Postpartum mental health. It needs to be talked about.
We spend 9+ months growing a human. We endure physical, mental and emotional challenges as body changes, while our womb protects and nurtures a baby. Throughout the pregnancy, our baby is closely monitored.
But what about the mother?
We’re told to fill out a form about our feelings before leaving the hospital, and then again at a postpartum appointment. But that’s not enough.
As a new mom, women are stretched in so many directions. We are sleep deprived and stressed out as we learn to care for a newborn. We find ourselves awake, hoping our baby will soon go to sleep. And then we are wide awake as they sleep, worried about everything that could go wrong.
Our days revolve around changing diapers, feeding the baby, and trying to figure out why our baby is crying. And that’s just the typical routine. Some of us are juggling multiple children, trying to shuttle our older kids to school, while making sure our newest baby fits snuggly in their car seat. Some of us feel stress and anxiety, even guilt, as we worry about whether our bodies can feed our baby.
People ‘ooh’ and ‘awe’ as they see your newborn baby, but how often do you ask that new mother how she is doing?
So many women face postpartum depression, anxiety, or in my case, PTSD. But because there is a stigma surrounding mental health, some moms don’t seek the help they may need.
Even 14 weeks postpartum, I still find my PTSD triggered at random times. As I balance work, a new baby and my past that includes child loss and premature birth, I can say that I’m one of the lucky ones.
I have the support system I need. I see a therapist and have honest conversations about my well-being with my spouse. I have friends who stop by with a coffee in hand, or offer a shoulder to lean on during those difficult days.
And most importantly, I’m not afraid to admit when I’m not OK.
But it’s not that easy for so many women. Some moms only get a few weeks at home due to a lack of maternity leave. Some find themselves still physically healing months after giving birth. New moms face so many emotions and challenges, more than we jot down on the doctor’s postpartum sheet of paper.
If you’re a new mom and struggling, I see you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. New moms are not only strong and compassionate, but we’re brave.