The way we feel postpartum can range from person to person, pregnancy to pregnancy, and even day to day. One person's postpartum experience is not yours, just like their pregnancies and labors were not yours. But I think it’s fair to say that we will all experience some level of bliss mixed with blues. With that being said, and not being able to foresee what exactly those levels will be, it’s often good to take precautions ahead of time to help prepare you for the unexpected postpartum.
In honor of September being Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders Awareness month, we wanted to talk about the realities of the postpartum period. What it looks like, when to ask for help, and how to seek treatment. Some of you may know that our amazing founder Emily Smith recently gave birth to her fourth baby this summer. She is currently navigating an unexpectedly difficult postpartum and wanted to share a few thoughts, tips, and words of solidarity with you.
I think we often find in western culture the need to prove that we can do it all. We can handle the hard stuff because if we admit that we maybe can’t, or need help, then we are seen as weak or failures. I’m not sure why we got to this point but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. And without trying to be dramatic, it’s quite dangerous. It’s a false facade. You can’t do it all. Literally no on can. We all need help, we all need support. And when we don’t reach out then we are not only hurting ourselves but also those around us who are depending on us. So here is the first bit of advice.
You weren't meant to do it alone.
You’ve heard the saying, it takes a village? Well it really does. So surround yourself with people that you trust and that you know will be there for you in the way that they always have. Accept the help. If friends come to visit to meet the new baby, let them do the dishes, or fold the laundry. Let them bring food. Let them hold the baby so that you can nap or shower. You don’t owe anyone a clean home or good company. Which takes us to advice number two.
Shoot for the shower
Another popular expression I'm sure you've heard of, shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Listen, don’t even aim that high. Shoot for taking a shower, and even if you miss you’ll land upon a pile of laundry, so take a nap. Baby steps. Don’t expect too much from yourself so you can’t feel let down. You just birthed a baby my friend. You’re doing great.
Ok, so maybe you're not the best at letting your friends and family do things for you. And maybe you’ve found the shower is just too far to aim for. Maybe you’re the kind of person who fears asking for help like you might be taking advantage of them (you’re not by the way) Hire some help! Postpartum doulas do all the things that make your life postpartum a little easier. Small household chores, help with the baby, lactation support, overnight support. Our services and packages range from just a few hours to months worth of support. Whatever you and your family need. Sometimes knowing that you’re paying for a service makes it easier to accept and ask for that help you need and that’s ok!
While there is no solid scientific proof that taking placenta encapsulations will help with your energy and mood postpartum, there is a ton of anecdotal evidence that supports it. From our website “One of the main benefits of eating placenta is it helps to lessen the risk of ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression. It replenishes iron, lends a consistent flow of oxytocin, and provides the HPL hormone to help establish an early and healthy milk supply. It also stabilizes ever changing hormones post birth, replenishes your B vitamins and energy lost during birthing, protects from infection and bleeding due to retained placenta tissue or membranes, and offers natural pain relief.” Here is the thing, if it doesn’t work, then you haven't lost out on much, but if it does end up helping you, the benefits greatly outway the risk.
We can do hard things
You will get through this because you can do hard things. Babies are hard. Sleep deprivation is hard. But it will pass. And then you’ll have a toddler, and a big kid, a highschooler, and it all gets harder and easier in its own way for the rest of our lives. So right now, in this very moment, it may seem like you’ll never see the light but I promise you will. You’ll make it through.
Seek professional help
Sometimes the asking help from friends, or the restful nights you get with the postpartum doulas are still not enough. And that’s ok too. If you find that you've tried most of the things are you’re still struggling, talk to a professional. We all need help in some way or another. It doesn’t make you any less of a person or a parent. Find what you need to help you heal and thrive so that your baby and family can thrive too.
Call 1-800-944-4773 #1 En Espanol or #2 English or visit https://www.postpartum.net to talk to someone or find local resources to you.