I Had Five Babies And Five Very Different Maternity Leaves

The other day I was scrolling through my fav Howard University Alumni page (HU, you know) when I came across a post about the sudden outrage Meghan McCain had about maternity leave in this country and her sudden revelation on how it needs to change. I won’t give you my opinion on what she had to say (just know I rolled my eyes when she mentioned “luxury” and “maternity leave” in the same sentence), but as a mom of five, I felt like I should share my postnatal experiences so people understand how vastly different maternity leave is for moms, even the same mom with each of her kids.

Age: 21 years old
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Full-time college student and full-time temp employee.
Time off after birth: Four weeks

After the birth of my first son, I needed to get back to work as soon as I physically could. I just signed my first lease and was paying rent for a small basement apartment (because my dorm wasn’t the best place for a baby) with a job that offered me no PTO, let alone any kind of paid maternity leave. I told them four weeks, and after four weeks I was back at work. I even tried to keep up with breastfeeding, but the stress of work and keeping a full load at school quickly dried up my supply. I was thankful for WIC, but after I had the baby and was no longer breastfeeding, my benefits only covered formula. I didn’t qualify for SNAP, so many days mealtime was a creative endeavor.

Age: 27 years old
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Full-time legal secretary at a DC law firm.
Time off after birth: Six weeks

My second time around I was newly married and had a good-paying job with benefits. They offered six weeks of paid short-term disability and I thought it was the best deal in the world. I could have had more time off, but I didn’t have enough PTO or sick leave to justify being out longer than six weeks.

Age: 28 years old
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Full-time legal secretary at the same DC law firm.
Time off after birth: Three months

Thanasis Zovoilis/Getty

Yep, I was crazy enough to have two babies back to back, but this time I was smart! I saved up ALL my sick and vacation time, which meant most days of my first trimester was spent in the office bathroom with my office (now official) bestie providing the moral support I needed as I cried about how sick I was. Bottom line: I was grateful for the time off, but hated how hard I had to work for it. It made my pregnancy absolutely miserable.

Age: 34 years old
Marital Status: Engaged
Occupation: Stay at home mom
Time off after birth: One year and one month

I counted myself lucky when I (finally) had my little girl. I met the man of my dreams who moved me and my three boys to Nashville to do what I knew I had been needing for a while, taking a BREAK. So that’s what I did, for an entire year. It was the longest, and only, time I hadn’t been fully employed since I was 21. It felt good going back to work knowing I spent so much time being able to focus on my own self-care and being 100% available to my kids for every single activity they had in school that I could attend.

Age: 39 years old
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Owner of a boutique Virtual Executive Assistant business
Time off after birth: Weird.

SURPRISE!! Yep, I pushed out another kid. After being laid off all of a sudden from a boutique law firm, I went back to legal Secretary work (still smacking myself for that). A week later I found out I was pregnant. 12 weeks later, I was high-risk because of pregnancy-induced hypertension and had to be put on a restrictive work schedule. My doctor planned for 20, I asked for 30 because I didn’t want to be a problem at my new job. Well, I was fired from that job, but that same day I was able to sign my first big client as a Virtual Assistant.

I hid my pregnancy from all of my clients, figuring no one would want to hire a very pregnant, high-risk assistant. I planned to take off a full two weeks and then slowly add my client loads back one at a time until I felt okay to be back full time. But life doesn’t always go the way we want and I ended up delivering six weeks early. I was literally working while in labor to make sure every loose end was tied before I was completely off. Thankfully my clients were very understanding, and I was able to take the time I needed, including signing on a new client, before getting back to work.

It doesn’t matter if you are a broke college student, gainfully employed, or a successful business owner — when it comes to having babies, women in the U.S. get the real shit end of the stick. When Meghan talked about what a “luxury” it was to be able to take the time she needed off work from her traumatic birthing experience, I just shook my head. Mostly because she’s right; being able to enjoy time off with your baby for any amount of time IS a luxury. But also because it’s a sad shame that she had to have a traumatic birth experience before realizing that her luxury isn’t afforded to MANY others, and that she should have been “outraged” a long time ago.

Then again, we’ve seen time and time again how it’s overlooked when bad things happen to OTHER people until it hits home for people personally.

The post I Had Five Babies And Five Very Different Maternity Leaves appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Yoga Saved Me During The Dark Time After My Son Was Born

When I was 24 years old, I was featured in an advertisement for a kickboxing and mixed martial arts gym. I was jumping rope in a boxing ring, abs on display, with the words “The More You Sweat The Less You Bleed” as the background. Sparring was my drug of choice in my early twenties. After the endorphin buzz from kickboxing wore off, I moved to a CrossFit addiction.

In my early thirties, I heard a friend and fellow gym rat rave about the tenacity and burn of hot yoga. Halfway through my first class, I wanted to join the girl that ran out of the room to throw up, but I stuck with it. That was a humbling experience, but I still failed to realize that strength manifests itself in many forms, not just with brute muscle. Hot yoga became my new drug of choice — I was hooked.

At 37 years old, pregnant with my son, I was a devoted yogi, attending regular classes several days a week. I tried prenatal yoga, but it moved too slowly for me. Instead, I was keeping my twists open and doing headstands at 38 weeks pregnant. Two weeks before I gave birth, a kind instructor suggested that I stop pushing so hard and allow my body to rest and prepare for what was to come by exploring more restorative poses. I nodded politely and smiled but refused her advice. I did not want to pause; I wanted to move and sweat.

My pregnancy was easy. Despite the difficulties I had conceiving, I was one of the lucky ones that was able to work out and feel great throughout the journey. Admittedly, I was brash and a bit arrogant toward the end of my pregnancy. Being a mom to my growing fetus was easy so surely, I thought, mothering a baby would be similar. As veteran moms out there know, that turned out to be far from the truth. When my son was born, the seeds planted by postpartum depression and anxiety blossomed into invasive weeds, their vines choking my will and stealing my strength.

