Throughout my whole pregnancy, moms always mentioned the words, “postpartum depression”. And lucky for me, I had my maternal rotation in nursing school during my second trimester. This is where I learned about postpartum depression.
Postpartum is basically your “fourth trimester”. In the book, the postpartum period is the first 6 weeks after giving birth. However, it can take up to a year for your hormones and body to recover.
Right after giving birth, it’s normal for moms to feel somewhat depressed, emotional, and overwhelmed. I mean think about how sleep deprived you are, the new responsibilities, and feeling like there’s no time for yourself. These feelings are called postpartum blues. Postpartum blues typically go away after a couple of weeks.
When postpartum blues don’t go away after a few weeks is when you might be suffering from postpartum depression.
So here’s 8 things every mom should know about postpartum depression:
1. It’s TOTALLY normal.
I was one of those women that were like, “oh postpartum depression? I don’t get depressed- there’s no way I’ll go through that!” And I always thought postpartum depression was only something that only women who have a history of depression went through. I had NO idea that it was so common. Literally 1 out of every 10 women develops postpartum depression after delivery!
2. You can develop postpartum depression MONTHS after giving birth.
It can happen anytime in the first year. I graduated from nursing school 2 months after having my daughter, was looking for a job after my husband’s military orders got postponed, and I was looking for someone I trusted to take care of my daughter while I was at work. So the first 3 months after giving birth, I was busy, exhausted, and felt like there’s going to be no end to my chaos.
At each of my daughter’s scheduled pediatric appointments, they gave me a survey called, “Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale”. This survey is to screen if you’re having postpartum depression symptoms (because the sooner you get help, the quicker it’s resolved).
Well, I come from a very stoic family (part of my Korean culture). And showing feelings of pain or hardship is something I keep silent.
I quickly circled all of the positive answers indicating that I had no signs of postpartum depression. Then, I came to my breaking point during my daughter’s 4 month visit. I broke down and decided I needed to be honest with myself for my family. That’s when I circled how I truly felt on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. And my daughter’s pediatrician referred me to a counselor right after our appointment.
This was when I found out that you can, INDEED, experience postpartum depression months after giving birth.
3. Your partner won’t understand how you’re feeling- and it’s okay.
This was something I needed to learn. I couldn’t accurately explain in words how I was feeling and what was going through my mind to my husband. He tried to understand and be there for me. But I knew he didn’t know the depth of how I was feeling emotionally.
I think part of the reason he didn’t understand was not only because he is a man and don’t experience the fluctuations of hormones. But also because this was the first time I have ever experienced such a low, hopeless mood.
And I had to learn that it’s okay. Although they won’t fully get it- it’s so important to communicate with them to let them know what’s going on.
4. It’s okay to ask for help.
One of the biggest myths about postpartum depression is that it goes away on its own. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. And I didn’t know this until I got help.
I want you to know that it is perfectly okay to ask for help. Talk to your doctor, your nurse, or a counselor. And if you’re still not comfortable talking to a healthcare member, talk to a mom who has been through postpartum depression.
Please, don’t hesitate to contact me. I have been there. I was scared of being judged by others, felt like an incapable mom for even feeling the way I did, and I felt absolutely helpless.
Being honest with myself was the best decision I made for myself, my daughter, and my husband.
5. Practice self-care.
YOU are important. YOUR needs are important. And YOU absolutely matter.
When you take care of yourself, you’ll feel better, and you’ll provide optimal care for your baby. So set that quality time for yourself by taking a bath when you set your baby down to sleep or for a nap. Go outside and take a walk with your little one. Do a home workout and listen to your favorite jams.
6. Bond with your baby.
When you bond with your baby whether its breastfeeding, snuggling, or holding your baby- you’re naturally releasing happy hormones. These happy hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins give you positive feelings that will help you cope with postpartum depression. It’s truly amazing what our brain and body can do.
7. Postpartum depression is different for everyone.
Don’t compare your signs and symptoms with the mom next door. Postpartum depression is absolutely different for everyone. It’s not a one-size fits all experience.
I always thought postpartum depression meant every mom was sad, hopeless, and constantly cried. But every women will have difference experiences. Some moms will feel more anxious and worried. Other moms will feel more angry and easily irritable.
And there are moms like me that will feel numb, alone, and not good enough. As a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure if I was doing anything right or if I was doing enough for my daughter.
Feeling this way was mentally and emotionally draining.
8. You’re not alone.
I wish someone told me this. There are women, all over the world, generation after generation, who have experienced postpartum depression. What you are feeling is normal. Postpartum depression is not your fault. And most importantly, there is help out there for moms like us.
Dismissing how you’re feeling and what you’re going through is only going to negatively impact you, your baby, and your family. Postpartum depression is real, normal, and 100% curable with the right help.
Treatments can include medication, counseling, and lifestyle modifications. And if you’re breastfeeding, there are medications that are safe for breastfeeding moms.
I hope this read helped you see the light I finally saw after reaching out for help.
You are amazing.
You gave birth to a precious little human.
And YOU, mama, are important.
Nahyun is a nurse, a fitness and health advocate, founder of Lifting Motherhood, and has a passion for empowering other women. She blogs about her pregnancy journey leading up to being a first-time mom, her c-section experience, all things baby, and everything fitness. When her baby and 3 dogs are napping, she utilizes her free time coming up with clever ways to help moms and soon-to-be moms to live a healthier lifestyle. You can check out her blog here (https://liftingmotherhood.com)! Subscribe to her newsletter for your free 28 day fitness accountability printable!