On the subject of being ready..... women need to be ready way ahead of time about the risks for postpartum depression. As I become more involved with the Georgia Postpartum Support Network, I am learning even more about additional postpartum risks and disorders. I have mentioned in previous blogs that postpartum OCD ( Obsessive Compulsive Disorder )is something that I had just recently become aware of as becoming more of a recognized problem. There is more.
While speaking with Dr. St. Louis about the need for peer education in hospital's Labor and Delivery and Mother/ Baby settings, she made me aware of a phenomenon that I intuitively had a grasp of, but which I now know is categorized. Postpartum Stress Disorder. There are a lot of hopes, dreams and expectations associated with he births of our children: most especially HOW it is going to be. How exactly the experience of giving birth ( for us ) parallels the things we have heard and seen and been told about for as long as we have dreamed of the day. Way before the plans for the nursery or what the colors are going to be, we have a notion of HOW the labor and delivery and initial "holding the baby" are going to play out and FEEL.
When it doesn't happen exactly as we have planned or hoped or imagined ( and what does ), there is, almost right away, that feeling of failure or inadequacy or betrayal, shame, guilt and remorse for how it was SUPPOSED to be and how it's all our fault. There are so many families who deliver contrary to how their moms did or how it appears on T.V., that it is no wonder that we might wonder what went wrong and how we are responsible. The re-playing of that disappointment over and over, while experiencing the hormonal shifts, pain medications, sleep deprivation and struggles with early breast feeding, not to mention a screaming baby, may lead to postpartum depression and also to postpartum stress disorders, similar to any stress disorder after an unprepared for trauma ( what trauma can be prepared for? ).
We all, health care providers and families, friends and loved- ones, need to be cognizant of cues and clues that signal problems with the postpartum period. Please be aware that mom's who are afraid that their baby doesn't like them, moms afraid to be left alone with the baby, moms who keep replaying the labor and delivery to the refrain that it didn't work right or she somehow didn't do what her body needed her to do or that she is a failure or that the system somehow betrayed her and her family, these women need to be evaluated and perhaps treated and certainly acknowledged for the very real feelings that accompany the loss they feel about how it was SUPPOSED to be and how it REALLY is. I call it the myth vs. reality factor and dealing with that can be pretty stressful. As in POSTPARTUM STRESS DISORDER.
Way ahead of time, we all need the education and information to be as prepared as we can be for new experiences that may not be exactly like we thought. And the community of providers and families need to know way ahead of time that there may be very early cues and clues that signal the need for support. As always, not knowing is often the only roadblock to safety and security. Know way ahead of time.....