Courtesy of Margaux DelGuidice

Supported by my family, I reached out for help and began working with my doctor and a social worker. During our bi-weekly therapy sessions, I had to relearn everything I thought I knew about courage, strength, and weakness. My brashness was gone, left on the floor of the delivery room alongside my arrogance that dissipated the first night I was alone with my son, unable to quell his piercing, incessant cries.

Four months after his birth, I weighed less than I ever had in my adult life, and my weakness was apparent. Friends and family stopped by to see the baby and were alarmed by my appearance; my once toned, fit body hijacked by a scraggly shell. I attributed the muscle loss to my mental weakness, the inability to stymie the anxiety that kept me chained to my bed with the oppressing weight of my son’s video monitor in my hand, replacing the heaviness of dumbbells I once brandished with ease.

It was during a postpartum therapy session, as I debated returning to my yoga class, still terrified of showcasing my weakness, that I remembered the words of a former instructor in the early days of my yoga practice. “You cannot muscle through it, Margaux, you have to give your body time open up and ease into the poses.” My face burned with shame as I tried to awkwardly force my body into a triangle pose when it clearly was not ready. All my kickboxing and CrossFit muscles were no match for these new shapes, for this new method of moving my body; Yoga was a different journey and required a softer, steadier form of physical strength that manifested from the practice of mindfulness and promotion of peace.

When I finally found the courage to return to a yoga class, the instructor invited us to collectively meditate before the sweaty asana work began. In the past, I would have been annoyed, as I often dismissed the mantras, breathing, and chanting as frivolous to the actual movement. This time I humbled my ego, opening my heart as she imparted the wisdom, “We are not moving in circles; we are spiraling upwards.” By embracing my yoga practice as more than just a workout, I carried those lessons with me off the mat and into my daily life. My life was taking a different path — not the one of failure I had convinced myself I was on, but one that acknowledged and embraced weakness as an opportunity for slow and steady growth.

Four years after that inaugural postpartum yoga class, the world entered lockdown due to COVID-19. The coping tools that had kept my anxiety and depression in check disappeared abruptly when yoga studios were shuttered, and the gym, along with its stellar nursery program, was closed indefinitely.

But my strength persisted. The slow lessons I had learned over the years guided me during those difficult times. The owner of my yoga studio began posting videos, complete with breathing exercises, that my son and I did together to get our wiggles out. When the weather became warmer, yoga in the park started. Twice a week, I welcomed the ants that crawled across my bare feet as I luxuriated in the pleasure of releasing my fears and worries by grounding down into the earth.

The realization that yoga saved me during one of my darkest times inspired me to become a certified yoga instructor for children and teens. Ironically, five years after I rebuffed a kind yoga instructor when she suggested I explore a more restorative practice, I am now embarking on a new journey to pursue my restorative yoga certification. The urge to muscle my way through life will always be there, but now I know to pause and find freedom in the breath, even during the most difficult of circumstances.

The post Yoga Saved Me During The Dark Time After My Son Was Born appeared first on Scary Mommy.

B*tch I’m A Cow: My Exclusive Pumping Journey

Fed is best. Fed is best. If breastfeeding doesn’t work — that’s okay! Fed is best!

This was my mantra until my little one was born and then it was FED IS BREAST! BREAST IS BEST! I was obsessed with wanting to breastfeed and nourish my baby with my body’s own natural resource. Unfortunately, our experience was wrought with calamities.

Our latch was doomed from the beginning. The hospital lactation consultants were impressed by the baby’s strong clamp. We brought my son home and within a day he was vomiting blood. My blood. From my cracked, damaged nipples.

As my son and I floundered through breastfeeding attempts, his small birth weight of 6.8 pounds continued to dwindle. It seemed we lived at the pediatrician’s office those early days. Each appointment I’d leave in tears as his weight percentile plummeted. Concerned for his health, I began the trifecta from HELL: breast feeding, pumping, bottle feeding. I hoped to amp my supply and fill him with more calories. I was encouraged to pump after every feed. My tiny son was not getting enough nutrients from my breast, so our feeds were every 1-1.5 hours equating to 12 pumping sessions a day.

We were optimistic that a tongue-tie procedure would be the answer to our prayers and our little one would somehow evolve into a masterful breast feeder. Then we were visited by mastitis, a nursing mom’s worst nightmare. Except this infection developed not in either one of my new lush boobs (finally a size B!) but in the little swollen left bud of my son’s. Panicked, we rushed him to the local Children’s Hospital ER after yet another tearful visit to the pediatrician.

Courtesy of Jacquelyn Kates Agins

In addition to mastitis (neonatal mastitis), our son had two other concerning infections on his extremities. The ER doctors were concerned about a systemic infection and wanted to perform a spinal tap to rule it out. From the pediatrician office straight to the ER, it had been hours since his last bottle feed. I didn’t have a pump. Our minimal breastfeeding throughout this harrowing experience failed to hydrate him. Both spinal taps were futile.

After a traumatic 36 hours at the Children’s Hospital, I began my exclusive relationship with a breast pump. No latch needed. Just two flanges, two duckbill valves, two backflow protectors, tubing, a pump and an electrical outlet. This glorified vacuum successfully filled bottles consistently and predictably to feed my baby.

I grieved heavily for the loss of my idealization of breastfeeding. I was angry at myself for not having the strength or determination to keep trying. Illogically aggravated with my baby for having a terrible latch. Resentful of my girlfriends who appeared to seamlessly feed their children. They could whip out their boob in a flash where I had to hook myself up to a robot and sit prisoner.

