DISCLAIMER: The following post is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about perinatal mood disorders and postpartum support.
The past 40 weeks of your life have been all about anticipation and celebration. Congratulations! You did it! You had your baby, and you were sent home with instructions on how to strap baby into the car safely, hospital underwear for the bleeding, and an old-fashioned, “Good luck!”
Now what? Well ladies, what happens next is more important than motherhood itself: postpartum recovery.
Those of us who have been through it once, twice, and beyond, have learned the ins and outs of recovery after baby. With this being said, spoiler alert–life the first year is a journey.
Post-baby, it is important to acknowledge that your body has been through a trauma. You aren’t sleeping as regularly as you used to. Things are just . . . different.
More importantly, whether you’ve had a C-section or vaginal birth, recovery goes beyond the physical. Recovery must include your emotional/mental well-being, too.
Your doctors warn you about baby blues and postpartum depression (known as PPD). However, there are more specific acronyms of postpartum recovery that deserve their time in the limelight to help raise awareness for first-time moms and beyond.
Understanding how to recognize the complexities of your mental health after baby could truly aide in your recovery. Being in tune with your feelings and how to manage them can help improve your overall healthy feelings about motherhood, parenting, and who you are after baby.
Perinatal Mood Disorder Timeline
In the United States, maternal health is crunched into a six- to eight-week timeline post-baby. You have your baby and report back for a check-up two months later. They check your stitches, have you fill out a short survey about your feelings, and clear you for returning back to work. Wham bam, thank you ma’am, see ya later!
Did you know that mood and anxiety symptoms actually begin during pregnancy and anytime during the first year or so after birth? According to Postpartum Support International, 15-20% of parents experience significant symptoms of anxiety and depression during or after pregnancy.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Postpartum depression is a spectrum. It’s not a one-size or one-symptom-fits-all. In fact, perinatal mood disorder is the inclusive term for those experiencing depression, anxiety, and mood changes during or after pregnancy. The ABCs of perinatal care disorders are beyond that of PPD. Here is a breakdown of the acronyms used to help identify mood disorders that require additional medical care and support after baby:
- PPD: Postpartum Depression
- PPOCD: Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- PPA: Postpartum Anxiety
- PPPTSD: Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- PPP: Postpartum Psychosis
Baby Blues Are Normal
Before you start self-assessing for some of the aforementioned perinatal diagnoses, it is important to mention that baby blues for the first two to three weeks after pregnancy are normal. It is normal to be weepy and hormonal. However, it is not normal to experience extreme lows, harmful thoughts, intense rage, and any other feeling beyond that of a mild nature.
How to Ask For Help
If you or your partner are in need of further assessment for a perinatal mood disorder, it’s time to ask for help. Who do you ask? Where do you go? Well, my first suggestion is to of course talk to your doctor. Let them know exactly what you’re going through without leaving out details or being scared of telling your truth. The statistics are on your side and prove that you are not the first or the last person to experience this. According to Postpartm Support International, 1 in 7 women, and 1 in 10 men identify as having PPD.
Next, reach out to others. There are many online communities/groups including Detroit Mom who are full of people who are or have been through this mental health journey after baby.
If you’ve never had a therapist/counselor, before, during, and after pregnancy are great times to see one. Talking through your feelings with a professional mental health advocate is the way to go! They can help you navigate next steps and refer you to the best help possible.
Climb Out of Darkness Right Here in Detroit!
Finally, Postpartum Support International is an excellent resource to help climb your way out of darkness. Avoid going down the Google or WebMD rabbit hole without checking out this resource FIRST. PPSI hosts an annual fundraising/awareness event to create positive awareness and community surrounding perinatal mood disorders.
More importantly, Postpartum Support International is hosting a fundraiser/awareness walk in Detroit on June 26, 2022 at Palmer Park. You can donate to or join a team and be a part of supporting local women who courageously climbed out of postpartum mental health illness and/or are still experiencing it.
Together, We’ve Got This!
Motherhood is a beautiful journey. Yet, this journey can also take women down a path that they never thought they’d travel. Perinatal mood disorders do not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is–postpartum disorders can move in quickly.
Additionally, identifying your feelings, asking for help, and utilizing professional supports is so important and necessary. Help Detroit Mom normalize the importance of postnatal care for the first year of motherhood and beyond.
For more support and information on postpartum care and resources, please speak with your doctor. You may also reach out to the postpartum support website or helpline: 1-800-944-4773
You are not alone in this parenting journey because you are loved, needed, and supported.
Sabrina, thank you so much for writing such an important piece!!