What No One Tells You About Postpartum Depression

Before motherhood, I just assumed that Postpartum Depression was simply feeling down after giving birth. I had no idea just what it caused you to think, feel, and believe about yourself and your child. Today, I want to share with you what no one tells you about postpartum depression.

What no one tells you about postpartum depression

I’ve suffered depression my entire life. As a bi-polar patient, I was at special risk for postpartum depression. When I was pregnant, doctors talked to me about weepiness and sadness after giving birth. But I never realized just what postpartum depression caused me to think and feel. Early in my motherhood journey, I was surprised to learn what no one tells you about postpartum depression… that it rears it’s head in feelings of irritation, frustration, inadequacy, futility, and loneliness.

You May Not Feel Love or Bond With Your Child

When I was pregnant with my first son, I spent hours daydreaming of his little face. I couldn’t wait to hold him, kiss him and love on him. I’m sure there are women who instantly bond with their child. But I didn’t and post partum depression had a lot to do with that. About 3 weeks after giving birth, I felt like I was holding a stranger. I didn’t know what his cries meant.

I just assumed everything was instinctual – that you just magically know and understand your newborn as soon as they come out. Maybe I was naive. However, I never expected to feel completely overwhelmed, flustered, and frustrated. Who knew depression would increase those feelings exponentially?

Depression maybe a mental condition, but it distresses the heart. It directly interfered with my ability to fall in love with my little boy. It took a while for me to truly feel that loving warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I cared for him. Logically, I loved him, but I didn’t feel the crazy, obsessive kind of love I feel now. If you’re struggling to dote and love your newborn, you may have postpartum depression. The cure? The more you hug and hold your baby the closer you’ll feel…sooner.

You’ll Cry Over Nothing and Everything

With my first son, I was determined to breastfeed. My son was born prematurely and it took 6-7 days for my colostrum to come in. I was so sad that my little guy was having to take a bottle until my boobies got their act together. My weak little boy was burning too many calories trying to nurse and was quickly losing weight. Therefore, doctors suggested I pump for the first month and supplement with formula. I was heartbroken.

There is a saying, “there is no use crying over spilt milk.” I don’t know what the etymology is, but I’m willing to wager it had to do with breastmilk. This stuff is liquid gold! At about two weeks postpartum, I had spent the entire day pumping frequently. I squeezed out 2 oz making a total of 5 oz for the day. While I was taking the flanges off the pump, I accidentally hit and spilt all the milk. Every. Last. Drop.

I shrieked so loudly, my husband came racing down the stairs. My mother came running in. “No! No!” I wailed in a blood curdling cry, like when someone gets word someone has died. That’s what my husband thought had happened. That someone had died. My whole body shook as I sobbed and clutched that pathetic empty bottle to my chest. When I finally calmed down, I explained to them what had happened. They didn’t understand. They stared in confusion, surprised by my dramatics.

No one told me postpartum depression would cause every set back or failure to seem futile. Small problems yielded big reactions. You might think depression makes you quiet and despondent, but depression actually unbalances all your emotions. My reactions were excessive, dramatic, and desperate. In those long eight months of depression, I cried over anything, everything, and nothing.

You May Wish You’d Never Become A Mom

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit. It makes me cringe just knowing I had these kind of thoughts. It’s surprising to learn other moms have this thought too. As a new mom, you can feel so inadequate. The first night I brought my son home from the hospital, I had this thought. He cried for three strait hours and when I couldn’t comfort him, I felt as if I’d made a huge mistake. Maybe, I’m not cut out for this. He deserved someone better. Someone who knew what she was doing.

Learning your newborn can be incredibly frustrating. Don’t listen to the hype. Food, sleep, burping, or a clean diaper are just a few things your child wants. They can cry for thousands of reasons and when you can’t soothe them, you can feel like you have no business being a mom. I was very grateful to have my mom after delivery. But when she’d swoop in and take over, it left me feeling even more useless and incompetent.

Depression can make you have all kinds of hopeless thoughts. I had a few miscarriages before I gave birth to my oldest son. So when this thought crept in, it made me feel even more guilty. After all, I wanted this. Now I know, depression causes these thoughts.

You May Feel Isolated and Lonely

Having a child changes your life. A child ties you down. If you’re a new mom, you may even feel anxious about leaving the house with your baby. Routine can be helpful, but monotony can add to depression. Be aware of how much you shut yourself inside.