Exclusively pumping was not my intention. However, since that was my reality, I was determined to be the best fucking pumper of all time! I bought all the accessories. Silicone flanges. Hacks to pump into bottles. Scoured my local Facebook Buy Nothing list-serve for storage bags. Purchased a massager that looked suspiciously like a vibrator to conquer clogged ducts. Pumped for a full 30 minutes each session until my once dark nipples (or mocha choca lattes, as my husband lovingly referred to them) became pink and no less than four inches long.

My sessions would culminate into a minimum of 11 to upwards of 18 ounces. I was now a certified cow. “B*tch I’m A Cow” by Doja Cat became my personal anthem. Finding a chest freezer to store my abundant stash during the COVID era was nearly impossible. Luckily, I found one lonely dented freezer to safely embrace my liquid gold.

Pleased at my successful production, the inordinate amount of time pumping, sterilizing, and diligently preparing bottles didn’t faze me. I was confident walking into the pediatrician’s office that my little one would finally be thriving! Ironically, despite my abundance of milk and his seven-ounce bottles, he was down to the 1st percentile in weight. Apparently, my body only manufactured skim milk.

Now not only had I failed at breastfeeding, but I continued to fail at nourishing my child. Despite my irrational resistance to formula, I had no choice but to begin supplementing. I grieved all over again and relived the previous feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. However, as my son began to earn his first wrist rolls and his waist bands got a tighter, my qualms dissipated and were replaced with gratitude towards the magic of Enfamil.

Over six months later — two months of gradual weaning — I completed my very last pumping session. I slowly folded my teal hands-free pumping bra, sterilized my flanges for the last time, and stared at the final 1.5 ounces my freakishly long nipples would produce for my first born. As I gazed at my pump, I experienced a feeling I did not anticipate. Sadness. Venturing down nostalgia lane, I recalled all my harrowing pumping experiences. A dead battery. Forgotten flanges. Broken tubes. Clogged ducts. Milk bleps. ETC.

Despite my longing to terminate my relationship with this device, we had been through quite a long arduous journey together. I allowed myself to hold space for these unexpected emotions and gently sit with them on the couch…with my Spectra.

The post B*tch I’m A Cow: My Exclusive Pumping Journey appeared first on Scary Mommy.

My Past Trauma Makes It Impossible To Breastfeed My Baby

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, at the naive age of 17, there had only been one option: formula feeding. It only made sense, I would be spending my daughter’s infancy muddling through my senior year as a single teen mom and succeeding at being a less than average waitress at Chili’s. To my surprise, no one blinked an eye at my decision; this could have been due to the “bless her heart” attitude they had geared towards my situation. “As long as the kid is fed, what more can we expect from her?” I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had been let off the hook easily.

Fast forward ten years; I am now married and pregnant again, only this time I have a career that can be worked from home and we aren’t in the front seat of the struggle bus. I am in what you would call an ideal situation. (Don’t roll your eyes, it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get here.) However, despite our financial security, doing things in the “traditional” order, and having age and wisdom on our side, I have never felt more judged and condemned in my life for one decision: I have chosen to exclusively pump or, depending on how pumping goes, possibly formula feed our newborn.

When I made the decision to (try) to be a pumper, I felt like Rocky on the top of the Philadelphia Museum stairs; the victory music blared behind me as my fist-pumping through the air. I had made such a wonderful and selfless decision for my baby, I was going to put in the work and make sure my baby had the golden breastmilk everyone raved over. (That being said, I am still 100% pro formula feeding, a fed baby is a happy baby.) When I was asked the common question “Are you going to breastfeed?” I would proudly state, “Yes, that’s the plan. but I’ll be exclusively pumping.” To my surprise and dismay, their faces would fall or their tone would change, “Oh, well okay, but you know…” Insert unsolicited advice here.

But wait, wasn’t I giving my child the coveted breastmilk everyone is so hyped up about? (Regardless of whether it came from a bottle instead of my boob.) I immediately felt I needed to defend my choice — the choice I had made in pure confidence, knowing it would be the best decision for me and my baby. However, I felt I couldn’t truthfully defend my decision without revealing the most vulnerable parts of myself, further amplifying their judgments. Therefore, I came up with a few secondary reasons why I chose this path and not traditional breastfeeding. (Because, you know, we owe the world an explanation for everything we do.)

My husband can help out more if the baby’s bottle-fed, especially with those long nights spent working. It’s a better fit for our family. It’s quicker and I can monitor her intake better.

JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty

The universal response I received wasn’t understood or applauded. It sounded more along these lines, “Well, it’s more of a bonding experience if you breastfeed. Don’t you want that? It’s critical.” Darn it, Karen, you caught me. I would rather not bond with the human I prayed for and grew for the past nine months. To be fair, she has wrecked my body for nine months and will most certainly turn me into a sleep-deprived swamp monster. Sorry, but this just isn’t enough to convince me I was bound for Mommy purgatory. I bonded extremely well with my oldest daughter, who by the way, loved her bottle.

The next most popular unsolicited gem I received was, “You should just try it and see. You’ll regret it if you don’t.” I call bull on that one too, and let me tell you why: I am a sexual abuse survivor. I have always had issues with certain forms of touch or close contact. Apparently, this is common for many survivors. A Norwegian study found that women who had been exposed to abuse in the past were more likely to not breastfeed, or to stop breastfeeding before their child reached four months old. This could be for a number of reasons: insecurity, feeling mentally or emotionally “dirty” by the act of breastfeeding, PTSD, etc. Whatever the reason may be, let me be the first to tell you: It’s your body, your baby, your choice!

“But it’s the most natural thing in the world.” An eye-rolling response that even my poor naive husband threw at me. The mere thought of such a “natural” act made my skin crawl. Let me tell you what isn’t natural: reliving the fear, pain, and twisted past you have to carry around while trying to simply feed your child. The guilt alone is enough to make you want to give up altogether. I have struggled for years with there being any contact near my chest or my arms, even during a guilt-driven ten-second attempt to breastfeed my firstborn in the hospital thanks to a pushy nurse.

