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August 13, 2019

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...

October 27, 2018

"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...

September 16, 2018

A friend asked me recently when I struggled most with postpartum depression. This is a friend I have known since my oldest child was a few months old. And she didn’t know. Many of my friends didn’t know, maybe still don’t. They didn’t know because I didn’t know.

They didn’t know because I was afraid to use the words postpartum depression. I believed the stigma that postpartum depression only happens to moms that don’t love their babies, moms that don’t take care of themselves naturally, moms that aren’t me. I believed that postpartum depressions was only postpartum psychosis. I didn’t know it included social anxiety, anger, and obsessive thoughts. I didn’t know that I wasn’t alone.

They didn’t know how I struggled because I wasn’t able to name my pain. It felt too multilayered to pin it down as “sad”. I had no idea how to explain the social anxiety that took over my us...

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