Guest Post by Lauren Cecora is a Postpartum Mentor for women who are desperately overwhelmed and overscheduled. Through her Sanity Saving Tips, free challenges, and book, she’s here to help you regain balance in your life- while making it all effortless.
And when she’s not saving women’s sanity, you can find her with a bottle of wine (yes bottle!), traveling the world, or out on the occasional kid free excursion.
Meet Lauren and get ready to Save Your Sanity at www.laurencecora.com
I want to start off by clarifying that any maternal mental health disorder is different for every individual person. Everyone experiences things differently, and while that isn’t much help initially- my biggest advice is to trust your gut. If you feel that something is out of place- run with that. You know your body best and even when things are different or new- you more than anyone else will know if something feels different than before.
It’s my hope in sharing some of my signs and symptoms with you that it will empower you to think about your life and to help you seek help and healing if suffering with a maternal mental health disorder. Now that I have made it through to the other side of Postpartum Depression and have been managing my Postpartum Anxiety for almost 2 full years, I can see now where my first initial signs were present. I later wrote a book with way more information and tips for healing with PPD and PPA- called: Past-Partum from Shattered to Sane, but something was not quite right in the little corner of my world..
- Every little upset in a routine or schedule was debilitating.
I didn’t know how to function or problem solve; everything was overwhelming me and I couldn’t wrap my head around adjusting little things. This was everything from nap time not working out, a fussy baby, more crying than normal, more nursing sessions than normal. Everything that happened to throw me off my grove trapped me. I felt helpless and as is everything in my world was falling apart. I just stopped functioning and I would sit in my house, cancel plans, and just be miserable.
2. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt happy or joyful.
Even when my baby would coo or smile at me or do something amazing, I wasn’t truly happy, that rush of happy endorphins never happened. I would smile on the outside, but I would be annoyed or sad or angry on the inside. And instead of me relishing in beautiful moments I would chastise myself for not appreciating things the way one should. Wasn’t having a baby supposed to make me happy?
3. I was crying over everything.
Baby woke up 5 minutes early, I cried. I took a shower but didn’t have time to do my hair, I cried. Someone took my parking space at Whole Foods, I cried. Everything made me cry and it would happen without warning or control. And it lasted so much longer than the normal talked about 1-2 weeks post delivery. This went on for months.
4. I would imagine ways to make my daughter stop crying.
This one is probably going to raise some red flags, but I feel it very important to mention because some moms, think thoughts like these and they are not bad moms. When my daughter would cry for hours on end, or wake up in the middle of the night and I was struggling to get her back to sleep, I would sometimes be pacing the dark house, humming a lullaby and thinking of ways I could make her stop, and not in a good normal way. “If I hit her head on the counter hard enough maybe it will knock her out and she will sleep for a few hours” or “Could I just put her in the car in the garage and shut the door so she could cry it out”.
Sleep deprivation caught up quick with a newborn nursing frequently and a husband deployed without family around. I’m not proud of these thoughts, but they happened, and it was a clear sign that something wasn’t right with me if I was even thinking these thoughts, sleep deprived or not.
5. I would get these debilitating migraines.
I was never one to get even headaches unless I was really sick or stressed out. Maybe once a year, but I had experienced a migraine several years prior due to a work related concussion and I vowed to never want to experience that sort of thing ever again. So when I started getting these piercing aches in my head and I couldn’t get them to go away, I knew something was wrong. The only way I could stop a migraine was to go to sleep. Well for a mom with a husband deployed and a newborn at home and not a single family member around, sleep was not an option in my life. While I thought it was sleep deprivation or stress related as a cause, it turned out to be a severe nutrient deficiency due to pregnancy, nursing, and then not taking proper care of myself. After honing in on a whole food nutrition diet and adding in supplements on a daily basis, not only did it help my stress levels but the migraines stopped after a few weeks.
While these were some of my big signs that I was suffering from more than normal “new mom blues” I have met plenty of women that experience symptoms that are different or similar. Maybe it shows up as insomnia, or uncontrollable anger or rage. Maybe it shows up as exhaustion or lack of empathy or feeling. There is no single definition of PPD- but there are perimeters that you can hit to fall into the category. My best advice for any mom (new or seasoned) is to seek help: your OB or Midwife, your primary care doctor, a nurse, or friend- have them screen you for maternal mental health and get a referral for some counseling. Counseling was an excellent way for me to express my feelings without judgement and provided me guidelines to start taking care of myself.
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