Ten years later, I am still there, still wrapped in the chains of my past traumas, still pushing through the concrete mental blocks. I cringe as I browse Pinterest tips for pumping or come face-to-face with the pump’s flanges. The thought of the pump coming near me or letting my newborn attempt to latch on, only for me to pull her back, is a crippling and pathetic feeling.

With that being said, I am trying. I am trying to not let my past steal something I want to try for my child. I am trying to find some wisdom in your unsolicited advice. I am trying to be a good mother and tackle my own demons.

“Just push through it. It’s temporary, but the benefits are forever.” While some women can acquire tunnel vision or muster up a strong determined front to push through each second of the 15-minute intervals of the infant to mother contact, others can’t, and they shouldn’t be penalized for it.

A comfortable and confident mom is worth her weight in gold. You have to do what makes you comfortable emotionally and mentally, or it will only cause stress and tension for you and your baby. The naysayers won’t be up in the dark at 3 am while you are a human milking machine trying to grapple with your past.

I am still not sure if the pumping deal will work out on my end, but if it doesn’t, I can guarantee my child won’t starve or suffer from not consuming breastmilk. Sure, my oldest kid is a little strange — she still talks to inanimate objects and pretends she is a man-eating eagle in a cape — but I highly doubt the formula or lack of boob contact had anything to do with it.

The post My Past Trauma Makes It Impossible To Breastfeed My Baby appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Postpartum Depression Made Me Resent My Children For Existing

Trigger Warning: Severe Depression/Postpartum Depression

 

I did not like my children when this photo was taken.

Tiffany Jenkins/Facebook

I actually resented them for existing.

Kaiden was 17 months old and Chloe 1 month, and I didn’t want to be their mother.

I didn’t want to change their diapers, feed them, and most of the time — I wanted to leave them in their cribs and run out the door, never to return.

I’m serious.

I know that some of your jaws are hanging open, and some of you are probably disgusted thinking, “How the hell can someone dislike their own children?” I know, it’s effed up, which is why it took me so long to tell anybody about it.

I remained silent and buried my thoughts. I smiled for photos and mustered false admiration when someone would fawn over them.

I cried often, most of the day actually. I questioned my sanity and constantly berated myself for being such a terrible person. I screamed, I hid, I let them cry and pulled my hair out. I didn’t want them anymore. I didn’t want them.

My husband didn’t know. He was gone a lot, working. I couldn’t tell him, he’d regret having children with me. I was alone.

One day I decided I wasn’t going to get them out of their cribs. I was going to leave them there, let them cry and soil themselves. I didn’t care. I couldn’t care. I tried to care. I COULDN’T care.

Instead I called my doctors office. The moment my favorite receptionist answered, I broke down in tears. I told her I didn’t want to be a mom anymore and she told me to “Come in IMMEDIATELY.” I did. The doctor spoke to me about postpartum depression as if he’d had this conversation thousands of times.

Turns out he had. Turns out I was one of MILLIONS of women experiencing those feelings at that exact moment. I wasn’t crazy. Something was wrong with my brain. Something I couldn’t fix alone.

My doctor and I fixed it together.

My kids are four and six now, and I love and adore them so much that my heart physically aches when I think of them. I would give my life for them without blinking.

Reaching out for help was the greatest gift I have ever given them as a mother.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, I just wanted you to know — you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy — and it doesn’t have to be this way. Tell someone. Tell someone TODAY. It gets better

The post Postpartum Depression Made Me Resent My Children For Existing appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Let’s Not Forget About New Moms During The Pandemic

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and then on April 10, a close friend gave birth to a baby. The weeks leading up to the baby’s birth were full of stress, uncertainty, and questions with no easy answers. Where would she give birth? Would her partner be allowed in the room? Who would watch her toddler while they in the hospital?

After the baby was born those questions ceased, but the stress and anxiety didn’t and new questions emerged. The baby didn’t sleep at night. She needed support breastfeeding. Groceries weren’t easy to come by, her friends and family couldn’t come lend a hand, and she had a toddler with too much energy and nowhere to go. My friend, the new mom, was recovering from a stressful delivery (while wearing a mask), functioning on virtually no sleep, and unable to access her usual lines of support, which she desperately needed (in addition to the helpful partner by her side.)

My friend’s story isn’t uncommon. Babies didn’t get the memo that COVID-19 had brought the world to a screeching halt. They still demanded to be born. And new moms were faced with new challenges in that already difficult time in the weeks after birth. Isolated from support systems, navigating a world no one had a map to navigate, and doing so while virtually sleep deprived, new moms are being asked to do the impossible.

It isn’t surprising, then, that a recent study found that since the pandemic, new moms are more likely to experience anxiety and depression.

The study surveyed 900 eligible women who were either pregnant or in their first year after delivery, and identified “a substantial increase in the likelihood of maternal depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Comparing pre-pandemic levels of depression and anxiety, the study found that 40.7% of women experienced depression during the pandemic as compared to 15% pre-pandemic. When it comes to anxiety, 72% of respondents experienced moderate to high anxiety during the pandemic, as opposed to 29% before the pandemic.

Scary Mommy got in touch with Lisa Tremayne, Director at the Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) at Monmouth Medical Center, and Lesley Neadel, a Social Worker at the same, to give meaning to those numbers.

Tremayne noted that calls to the Center have tripled since the pandemic began, which is an observation that supports the study’s finding that anxiety and depression increased substantially.

