Last week, Jilayne shared her PMAD story with us. This week, we continue her story. Here, she shares how she experienced a surprise pregnancy after experiencing PMADs once, and was much better prepared to fight for herself and her own maternal mental health.
Pregnancy is a continuous round of adjustments as your body changes and you begin to shape your life around this tiny person growing inside of you. When the baby arrives, adjustments are still being made as you long for your normal routine but find you have now entered a new realm of “normal.”
Our fourth child was a complete surprise. I have to be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited about being pregnant again. We had recently adjusted to our new “normal” and the thought of morning sickness and my body inflating to resemble a beached whale again was far from appealing. Most of all, I did not want a repeat of the year prior. My husband and I had several frank discussions and as a result, came up with a plan of action. The following are a few examples:
1. I gave him the freedom to call a family member or my best friend if I ever returned to the point of deep depression.
2. We discussed my limitations, and I had to accept them.
3. In my last trimester, I talked with local family and friends and developed a list of names, phone numbers and availability of those whom I could call upon for help during my postpartum recovery. I was open and honest with my support system and about my past struggles. (If you have out of town family and friends available to help, I would also suggest including them on your list. I did not have that option.) Another idea could be to assign the people in your support system a day of the week when they come for the morning or afternoon (or evening!) and help with whatever needs to be done – housework, caring for the baby so you can rest/shower/etc, run errands for you.
4. A few weeks before the baby was expected to arrive, I spent a weekend making freezer meals to stash away for the transition. If this seems too big of a task for you, call a friend and ask for help. Having someone to cook with is more fun anyway! I ended up with 21 meals and prepped portions of meat (to add to spaghetti). You could also ask someone to set up a meal train for you, and don't forget to sign up here for The Motherhood Collective's meal and gift!! (TMC can even help you with a meal train if you don't have someone to do that)
5. If I felt the urge to cry, I cried. Holding it in only created an emotional volcano that would eventually erupt…epically.
6. I made a bigger effort to eat healthy and drink lots of water. When you are nutritionally depleted, as well as physically drained…well, that’s just a recipe for disaster. Self care is so important, Mama Dear!
Applying these things to my fourth trimester helped tremendously during our transition to a family of six. I still had a few bad days, but they were few and far between. Because we had “been there” and “done that”, I knew my limitations and my husband knew when to step in and help me where I needed support.
So what should you do? Well, that is completely up to you, and is definitely very unique to each individual, but I can offer some general tips to get you started:
1. Drink plenty of water and be sure to eat proper meals. Watch your sugar intake and be sure to get your proteins! Doing these simple things can result in great benefits for your postpartum recovery.
2. Have a pre-determined support system.
3. Be honest with yourself and with your support system. Keep the lines of communication open.
4. Do not wait until your breaking point to seek support! Know the symptoms and get the help you need.
I also want to give an encouraging word to those who fall into the support system category. Ask the mom how she is doing, and I mean really ask. Most of us, if not all of us want to look like we have it all together when we really don’t. You never know what a mom might be struggling with, or how deep it may go, unless you ask.
In other words, don’t be afraid of offending the mom when you see the signs of PMADs.
When a mom is suffering with PMADs, she may not always be in the right frame of mind to see it for herself. Her health and safety, as well as the child’s, is at stake. It is better to be safe and ask those probing questions than to live with an event to regret. #AskHer
Mama Dear, with help you can be well and not just survive this postpartum journey, but thrive in the midst of it. You are not alone. We walk with you, and we’ll fight alongside of you.
Our PMADs Support Group meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month, in the evening. Please click here for more information.