Every new mother has been to the doctor or pediatrician and filled out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Many mothers “pass” that test without issue. So, they may feel as they “must not” have a postpartum mood disorder even though something feels off for them. I often have clients tell me they “definitely didn’t” have a postpartum mood disorder because they would never hurt their babies. Mama, as someone that offers therapy for mothers, I see you and hear you! But, it is so much more than that!
It is normal for you to feel sleep-deprived. It’s like your world has been turned upside down, and like you have no idea what is happening in those early days. Some experiences, thoughts, and feelings move beyond healthy adjustment to newborn life. These may become a perinatal mood disorder.
Most mothers are familiar with postpartum depression. But, many people don’t know that these mood disorders often start in the third trimester. They can include postpartum anxiety, OCD, Bipolar, Psychosis, or a hybrid mood disorder. Experts say that 1 in 5 women have a postpartum mood disorder and who knows the number of undiagnosed women. Postpartum mood disorders are the number one pregnancy complication.
What’s Normal and What’s Not?
The following behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are considered within normal limits.
- Periods of weepiness, dread, regret, and depression for the first 2 weeks postpartum
- Lack of sleep due to newborn feedings and lack of baby sleeping
- Fear about the future in general for you and your child
- Wanting to reach out for support OR wanting to isolate in the early days
On the other hand, some of the following behaviors, thoughts, and feelings could be considered indicative of perinatal mood disorder. These should be explored further with a therapist or doctor.
- Inability to sleep when you have the opportunity
- Scary thoughts or visuals involving your child
- Ruminating anxious or negative thoughts
- Feels of depression, dread, and hopelessness that last longer than 2 weeks postpartum
- Specific, irrational fears about something with your baby
You are Not Alone!
Perinatal mood disorders are COMMON and have solutions! Foundations Family Therapy and other licensed therapists in your area are trained to help you. They can help turn the infant stage into a treasured time instead of a difficult one.
We have a course designed to help especially new parents! This course will give you PRACTICAL tips to thrive during the postpartum period.
Click here to access our FREE resources for new parents!
Receive Postpartum Depression Help in Raleigh, NC, Wake Forest, NC, or Fuquay Varina, NC
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You have waited 9 months for your little bundle of joy to arrive and the time is drawing near. But now, instead of total elation, you may be experiencing anxiety and disappointment due to the threat and restrictions of COVID-19.
Suddenly, the way you pictured your birth and postnatal period going is totally different without you having much say in it.
You may be experiencing anxiety as you think about the unknown of what the restrictions could be, the health and safety of you, your baby, and your family, and what that could mean for help when you get home.
Many mothers right now are feeling the same thing.
We are in uncertain times which no one could have predicted or planned for. It is normal to feel some anxiety and disappointment. If you or someone you love is preparing to have a child, here are some things to remember during this time.
Adjust Your Focus
Remember, it’s best to focus on what we CAN control rather than what we CANNOT control. Currently, we have no control over mandates from our government officials, the doctors and nurses who are making regulations based on their knowledge, or the unknown direction of this virus. This could mean, the people you wanted with you in the delivery room or shortly thereafter will not be able to be there. That is outside of our control.
What is under your control is your own coping skills and relaxation techniques for the safe delivery of your child. You might start creating a relaxing playlist or plan to have your loved ones video call in. When our minds start wondering about things we cannot control, we can easily spiral to a lot of “what ifs”… and this will not be beneficial to you.
Your attitude is the number one thing that you can control during this time. The way you choose to respond will set the tone for everything else. Find things in this process that you can control and focus your energies there.
Prioritize Health and Safety For All
We must trust that these regulations are in place for a reason. The number one goal for your doctors and nurses is a safe and healthy delivery for you resulting in a healthy mother and baby.
Secondly, they are also invested in keeping as many people healthy as possible. Find the good in this situation. This is something that most people have to practice. This could mean creating a gratitude journal to remember this challenging time. Start by thinking about 10 things that you are looking forward to with your upcoming delivery and new baby’s arrival!
Does this situation mean that your support person (who you thought was only going to have a week off) is now going to be working from home and more present than originally thought?
Does this mean you don’t have to entertain visitors that stay too long when you just want to sleep?
Find some humor in this situation, too! Find that one friend who always makes you laugh and talk to them, laughter always does the heart good.
Stay Focused On The Big Picture
Hopefully, at the end of the day, you will be holding your precious baby! What greater gift and joy! The pain and disappointment will be swallowed up by the gratitude and joy you feel holding your baby.
Soon enough, the world will be back to its normal pace and life will go on. Cling to this time of togetherness with your immediate family and be thankful for it.
Surround Yourself With Support
We are all in this together. We can grieve with you because your birth is not going to look the same as you were hoping. Video chat with family/friends as much as you can to provide safe connections and support from miles away.
Many restaurants are now offering free delivery- use this! Be thankful for others who are willing to drop off helpful meals or supplies. Even though your support system may not be able to be physically present as you originally planned, their emotional presence can help you in many ways.
Most importantly, please remember that most cases of postpartum mood disorders begin in the last trimester of the pregnancy. If you find that you are experiencing anxiety or depressive symptoms more than 2-4 weeks postpartum, please feel free to reach out for support.
