• Mom-to-Mom Are You OK?

May 29, 2019

by Linda Emanuel, RN, Community Health Nurse
AgriSafe Network

Having a baby is a miraculous event. Anticipation, joy, and excitement are all surreal experiences associated with bringing a new life into the world. My husband and I have three healthy grown sons.  When two of my sons were toddlers I vividly recall preparing for the birth of son number three. Working dual careers as a bedside R.N. in an intensive care unit, as well as work on the farm, I readied for the birth by preparing home and family for the new addition. What I didn’t expect was the Postpartum Depression that followed. More than the baby blues, the long-lasting feelings of sadness, anxiety, disconnect, insecurities, and somewhat robotic mindset of I was just going through the motions” hung on for months.

I wasn’t myself. I ached to get to back to being me.

One in seven new moms will suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD). The diagnosis is a serious medical condition that involves the brain and may occur during pregnancy or after birth. Easy pregnancy or problem pregnancy, first-time moms or mothers with multiple children may be affected. Regardless of income, age, race or ethnicity, culture or education PPD can get in the way of taking care of the baby and yourself. Other symptoms include unusual irritability, anger, inability to sleep, excessive crying, little interest in things formally enjoyed and scary fleeting thoughts. Anxiety in conjunction with depression may occur and a new mom may feel like she is the only person in the world who feels these burdens. She is not alone.

Risk Factors Contributing to PPD

  • A change in hormone levels (specifically estrogen and progesterone) after childbirth
  • Previous experience of depression or anxiety
  • Family history of depression or mental illness
  • The stress involved in caring for a newborn and managing new life changes
  • Having a challenging baby who cries more than usual, is difficult to comfort or whose sleep and hunger needs are irregular and hard to predict
  • Having a baby with special needs (premature birth, medical complications, illness)
  • First-time motherhood, very young motherhood or older motherhood
  • Other emotional stressors, such as the death of a loved one or family problems
  • Financial or employment problems
  • Isolation and lack of social support

Early Treatment Yields Feelings of Hope

Symptoms lasting more than two weeks indicate a serious condition. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a common screening tool utilized during routine physician visits. Honest answers to the questions will help your provider and you, develop a correct plan of care.  Click here to take the test.

Talk therapy (counseling) with a health care provider to help you find ways to manage your thoughts may ease feelings of depression or anxiety. Medications may also be safely prescribed.  

Other things you can do in addition to medical treatment:

  • Connect with other moms, look for a mom’s group in your community or online.
  • Make time for yourself, accept help from family members or friends to watch the baby and get out of the house. Run errands, visit a friend, or even take a hot bath without interruption (an achievable luxury).
  • Do something you enjoy listening to music, reading a book, take time each day to enjoy those interests
  • Be realistic- having a “perfect” home is usually unattainable with having a new baby. Do what you can and leave the rest
  • Ask for help- grandparents, friends, and family this is your cue to help with household chores or child care
  • Rest when the baby rests- I say no more
  • Be with others-adult conversation can provide comfort and company.

Please know you are not alone in this experience! I experienced PPD but did not have access to the wealth of resources and support systems that are available today. I was also convinced that I had to handle it alone. If you or someone you love may be suffering from PPD, take the time to talk with a health care professional. Their job is to help you achieve Total FarmHer Health in both mind and body. Also by sharing with your health care provider and family, the symptoms will be significantly lessened and your joy will return.

Resources

March of Dimes -PostPartum Depression (PPD)

PostPartum Support International Warmline (Support Helpline and Screening Tools)

The BlueDot Project- What are Maternal Mental Health (MMH) Disorders

 

Funding for this project is provided by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, NIOSH AFF Grant U54 OH010162

 

 




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