OK… Lets take a minute to debate some widely held beliefs about PPD and other Postpartum Mood Disorders. It’s about time.
Myth # 1: Feeling badly is a normal part of being a new mom.
It is not normal to feel down for a long time or continuously after a baby is born. While a new mom can absolutely expect to have moments of overwhelm, sadness, anxiety, and isolation, she should not feel this way all the time. When a new mom feels more anxious than not, more sad than not, and more overwhelmed than not, it is time to get help.
Myth # 2: If I feel this badly, I am not mean to be a mother and am a bad mother.
PPD is not a reflection of a mom’s love for her baby or desire to take care of her baby, but it does interfere with her ability to enjoy pregnancy or the first weeks and months after childbirth.
Myth # 3: I should just pull myself together.
Depression and anxiety are real illnesses and you are really suffering. It does not mean that you are weak and lazy and usually this is not something that mom can conquer on her own. Many, many moms waste months of time trying to tell themselves that they are ok, when they really are not. With adequate help, these precious months can be spent feeling more connected to your baby and feeling better about yourself.
Myth # 4: If I tell anyone how I am feeling, they will take my baby away.
Having PPD is not a reason for anyone to take your baby away. In fact, when a mom reaches out for help, we know that she is getting support not just for herself, but also for her baby, children, and partner/spouse. Support for PPD is in service of the whole family.
Myth # 5: There are no safe treatments, so why bother getting help?
There are many excellent, safe, and effective treatment for PPD. Many anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications have been shown to be safe to take while pregnant and breastfeeding. Supportive treatments such as acupuncture, mild-moderate exercise, meditation and mindfulness practices, and nutritional counseling have also been shown to help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Spread the word.
With thanks to When Baby Brings the Blues By Dr. Ariel Dalfen, MD