Hey, All You New Mothers
So, you find yourself on the other side of pregnancy - postpartum. Whether this is your first time or third, it can be a time filled with conflictual thoughts and feelings.
The way your pregnancy went is one factor. One of the women I know experienced "hyperemesis gravidarum" for all three of her pregnancies. She suffered so severely that her babies were spaced about seven years apart. It greatly impacted her ability to bond with her babies at the beginning.
Other women have had births that did not go how they expected like ending with an emergency c-section or experienced a highly medicalized, managed birth involving things like stripping of membranes unexpectedly (yes, it can really hurt!). Or they have laid out plans of natural birth but had unexpected complications. Some have been put on a clock because their water broke and labor didn't kick in.
Prolonged labors leave new mothers exhausted being sent home the next day, often alone in caring for the newborns. Lack of sleep is a real issue. I've worked with women who were so sleep-deprived they had hallucinations.
This year of COVID has greatly impacted many women, especially near the beginning of the pandemic when hospitals were scrambling to develop plans for managing the possibility of being infected. I've worked with women who weren't allowed anyone for support. As hospitals began to have a grasp on how to handle the issue, strict rules were often implemented that only allowed one support person who could not leave until discharge. This rule impacted women who wanted to have both a "doula" (I suggest you look it up - they are an awesome resource in birth!) and their partner, let alone their mothers or friends or other support.
Women often come home from birth having to recover from an incision from a c-section (hey, even though it's a routine surgery, it's still pretty major) or tears (I've worked with women who have had to recover from severe 3rd and 4th degree tears). Even if the birth went well, women are tired, their bottoms are often very painful even if they didn't experience a tear (hemorrhoids often show up during pregnancy or during labor and can be a serious issue to deal with). So they're home and often kind of on their own. They may have a mother who travels to stay for a while. But this year, because of COVID, many women have been in quarantine basically. No mom's groups to go to, little sleep, and the rioting waves of hormones leave new mother vulnerable.
I haven't even touched on what pregnancy and childbirth can do to women who brings a trauma history with them - there are so many possible triggers.
But finally, the baby is here - and you're awash in emotions. You may feel tearful, sad at how the birth went, but hear the message, "Healthy mom, Healthy baby." And, you may think there's something wrong with you. Because of course you're happy that you and the baby are healthy, AND you may have experienced some difficulties. I emphasis the AND because there's room to both be grateful and have other emotions and thoughts about what has happened.
A couple of books I suggest (even if this isn't your first baby) are:
"Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers"
"This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression"
I hope I've helped normalize a little how you might be feeling after the birth of your child. If you feel that your "moodiness" is not getting better, or your having difficulty bonding because of depression or anxiety, please let your OB/GYN know. I am trained in working with women struggling with PMADs - Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Please reach out for help and support. You are not a bad mom!!!
I am beginning a new group near the end of April for women with PMAD or who are struggling and want a supportive environment. You deserve the help. If you need more personal support, maybe it's time to contact someone for some help. Contact me at 678-798-8540 for more information.