Dr. Damian Ternullo’s examination of postpartum anxiety (The PediaBlog – December 6, 2013) generated conversation in our offices and among our readers, who shared their own stories of living through it:
I had postpartum anxiety after both of my children’s births and it was truly terrible. After my second child’s birth, your office gave me the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression screening at one of his early appointments and that made it very easy to broach the issue with the doctor. In fact, I recall telling Dr. Pezzone: “I’m a mess” when I handed her the form. I could make light of it because I had already been in contact with my mid-wife and a clinical psychologist by that point.
By giving all of your postpartum mothers that screening, you’re doing them an unbelievable service. I can’t recall how many times I was given the screening at your office, but at least, based on my experience, it would be beneficial well up to one year postpartum. And one last thing…when I handed Dr. Pezzone my “failed” screening and told her “I’m a mess”, she very compassionately shared with me how overwhelmed she felt bringing home her second son, too. Her words meant a lot. I was VERY upset that I would have to quit nursing as it was a strong trigger to my anxiety, and she passed no judgement and assured me formula-fed babies did fine. Her compassion was greatly appreciated.
I’m happy to say though that after not nursing for one month I was able to re-lactate and nursed my son until 17 months. It was such a huge accomplishment and a source of such joy for me. There was light at the end of that dark dark tunnel. I just had to keep walking in the right direction with the help of the medical profession.
I also had postpartum anxiety with both of my children. I had C-sections with both of them as well. And on top of that I had a history of depression and anxiety before my pregnancy. I know every mother experiences anxiety but I found myself sitting up night after night just staring at my baby because I was terrified it would stop breathing. I did this for weeks and maybe even months. I would feel guilty for falling asleep as if I was supposed to keep vigil all night long. I did reach out for help to my doctor both times for medication to ease my transition. Although I still suffer from anxiety today, I cringe thinking about how horrible it was after my children were born. I don’t really remember enjoying any time with my newborns. I urge other women to reach out as well if they feel these types of symptoms.
Yes, please reach out for help. That’s what we pediatricians are here for. It’s what we do.