by Kimberly Belben, MA
After months of pregnancy the monumental moment has finally arrived. Baby is placed on your chest, and you fall in love looking into those sweet little eyes. You have imagined this moment of instant bonding that would take place, and here it is. You anticipated love, smiles, and that “feeling” everyone describes as the miracle of childbirth. Except you don’t feel it, or maybe not quite like you expected. Or maybe after a complicated birthing experience that went nothing like you planned, baby is whisked away by a stranger in blue scrubs, and no one is telling you where he will be or when you will see him again.
Postpartum Distress occurs more often than is recognized. It affects first-time moms and moms who already have children. Women begin struggling with postpartum anxiety and depression in a number of different situations. Some examples might include:
· After a complicated birthing experience that went nothing like planned;
· During pregnancy with questions like, “What kind of mom am I going to be?” or “Will I be enough?”;
· Coming home from the hospital to a quiet, empty house and wondering, “Now what?”;
· Or months later, still questioning, “Am I enough for this child?” or “What if something happens to him or her?”.
Many women who experience postpartum distress talk about the “thoughts you dare not speak to another person” in fear that your thoughts might make a statement about the kind of mom you are or that they might reflect the love, or lack thereof, you have for your child. They feel that perhaps, if spoken, these thoughts would cause enough concern that someone would report them, and their baby would be taken away. Whatever the content, these thoughts bring significant discomfort, and you may worry about the safety of your baby or yourself.
These thoughts and feelings are often brushed off as “baby blues” or as a mom adjusting to her new role. So, how do you know if you need help? Trust your instincts. If you are asking yourself this question, it’s probably time to seek help. If you find yourself searching the internet for validation of how you feel, chances are this is more than simply “adjusting” to a new role. If you find yourself stuck in the “mom-guilt” cycle in which every decision is difficult to make, and you fear you’ll inevitably decide wrong, it is time to visit with someone about what you are experiencing.
With individual, marital, and group therapy options, Sioux Falls Psychological Services is here to walk with you. For more information, to learn about our weekly Postpartum Depression group, or to schedule an appointment, please call 605.334.2696.