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Postpartum Support Resources

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Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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If you’re reading this, you may be wondering if what you’re feeling is normal or if you need help. Let me start with this: you don’t need a diagnosis to get help. Even simply wondering if you need help is enough reason to reach out for support. 

You probably hear it all the time: “being a new parent is hard.” And it’s true. It is hard. The transition into parenthood is unlike any other life event(1). But can I tell you something else? You weren’t meant to do this alone. Needing more support doesn't mean you aren't cut out for this. 

Did you know at least 15-20% of pregnant and postpartum women experience symptoms of perinatal mood disorders, like depression and anxiety(2)? Changes in mood can also happen to any parent who welcomes a new baby into their lives. This includes non-birthing parents, adoptive parents, and foster parents. You’re not alone. 

Can I share a glimpse into my story with you? Let me set the stage. I had a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old, a 10-week-old, and found out I was pregnant with our fourth. Almost every day, that 10-week-old cried all day long. Between handling the baby’s nearly constant screaming, managing his reflux, and trying to meet everyone else’s needs, I hit a wall. And I hit it hard. I remember falling to my husband’s feet, as he left for work, begging: “Don’t leave me here with this crying baby!” I laid there in a puddle of tears.⁣

Those were the hardest days of my life. Ultimately, I got the help I needed. I made the right decision for my health AND for all of my babies. 

If you’re struggling, I want you to know that I see you. I’ve been there. It can and WILL get better. But please ask for help! Let’s talk about some signs to look for and how to get the help you need. 

Symptoms of Perinatal Mental Health Disorders: anchor

Trust your gut: if something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to ask for help. Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve noticed your relationships feel harder. These are some common symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders(3):

  • Feelings of:

    • Sadness

    • Depression

    • Anger 

    • Irritability

    • Rage

    • Guilt

    • Hopelessness 

    • Constant worry

    • Anxiety

  • Physical symptoms: 

    • Loss of appetite

    • Difficulty sleeping 

    • Restlessness

    • Nausea 

    • Shortness of breath

    • Difficulty concentrating 

  • Other symptoms: 

    • Lack of interest in or difficulty bonding with your baby

    • Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy

    • Intrusive thoughts

    • Compulsions (doing something over and over again)

    • Excessive focus on something that feels out of your control (e.g. your baby’s safety, the cleanliness of your house, even your baby’s sleep schedule, etc.)

Please note: Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s possible to experience symptoms that aren’t included.

How do you get help?anchor

Please know, there’s no specific criteria you have to meet in order to qualify for help.

I wish someone would have told me when my babies were little: Cara, you don’t have to be at rock bottom to benefit from therapy. Nothing has to be broken or wrong for you to go talk to someone. Let me tell you: I believe with all my heart that every parent can benefit from therapy during the first couple of years of parenthood (or longer). 

Things don’t have to be “hard enough” or “bad enough” for you to deserve support if you’re struggling.  Social and emotional support is vital during postpartum(4). You need a safe place where you can be honest about how you’re feeling and a place to feel heard and supported. This may look like talking to a therapist, beginning medication, or asking a friend to come over and be with you. At the end of the day, one of the best ways you can take care of your baby is to take care of yourself. 

I know it can be hard to take the first step. I’d love to give you some resources to get you started. 

If you need immediate help: 

  • Emergency Assistance (911)- available 24/7 

  • The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline (1-833-TLC-MAMA or 1-833-852-6262)- a trained counselor is available 24/7 

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988)- help available 24/7

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1-800-662-HELP (4357) )- available 24/7 for referrals or information

If you would like to speak with someone for ongoing support or additional resources: 

  • Postpartum Support International (1-800-944-4773⁣)- a great resource that offers phone support, online support, support groups, education, and can connect you to local providers.

  • National Maternal Mental Health Hotline ((1-833-TLC-MAMA or 1-833-852-6262)- offers phone or text access to professional counselors, interpreter services in 60 languages, referrals to local providers, and support groups

  • Check with your healthcare provider, insurance provider, local hospital, or baby’s pediatrician for local support recommendations

If I could reach through this blog and hold your hand, I would. You aren’t meant to do this alone. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve done something “wrong.” You aren’t supposed to “snap yourself out of it.” Needing extra support or being diagnosed with a perinatal mental health disorder doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for this or you did something wrong. You are still the best mama on the planet for that baby. And you deserve to have the help and support you need to thrive in motherhood. 

This article was written with support from a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) on the Taking Cara Babies team.

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