Not being able to bond with your newborn baby or having scary thoughts isn't what new mothers expect after giving birth. But this is the reality for millions of women who develop postpartum depression.
MomsEveryday panelist Kimberly Zapata, from the blog Sunshine Spoils Milk, suffered from postpartum depression. She recently shared her personal journey through the depths of postpartum depression (PPD) to help other women learn from her journey and to be more aware of the warning signs and symptoms.
“I have one daughter, she’s a little spitfire,” Zapata told MomsEveryday. “Sassy and amazing personality and growing before my eyes way too quickly.”
“I was the first to become pregnant of all my friends. It was just this grandiose expectation that it’s going to be beautiful and perfect, and it’s not, it’s not always perfect. Everyone’s telling you it’s the best time of your life and this is going to be the most amazing process and you're not feeling it you're not bonding with your child.”
Many moms experience the baby blues a few days after delivery that can last a couple of weeks, and one in seven women have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can last for several months and may include feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, irritability, low energy and having a difficult time forming an emotional attachment to their baby. It can also result in thoughts of new mothers harming themselves or their baby.
“Even though I knew I saw the signs and I kept saying, ‘No, no it can’t be that. I’m supposed to love her immediately, we’re supposed to be this perfect mother daughter relationship.’”
“I didn’t seek treatment for PPD until I was 5 months postpartum, very much well deep into the midst of PPD. II wrestled with whether or not it was normal for all of those 5 months thinking maybe all new moms go through this, this is my first. I don't know, maybe I’m just tired. I wanted to be strong so I didn’t tell anyone I kept it to myself.”
“I was solely exclusively breastfeeding, totally sleep deprived, a manic mess, just a ball of emotion. Hormones raging, everything. Then I started to notice I was getting angry. I would get fearful when my husband went to work, absolutely totally anxious because I didn’t know I could handle it and I knew I was an emotional wreck. I was crying three, four, five, six times a day for no reason. The anger, I think, is what was scaring me the most because I’m usually a pretty level person and I was snapping at my husband, and my daughter would cry and I would yell. She’s a newborn, of course she’s gonna cry, but I couldn’t handle it.”
“The defining moment for me, when I finally told my husband how bad it was, she was having a terrible, terrible day teething and nothing could stop her from crying and I actually, while breastfeeding, I had a vision of smothering her and holding her to my chest while I was feeding her and I put her down in her crib, and I walked out of the room, and she was still crying and I was crying and that was the moment when I said, 'I need to do something because this isn’t normal and it’s not going away.'”
“I called my OB-Gyn first. He prescribed an antidepressant, one that’s relatively safe for breastfeeding -- as safe as it was gonna get. The biggest concern was 'How does that affect my breast milk? Is it being passed to my daughter?' It came down to a point where I had to decide which is safer for my daughter -- a mother on medication or a mentally unstable mother. Which was the trade off? It really took me about a year and a half to finally start to come out of the depression.”
“I finally feel the bond is there the bond that I didn't have initially. She’s my world. All the struggles I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t trade a day, I’m thankful I’m able to sit here and say she’s here, I’m here, and we made it through it because there were days when I didn't think I was gonna make it through it.”
“I guess the biggest advice I can give is to take it day by day. Don’t be ashamed because it’s okay, whatever feelings you have, they're okay they’re normal. You're not a bad mom, and you're just as important and your feelings are just as valid, so reach out for that help and do not be ashamed even if you're not sure it's PPD. Talk to someone about it.”
“I have heard people say that it’s going to be the most difficult thing you're ever going to do but I don’t think that can be stated enough. There was not enough conversation about the difficulties and potential, don't feel bad if it’s this way. It’s normal.”
“The three things I would recommend to moms to take care of themselves would be writing, some kind of exercise, and meditating. Those three things have been life changers for me. I make sure I make time to run or write and spend a little time on me and for the longest time that felt selfish as a new mom. Of course my daughter needs me. She’s a newborn, but I can only help her if I’m mentally there, so I think the biggest thing is to make that effort to not feel guilty.”