Let’s talk about postpartum depression
There’s a chilling secret lingering in the homes of 1:7 mothers across the United States. It resounds across the entire World. seventeen percent of these women will share their secret with a spouse, a friend, or a medical provider. Unfortunately, 83% will suffer silently. It’s time we kick down those doors and start the conversation; It’s time to talk about postpartum depression.
Somewhere there’s a child crying and a mother wondering why she does not care; a mother who’s feeling a crippling amount of shame and guilt; a mother who can not bear the thought of feeding that baby one more second of one more day. She loves her baby. but cannot stand him at the same time. This is the face of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression, here on referred to as PPD, is a prolonged period of emotional turmoil that ensues after a woman embarks on her life with a newborn, either through birth or adoption. It may not happen right away, mothers are susceptible to PPD for a full year. It is treatable and it is not their fault.
Moms with postpartum depression report an inability to function in everyday life; suddenly eating, sleeping and basic household tasks are almost impossible to keep up with. They have an increased risk for guilt, fear and anxiety. They may experience difficulty providing for themselves and their families. Most of these mothers admit to the loss of pleasure in life, or their interests. They can become withdrawn and may even have accompanying thoughts of self harm or thoughts of harming others. However, the most obvious notion of all, is the lack of ability to bond with their child.
“I distinctly remember welling up with tears, feeling an overwhelming sense of despair, and saying to my husband, I hate him. And I meant it.” This is quote from Beverly Chester, an average U.S. Marine Corps spouse and health professional, describing her feelings toward her newborn and brave enough to share with the world.
“I actually had daydreams of giving my son up for adoption and having a mulligan of child-free life. I cried when my husband brought him to me for feeding because I didn’t want to hold him anymore. I was DONE with motherhood and I cursed the gods for tricking me into wanting it.”
This is merely a glimpse into the thoughts and life of a woman suffering from PPD.
Children of mother’s experiencing PPD fall victim of it, too. They can experience develop-mental delays, exhibit behavioral problems, become withdrawn, irritable, and at times inconsol-able. The remedy, attention and affection, are unfortunately something most mothers with PPD cannot provide. This can be a true recipe for disaster.
Partners may also be effected in the event of PPD. They might not have had realistic expec-tations about how their lives would change. They may become depressed aiding and assisting their spouses through the battle of PPD. They may be dissatisfied with their spouses ability to cope with a new baby.
So many factors and so much heartache; no one is safe. Why does this happen? How does this happen? Unfortunately the answer is not so simple. There are many things that may contribute to PPD such as hormone fluctuations, previous history of depression, unusual stress (recent loss, moving, a deployed spouse, etc.), diet, lack of social support, birth trauma, marital problems, a difficult infant, and more.
Military spouses are at an increased risk of developing PPD. In a report conducted by Post-partum Support International, Jessica Banas stated that 10.94% of the women they screened for postpartum depression tested positive. The findings were consistent with the general conclusion that up to 1:7 women suffer from PPD. However, 25.27% of women with deployed spouses screened positive. Thats 1:3 women totaling a 2.3% increase.
Intrigued by her findings, Jessica contacted the pentagon office of Assistant Secretary of Defense to find that approximately 357,000 pregnant women had a deployed spouse. She wrote, “After reading all of these statistics, one might consider that at 15-20% and at 2.3 times greater risk (35-46%), the number of military spouses expected to get postpartum depression might jump to numbers approximating 145,000.
One might further hypothesize that approximately 51,000 (15% also at 2.3 times greater risk, or 35%) of those women could become so severely depressed that without treatment, they attempt suicide. Even if we keep the suicide statistic at 15%, the number remains significant at approximately 22,000 military women attempting suicide.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing PPD, there is help available. The first step is reaching out. Many mothers choose to confide in a friend, or their spouse, while others may speak directly to their medical care provider in fear of being judged by loved ones. If you are worried about a friend, ensure that you create a safe place for them to open their hearts.
New Parent Support Program is a great resource for military affiliated mothers suffering from PPD. Beverly, the mother from earlier, found her support through the program. In fact, she had been having home visits before she even knew she had PPD. It was not until the visits commenced that it hit her, which is when she contacted them to receive support specific to PPD. She said, “Once I realized that I had a problem, I had nurses from the New Parent Support Program on base come visit me at home just so I would get human interaction.” The New Parent Support Program can also put you in contact with behavioral and mental health agencies.
Japan Birth Resource Network is another useful tool. It is a local network comprised of professionals working for families throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Their mission is “to provide evidence-based information as well as resources connecting families with professionals throughout Japan who provide mother-and-baby-friendly care as outlined in the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI).”
Japan Birth Resource Network, here on referred to as JBRN, is dedicated to raising awareness about various birth related issues in our community and highlighting the remarkable effects of mother-centered care.
JBRN provides evidence-based in-formation to assist in empowering families and encouraging them to make educated decisions. JBRN can provide a family with all the resources they need to learn about PPD, prevent it, and work through it. JBRN also has various free and useful events related to birth. Quarterly, they host a series called “Birth Talk” where they share birth stories, and aide families on their jour-neys to parenthood.
Doulas are another huge element to JBRN. The doulas a part of JBRN all follow MCFI and DONA standards of practice. They all have their base business licenses and are extremely dedicated to the families in our community. Labor doulas are a proven tool to aide in preventing PPD.
“Looking up and seeing her, and hearing her speak to me; it was as if she were a fairy god-mother, and I was at such peace,” stated Brittni Crawford, a U.S. Marine Corps spouse and mother of three boys, as she described her experience with her birth doula.
Birth doulas are trained professionals who provide continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to families throughout pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period. Doulas combat PPD by facilitating a positive experience.
Evidence shows birth doulas help drastically with various components during this chapter of an expectant families’ lives. They supply couples with critical information to assist them in the ability to make informed decisions throughout their journey. This specialized education allows the couples to feel that they are indeed an integral part of the process and ensures they are secure in their choices. In turn, this can eliminate possible future regret or confusion. Informed consent, and establishing good communication between the providers and the parents may also decrease the amount of unwanted interventions which will further reduce the risk of PPD.
Not only do they facilitate communication between parents and providers, but they help and encourage the expectant parents to stay connected through birth. Doulas help guide partners to be involved in the entire process if they desire. They encourage, teach, and instill confidence in them to be able to better support the laboring mother. This results in the start of strong, and happy relationship post-birth. Sometimes, if a partner is left out, they feel forgotten. Other times, a mother may feel upset because the partner did not do enough and so on.
Birth doulas also help minimize unrealistic expectations and increase confidence in parental role perceptions. Families who use doulas are typically more knowledgeable and better equipped to handle the stress and care of a newborn.
Lastly, doulas provide a safe place for families. They are non-judgmental and will provide and ear at every corner and help support and find the resources couples need to continue on this thrilling adventure.
As you can see, doulas are a great asset to a positive birth experience. Various studies reveal a significant decrease from the highest average of women who suffer from PPD.
PPD knows no bounds; anyone can be affected, So let’s open those doors and stand up to combat this battle. It will not go away if they pretend its not there. Building awareness starts at home. Break the silence, because somewhere a child is crying and a mother needs our help.