Maternal mental health is an issue near and dear to my heart. I wrote about my experience with PPD in a previous post because I was blindsided–and I wanted other families to know that if it could happen to me, then it could happen to you.
So when I found out that Chrissy Teigen teamed up with Allegheny Health Network (AHN) to help reduce the stigma of postpartum depression and anxiety, I took a screenshot and sent it to one of my best friends.
Finally, there is a voice that might be loud enough to reach the women who need extra support during the perinatal period. Also, Chrissy Teigen and I will have something to discuss should we ever meet and become confidants. For me, this is peak excitement.
Part of their initiative involves #MyWishForMoms. And I have three big ones:
I wish moms knew that they are still important. You are allowed to leave the house without your newborn and without guilt. You should talk to another adult several times during daylight hours, and the endless cycle of sleep, feed, play gets better. Motherhood is hard, but it doesn’t need to feel impossible.
If you are suffering, you can get well with the right help. It might be medication. It might be therapy. It might be both, and it might take time. But there is light and you deserve to feel whole again.
I wish moms knew that anxiety and depression can affect them at any perinatal stage–during pregnancy or after birth. And it may not feel the way you expect.
I thought not being able to sleep during pregnancy was normal. But my chronic insomnia was an indicator that something was wrong. When I brought it up with my doctor, she dismissed my concerns and told me to get more exercise. I should have found a new doctor. Instead, I internalized her words and blamed myself.
It might feel like people are looking out for you all the time. Monthly and weekly appointments with your doctor. Family asking how you are doing. That six week check-up. But you need to speak up if something doesn’t feel right. Find someone who listens. You aren’t complaining. You are fighting for your health.
I wish moms knew that formula and breast milk are both valid options. Breastfeeding did not go well for me, but I felt such pressure to be successful that I lied to the nurses. I said it was working, even though my jaundiced, screaming newborn was trying to tell them a different story.
Thank goodness we went to the pediatrician the next morning. At that point, my baby was showing all the signs of serious dehydration. Formula became a medical necessity. I cried. I shook. And I sought the help of a lactation consultant who suggested a soul-sucking method called “triple feed,” which meant all of my time was spent nursing, pumping, and bottle feeding.
I’m not even exaggerating when I say that all the joy left my body. It doesn’t need to be that way. The message here is that your mental health is just as important as feeding your baby. Find a way to take care of both yourself and your baby’s nutrition requirements. Fed is best.
Let’s break the silence.
Our stories have power. What’s your wish for moms? And Chrissy, thanks for raising awareness. It makes a difference.
For more information about maternal mental healthcare, talk with your doctor and/or visit Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health.