The bigger question to understand is why. In an email, Tremayne writes, “PMADs [perinatal mood and anxiety disorders] thrive on isolation and fears, and COVID is all about isolation and fear. Pregnant and new moms are caught in an impossible web, scared to leave the safety of their homes and yet so desperately lonely, searching for connection of women in the same season.” It’s a perfect storm for new moms who are already vulnerable to mood and anxiety disorders. According to the study, “depression and anxiety affect one in seven women during the perinatal period” when there isn’t a pandemic raging outside.

Mother and baby boy, toddler, talking with father on a Skype, using laptop, having family moment during video call, adjusting to separation during coronavirus, covid 19 quarantine.
Mladen_Kostic/Getty

The pandemic has only added to the intrusive “what if” fears playing on a constant low loop in new mother’s minds, according to Tremayne, and when those thoughts are dominating, it becomes difficult to function in daily life. In addition, “all the questions that are ‘normal’ are very intensely ramped up.” Nine out of 10 of the calls PMADs is fielding, as compared to 7 or 8 pre-pandemic, are from women who are experiencing anxiety and panic attacks that they were able to manage in pre-pandemic times.

As a result, we need to make sure new mothers’ mental health is a top priority. The study concluded that staying physically active during the pandemic “could be a helpful tool for pregnant and postpartum women,” especially if access to other places for diagnosis and treatment is difficult. The authors suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.

Neadel offered a more comprehensive list of suggestions for new mothers. “The most effective treatment is the combination of individual therapy, peer-to-peer support, and medication, if needed, to help with racing thoughts or overwhelming sadness.” She noted that taking time for self-care and protecting your own eating and sleep as much as possible was critical, as was finding the right support group. Many new mom support groups successfully made the switch to virtual platforms, including Jen Schwartz at Motherhood Understood, TheBloomFoundation.org, and PostpartumProgress.com.

Often identifying the symptoms or recognizing that a new mother is suffering is difficult. “[N]ew moms who are suffering may not present as you imagine depression would,” Neadel notes, and urges partner to pay attention to symptoms that match anxiety or OCD, and to open space and listen to the new mom’s feelings. “Don’t assume that because she looks fine, she is fine. If mom seems “not like herself” or is saying that to you—it’s time to call for help,” writes Neadel.

New mothers are an already vulnerable group thanks to the hormones, sleep deprivation, and chemical changes to the brain both create, notes Tremayne. The pandemic only serves to exacerbate the difficulties new moms face, as it’s forcing them to be separated from family and friends who might help and adding untold reams of uncertainty into the everyday.

It’s important to remember, however, that PMADs “is an OB complication and not a lifetime psychiatric illness,” writes Tremayne, who adds, “It is temporary and treatable, and you are not ever alone when you’re suffering.”

“Everyone who gets help, gets better,” writes Tremayne. “With PMAD-specific treatment, by trained and specialized professionals, every mama gets back to herself.”

The post Let’s Not Forget About New Moms During The Pandemic appeared first on Scary Mommy.

My Body Isn’t An Ornament — It’s An Instrument

Stretch marks, loose skin, fat, saggy breasts. That may be all you see. But I see so much more.

My body has grown and birthed my three precious children, my body has cared for them every single day of their lives, my body has endured the devastating grief of child loss, my body has experienced immense physical trauma. My body has overcome.

When I look at my body, I see the love of a mother, incredible strength and sheer determination.

My Body Isn't An Ornament — It's An Instrument
Courtesy of Zia Robinson

Before I had my first child, I struggled with body dysmorphia and disordered eating that started when I was a young teenager.

I still remember the overwhelming feeling of love and pride the day my son Mikey was born. As I laid my tired eyes on his sweet face, I realized that not only was my child just born, but I was too.

He was now my everything, my purpose, the love of my life … and MY body brought him earthside.

The way I saw myself completely changed. I realized that my body isn’t an ornament, it is an instrument. That might sound like a silly realization but after being conditioned by society for so long, I truly did not know my body was that powerful.

My body did everything it was designed to do to bring my child into this world. My body that I had tried to shrink and punish for years to conform to society’s standard of beauty was made for so much more than I could have ever fathomed. My body now told the story of the best thing that ever happened to me.

My Body Isn't An Ornament — It's An Instrument
Courtesy of Zia Robinson

My kids are now 3 and 1. When we’re at home I’m usually in my underwear. There’s nothing for me to be ashamed of. I’m happy to say that they have never heard me say a single negative word about my body or anyone else’s.

It’s so important to me that my kids see me accept and love myself exactly as I am, because in doing so, I give them the permission to do the same for themselves.

And the beautiful reality is; my kids don’t care about my rolls, stretchmarks and loose skin. They care about whether I’m jumping in the water with them at the beach, cuddling them before they fall asleep, remembering their favorite juice at the grocery store and letting them mix the pancake batter. They just want to be with me.

My body nurtures them, nourishes them, bathes them, wipes their tears and snot, lifts them into the air like superheroes, and shows them all the love I have for them in my heart and soul.

My body is their home. It’s my home.

 

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners), daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook page is here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all).

The post My Body Isn’t An Ornament — It’s An Instrument appeared first on Scary Mommy.

The ‘Lose Weight By Breastfeeding’ Message Is Hurting Postpartum Moms

Lose weight while breastfeeding? Breastfeed to lose weight?

For years, women have been indoctrinated to believe the most effective way to lose weight postpartum is to breastfeed. Or that the best reason to breastfeed is for weight loss.

It’s high time to call out this crap for what it is: an instrument of diet culture to manipulate women during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The truth is, this message is destructive and harming new mothers in alarming ways. 

Rather than focusing on the things necessary to promote postpartum recovery and healing, new moms are inundated with false promises that prey on their vulnerabilities.

I’ve heard too many stories from moms who did breastfeed but didn’t see any expected weight loss. This left them feeling like failures or as if something was wrong with their bodies. On the other hand, I’ve seen mothers who were really struggling with breastfeeding but felt like they had to push through the pain and discomfort because they believed it was the only thing that would guarantee postpartum weight loss.

