Your pregnant. Your excited to have a new member of your family (or not). Sometimes pregnancy is not as welcome as we all would think. Sometimes it is very welcome. But that’s not what this is about. This is about postpartum depression. What happens after you have your baby. How you feel. How you think you should feel. How the reality could be.
You’re in labor. Your nervous! Excited that your pregnancy is going to end soon and you can see and hold your baby. Finally, the baby is here. Your holding your baby and you and your family are on cloud 9. The bliss of a new baby lasts for a few days. Maybe longer. Than the exhaustion and doubt kick in.
This is real life now. Your life has changed forever. Are you up for it? When I was pregnant I didn’t think it would be like this. All I did was nurse baby. It gets lonely. I was exhausted. I just want a shower. I want my old life back. Does that mean that I regret having this baby? NO. I’m just being honest. I want everyone to understand that I’m just being real. I miss my partner. I miss a lot of things. Mostly I’m just exhausted. Am I doing it right? Why is he/she crying so much. It stresses me out. What a lot of people told me. “You should be happy. You wanted this baby, right? What’s wrong? Sleep when the baby sleeps.” And it goes on.
Postpartum depression or baby blues is not something that people talk about that often. They throw it under the rug like an old shoe. Then that old shoe comes out and it’s not any different. It’s still exhausted and confused and anxiety ridden. Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone suffers from Postpartum depression. Some women and families do great. They rest, they feel good, and they step into the role of being a parent like you walk through the gates of Disneyland. Happy to be there. Others not so much. Did you know that 1 in 7 women have postpartum depression after birth of their baby? 1 in 7! Now that’s a significant number as far as I’m concerned. I heard this statistic on Good Morning America this morning. Why? Because Serena Williams has come forward to say that she suffered, and still is suffering postpartum depression. Why does it take a celebrity to come out and talk about this to get the public's attention? Why? Because when families have babies, it’s supposed to be a happy time. It is. Don’t get me wrong. But it can also produce anxiety, loss of confidence in oneself, exhaustion, and the list goes on. I’m happy it has come out of the closet. Well almost out of the closet. I feel it's still not as accepted as it should be.
We, as a society, expect a lot out of women that have babies. They are expected to literally get out of the birth bed and go back to work. WHAT? In the U.S. most women only get about 6 to 12 weeks of maternity leave. 6 to 12 weeks. That means they work until close to their due date. Then they hope that baby will come before their due date so they get some time home with their baby. Now think about this. Not only are their hormones all over the place, but their exhausted from labor, birth and now nursing every 2 hours. And let’s not forget the Mama’s that have toddlers or other children. Do you think their ready to go back to work when their baby is 6 to 12 weeks old? That’s a hard NO. Did you know that in Canada they get close to 18 months for maternity leave? There’s paternity leave for the Daddy too. What’s up the with the U.S.?
During our past, women got support from other women when we gave birth, and after. Some cultures have new moms and their babies put to bed for 30 days or even longer. They are waited on hand and foot. They are cherished. After 30 days they come out of their space with baby and start living outside of their room. Does is affect how they deal with their baby once they start living outside of their room? I’m going to say yes. I would think that after all the love and attention they get, they would feel better physically and emotionally so maybe they will be able to better cope with their new baby.
Maybe 30 days rest after birth is not a reality where you are or in your culture. But can’t we figure out a good way to give women support during this critical time that allows them to recover from childbirth? Why, as a society, do we expect women to get out of bed after birth, strap their baby on their body and just keep going? It’s crazy.
We need to come together as a society to help women and families cope with this. Listen when they talk, without judgment. Tell them their going to make it. Give them a hug. Let them cry. Go to their house and watch baby for a bit so they can take a shower or just sleep. Bring a meal that is breast feeding friendly. Clean the toilets. Do some laundry. Feed her while she nurses her baby. Make sure she drinks water. Do what you can, all without judgment.
Is there good news in all this? There’s more help out there than ever. There are new mom groups that can give mama’s support in the larger cities. But what about the rural communities or the smaller towns. What about women that don’t have the means to pay for the groups. What about the stigma? How can we help these women and the stigma go away?
We can offer to have a new mom’s group that is free. A new mom is anybody who just had a baby. It could be there first or their sixth. It doesn’t matter. You don’t need much training. A good heart that will allow these women to talk it out on how they feel without judgment and a place for them to meet. This lets them know that there not alone. That others feel the same way. That they will survive and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I promise.
If you would like more information about starting a mom’s group, don’t hesitate to contact me.