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A Mother’s Struggle: Talking PPD and PTSD

When I started this blog post, I was writing a rebuttal to an article

“11 Reasons Why People Need to Stop Romanticizing Childbirth”. Each time this article has come across my newsfeed, it brought sadness to my heart. Not just because the article is unfounded and discouraging, but because I could feel the pain driving the ideology of the writer.

Much light as been shone on Postpartum Depression (PPD). However, we often times over-look or ignore Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medical professionals don’t want to admit that our modernized medical treatment of birth is causing trauma and needs processing and healing like any other trauma in life. A study in 1995 by Dr. W. Emerson found that 95% of US birth were considered traumatic, 50% rates MODERATE TRAUMA and 45% rated SEVERE. This a HUGE problem in the technocratic model of child birth.

The most undermining and over-used phrase is, “having a healthy baby and healthy mama is ALL that matters.” YES, having a healthy baby and healthy mama is the MOST important thing. However, it is NOT THE ONLY important thing. Telling a woman that she has a healthy baby and that’s ALL that matters, is like telling a person that because they have air, they don’t need water to drink. Its undermining to the experience the mother has endured. Birth is a total physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual experience intertwined together. We cannot disturb one without a rippling an effect on them all.

How do we recognize PPD and PTSD?

What is PPD?: Postpartum Depression..

What is PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder (depression) in this blog, talking after birth.

What’s the difference? PPD is usually caused as result of hormone fluctuation during and after transition of have a new baby and may result regardless of one’s birth experience; while PTSD is the result of have a traumatic experience during pregnancy and/ or birth process.

When does each occur: Immediately to several years after birth or miscarriage/ PTSD CAN HAPPEN ANYTIME

In the US PPD and PTSD is very common with over 3 million cases of PPD; however, not many cases of PTSD after birth are officially diagnosed.

The symptoms of PPD and PTSD resemble each other and they are:

  • Uncontrollable weeping

  • Anger and resentment towards baby or partner

  • Thinking that everyone is better off without you

  • Detailed thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby/ kids.

  • Lashing out towards others or violent outbursts

  • Loss or increased of appetite

  • Can’t emotional or physically function around the house after four weeks after birth

  • Feeling physically ill

  • No interest in yourself, others, or hobbies

Are both preventable?

In many cases. Knowing your options and preparing for your birth and postpartum is a critical step. Hiring a doula can decrease a traumatic birth by up to 30% and help with postpartum. Many cultures have postpartum-care traditions centered around to mother, with these traditions PPD is not frequent. These cultures, mothers are not to leave their house for 21-40 days after births. During their time of rest, mothers are pampered with massages and warm meals. Other women come in for cooking and house cleaning. The primary job of the new mother is to love her baby and feed her baby during the scared “fourth” trimester.

Now, you may or may not have a tribe that come in everyday, but there are some applicable ways you can plan for your forth trimester

  • Meal trains

  • Plan your partner’s vacation, mother, and mother-in-law trips in different weeks

  • Arrange child care for older children

  • Prepare Frozen meals months in advance

  • Run a skeleton schedule for 3 months after birth. Only the “have to’s”

  • Don’t allow friends and family over unless they are there to help

  • Let things go, not sweeping the floor isn’t the end of the world

  • Hire a postpartum doula

  • 5-5-5 day

  • take 5 days in bed

  • take 5 days on the bed

  • take 5 days around the bed

Taking care of yourself

  • Shower, if this refreshes you

  • REST

  • Light exercise, walking, gentle yoga

  • Take time to connect to yourself

  • Eat nutritionist warm food

  • Do not diet

  • Be generous to yourself. You are not meant to bounce back immediately to your normal size, schedule, and abilities

If you’re helping with a new mom

  • Arrange visiting times

  • When visiting, do house work

  • Bring groceries, food or her favorite warm drink

  • Offer to watch the baby while mom naps or cleans ups

  • Listen to mom

As a new mom, who may already be struggling with PPD or PTSD. Here are some options

  • Self-manage care

  • Therapist or counselor

  • Homeopathy Provider

  • Body worker for trauma

  • Surround yourself with support in a mothers/women group

  • OB or Medical provider for medical treatment

This is an opinion piece only of my experiences and research and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. If you are in a dark place where you are considering harm yourself or others, contact your support, support hotline, or provider IMMEDIATELY.

A final verse that I took personal comfort in……

Psalms 134

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,

Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

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