For too long, telling women to breastfeed for weight loss has not only created an illusion around breastfeeding and postpartum bodies, it’s served as a distraction for what women really need to be focusing on after birthing and bringing babies into the world. Not to mention, this myth around breastfeeding creates an arbitrary and unrealistic standard for women’s postpartum bodies.

Trying to incentivize a postpartum mom to breastfeed because it will help her lose weight is effectively communicating the message that her body is not good enough as it is.

Can you imagine saying this to a new mom after everything she went through to bring her baby into the world? This is not okay, people, and we need to change this damaging propaganda against pregnant and postpartum moms.

Pushing this idea of weight loss on a brand new mom buries her beneath an impossible amount of pressure to “lose the baby weight” — a message that’s been internalized by all postpartum women due to diet culture.

Don’t postpartum moms have enough to worry about without the added pressures of changing their body size to comply with the arbitrary standards set by diet culture and mainstream media?

Isn’t the gap between expectations and reality wide enough for new moms without adding these additional unrealistic standards over her head?

The sad thing is how this message shifts the focus from the postpartum period being a time of healing and recovery to manipulating weight, food, and body size.

I’ve known too many moms who prematurely forced themselves to start rigid exercise or dieting regimes in a desperate attempt to meet these impossible standards for postpartum women, all the while suffering physical harm on their bodies, as well as emotional and mental distress. I’ve worked with postpartum moms who tore their cesarean incisions from trying to exercise too soon, who had a difficult time breastfeeding because they weren’t eating enough, or who experienced mental health complications triggered by body image distress.

This is not okay.

It’s important that we normalize the body changes women go through during pregnancy and postpartum in order to challenge the arbitrary standards that set up new moms to fail. We need to challenge the diet culture propaganda around weight loss and breastfeeding to create space for women’s bodies to do what they were meant to do.

Let’s shift the focus to help new moms focus on healing, rest and recovery.

Does Breastfeeding Help Weight Loss?

There is no solid scientific evidence supporting the claim that breastfeeding helps support long-term and lasting weight loss.

So why perpetuate this damaging rhetoric?

Studies that have shown a correlation between breastfeeding and weight loss in postpartum moms show no evidence of that weight loss being statistically significant, nor does it demonstrate the weight-loss stuck long-term. Any effect is relatively small and may not be detectable in studies that lack adequate statistical power, have imprecise data on postpartum weight change, or do not account for the exclusivity and/or duration of breastfeeding.

Bottom line: There is no scientific evidence to back up this claim that breastfeeding facilitates weight loss in postpartum moms.

The other thing to note is the potential protective effect of increased fat stores while postpartum and breastfeeding.

Women who are breastfeeding have increased levels of the hormone prolactin, which helps produce and maintain milk supply. The hormone prolactin, which is at an all time high in breastfeeding moms and necessary to produce breast milk, has actually been shown to reduce fat metabolism. Which means that a breastfeeding mom may actually have higher fat stores while breastfeeding.

And you know what?

Higher fat stores in postpartum women serve a protective and proactive function while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding plus being postpartum is one of the most nutrient expensive times of a woman’s life. A woman has a higher need of most nutrients in order to support healing after growing and birthing a baby, as well as to initiate and support breastfeeding (should she decide to do so.)

Nutrient requirements for vitamins A, B6, and C, and for iodine and zinc (among others) are increased by more than 50%, but lactation may actually be protective against certain maternal deficiencies. Having higher fat stores ensures that her body has sufficient energy to work with.

Because of the effects of prolactin in the body, a more common experience for breastfeeding moms is to hold on to and build fat reserves.

If this is normal and biologically advantageous, why aren’t we talking about this? Why aren’t we normalizing what is actually supposed to happen in women’s postpartum bodies?

The damaging myth that women should be losing weight while breastfeeding is not a common experience and perpetuates a false narrative around what breastfeeding should look like. So when a postpartum mom doesn’t have this experience, she begins to believe that her body has failed her.

Even worse, she’ll believe that she is failing.

When there is an overall lack of nutrients and energy, this can create a host of physical and mental side effects for the postpartum mom.

Risks With Postpartum Dieting, Rapid Weight Loss

How might postpartum moms reconcile the “breastfeed to lose weight” message with what their bodies are actually doing?

For one, postpartum moms who are not seeing an expected weight loss shift while breastfeeding may begin to look for other venues to facilitate weight loss.

I’ve worked with a number of postpartum moms who felt something was wrong with their bodies because they weren’t losing weight while breastfeeding. Diet culture puts undue pressure on new moms to not only lose weight, but to do it quickly. Many women are battling with an arbitrary timeline in their head that makes no sense for what their bodies are actually capable of doing, like needing to fit into their pre-baby clothes or lose weight by a certain amount of time.

The truth is, your postpartum body is going to do what it needs to do to not only heal and recover, but to feed your baby.

Your body may be holding on to weight and fat stores as a protective factor. You may have increased hunger levels in order to support what your body needs to cover the nutritional demands of everything you’re going through. Diet culture has demonized increased hunger, appetite and body changes, all which are familiar to a postpartum mom — especially while breastfeeding. 

It’s not uncommon for postpartum moms to turn to dieting tactics to try to facilitate weight loss.

Dieting is associated with a number of risk factors for postpartum moms, including but not limited to: 

  • Decreased milk supply if breastfeeding

  • Body dissatisfaction, which can increase risk of maternal mental health disorders and lead to overall poorer mental health function

  • Shorter durations of breastfeeding

  • Prolonged time healing from pregnancy and childbirth

  • Nutrient deficiencies, which can contribute to physical and mental health complications

  • Poor mental functioning

  • Postnatal depletion

  • Fatigue, exhaustion

  • Mood swings

You can see how problematic dieting can be for a postpartum mother.

