When you are walking through postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, you have to lower your expectations for yourself.
It is easy to fall into the trap of "I didn't get ANYTHING don today." Just know that the laundry can wait, the dishes can go in the dishwasher and groceries can be ordered online.
Write down 2 things you want to get done in a day and celebrate when you finish them! AND even if you get "nothing" done, you are raising a child! THAT IS ENOUGH. God is proud of you and you should be proud of yourself.
Having a newborn is extremely tough and when you add in postpartum depression, things get REALLY hard. You have to lower your expectations during this season or you will always feel guilty.
Get to Bed Earlier
When you have a newborn, you don't sleep, period. The lack of sleep is hard on every mom, even if you are not struggling with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
In my personal experience, the lack of sleep heightened every emotion I felt. If William had a better night of sleep, I felt slightly better the next day. If he didn't sleep at all, the rage started building up inside of me.
To avoid heightened postpartum feelings, try to go to bed as early as possible. Also, ask your partner to help during the night. My husband and I took shifts. I would take the 9pm-3:00am shift and he took the 3:00am-7:30am shift. This gave me peace of mind during those hours and gave me assurance that I would get some consecutive sleep.
CLICK HERE to learn more about sleep affecting mental health.
How long does anxiety last after having a baby?
Ultimately postpartum depression and anxiety affect women differently. There is no way to know how long it will last. It normally lasts from 3-12 months, but some women struggle with it for years.
Women that get help can usually get it under control within the first few months. Becoming aware of it helps so much!
CLICK HERE to read more information about the length of time.
Can anxiety get worse after having a baby?
This is a complicated questions. Postpartum depression and anxiety are different than common depression. The body's hormones are affected by birth and breastfeeding.
If you are already experiencing depression and anxiety prior to pregnancy, it can get worse, but it can also get better! Do not go into postpartum with the expectation that you will experience postpartum depression and anxiety. Stay positive and be aware of your emotions after you deliver your baby.
How long do postpartum hormones last?
In most cases postpartum hormones start to calm down around 6- 8 weeks postpartum. It is normal to experience baby blues after having a baby. It is normal to feel sad and emotional after delivering a baby. Hormonal imbalances play a large part in the baby blues.
If you are feeling extremely sad, crying multiple times a day and having abnormal thoughts past the 6-8 week mark, you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
CLICK HERE to read more about postpartum hormones.
What are the causes of postpartum?
Postpartum hormone changes come from the physical changes your body experiences giving birth. Your body experiences a large drop in estrogen and progesterone. There are also hormones produced by your thyroid that drop significantly. These hormone changes are normal.
If you are feeling something more than the normal baby blues, it may be postpartum depression or anxiety. Reach out to your doctor and have an honest conversations with them.
A severe drop in these hormones can cause a deeper kind of depression.
CLICK HERE to read more about this.
We hope this helps you know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you need to see a doctor, please do. If you need to ask for help from friends and family, please do.
God is with you and He will help you through anything!!
Adventure starts now,
Mason and Liz
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