Postpartum Depression: we’ve been taught to fear these words. We aren’t allowed to speak them. All we are supposed to acknowledge is the cute baby in our arms. To speak of what women lose in motherhood would be treachery. To speak of grief, confusion, and disconnection is not allowed. Subversively, we are taught that silence and ignorance will keep us safe. This message is confounded by the way obstetricians, midwives, and pediatricians avoid talking about anything other than measurements of the belly, then measurements of the baby.
And yet they are real, these feelings and these words. Depression and/or anxiety exist for 15-20% of new mothers, and it doesn’t have to happen immediatley postpartum. Mothers can feel this during pregnancy, after pregnancy loss, or after their babies 1 year birthday. The transition to motherhood is full-spectrum,...
What is the time frame of postpartum? The days & first weeks immediately after birth? The first 3 months post-birth? 1 year? 2 years? The duration of the breastfeeding relationship?
What many real life mothers share from their experience is that depression, anxiety, or OCD hit hardest after the 3 month mark. Perhaps this is because of combined pressure to be back in the game by then. Work, social, and familial expectations rise above the newborn haze after just a few weeks, and after a few months it can feel like everyone has forgotten us and we’re on our own. I remember thinking: Everyone else has their shit together? Why don’t I have my shit together?
Personally, I go deep into the swampy well in the first 2 months, and then emerge for a time before the anger hits around 6 months, and then an existential crisis around 12-18 months postpartum. Obviously, I’m glossing...
"This is the season of receiving.” This being new motherhood, the postpartum year, or I would stretch it throughout the years of early childhood. I heard this phrase from Chris Reines, a UNC nurse specializing in maternal mental health.
How opposite are these words to what we are actually told? How many mamas actually think “This is the season of giving. So let me give, give, give until I have nothing left in me, then give some more and feel guilty that I don’t have even more to give.”? We are TOLD this is the season of giving.
But we were told wrong. This is the season of receiving.
When young babies are at home, it is the time to let others support us (community, grandparents, partners, doulas). In pregnancy and birth a woman give her greatest physical output. And then she is in near constant support of that output through nursing, feeding, tend...
In last month’s Motherhood Circle, we spent time thinking about the things we want to make time for that make us feel like a whole woman. So often in motherhood we only look to the things that make us a “better mom”, but if we look at the list in reverse - first seeking things that make us feel like a whole woman - we find that many of those same things help us feel like a better mother, too.
The exercise asked us to create a list of activities big and small that fuel our feminine spirits, and then commit to one per day, one per week, one per month, one per year. We asked ourselves, “What do I need to let go of in order to make space for me to receive?”, and then, “Where do I need to assert myself more in order to make space for me?”.
When I look back over my own list, I find I have made space for quite a few things that fill my soul this month.