According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If you settled on an average of 15% of four million live births in the US annually, this would mean approximately 600,000 women get PPD each year in the United States alone.
That's a lot of women who suffer from postpartum depression if you ask me, so why is it kept a secret? Why doesn't anyone, any new mum who's suffered from it talk about it? Especially being Nigerian where we're taught to keep a lot to ourselves (which I don't advise, always have a confidant), never talk about certain things so that people do not get the "wrong impression". No man is an island and that one person you confide in might just have a solution to the problem, just might!
I found out I was pregnant very early on, my partner actually told me I was but I refuted it. I had slight cramps for over a week and I slept so much but I really just assumed it was my period coming and the sleeping was because I had just come back from a long trip ("baecation") the week before so I thought I was still jet lagged.
My friend Adeola and I usually saw our periods at about the same time, so she was over at my apartment this day and randomly said her period just ended. I looked at her confused and said "Uhm, so why am I still waiting for my own period to come?", we laughed it off but then I knew something was definitely up. I went to the drug store and bought a twin pack pregnancy test kit, peed on it and it showed negative so I sighed, called my partner on FaceTime and told him he was wrong I wasn't pregnant.
For some reason I didn't throw the stick away and this was done unconsciously, I just placed it on my side table and ignored it. The next day, I was just up and about in my apartment, went to my room to look for something when my eyes crossed the stick that had been sitting on my table. To my surprise, it had changed to positive! I was very confused at this point, I don't know how these test kits usually work so I took the second unused stick, peed on it and voila! it showed positive immediately.
The next morning, I called to book an appointment at a walk in clinic for more tests and to start my prenatal check ups. I started seeing a doctor who again confirmed from blood and urine tests that I was pregnant, at that time, I was 6 weeks gone which was super early on.
My pregnancy was a very smooth journey, I had no nausea, no spitting, I did have cravings but nothing out of the ordinary, little fatigue that stopped once my first trimester ended, though I did sleep and eat like they were both going out of fashion, it was no joke but hey I had a great excuse, I was pregnant!
During my first trimester visits to my new found doctor, we both had a discussion about my several different options of prenatal care; OBGYN or Midwife, she explained in details the difference between both and I was a lot more comfortable with the idea of a midwife and never for once till I gave birth did I regret that decision.
Throughout my prenatal visits, it was always one joyous news or the other. Ariel was always measuring one week ahead, she went head down at 28 weeks and the one that surprised me was my results from my second trimester where they screen to detect if your foetus has any chance of being born with Down syndrome. From what I understood one of my midwives' Ricky saying (Yes! I had three midwives assigned to me as does everyone), she explained that usually which is in all cases she has dealt with, there is always a positive result in every pregnant woman but the probability is what counts, though not every positive result means the child will actually be born that way. She said she had never seen anyone who's results came out completely negative, that I had a 1 in 5000 chance of birthing a baby with Down syndrome. I left the midwifery clinic extremely thankful to God for making this journey miraculous for me and a very smooth ride.
However, I didn't know my issues were going to begin after I was done with the pregnancy not during. Ariel came exactly at 40 weeks, after over 15 hours of labour that was eased with pitocin and epidural, I pushed her out in less than 40 minutes. I thought, oh wow, this is incredible, excellent pregnancy and an even more amazing delivery.
A few days after I gave birth, I started feeling very low but I thought it was the normal blues they always spoke about that didn't last more than 3/4 days. I would cry non stop for different reasons and then for no reason at all, I just always felt sad and as things around me were going good, I just wasn't feeling that way. Few weeks after I gave birth, I didn't let anyone except my mum carry my baby, I just thought every other person wanted to harm her. Ordinarily, I'm not a fearful person, people who know me well know I'm very strong minded but not this time. For weeks, I didn't get a wink of sleep because at night I would stand over my baby's bassinet to make sure she's breathing, (honestly that was how I became a co-sleeping mama), after getting tired of thinking she was in harms way, I transferred her to my bed. Worse of all, at night my heart would start beating so fast because I was scared of everything going wrong.
I got tired of this feeling and called my partner and I just started crying, I told him exactly what I felt and his words were beyond encouraging. I equally messaged my main midwife, Carron and explained to her what I had been going through and she diagnosed me with Postpartum Anxiety/Depression. She advised me to go see a Doctor who would prescribe medication but I refused to heed to that one advise and I prayed fervently about it. I didn't want to be a new mum depending on medication to act calm and normal around my baby. I want to be genuinely excited about this journey and not have to pretend because that'll be even harder so I took it to God and left it in His able hands, not long after, my mind completely went off it and about a month plus into motherhood I realized I was calm within my spirit.
I'm grateful for every challenge but this one scared me the most. I know people (some, very closely others by their stories) who have dealt with PPD and I know how mentally draining it can be especially when you have an infant to cater to. My one advise, never keep it to yourself for any reason, seek counselling of some sort from either your significant other, a close friend, your religious head, a parent or your doctor. I was lucky to have mine last only a short while, others last months postpartum. You're not the only one who's gone through this so do not be ashamed, just always seek help once you find yourself feeling a strange way, I prayed to my God, if you're a believer I'll implore you to do the same too.
The Symptoms for PPD usually are;
1. You feel overwhelmed
2. You feel a sense of guilt
3. You don't feel any bond with your baby
4. You constantly feel scared and confused
5. You feel easily irritated and angry
6. You feel emptiness or numbness
7. You can't sleep when your baby is asleep or anytime else
8. Lack of appetite
9. You can't concentrate or focus
10. You feel disconnected
11. You might be having heart palpitations randomly
12. You might have thoughts of running away
13. You feel you can't breathe at some point (panic attacks)
14. Your thoughts are constantly racing
15. You have disturbing thoughts
16. You feel a sense of dread
Please note: you do not have to feel all these symptoms at once, it could only be a few of these at once.
Any other mums experienced symptoms of postpartum depression & anxiety? Please share your experiences…x