I remember posting pictures of my first son on social media. You would’ve never guessed how sad and isolated I felt. I was so lonely. The days seemed long waiting for my husband to return home. If you are not returning to work, you may even feel more alone. Work friends move on and suddenly your spouse becomes the sole provider for your social life. That’s not healthy!

Challenge yourself to get out of the house. The more cooped up you are at home, the more isolated you’ll feel. I share the things that helped me in the post How To Stay Sane As A Stay At Home Mom.

You May Feel Anxious or Angry

Postpartum depression includes anxiety. Who knew? Well, technically it would be postpartum anxiety, but doctors don’t really discuss it and most moms I know, experienced it alongside depression. Anxiety often includes unrealistic fears. One mom I know said she was terrified to be left alone with her baby – like her baby was safe with anyone except her. There is a “what if something happens I can’t handle” sort of sensation. 

But here is the real shocker: irritability, anger, frustration are components of anxiety. I couldn’t believe I had feelings of anger when my baby cried. I was short with my husband and my other child. Furthermore, I snapped at friends and made snarky comments over the stupidest things. I was irritated all the time and it actually took me losing a friend to grasp how badly out of control I was.

You May Need Therapy or Medication

Postpartum depression is both chemical and situational. It’s a fact, chemical and hormonal changes occur in the body after childbirth. Your body undergoes amazing, but drastic changes to give life to another person. If you choose to nurse, your body suddenly belongs to another person to sustain their life. You may need medication to help supplement or balance those changes. THERE IS NO SHAME IN TAKING ANTI-DEPRESSANT MEDICATION. You’ll be shocked to learn just how many women take them and it’s a shame they feel they must do it in secret.

Your situation changes after childbirth. You don’t have time for yourself. You don’t sleep. The weight of the responsibility may burden you. Your sex life becomes non-existent. You may be staying home by yourself with baby. Lastly, expectation versus reality may be shocking to you once baby arrives. There are lot of life changes and you have little time to process what that means. Therapy can help you work through those changes. If you are struggling, seek medical attention. Seriously – babies get shaken when you don’t seek help.

You May Struggle To Do Basic Tasks

I was unprepared for this. To clarify, I didn’t realize this was happening for while. I remember when my son was three months and he had a blow out in the middle of Target. It suddenly became a monumental task to change his diaper in a public place. I struggled to work a coffee pot and to get chores done. I felt confusion and perpetually overwhelmed, even clumsy.

Some women refer to it as “mom brain” but honestly, I think it has to do with postpartum depression. Difficulty functioning or being overwhelmed by small tasks might be a sign you are struggling with postpartum depression. No one told me that. Don’t feel ashamed asking for help – ever.

The post, What No One Tells You About Postpartum Depression, first appeared on The Unsanity Blog

Learn more about 10 Sanity Saving Products for Your Reflux Baby

Resetting Your Day as a Mom

Some days we don’t feel like adulting. Other days we’re just downright miserable, lonely and frustrated. Instead of wallowing in mom guilt, try these tips for Resetting Your Day As A Mom

Resetting your day as a mom

Bad Moods

It had been 9 days. Nine days of snotty notes, phlegm filled coughs and clingy, whiny children. Furthermore, I was sick and it was my fifth day battling this awful bug. All moms know there is no such thing as a sick day. Moms are expected to just chug some medicine and get right back to nursing others. Meanwhile, in the midst of all the coughing and sneezing, I had also managed to throw a birthday party for my husband.

By the time Monday rolled around, I was utterly exhausted and we were still sick. We hadn’t been out of the house in 9 days and let me tell you that cabin fever is a real thing. We were all sick of being sick and boy was it starting to affect my attitude.

Moodiness Is Contagious

From the moment I woke up, my toddler was under my feet following me around everywhere I went. I felt myself get irritated that I couldn’t even walk without feeling like I was going to trip over him. Normally pretty self-sufficient, he suddenly couldn’t do anything for himself. His mood crescendoed with a full-on meltdown when it was time for me to feed little brother.

Next, there was my infant who spent the better part of 5 days crying and refusing to be put down. The whining was so bad I felt like I could hear it even when he had stopped. Consistent baby cries are enough to make anyone feel like they’re going mad. I felt my blood boil. I just wanted to rest. The mess of the party was still looking at me and I had two babies that were requiring every ounce of energy I had. I wanted to walk out the door and run for the hills! My words whipped around the room like a scorpion’s tail. It’s a moment you pray no one ever sees. It reminded me of something someone said to me once.

If your pastor were to ring your doorbell right now, would your attitude change?

