One out of every 4 or 5 women will suffer from postpartum depression and/or anxiety in the year following the birth of their baby. Here are 12 important things you should know.
1. Postpartum depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. Your race, your occupation, your religion and your social status do not guarantee protection.
2. The postpartum period is a time of huge risk for a flare up of anxiety or depression. Becoming a mother is the biggest life change a woman will encounter. Sleep deprivation, coupled with lack of time for usual coping strategies, compounds the risk.
3. Talking about postpartum depression and anxiety is important. Making others aware of its existence helps to remove the stigma and encourages women to get the help they need.
4. Not all women feel a connection to their baby at birth. This can especially be true for those who have had a difficult or traumatic birth. Some begin to feel bonded within a few hours while others take weeks or even months. It is hard for struggling women to believe but the feelings WILL come.
5. Women with postpartum depression and anxiety are adept at putting on a ‘mask’. Outsiders may not realize they are suffering. It takes an incredible amount of energy to maintain this mask.
6. Women are strong, even though they may not feel it themselves. Postpartum women have an incredible desire to become well again.
7. Postpartum depression and anxiety are isolating. Women gather strength when they learn they are not alone.
8. Sleep is important in recovery. When women begin to get more sleep, their symptoms begin to improve.
9. Recovery is not a straight upward path. There will be bumps along the way. This is discouraging to a woman who feels she had been improving. Although dips in mood may come as you recover, these dips will not be as low, and will not last as long.
10. Women who planned to breastfeed, encountered difficulties and had to stop breastfeeding are most at risk to develop PPD. Be kind to yourself. You are still a wonderful mother, even if you have to use formula.
11. Not every doctor or healthcare professional is knowledgeable about postpartum depression and anxiety. If you are not getting the help you need, keep reaching out. Speak to another health care professional. Help is available.
12. Every woman’s journey will be different. No two women will follow exactly the same path for recovery. Some may require medication, some may require counselling for trauma in their past. All can benefit from the unwavering support of people in their lives.
If you are suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety, please know you can and WILL feel better. Please reach out for help.