Many moms feel like they have no choice but to resort to dieting tactics, frustrated that breastfeeding is not facilitating weight loss or with how their bodies have changed.

But when you’re preoccupied on manipulating your body size, you’re unable to fully focus on doing what is necessary and needed for you to recover, heal, and thrive during this new season of your life.

Why Postpartum Moms Are Searching For Weight Loss

It’s also important to note some of the potential reasons why postpartum moms may feel a strong pull and sense of urgency to lose weight after having a baby (aside from the damaging rhetoric from diet culture).

One thing I’ve learned from my own experiences is the deeper meaning behind, “I want my body back.”

Because, like all things, there is always more meaning beneath the surface. 

When a new mom is saying this, she may also be expressing unspoken feelings like: 

  • I miss a sense of normalcy in my life

  • I miss my body being my own

  • I miss having more autonomy and independence

  • I miss having the freedom to do what I want to do

  • I miss my relationships being the way they were

There is no question that the body changes that come about after having a baby are uncomfortable.

I think it’s also important to realize that body changes aren’t the only uncomfortable thing happening in your life. Having a baby means adapting to many different changes that are hard and uncomfortable, but we don’t always see the things happening beneath the surface. We might not be able to see past the changes in our body to see the full picture of what is happening at this point of our lives.

In reality, the postpartum season can feel like many things are happening outside of your control. It’s normal to look toward things that you feel like you can control in order to establish a sense of normalcy, to create order out of chaos. Controlling your body size or weight creates an illusion of control, which is why it’s so enticing to pursue.

But don’t miss the forest for the trees here. 

Be aware of the other changes that are uncomfortable for you. Understand some of that discomfort you may be feeling in your body may also be related to the greater changes in your life. But changing your body size may not be the answer you’re looking for. In fact, engaging in dieting tactics in an attempt to change your body size may further jeopardize your overall health and well-being, which can make motherhood that much more difficult.

What to Focus on Instead of Postpartum Weight Loss

What can you focus on instead?

It’s helpful to realize that you can still choose to be kind to yourself and make healthful choices that are respectful to your postpartum body, even if you feel indifferent about your body.

You don’t have to rely on feelings about your postpartum body to dictate your choices about caring for your body. 

There are many positive and effective ways to support your overall mental and physical health without engaging in dangerous tactics to manipulate your body size. Remember the postpartum period is also a time to recover, restore, and rest to support your healing and mental health.

Here are some ideas to engage in healthful behaviors to support yourself postpartum:

  • Focus on adequate postpartum nutrition to support healing and mental health

  • Give yourself permission to slow down and get restorative rest as you’re able

  • Connect with support groups for community and a sense of belonging

  • Engage in gentle movement, like walking, yoga and stretching

  • Get some fresh air and sunshine daily

  • Drink adequate amounts of water

  • Take your prenatal vitamins

  • Connect with a counselor or therapist to support you through this transition

  • Take a break from social media to give your brain a rest from over-saturation

  • Allow yourself time to engage in activities that don’t have to do with your baby — like reading a book, coloring, journaling, or any other activity that you might enjoy

You deserve to enter the postpartum season of new motherhood without being weighed down with unrealistic expectations.

You are worthy of the time and space needed to focus on your recovery and healing. Growing your baby and birthing life into the world is nothing less than miraculous.

Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise or make you feel inadequate because your body is not complying with diet culture. You weren’t meant to fit in that mold anyway, and by honoring your individual body and what it needs, you are building a healthy foundation for you and your family for years to come.

How You Feed Your Baby is Your Choice

At the end of the day, how you feed your baby is your choice.

How you decide to feed your baby is a highly personalized choice that should take multiple factors into consideration.

Many women assume because breastfeeding is “natural,” it should be the default decision. But assuming this neglects to consider a new mom and her individual circumstances, including her mental and physical health, her support system, home life, and more.

Ultimately, you should be able to make the choice on how you feed your baby based on what works best for you and your baby. You are part of the equation too, mama. And your decision to breastfeed shouldn’t be based on manipulating your body size through the process or because of false incentivization.

You don’t need to change your body after having a baby to prove anything to anyone!

You can trust your body through this postpartum process — even when it feels foreign and uncomfortable to you.

In the same way your body grew and carried your baby into being, your body can also be trusted through this postpartum season. It only asks you to be gentle with it, to treat it with the respect and kindness it deserves.

Supporting a New Mom

If you have a new mom in your life, here are some tidbits for you, too.

You don’t need to comment on her body or how her body may be changing. Telling a new mom, “You’ve already lost the baby weight!” can send her down a self-shaming spiral she doesn’t need. Really, you don’t need to say anything about her body or appearance. Please, just don’t.

The next time you see a new mom, take time to connect with her and ask her how she’s doing. Ask her how she’s coping with the new changes in motherhood. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job. And if you’re really interested in supporting her, volunteer to do something that would be helpful for her, like bringing a meal or helping clean her house. (PSA – Don’t ask a new mom what she needs you to help with, because she likely doesn’t know. Just tell her what you’re going to do, or better yet — just do it. She’ll never forget your kindness).

Remember that mothers are more than their bodies. They have innate worth and value that goes beyond how they feed their babies or what their bodies look like.

Let’s lift them up as such – they deserve to be cherished. 

The post The ‘Lose Weight By Breastfeeding’ Message Is Hurting Postpartum Moms appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Postpartum Psychosis Made Me Think Of Harming My Baby

What do you think when you see a vacant-looking mom of a new baby and a toddler? That she is probably tired? Exhausted? I guarantee that’s what most people would think. Would you ever think this was the look of a mom who was about to go through postpartum psychosis? Maybe you’ve never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t. So what is postpartum psychosis? And why would it happen to someone who had everything she had ever wanted?