We are here for you. We have teletherapy services for connection and support from the comfort of your own home. Also, if you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy, check out a group we’re forming for pregnant moms HERE .Give us a call today.
Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT
Many women and families suffer alone when it comes to pregnancy and infant loss. In fact, until the 20th century, women were forbidden to speak of their loss. Grieving was internalized and stigmatized. Past generations rarely talked about pregnancy and infant loss, and for years, were saddled with the grief.
Overtime, these pent up feelings can manifest in dangerous ways. Those suffering are at risk for developing mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts. It’s never healthy to suppress your feelings, especially when it comes to infant and pregnancy loss.
Thankfully, in 1988, President Ronald Regan proclaimed October as National Month of Mourning in remembrance of those babies who have gone before us. It helps put the spotlight on the topic by spreading awareness. Families across the country are able to connect and share their stories as they navigate the waters of grief.
Loss is something everyone deals with to some degree, but the loss of a baby or the loss of the expectation of being able to get pregnant can shatter one’s world view, challenge your faith and test your relationships. As with any death or loss, grief support is an essential part of the healing process. Women and their families need support and guidance to walk through their struggles.
This and every month, our therapist Elizabeth Edwards focuses her work on guiding women and couples struggling with parenting, perinatal and postpartum concerns in our Fuquay-Varina office. She can help cope with the anxiety, guilt and sadness following pregnancy loss and termination, including postpartum depression, as well as couples challenged by infertility.
You don’t have to walk alone. Wherever you’re at in your journey of loss, you would want to feel better and, to have the pain go away to make sense of your situation. Therapy could help you process your feelings and thoughts in a safe space with a caring provider that can help you walk through the grieving process.
You can move forward with hope.
Labor Day has come and gone marking the end of summer 2018. Many families are jumping back into the “busy season” with school, sporting events, practices and more! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the obligations moms seem to face. Here are some tips from Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT, for all of the stressed out moms who might feel overwhelmed this time of year.
Get your Priorities Straight
In therapy, I often ask women to think about all the different roles they are in. I then challenge women to commit to roles only they can fill. That means your role as wife and mother are top priorities because only you can fill that role. PTA president, snack captain at soccer, and a host of other roles that you fill, could be filled by someone else.
Another thing to consider is maybe you are taking the spot of someone who WANTS to fill that role. There could be a man or woman who is less stressed than you or has a passion for being team mom or church volunteer. Wouldn’t it be a shame if they really wanted that role and you were taking the opportunity from them?
The next task that I encourage women to do is make a list of priorities and the jobs that they entail. For example, maybe your priorities are your faith, your marriage, your children, and your job (in that order). Beside each priority write what that would look like. Maybe I write “have a daily quiet time”, “pray”, “commit to going to church and a small group”.
Next, I might write “make time for my husband” and “have at least 15 minutes a day of meaningful conversation with him”, etc. You do this for each priority area. When you finish that, think about anything else you are doing that does not fall under those top priorities. Then rate those by importance/priority. These are the things that are secondary in your life. Usually, these are those roles that others could fill if needed. Having this visual list of priorities can help you say no to things that do not fall under your crucial categories.
Remember, when you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. Being a mom is a tough job, but it’s always worth it. Reprioritizing your roles and tasks can help you feel a better sense of control over your life, instead of feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel.
If you’re struggling with your role, feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I would love to walk with you during this journey. Contact me to setup a time for us to meet and to start defeating those lies in your head. And remember mamas, you are loved, you are valuable, and you are enough.
Elizabeth Edwards, LMFTA is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Foundations Family Therapy in Fuquay Varina, where she specializes in helping women, moms and parents struggling with anxiety, post partum depression and infertility.
Postpartum depression is more common than you think! Studies show that around 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, PPD is often misunderstood which further complicates an already frustrating time in a mother’s life. We’re putting the spotlight on Postpartum Depression and Anxiety by shattering these three damaging myths.
1. It will go away on it’s own. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not minor issues that should be dismissed or brushed aside. Suppressing feelings of sadness and anxiety will only make them worse. The good news is that PPD is highly treatable! Remember, it’s not just something that you can “get over” on your own.
2. Women with PPD cause harm. Most women who suffer from PPD will NOT cause harm to themselves or their children. In fact, this is a very dangerous misconception. Having PPD does not make you a bad mother or person. It’s normal to experience feelings of guilt and sadness. These feelings usually lead to symptoms like withdraw and depression.
3. Women with PPD cry constantly. You can never really know what a person is going through on their journey. With PPD, the range of symptoms looks different for every woman. Some women do cry often. Others experience anger and resentment. Some moms suffer in silence. Even women with mild or moderate symptoms of PPD should seek treatment for a happier life.
Above all, don’t let the misconceptions stop you from getting help. In order to get on the road to healing, it’s important to work with a licensed professional who understands perinatal and postpartum concerns.
At Foundations Family Therapy, Elizabeth Edwards works with women struggling with parenting and perinatal/ postpartum concerns. She can help with feelings of anxiety, guilt and sadness in a mother’s life.