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My Wish For You – Get Help, Get Stronger

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About a year and a half ago I finally overcame my struggle with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. It was a dark time for me and I feel like I missed out on a lot of my baby’s life. Now that I have stepped out of the darkness, I can see my own missed opportunities for help. I wish I had talked to my husband, or mother or someone about what was going on instead of keeping it to myself.  I wish I had been honest with my doctor and taken his advice to go talk to a counselor.  My wish now is for others to seek support and have the resources to overcome pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.

My experience with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety was like many other new moms. When my daughter was finally sleeping better at night, I couldn’t sleep myself.  I cried and was frustrated and overwhelmed all the time.  I didn’t want to go outside at all. I’m a nurse on a labor-and-delivery unit so I should have known the signs better and gotten help sooner, right? What I have learned from this experience is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, anyone can experience pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.  

I have a history of depression and, looking back, believe I also suffered from pregnancy-related depression with my first child.  Knowing how hard motherhood felt with my first, I came up with my own plan and didn’t ask for more resources from the counselor in the hospital after my second child was born.  My own plan was to do acupuncture and not be placed on medications for fear of them being unsafe. I have since learned that medications are safe, not only during pregnancy but while breastfeeding. Treatment for pregnancy-related depression and anxiety can be different for everyone so you have to do what’s best for you.

After trying acupuncture for about a month and not feeling like it was helping, I called my OBGYN office and asked to be placed back on my anti-depressants. My doctor wanted to see me right away to write the prescription and give me a number for someone to talk to for support.  I also called my employee assistance program to get other names and numbers. Still, I never called anyone. Why? Because I didn’t feel like I could take the time to go and talk with someone.  Because my husband was back to working full time and was taking online college courses.  Because I also had a toddler and didn’t want to burden anyone else to come and watch my children. Because of a million reasons.

Six months after talking to my OBGYN, I shared my symptoms with my primary care provider who sent me to a psychiatrist.  After finally talking with the psychiatrist and adjusting my medications, I started feeling better and could function in life. What a difference.

Since sharing my story, I have had friends and co-workers say they wished I had said something to them because they would have been there for me. Looking back, I believe I may have overcome my struggle much sooner if I had just taken the time to talk to someone. I didn’t have to go through it alone.

Pregnant women and new moms: use your support system and talk about it.  Being open and honest and talking about what’s going on makes you stronger.  You can’t take care of your new baby if you can’t take care of yourself.  Ask questions and ask for help.  Everyone is going through something, we have to support one another.

Friends, family, and partners: help out the new moms in your life.  Make meals, do the laundry, clean the house, take the baby so they can nap or just take time for themselves.  

Our babies need us and we need them! For more information about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, and to find local support, visit postpartum.net/colorado.

Ashlyn Baird, Colorado Mom

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