Maternal Mental Health:: When Depression Hits Before Giving Birth

I found out I was pregnant in a bathroom at Starbucks. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a mom. 

You’ll want to have kids one day, they say. 

Calling the OB office the next day, the receptionist replied excitedly, “Congratulations!” I didn’t know what to say. The next several weeks before the appointment I began isolating myself more, staying in bed more. I would come home from work each day and sob. These weren’t just the new hormones in my body.

You’re supposed to feel excited, they say.  

When it came time to see my OB, we went through the checklist of a new mom visit. “Oh I do need to ask you, are you having any thoughts of suicide?” I looked over at my husband who I had been keeping this from for the last three months, shook my head, yes, as the tears ran down my face. 

This is supposed to be a happy moment, they say. 

As time went on I kept hearing about this connection I was supposed to have to my unborn child and yet I felt nothing. When it came time to find out the gender. It was a girl. 

Oh having a girl is the best thing ever, they say. 

You are supposed to be “nesting”, they say. Yet the only nesting I was doing was seeking refuge in my bed. Watching my body morph in ways I didn’t know it could and stretch until I was unrecognizable. 

Don’t you just love being pregnant, they’d say.

Giving birth naturally is the only way to go. Don’t drug your baby. You should want to feel every bit of pain from this miracle of being a woman. Your body will naturally know what to do. Where’s your birth plan? Don’t have a c-section. You have to have a c-section. Hold her immediately after having your insides ripped out and put back in you as you throw up and shake uncontrollably, or she won’t bond with you. Smile for the camera. 

You’ll want to remember this moment, they say. 

The Stories We Don’t Talk About

Maternal Mental Health:: When Depression Hits Before Giving Birth

This is my story, but it’s not an uncommon story, it’s just one we don’t talk about. According to The Blue Dot Project, 1 out of 5 women will experience a maternal mental health disorder. In my opinion, I think this number may even be higher because we don’t talk about depression or anxiety during or post pregnancy. We chalk it up to hormones, or that it’s normal to feel sluggish and sad, crying for no reason. Or having intense irritability and being extremely worried about being a new parent is common. Because some of these same symptoms can mimic the pregnancy/postpartum experience, it can be difficult for some to distinguish. 

We always hear the term postpartum depression, but the term peripartum is preferred because it includes the depression that can come during pregnancy. A lot of individuals do not realize that maternal mental health issues can come up while you are pregnant, not just postpartum. 

If you or someone you know needs help or want more information or maternal mental health resources, Postpartum Support International has some great information. 

Call the PSI HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)

Send a text message to our Helpline: 503-894-9453 (English)

Mandar texto en español al 971-420-0294

For more on how to care for your mental health during Pandemic, check out this resource from our friends at Next Level Urgent Care. 

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