If you are in pain and having strong emotions before, during or after giving birth you are not alone!
It even has a clinical name:
Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADS)
Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADS) are painful feelings and symptoms experienced by birthing people during pregnancy and in the postpartum time period. PMADS can affect any new parent-and they are very treatable conditions, however, many mothers/birthing people can be hesitant to ask for help due to feelings of shame and guilt. That’s why it’s so important that new families are aware of what is normal adjustment, as well as the signs of PMADS.
Having a child puts so many demands on a birthing parent that the outside world may not understand. It requires a birthing parent to adjust to many physical & psychological changes, including but not limited to:
- Navigating healthcare decisions
- Carrying additional financial stress
- Assuming a new role/identity- Being a parent can change so many priorities in your life
- Adjusting to a co-parent relationship
- Carrying the ‘mental load’ of meeting your little one’s needs
- Coping with interrupted sleep patterns
- Undergoing hormonal shifts
- Acclimating to feeding habits
- Finding any moments for yourself
- Recovering from the birthing experience
It is normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed during this challenging time period. Having these feelings does not make you a ‘bad parent.’ When caring for a newborn it can be easy to forget that you matter too. If you notice that this stress is impacting your daily life and ability function, then you may be experiencing PMADS.
Below are some examples of PMAD conditions:
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
You may think of Postpartum Depression (PPD) as the ‘baby blues,’ however, it is much more than just ‘feeling down.’
After giving birth, your body and your mind have to recover. The combination of physical healing, hormones dropping and adjusting to a new human-can cause you to feel numb, sad or both. If this low mood lasts and is accompanied by a lack of joy towards your baby or feeling worthless, then you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression. This type of depression can be treated and must be met with understanding & empathy.
Some parents with Postpartum Depression can have thoughts such as:
- “I never should have had a baby”
- “I don’t know what’s best for myself or my baby”
- “Everybody is better at this than I am”
- “My family would be better off without me”
- “I miss my old life, friends, freedom, partner, family, school, job”
Your baby loves you and needs you. Early identification of Postpartum Depression followed by talk therapy can help bring you closer to the joy you were expecting to feel once your baby arrived. Our team of therapists are here to hold space for you to process your birthing experience, and all of the emotions that followed.
Worrying about your baby’s safety is natural. Having a whole new human being to look after is a ton of pressure and requires you to be alert, vigilant and attentive. Yet, when being attentive turns into racing thoughts that become increasingly more disturbing, then it is time to seek psychological care.
Perinatal Anxiety and OCD can look like frequent, intrusive thoughts or images, excessive worry/fears towards parenting or your baby’s safety.
Some parents with perinatal anxiety can have thoughts such as:
“Is the baby breathing?”
“Is the baby clean?”
“Is grandma clean?”
“What if the nanny brings germs with her?”
“What if I get sexually aroused by my baby?”
“What if I drop my baby?”
“What if I Hurt my baby?”
“They will take my baby away if I tell anyone what I’m thinking.”
When you visit a mental health professional for Perinatal Anxiety or OCD, they will examine your symptoms with you without judgment, and use compassion focused methods to help you cope with intrusive thoughts.
Adjusting to parenthood can be a lot less painful with the support of a therapist who can provide the intangibles you need but may not feel comfortable asking for from your loved ones: compassion, understanding, care and attention to transition. Here at Wellness Road Psychology, we have a dedicated team of providers who are here to listen and care for you and your new family.