6 Topics to Cover With Your Doctor When You Have Postpartum Depression
When I was two weeks postpartum and my parents had to go back to their normal lives, Baby BP was, by nature, being a baby. Specifically and honestly, he was a preemie. So he had less motivation to nurse. He was hungry every two hours, and he cried, a lot. I wanted to be able to exclusively breastfeed him, and I was trying not to beat myself up too much when I wasn’t initially able to. In order to keep my supply up and make sure he ate enough, our schedule went like this:
- Baby BP wakes up from nap and cries.
- I attempt to nurse him directly from the breast, mostly unsuccessfully and painfully.
- I have to give him formula in order to make sure he gains enough weight and doesn’t become jaundice (again).
- I struggle to keep his legs from pulling the tubing out of my giant hospital grade breast pump, as I try to make enough milk to keep up with his needs for the next feeding.
- I pump for 45 minutes to an hour to get as much milk as I can while he screams.
- I finish pumping. Then, I have to figure out how to soothe Baby BP and also store the breast milk without spilling any, which I did often because I was so disoriented from being tired.
- Then, I wash dishes, clean up the living room, make the bed, take a quick shower or run the vacuum.
- Finally, I sit down on the couch. Then, it is time to feed him again, and the cycle starts over.
I’m fairly certain most new moms can identify with this grueling schedule, whether they are breastfeeding or not. The pattern of feeding the baby, and then cleaning up and finally sitting down, only for it to be time for the next round, is familiar amongst all my mom friends.
However, for me, this time was especially trying. I started to have physical symptoms as a result of the mental and physical exertion. I got headaches, my stitches hurt immensely and I started to get painful leg cramps. The second week after delivery, my left leg was so cramped and burning hot. One of the items on the discharge instructions to watch out for is localized leg cramps because they could indicate a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot. That day, I for sure thought I had a DVT. My leg hurt badly, and I could not stretch and relieve the tightness.
I called the midwife on call and she told me to come in. I went into the office and she examined my leg. She confidently told me it didn’t look like a DVT. If it was, then it would feel like a rock-hard lump and would be so obviously hot to the touch that my skin would be red. I was relieved it wasn’t more serious, but my provider could still tell my anxiety level was high.
She asked me how I was doing, and I told her I thought I had postpartum depression or anxiety. It really was that simple. There was just no other explanation for all of these symptoms. My brain didn’t work. My body was giving up. My emotional reserve was at an all time low. I had a nagging feeling that I was failing. I was crying all the time. I was just empty inside.
Now, my leg hurt. My nipples were so sore, and my stitches were too tight. In fact, she looked at my stitches that day and cut a couple of them because she could see where they were pulling. I was at least happy that all this wasn’t in my head, and I had an actual physical ailment. This fact made me feel slightly less like I had lost it.
Now, granted, I had previous experience with depression. So I was aware of what it felt like to not be myself. I will say this time there was an extra layer of guilt and emptiness because I really wanted to be able to enjoy my baby, and I just knew my brain wasn’t letting me. I’m not a trained counselor, but here are some things that helped me when talking to my provider. If you are feeling “off,” consider some of the items below when addressing your symptoms with your provider.
1. Try to identify if you are having any physical symptoms.
This could come in the form of headaches, muscle cramps, pain in your uterus or vaginal canal, fatigue and soreness.
2. Consider your expectations.
Are you disappointed that the beginning of motherhood isn’t what you thought it would be? Did you expect your postpartum to be completely different than it is? I definitely thought I would be having a different experience after birth!
3. Are you getting enough support?
My husband was working a lot after Baby BP was born. Sometimes, the lack of support can really drain you.
4. Are you getting any sleep?
This was a major factor for me. My brain really worked against me the more tired I was.
5. Let your provider know your schedule.
I was feeding Baby BP on demand, and I still am. However, my provider was able to help me tweak the schedule so I could get some extra rest.
6. Think about self-care.
I wasn’t doing any self-care when Baby BP was born. It was hard enough to get him taken care of, let alone myself. I know many moms feel this way. The best suggestion my provider gave was to take an Epsom salt bath, and it did work wonders. The other thing was to stay hydrated. I have a 24 oz Tervis tumbler, and I carried it around with me everywhere. I still do. I like it because it had a wide, fat straw, which helps me to drink water faster and more of it.
I’m not a medical doctor, but this is the recipe I used for my Epsom salt baths. Always ask your doctor before trying anything you read on the internet! Remember, you are doing an amazing job! Leave a comment below if you have suggestions for talking with your provider or things that work for you.
This post originally appeared on Bay Ridge Room.
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