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,...
"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...
"If you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast, but if you tell people you're depressed, everyone runs the other way. That's the stigma." Kevin Breel, honest comedian
We probably all know this impulse, to move away instead of lean in. I know it. When I was hit with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression for the third time, and this time actually had the language to understand what was happening to me, I looked back on friendships in my past where I hadn't understood how to be supportive. Where I'd ran away. Where I'd been annoyed, even. I found myself guilty.
So what can we do instead to support our friends in the swell of hormones and emotion? This advice is good for standing by any postpartum mother, not just those with PMADs. Postpartum is the time of great transition, and solid ground may feel elusive as a woman shifts int...
There is something I am afraid to tell my clients, an answer to a question often asked that makes me want to hide.
"Does eating my placenta prevent Postpartum Depression"?
Internally I gasp and externally I bumble. I feel as if I am supposed to pull a coin from behind your ear and we all laugh wholesomely and skip off into the daisies.
I hate this question because I ingested my placenta after all three of my births and I experienced postpartum anxiety and depression after all three births.
There is little research into this question, or any other benefits or risks of placentaphagy. There are no scientific studies to claim placenta encapsulation as a remedy for postpartum mood disorders. However, many mothers self-report that they felt less depression and more positive energy when they ingested their placenta capsules. Placenta is used as hormonal therapy in other...