Behind my smile as a new mom
Behind my smile as a new mom
Would you be surprised or astonished if I told you that a few months after the birth of my first baby I did not feel any attachment toward him anymore? Yup, that’s true and here are some more revelations.
(You can watch this video or continue reading to find out more about my story.)
I did not appreciate time spent in my baby’s company. When I was breastfeeding him in the morning, I would impatiently wait until he was done nursing to pass him to my husband and go back to my bed until the next feed. I was more comfortable in my bed than with him in my arms. When I was up, I was still feeling exhausted and not motivated at all to take care of him. I did not feel like playing peekaboo or kiss his lovely chubby cheeks. I would do it by principle but not full of love in my guts. It was a chore, not a shared pleasure with him. Snuggled up against my breast, his smiles and babbling were not having any tender effect on me. I would rather not be alone with him most often looking for the presence of other people to hold him. I was very anxious with the same catastrophizing thoughts that would haunt me. I could not find pleasure anymore in things that would usually bring me joy. I didn’t know why I wasn’t happy. My role as a mother felt like a big burden to me. One too much load. I told myself that I was not up to the task and that I did not deserve to be a mom. I felt shame. In public, I was suppressing my tears. Behind my new mom smile was hiding my torment. And this is how depression had settled in without an invitation in my new life as a mother, imbuing it with its bitter taste.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 5 birthing people experience major or minor depression following childbirth? “In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth” (source: https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/depression-during-pregnancy-postpartum/).
Symptoms of postpartum depression can start anytime during the first year postpartum. They are not the same for everyone. They might include the following:
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of shame or guilt
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things that are usually enjoyed
- Lack of interest in the baby or lack of feelings toward the baby
- Irritability, frustration, anger and even rage
- “This does not feel like me”
- Mood swings
- Appetite disturbance
- Sleep disturbance (Insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Unexplained physical complaints
- Poor concentration or focus
- Inability to take care of self or family
- Disinterest in sex
- Suicidal thoughts
As you can see, postpartum depression could be much more than just crying a lot, feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. It could even be hard to recognize in yourself. At first, I did not know I was experiencing depression. I thought what I was feeling was just my new normal as a mother with a young baby. Until I could not stand it anymore and told my husband I needed help. Fortunately, I was able to see my psychiatrist in a short matter of time and I got the care I needed. I took some anti-depressant. I got some support. And I recovered. I regained my joy in life and motherhood.
Unfortunately, I know there is still stigma surrounding postpartum depression. In order for parents who suffer to stop hiding and suffering in silence, we need to learn more about this topic, talk about it more and stop judging. Postpartum depression is more common than we think. It is treatable, and there should be no shame in asking for help and receiving the proper treatment. Parenthood does not have to be lived in pain and torment. Every parent deserves to feel good and have a positive experience with their baby.
If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, know that you are not alone and that this is not your fault. Don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider who will be able to help you and make a proper diagnosis. When you receive the care you need, you will feel better. There is hope.
Note: This content is given for information purpose only. It does not replace medical advice in any way. Consult with your healthcare provider if you think you might be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.