I know you planned and hoped to have a house full of kids– whether to you that meant two kids, or six.
And then you had a baby, and it was miraculous and amazing, but also incredibly hard. The number of important decisions you have to make, the sacrifices, the responsibility you now have sleeping sweetly in your arms, is eye opening– or, uh, closing to blink away the tears.
What you didn’t plan for was the perfect storm of hormones, vitamin deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and overwhelming burnout that led to postpartum depression or anxiety. Postpartum depression and anxiety are dark, gloomy places to be during a season you longed for– or, were thrown into unplanned– and you want desperately to enjoy the gift you’ve been given but can’t.
Now the dream you had of a big family– or even just one more baby– sounds terrifying. How can I handle more? What if I get depressed and anxious again? Will I climb out alive once more?
As a mom who has had six babies, let me give you this hope: PPD doesn’t have to happen every time.
While I struggled with PPD during a few postpartum months, it didn’t happen every time. It probably happened for three out of my six postpartum periods, and seemed to happen completely randomly with no rhythm as to why. Still, with each postpartum era, I learned something new about my body, my mentality, and how to help myself transition into another new round of motherhood. I also realized that each PPD can look differently or come at different times.
Just because you had it once, doesn’t guarantee you will get it again. If you chose to have another baby, you never know how your body will respond. It honestly has been different every single time I’ve had a baby.
The biggest thing you can do is prevention. The way you approach the task ahead can up your chances of having a positive postpartum experience. Can you guarantee that PPD won’t come back? No. But, planning to do all you can to avoid it is a huge first step.
Take a minute to learn from the past. As a first time mom, people tell you that you’ll need to rest, to sleep when the baby sleeps, to buy this product. This time you know this by experience. You know how you felt and what made it better or worse. Remember those little keys to your happiness as prevention.
With those keys and memories, Momma, I encourage you to make a postpartum plan. Instead of fearing it will happen again– plan for it. You know what makes you happy, what triggers your anxiety, how people can help you, what medication or supplement worked, and who you will call when you start feeling low.
I planned well for the time after my baby number 6 arrived last year to avoid depression. I had my husband home for six weeks, I had meals delivered from friends, I gave myself permission to take it easy and lowered my expectations, I practiced self-care, I asked for help when I needed it, and tried to sleep more– yet the PPD and anxiety still snuck in on me about six months after she was born despite my best efforts. Still, I was ready for it this time. I knew to not hide away from help but to run to it, and because of that my darkness lingered for much less time.
I learned there are many aspects that bring on the emotions of PPD and anxiety and my planning was lacking in one area– nutrition and supplements. As you plan, make sure you are really taking good care of your body and brain health with nutrients. Find a good doctor that understands the value of nutrition to your body (ideally an integrative, holistic, or functional doctor). My doctor did blood work that revealed I was deficient in several important vitamins and I have a gene variation called MTHFR, which all were connected to my mood– who knew! That’s an area you can explore as well for prevention or healing.
Momma, I’m not the one to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t have another child. That is a question only you and your spouse can answer deep within your soul. Listen to your gut. If you decide to make the leap, do it with joy. Don’t let fear take over! Give yourself time to heal from your last birth in every way before making a decision.
Trust that if you do find yourself in a dark place again, you will have the support and light you need to climb out of it one step at a time. Trust that this time, you’ll identify the thoughts and feelings sooner so you can get help faster and you won’t be in the dark as long.
You’ve got this, momma, should another blessing come your way. Don’t let fear stand in the way if your family doesn’t feel complete. Empower yourself and draw strength from what you’ve been through already. Even though you may feel weak and filled with fear at times– you are strong.
A momma who has been there before