Ugh! Of course it would. It would,’t even have to be my pastor. But the answer tells you that you are totally capable of changing your attitude. You are in total control of how you behave. Therefore, if you could straiten up your attitude in a moment’s notice, it tells you that this crabby, ornery mood is totally on you! That’s right – it’s up to you. Believe me, I fail at this more than I care to admit. Moments like this that douse me with buckets of mom guilt afterwards. Here are some tips for resetting your day as a mom.

You Set The Tone

Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a bad mood, you’re kids also seem to have the roughest, most emotionally charged day? That’s because you set the tone in your house. It’s true. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but girlfriend, it’s true. Your kids look to you to see how they should behave and they emulate what they see. If you are resistant and angry, they pick up on it. Worse, they mirror it.

The good news is that you can reset your attitude. It takes some determination, but more than anything it takes your will. You have to decide to change your attitude. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.

Take a Time Out

Stop. Just stop right in the middle of that fire-breathing sentence and pull yourself together. Listen to what you just said and how awful it sounded. Walk away from your kids for a second if you have to, but take a moment from spitting venom and cool down. It’s not easy to admit, but the truth is, toddlers aren’t the only ones who have meltdowns! If you need to, phone a friend. Sometimes distraction or talking with a supportive person is enough to change our attitude.

Breathe & Reset Your Day

Go strait up zen and breathe in and out meditation style. Listen to your breath. Let your heart rate fall. If you need to, talk to yourself. Pray. Mediate. It’s up to you. Because I’m a Christian, I often call out the enemy and rebuke him out loud. I recognize that I’m in a battle with an enemy who wants to steal my joy (John 10:10) and devour me (1 Peter 5:8). Compose yourself and decide not to act like that. You have the power to reset your day as a mom.

Gain Perspective

If there is one thing that I learned with my psychology degree, it’s that hurting people hurt other people. When we are hurting or depleted inside, it rears it’s ugly head in the form of lashing out. Normally there are rational explanations for our mood. Maybe we are running on a few hours of sleep. Similarly, maybe our kids aren’t feeling well. Maybe we’re just all a little tired of being cooped up in the house. It sometimes helps to get to the bottom of why we’re so moody. And if it’s your kids’ behavior that set you off, consider they are hurting or frustrated about something too. This is the place where reason and compassion meet. Gain some perspective and remember you control what happens next. You have a great life and you have so many things for which to be happy and grateful.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou

Resetting Your Day as a Mom

Be Flexible

If you’re anything like me, you had grand plans for your day that suddenly feel like they have been hijacked. You must realize that that is a symptom of needing to be in control. Your plans; your way. Things don’t always go the way we planned and we must accept that. Be willing to let housework go for a day. It’s never ending anyway. I promise you, there would be housework tomorrow even if you worked today. No load of laundry is as important as loving your child.

Reprioritize and remove unnecessary commitments. Many times our moodiness comes from a place of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Take a good hard look at what you have on your plate. Remove unnecessary things that are weighing you down and reorder what you do have, spreading them out into manageable chunks. Delegate tasks to your husband. Usually most people don’t help, because they don’t know they’re needed.

Finally, ask for help. That friend, parent, in-law, sibling or neighbor who always says, “let me know if you need something,” is the one you need to call. People don’t go around offering help if they don’t mean it. If they offer, they truly don’t mind. Swallow your pride and ask for help. No one is going to think any less of you. If you’re truly struggling you need to call on the people that love you for help. Sometimes just having some support changes everything.

Extend Grace

This is the hard part. Letting it go. Once emotions are settled and the moment has passed, we are quick to feel guilt and condemn ourselves. Identifying regrets is a healthy way to stop ourselves from making the same mistake, but it can become unhealthy if we wallow in self-pity and condemn ourselves. That’s because over time, we believe what we say about ourselves. If you constantly tell yourself you’re a failure and a bad mother, you’ll start to believe it. Don’t give into that. Part of self-care and self-love is forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes. This life is about progress, not perfection. Hold yourself accountable. Apologize if necessary. Commit to change. Move forward.

“Allow yourself to be human, including making mistakes

In conclusion, it is awful that are children see us at some of our worst moments. But even in our adult-sized tantrum we can show our children how to regain self-control. Don’t be hard on yourself, mama. You got this!

Resetting Your Day as a mom

Looking for additional mom support? Learn more about How To Stay Sane As A Stay-At-Home Mom


The post, Resetting Your Day As A Mom, first appeared on My Beautiful Mess.