Let’s spread the awareness and decrease the consequences of post-partum and post-lactation depression

Did you know that up to 80% of women experience some kind of baby blues after the birth of their baby? Baby blues can last from few hours to two weeks. It does not require any special treatment, only support from the environment:D Symptoms are mild and include mood lability, irritability, terfulness, generalised anxiety, sleep and appetite disturbances.

Due to babyblues many people think post-partum depression is something normal, that every woman goes through after birth and it will pass on its own. Well, it might pass on its own after 6 months to a year and resulting in various negative consequences – like negative short-term and long-term effects on child development.

15% of women experience postpartum depression which can appear either few weeks or few months after baby delivery. 15 percent is a lot! It means that if you know 30 girls in childbearing age, 4 of them will experience PPD. Occurence of PPD among teenage mothers is even higher up to 26%. Not every woman will demonstrate same symptoms of PPD but in general they include tearfulnes, despondency, emotional lability, feelings of guilt, loss of appetite, suicidal ideation, sleep disturbances, feelings of inadequacy and inability to cope with infant, poor concentration and memory, fatigue and irritability. Some women worry excessively about baby’s feeding habits and consider themselves as ‘bad’ mothers. Symptoms of post-lactation depression (which I experienced on my own skin) are the same, it’s just that type of depression is much less common and there is not enough data for it. There are some publications which summarise the risk factors which I will present here. So according to one recent review article following are the risk factors for PPD: depression or anxiety during pregnancy, past history of psychiatric illness, life events (e.g. death of loved ones, relationship breakdown, divorce, losing job), lack of good social support, obstetrics factors (C-section gives a slight rise to PPD) and socioeconomic status (low-income, low education, unemployment).

Is there a way out?

Ofcourse there is!:) There are so many of us who went through it. It is just important to seek help in time. If you do not wait till reaching rock-bottom (like me), you will be able to resolve it during few psychotherapeutic sessions.

If you do not have support from your husband, due to the stigmatization of mental illnesses in the country you live in, look for support online! There are many support groups for women experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety on Facebook. Remember in healthy body, there is a healthy spirit! Ask for help in time! Learn on my own mistakes. Remember – HAPPY MOM – HAPPY KIDSūüôā

If your husband thinks your PPD will pass on its own, maybe put him some laxative in his coffee and wait till he resolves his diarrhea on it’s on in 1 minute:P

Enjoy and please be support to all your friends and family members who might be going through the difficult time in their lives:D

bmd
bmd
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How do I use my fifteen to thirty minutes of self-care per day

Self-care is crucial throughout all our life. Sometimes when metamorphosing into parents we forget about its importance, which can result in negative consequences.

So how does my me- time look?

Sometimes my self-care does not necessary mean that I need to do it without the presence of my children. What I found out recently, and works great for us,¬† is every morning when they wake up (between 5 and 6 since the time change) we do at least 30 minutes of Yoga. And we all have fun. I must say I am super happy with the Children Yoga cards I bought for my kids which makes it inviting for them to join me in doing some yoga exercise. (e.g. lets pretend to be a cat, let’s be a leopard, lets be a tree etc. Natalias favorite is leopard and Miros cat licking milk pose:P)

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Sometimes after we practice yoga they go to their own room to play with some duplos or other open-ended toys we have available. That gives me time for some extra exercise:D Here are my favorite tools for doing my pilates excercise:D Miro likes some of them as well (especcially wobble) ūüėČ

After they are asleep, depending on how much energy I have left I try to read some of the books that relax me:D

How do you spend your self-care time?:D

books i like to read
books

The importance of self-care or how I lost my summer due to lack of it

Some of you might have wondered why I did not write any post in the period between June and September. Maybe you thought I managed to follow my dream and tour the world.

But no, the truth is РI started having health issues. In June I started suffering from insomnia. When my son got up during the night in order to breastfeed, I could not fall back to sleep. So I had only a few hours of sleep. In the beginning I thought it was something that would go away by itself Рbut it did not. I started reading about insomnia and how to treat it naturally РI tried with Valeriana, melatonin, various herbs, exercising only in the morning, not watching any movies right before going to sleep Рliterally everything I could find online but nothing helped. After 2 weeks I had the idea that maybe I should just stop breastfeeding and it would all disappear. I stopped breastfeeding in 2 days Рwhich is extremely fast considering my son was still breastfed twice during the day and multiple times in the night. Not only it did not help, on the contrary it worsened my insomnia. I was completely lost at that moment and had no clue anymore what to do. My  energy levels were extremely low Рand from that moment I needed help with cooking and taking care of my kids. I am lucky to have an amazing mom and mother-in-law who could jump in. But still I could not understand what was going on. I started searching online and I found one article which linked too fast weaning with depression. But I was in denial that I could have depression, even though symptoms were there. I assigned everything to the lack of sleep Рyou can imagine if for a month you sleep only 3-4 hours a day, you are not a fully functioning human being. I isolated myself from all social media (I used to chat with 10 friends at the same time in free moments), stopped inviting friends for coffee, stopped having enough strength to prepare an educational environment for my kids. I slowly started fearing that I would lose my kids. They were becoming more attached more to my husband, willing to go to sleep only with him. I had a feeling I had reached rock bottom. I went to my GP, who recommended I take a blood test. Everything seemed fine except my sex hormones were extremely low Рwhich was not surprising considering my period had not yet returned since my pregnancy with Miro, my youngest child.

