Last week, a good friend of mine had a baby. A beautiful, healthy baby, and I was so happy and excited for her and I got major baby fever just being in the same room as her. And the thing is, even though I was so overjoyed and excited for her, I was also....anxious. For her. Not because of her, but because of me.
Having been through my own experience with postpartum depression, every time I see a new mom I get a little bit anxious. I worry that she will feel the way I did, I worry that she won't feel comfortable reaching out, I worry that she will feel ashamed or alone or scared. The thing is, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety still kind of feel like a secret that none of us wants to talk about. You don't want to be Debbie Downer when someone is celebrating a new life coming into this world. I even sometimes get anxious that by mentioning it I will somehow make them feel that way too, which I of course realize is ridiculous. But with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety there can be so much shame and guilt, it's not the easiest thing to talk about. But it's also not uncommon, the fact is, more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy (read more here).
But, again, you want to be positive, you want to celebrate, so you don't say anything and you reassure yourself that if they are struggling they will talk to their OBGYN about it, or maybe the pediatrician, or their mother, or a sister or a close friend. You hope they will, if they need to.
But, just in case they don't, let's all try to create a space for our sisters and our friends, where they can share with us if they are struggling. No stigma and no judgment, make it part of your welcoming of the new baby to check in with the mom. Make sure you check in with her. Yes we all know new moms aren't sleeping and new moms are tired, but take the time to really check in with her and make sure she feels supported, make sure she knows she is not alone, that you are there to talk, you are there to support. That you can be the one to call if she has the "baby blues" (god I really hate that term). And don't forget, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety can happen to anyone, any time (and remember, you are always a new mom). It can be your first or your fourth or your sixth. For me, it was with my second baby. And with it being my second, it kind of took me off guard. This didn't happen the first time, what is wrong with me this time? It made me even less likely to want to talk about it.
So to all of you, my close friends and those of you that read the blog but maybe we've never met, just know that when you have a new baby, I am so happy for you, and I also worry about you, because I have been there. And if you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. Shoot me an email at Jenny@mamatoga.com if you ever need to talk about postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. You are not alone. xoxo