Having a baby is one of the world’s greatest blessings. There is nothing like having a little boy or girl that you created that looks at you with loving eyes and depends on you. The pains that can come come from pregnancy and childbirth seem miniscule when you get to see your precious bundle of joy for the first time. One of the things that is not discussed as much are the feelings of depression that can come after giving birth. Doctors inform us about postpartum depression and just like many women, you begin to think, this won’t happen to me. I am here to tell you that this can happen to the strongest women of any age, profession, or stage of life, including me. The feelings of worry, doubt, insecurity, and fear that accompany parenthood are very real and can be very intimidating. Being in the counseling profession, I thought for sure that this would not happen to me. I began to think, I know how to handle my emotions as this is what I work with people about on a consistent basis. Little did I know was that the feelings of insecurity, doubt, and fear that were creeping into my psyche were stages of postpartum depression. In the beginning I tried to fight it by blocking the thoughts, but it soon became apparent that was not working. At this point, I realized that I could not do this alone and that it did not make me any less of a person to reach out to help seeing that this is what I informed others to do, therefore, what made me think that I could not do the same? I have included a few tips that helped me personally when dealing with postpartum depression.
- Admit that there is an issue- One of the biggest issues that we face is admitting that we need help. As women, we find ourselves being the emotional support for others, but not taking care of ourselves. We have to remember that our hormones have been elevated for months. With this fact, it is ok to realize that you are not feeling yourself and admit that there is an issue. This is simply the beginning to getting your happiness back. We also have to remember that our babies feed off of our emotions. If we are upset, the baby can sense that.
- Confide in loved ones- I found myself suffering in silence for weeks. I was simply embarrassed to admit to anyone that I was feeling down. I had the thought of, “I am a counselor, I am supposed to have this together.” I simply forgot that outside of my profession, I am a human first. A women who just had her first child. I was scared, feeling insecure, and worried and that is ok. I have a loving and supportive husband, family, and friends. There was no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed as that is what a support system is for. Once I admitted that there was a problem to myself and to my loved ones, the amount of support and love that was provided was beyond helpful. Understand that you are not alone.
- Confide in your Doctor/ Counselor/ Therapist- If you are someone who does not feel comfortable reaching out to family or friends, there are professionals that can provide assistance. There is not a reason to feel ashamed as these individuals work with matters as such on a daily basis. They can provide a listening ear, resources, and support from a non bias viewpoint.
- Turn to your higher power- No matter what your religious/ spiritual affiliation is, utilize it. We lose sight of this at the times when we should utilize it the most. This can be done through prayer, meditation, or whatever your means are. Use this as a calming sense for self reflection.
Please understand that Postpartum Depression is real and can happen to anyone. Please contact your physician, counselor, or a trusted individual and read about the signs of Postpartum Depression as help is available. Also, remember that you are not alone in this journey!
Written By: Constance West, MA, CIT