I felt completely lost – the GP gave me a prescription to see a psychiatrist. Both my husband and I were still in denial that I could suffer from any kind of depression since I was the most optimistic person he knew. The truth is I started being pessimistic and I stopped looking forward to our travels – at that moment my better half knew something was really wrong. We went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Mirtazepan and told me to¬† come back if I don’t start sleeping better after 3 days. So I came back- my sleep had got even worse. This time without any talk with me he prescribed another antidepressant. That was ofcourse a reason why I lost my faith in psychiatrist –¬† how could I trust someone who did not even have a conversation with me but just asked why I came again and prescribed another drug? I decided I should go to Croatia with my kids and I was convinced that with sun and sea I would get better.

I did not.

I was just feeling weaker with every day. I went to see some other psychiatrists, which after a 30 minute talk prescribed different drugs. Since I have pharmacophobia (I do not take even paracetamol unless I have really high fever (over 39 C)), I did not take those drugs for more than 3 days – which was weirdly what those psychatrists all said, that in 3 days I should feel some positive effects (and I did not). The truth is my parents were also not encouraging me to take drugs. The reason is personal – we thought we lost my uncle due to drugs used to treat schizophrenia which he was diagnosed with after his last breakdown and after taking experimental drugs for 3 months. He is still alive – but it is like he is not there. If you are a fan of Pink Floyd and you know the song “Wish you were here“, you know it was written in honour of Syd Barret who they “lost” due to schizophrenia. Sufferers simply lose contact with reality. My uncle had a really hard time after his divorce – it was turned into a tabu topic and no one was allowed to mention it. He had four breakdowns and not a single talk in his life with a psychotherapist because in Yugoslavia back than and still nowadays people with mental diseases are stigmatized. He was the one who passed on to me a¬†passion for books and theater. He also taught me English. But then his last breakdown happened just after my wedding. He went to the hospital and after a year there turned worse than ever before – there was no real connection with him anymore. I love him just like I did before, but it breaks my heart to know he is not the same person, not a person with whom I can have amazing philosophical discussion with. Because my father was convinced that my uncle’s condition worsen just because they put him on strong experimental drugs, he refused every suggestion of looking for help in Croatian hospitals. My mom and dad just said there is no reason to worry and I should try to think about something positive, which in that moment was not helpful at all. I started being very anxious and my amygdala was working like crazy; my¬†cortisol levels were insane. So to a person who is anxious the worst thing to say is ‘you have nothing to worry about’. It is better to say you seem scared, etc. because that helps to sooth the brain. Or ask them to do mindfulness exercise together, but do not tell them not to worry. After two months of misery I begged my dad for help, even if it was some strong drug to help me finally sleep one night through. We went to the hospital – I did not get the help I needed. Also, the doctors were not honest with me, I told them about my fears and they wrote me a random diagnosis which they did not even bother to explain to me. After another month of misery, I started having memory problems. I wanted to prepare dinner for the kids, but I would forget I turned the oven on and started reading them some book. This was the alarm signal for my husband that I urgently need to seek better help in Austria. So I did – and it was so much better than in Croatia. I had an amazingly open talk with a doctor at the University Hospital in Graz and was prescribed, as Dr said, a Mickey Mouse dose of antidepressant – actually a drug that in that dose is given to children who have problems with peeing in bed. Additionally I got my blood checked and realised that I had a severe lack of vitamin D, potassium and calcium. It turned out my pessimistic state was worsened by severe lack of vitamin D. After a week of taking pills I started sleeping better (I reached 5 hours which was -woow!- a reason to celebrate). I could finally think normally. I started exercising again. I finally got my period back (for the first time in my life I was happy to have a period again!). We moved to another town, I made some new friends and everything went back to normal. But what helped most was that I started having me time again. Somehow over the period I had got stuck in the roles of only wife and mother and forgotten to have that so important time devoted to myself. 15 minutes of just me time a day, where I pray, relax or read a book. It makes such a difference.

If I could talk to younger me, I would ask her to SLOW DOWN, not run like a squirrel from one project to another, and also to worry less.

I would love to once again thank my amazing family and friends who supported me so much during this difficult time in my life. Thank you so much, without you I would not have managed.

Please share this post if you can , because  I thought I was the only one having this issues and I know how alone I felt.