Chelsea is the mom that you can find at the park consistently. She lives for a schedule, and a schedule is enforced in her home. In fact, if you were to run a basic search on how to be a happy stay-at-home-mom, most moms report that having a schedule helps with their ability to be happy and fulfilled. (1) (2) (3)
Chelsea’s case is different than the others in that she never sought professional help. Many women with PPD/PPA never do seek professional help and mostly try to heal themselves within their own homes due to skyrocketing medical prices and even anxiety of entering a doctors’ office. In Chelsea’s case, she didn’t think to use medicine to help her work through her emotions and frustrations.
Chelsea’s PPD/PPA described her struggle as including panic, anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, and stress. These emotions manifested in possible panic attacks, crying at night, and worrying about the baby irrationally. Still, she recognized her emotions and behavior for what it was—postpartum depression. Since Chelsea approached her PPD/PPA without medicine, she found that her best defense was sleep.
“I knew this was my time to sleep, and I knew my body needed it more than ever, so I decided to quickly check my email and respond to a few, and my mom was in town, so we chatted briefly. However, once when Caleb started to cry, I just freaked out. I hadn’t gotten to sleep yet. So I told my mom, ‘Keep him happy for ten minutes, then I’ll come feed him.’ So she did, and I cried in bed for a few minutes, slept for ten minutes, and I woke up feeling like a totally different person.”
Chelsea maintained a logical approach to her struggles. She said that her approach included “taking it hour by hour, feeding by feeding.”
Looking back she recognizes how important sleep is for a new mother and highly suggests that new moms take the advice of sleeping when the baby sleeps.
It should be noted that Chelsea felt that she functioned well in the day. During the day she felt calm and relaxed, but at night, feedings tended to act a trigger for her, since breastfeeding was no easy task for her. She needed help from her husband to help her get set up for feedings during the night, which is more common than what most mothers mention. Partners and spouses can act as a huge support to struggling mothers and should be viewed as a valuable asset, whenever available.
Chelsea’s best advice that I wish I had known as a new mother: “Take everything one thing at a time. If you’re feeding the baby, just focus on that feeding. Don’t start worrying about the next one. Also, ask for help when you need it—spouse, family, and friends. You can ask for help.”
Wise advice, Chelsea.
All names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.