- Introduction to a Series on Postpartum Depression
- More Than Baby Blues
- Techniques that Helped Me with Postpartum Depression
- Round Two: Manna From Heaven
- Morning Has Come!: Claiming Victory Over Postpartum Depression
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
By: Jennifer Mullen
According to the CDC website, “11% to 18% of women reported having frequent postpartum depressive symptoms.” So, I know that at least one person reading this can identify. The following techniques worked FOR ME. They may not work for you. As I stressed in the last two posts, if you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression please seek professional help. I am not a medical profession. My goal is to share my testimony with you and encourage you.
Techniques that Helped Me with Postpartum Depression:
- The Thoughts: As I mentioned in More Than Baby Blues, I had violent thoughts that would flash through my mind. Once I voiced them to my counselor or my husband, I realized how unlikely I was going to actually act upon them. But if I tried to hide them, they would consume me. I would obsess over them. If I confessed them, they lost their power. It was as if I were taking “captive every thought”. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
- The What If’s: I could list a million “What If” thoughts that raced through my mind…”What if she stops breathing?” “What if someone crawled through the window and snatched her?” “What if my husband falls asleep while holding her and drops her?” “What if…What if…What if!!!” I changed my thinking to “what is”. I began to speak truth into my life. I tried not focus on all the other possibilities. I tried to only focus on the realities. “What is is that my husband is capable and will protect her.” “What is is all the windows are locked.” One day in my Thursday morning bible study, Beth Moore talked about this very thing. She took it a step further and said to replace your “What If’s?” with “Who Is?” She illustrated the point by taking the audience in a spiral of questions that she concluded with the answer “THEN GOD!” “What if she stopped breathing, then God will comfort.” “What if…THEN GOD!” And remember, you cannot be on guard and protect your child every moment, but “he who watches over you will not slumber”. (Psalm 121:3b)
- Sleep: One of the biggest factors that affected my anxiety level was (and to be honest still is) the amount of sleep I got. As a mother of a newborn, sleep is rare. I am not one of those who can fall asleep easily. Once I am asleep, if woken, it is even more difficult for me to return to sleep. I nursed my daughter until she was six months and my son until he was eight and a half months. Feeding every three hours around the clock can be taxing. Until my children slept through the night, my husband would take the 11:00 pm feed. (This, of course, was not a scheduled time. It would fall around that time every night.) I would go to bed around 8:30 pm. My husband would be on duty until 2:00 am. He would feed the baby a bottle of milk I pumped the day before. This would ensure at least 5 and 1/2 hours of solid sleep for both of us. It also gave my husband a chance to bond with our children without me jumping in to “fix” any problems. Stand on this promise: “for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalms 127:2b)
- Clock Out: Imagine getting hired to do your dream job. It is what you have been preparing for your whole life. On the first day you show up they say, “There is just one thing. You will be on call 24/7. You are not allowed to take a coffee break. When you leave, you must take all your work with you including your employees!” Who would want to take that job? The burn out rate would be crazy! You must take time to “clock out”. Allow someone else to care for the kids. After my second child was born, I would go to the movies by myself and turn the phone off. I am looking forward to going on a trip with my husband this summer that is not a “work trip” 🙂 Even Jesus “withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) He had to take time out to be ministered to so that he could minster.
- Mother’s Groups: I was desperate to be around other mothers and learn how to parent. I joined our local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which is where I met Gretchen and Kerri. The women in our group came alongside of me and helped me to find confidence in myself as a mother.
- Medication: Meds are not for everyone. Speak with your doctor about the pros/cons. Remember, once you start taking anti-depressants, do not quit taking them without notifying your doctor. Most of these meds require a tapering process. There are medications that have been approved for use while breastfeeding. Again, PPD is a medical condition, it is not a sign of weakness to be on medication. I have used anti-depressants, but currently I am addressing my anxiety and depression through counseling.
- Counseling: One of my favorite Beth Moore quotes is, “Feelings can be a little like our laundry. Sometimes we can’t sort them until we dump them on the table.” As stated above, I was thinking some really scary thoughts. I needed a safe place to voice them. What worked best for me was cognitive therapy which is illustrated in point #2. If you do not connect well with your first counselor, don’t quit. Seek out one who is a good fit for you. My personal criteria is someone who will be honest enough to tell me what I should or should not be worried about. I can’t stand those who will tell you everything is fine and you just need to chill out. On the flip side, I can’t stand those who are alarmist and make you worry and analyse every thought. Do not forget about the ministry of the Great Counselor who “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”. (John 14:26 and Romans 8:26) “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)
Next month, when I discuss the birth of my second child, I will share some proactive strategies that I used to help any reoccurrence to not be as severe.
If you know someone who is going through PPD, it may be very hard for you to understand. If you are the type of person who LOVES newborns…who get high off of that newborn smell…these feelings would be so foreign to you. Please keep in mind that women who struggle with PPD need support. They need understanding. Keep in mind that this is not something they can just snap out of. It is a process. Please be an ear. Please be gentle. Give them time. Encourage them to seek out professional help if they haven’t. If you have been there and you are on the other side, don’t be afraid to share your story. The encouragement that you extend to your friend in need is invaluable. They just want to be reassured that they are not alone!
- Introduction to a Three-Part Series on Postpartum Depression– Published February 1, 2012.
- More Than Baby Blues– Published February 6, 2012 –My experience with postpartum with my first-born.
- Round Two: Manna From Heaven – Published March 6, 2012— How my experience with postpartum was different the with my second born and how God carried me through it.
- Morning Has Come!: Claiming Victory Over Postpartum Depression– Published on January 7, 2013