Becoming a mom can be one of the most significant times in a woman's life, but it is also one of the most stressful, especially during COVID-19. Your body is going through some extreme changes, your hormones are all over the place, and let's face it, you're exhausted. After all, you spent ten months creating a tiny human just to push it out and be sleep deprived for about the next 18 years. Being a new mom is hard! So, why don't we talk about it? It's time to break the stigma and start a conversation about postpartum depression.
What is postpartum depression?
The most important thing to realize about postpartum depression is that it is NOT the mother’s fault, and it can happen to anyone! It also shouldn't be confused with "baby blues" that affects about 80% of new mothers. While some of the symptoms can be similar, "baby-blues" tend to be milder and go away on its own in a couple of weeks. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, tends to be much more severe, rarely goes away on its own, and affects about 15% of new mothers.
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Excessive sadness or crying even without cause
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Excessive sleeping
- Overeating or no interest in food at all
- Excessive irritability, anxiety or anger
- Uncontrollable mood swings
- Unexplained body aches and pains
- The feeling of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling disconnected
- Thoughts of harming self or baby
- And more…
Start the Conversation
If you see a new mom in your life struggling, reach out to her! Let her know that what she is experiencing can happen to anyone, and it by no means makes her a bad mother. When it comes down to it, she needs to know that you are there for her no matter what, and you want to help. Then, when she’s ready to talk, just listen! Let her tell you about her day, what she is feeling, and even let her complain to you about the little things. The most important thing here is that you DO NOT JUDGE her! She can’t control the way she is feeling, but you can control how you respond.
Here’s What You Can Do
It’s not always about the baby – Always make sure the conversation ends up on the new mother. It is essential to leave knowing exactly how she is feeling. You need to be the safe space she can go to, even if what she is feeling doesn't make much sense.
You don’t have to be a problem solver – You're not going to make everything better by magically saying the perfect thing. Just mirror and validate what she is feeling and maybe even offer a story of when you felt similar, even if it's not exactly the same. Just let her know she is not alone in this.
Offer to go to appointments with her – Most postnatal checkups are focused on the baby. By attending appointments with her, you can be her advocate and make sure her feelings aren't overlooked.
Quit asking and start doing – A polite new mom isn't going to want to ask for help, even when she needs it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is cook her a nice meal or do a load of laundry while she takes a nap.
Celebrate her success – Suffering from PPD can make a new mom miss when she’s accomplished a small victory. Even if she just got the baby to latch, or put to bed by herself, or she remembered to eat lunch, recognize it! The little things can really add up.
Make sure you are supported too – If you are the primary emotional and physical support for a new mother experiencing postpartum depression, you need help too! The new mom may not support your needs during this time, so it is important to find yourself an outside person you can rely on as well.
Clinical Trials for PPD
Now that we've gotten the conversation rolling, let's continue it by talking about finding new ways to treat it. Postpartum depression rarely goes away on its own, but the treatment options available to new moms are severely limited.
Centex Studies is currently conducting clinical to evaluate potential new options for new adult moms and new teen moms. If you or a loved one is suffering from PPD, click here [South Houston, Lake Charles, McAllen] to learn how to get involved. There is no cost or insurance required to participate, and compensation for study-related time and travel may be available. Help us break the stigma today!