From the point of view of a postpartum doula I am in tune to behaviours and moods of women and men that I work very closely with. The general definition of postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first three months after delivery. Postpartum depression is not specific to only women, but to new father’s as well. Symptoms can include fatigue, sadness, crying episodes, anxiety, irritability, reduced libido, and change in eating and sleeping habits.
This topic is not discussed nearly enough, overall mental illness tends to be ‘swept under the rug’. Postpartum Depression needs to be talked about among family members as well as society as a whole. There are contributing factors in a family unit that can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression such as financial strain, existing relationship problems, younger parents, history of mental disorders, and complications during childbirth.
Knowing that there are changes within a woman’s body and helping everyone within the family unit, Doulas are able to see the signs and suggest ways to help combat the milder forms of postpartum depression.
What do I do if my partner and I are not getting enough alone time?
Have a friend or family member you trust watch over the little one(s) once every couple of weeks, make sure you make time for a “date night.”
What can I do during the day to get out of the house?
There are many support groups in and around Edmonton including free post-natal programs through your local health unit, and several formal moms groups such as Mother Haven, Modern Mama, Momstown and Mommy Connections. Edmonton even has several coffee shops dedicated to growing families; Café O’Play in Riverbend and Java Mama in St. Albert.
How do we combat the sleep issues in our household, our children fight us when bedtime arrives?
Be consistent & persistent, set a bed time schedule that works for your household. Make sure the children are dry, fed, and content before attempting the final decent into slumber. Be forewarned that this week or two of distress will be worth the end result. Incorporate a “white noise” maker, or soft music in the background. Quietly say it’s bedtime and place your child in bed, give good night kisses and hugs, then leave the child in their safe warm bed. This may be the tough part for any parent. The child may cry and become upset; you can go and reassure them that you are still in the house. But do not pick them up, be consistent and persistent. Repeat night after night for about a week, and you will finally have a sleep schedule.
I will always suggest to any family members that I suspect have any signs of PPD to seek medical advise from their physician. My number one rule is DO NOT feel ashamed by PPD. It is a reality! Knowing it exists’ is the first step in dealing with it.
January is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month in Edmonton. Come out to meet and support many local mom-focused businesses at West Edmonton Mall main stage on January 28 from 12 to 5pm.
Written by Jamie Schneider, DivineDoula.ca