Immediately after giving birth to my first son, I felt like a huge failure. My birth plan did not pan out as I desired, I was heartbroken. Yes I had a beautiful healthy child but I felt that because things didn't go the way I worked so hard for that somehow I was failing him already as a mother, most importantly I felt like no one understood. After the first night in the hospital one of the nurses asked how I was feeling, I quickly answered "fine" but in my mind I kept screaming to myself "ask to see the social worker on staff, you are not ok, you need to process your birth" but I quieted those thoughts because my fear told me "no! do not get a social worker or therapist involved because they will flag your file and DFCS will come and determine your parental fitness and they may decide you are not capable" simply put I was fearful to reach out for support. Looking back now I see how fearful those thoughts were. Over the last several years talking to moms they too have felt this fear, they too have struggled with anxiety, they too have felt overwhelmed by all the changes motherhood can bring. No one wants to be labeled, no one wants to feel judged. Maternal mental heath therapists are here to help, without the fear of judgement, they are apart of the support team.
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Tanya Thomas who is a therapist specializing in maternal mental health. She explained that 1 in 7 mothers will experience Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADS). Therapist Thomas explained that there are different diagnosis that fall under PMADS.
Here are so basic working definitions courtesy of https://www.postpartumva.org/types-of-perinatal-mood-and-anxiety-disorders/
Baby Blues- Sadness or irritability, this is normal after baby is born due to hormones and lack of sleep.
Depression- anger, guilt, sadness, irritability lack of interest in the baby, trouble concentrating, and thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself
Anxiety- extreme worries or fears over babies well-being
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - repetitive unwanted thoughts/mental images (obsessions), and the need to do things repetitively to cope with obsession.
Panic Disorder- This is a form of anxiety in which the sufferer feels very nervous and has recurring panic attacks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -often caused by a traumatic or frightening childbirth, and symptoms may include flashbacks of the trauma with feelings of anxiety and the need to avoid things related to that event
Psychosis- Individuals experiencing psychosis sometimes see and hear voices or images that others can’t, called hallucinations. They may believe things that aren’t true and distrust those around them. They may also have periods of confusion and memory loss, and seem manic. This severe condition is dangerous so it is important to seek help immediately.
Motherhood is hard and so are transitions. Whether you are having baby blues or struggling through anxiety please don't be fearful to reach out and seek help. Therapist Thomas even explains that she does phone consultations to make seeking help easier for moms. Petrichor Counseling is located in Duluth, Georgia. Here is their website
I hope this resource is helpful to mamas out there.