My story begins mostly in 2011. I packed up and left my hometown in the UK to move to beautiful British Columbia on the West Coast of Canada with my husband at the ripe old age of 24. I had no concerns or worries, just a feeling of excitement for the adventure that was to come. 

Those first few years were hard. I was a Registered Nurse with experience in the UK, but was still required to upgrade my education to Canadian standards with courses and exams. I worked minimum wage jobs while studying to make ends meet. When I finished the courses and passed the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam, I was euphoric. Now I could finally start my life again, and a part of that plan was to become a mother. 

I have loved children ever since I was a toddler myself and always envisioned myself with a big family of four or five kids. It was one of the reasons I became a Pediatric Nurse. Unfortunately, my trying for a baby was resulting in negative tests month after month. What was wrong with me?

I visited my GP who sent me for a bunch of blood tests and an ultrasound scan on my ovaries. A random doctor from the office called me back to come into the office a few days later. “Your bloodwork and ultrasound show you have quite severe Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. You don’t ovulate.” But what did that mean for me? “You will struggle very much to have any children.” And with that sentence, he got up and left the room. 

I was referred to a Fertility Specialist, who I saw a few months later. He was a lovely, compassionate doctor who carried out further tests to see if there were any other issues. I eventually started fertility treatment and tried numerous forms before I finally got that positive pregnancy test in October 2014. The pregnancy proved to be troublesome when, at 16 weeks, we were told the baby looked like it could have numerous medical conditions that would be incompatible with life. There was lots of uncertainty during the pregnancy and, looking back, I feel I suffered with a form of prenatal depression and anxiety which I would say is understandable, given the circumstances. My first daughter was born in July 2015 completely healthy and I was overjoyed with happiness and love.

I struggled with postpartum depression throughout my 12 month maternity leave, but I put it down to the loneliness of being in a country away from my family and the trauma I had experienced during the pregnancy. My daughter cried and screeched for the majority of the day and night due to silent acid reflux, but I had still never felt love like it before. 

When I became pregnant for the second time in November 2016 without any fertility treatment, I was shocked but overjoyed. This pregnancy was pretty much smooth sailing. There were no worries or concerns for the baby’s health, and people assured me that this baby would be happy and content, as you never get two the same.

My second daughter was born in August 2017. I didn’t get that same feeling of love when they put her on my chest. I didn’t feel a connection, but I just figured this would come a little later. 

The connection didn’t come. When people said I would never get two babies the same, they were right. This one was worse. She cried. 24/7. She would scream in her stroller. She would scream in her carseat. It didn’t matter where she was, she was screaming. I tried everything pediatricians told me to — medication to reduce acid, going dairy-free so no dairy was going through my breastmilk, but nothing worked. She wouldn’t nap in the day and she wouldn’t sleep in the night.

I tried taking the two girls out but with the baby’s screaming, it was always a big, stressful mess. I already struggled with driving anxiety due to a previous car accident so I just gave up trying to go out all together. So here I was, stuck indoors alone with a screaming newborn and a high energy two-year-old. All day, every day. The postpartum depression at this point was deep enough and every day I wished I could run away from it all and never come back. 

The connection with my daughter never came. In fact, I didn’t even love her. Not one ounce. I kept thinking of how much happier I felt before she had arrived, and in my head at that time, I wished I’d never had her.

After a couple of months of the constant crying, no sleep, no social interaction, I began to get intrusive thoughts. Thoughts where I would be holding my baby and could vividly see myself throwing her against the wall. Thoughts where I would be rocking her to try to get her to sleep, and imagine that I would take her out onto the balcony and throw her off the side and watch her fall to the ground. Thoughts where I would watch her drown in the bath and not even attempt to save her.

I hid these thoughts from everyone out of fear of someone taking my other daughter away from me. These kinds of thoughts were daily and so vivid that I couldn’t get away from them. How could anyone feel that way towards their own baby? I can hear you thinking it. Believe me, I used to think this too. How can anyone feel anything other than love for their own baby? I wish I knew the answer, but it was as if I were replaced by a completely different person at this point who had no sense of reality. This was not me.

I was sick, but I didn’t know or understand this yet. 

Eventually when she was five months old, something snapped. My husband had been working various shifts and was working night shifts at this particular time. It was 2 am and my baby had not slept and was just screaming the house down, also keeping my two-year-old awake — and she was also now crying through tiredness. An incredible rage came over me and I had to put my baby down and leave before I did something I would regret. I went into my garage, sat between the bins and sobbed like a little child. 

I went outside (in Canada, in the middle of the night, and in January!) and called my mother, who was in the UK. I don’t remember much from this point onwards, but I was apparently not making any sense and screaming and stamping my legs like a child during a tantrum. I was eventually found, but I cannot remember anything about where or when. All I know is that my husband said I had a scary, vacant look in my eyes and I didn’t remember whether I had hurt the baby or not. He ran upstairs; the baby, thankfully, was safe and I had put her back in her crib. 

Following this episode, I was required to see a specialist maternal psychiatry team and was placed on medication along with other interventions. My husband was also instructed to take immediate leave from work for the safety of our children and to help care for me. The letter the psychiatrist wrote to his employer labelled me as “critically ill.” As a nurse, I tended to only think of people being critically ill when they were in the ICU. 

After 15 weeks of my husband being on leave and only receiving 55% of his wage, we made the decision that we had to return back to the UK — a decision that continues to break my heart to this very day. I had worked so hard to build up the life I had created in Canada, and it was all taken away from me due to something I could never have seen coming. After all, how could this happen to me? How could I have feelings of hate towards my baby so much? My babies were so desperately wanted. 

Eventually, I built up a bond with my daughter when I began feeling better and now I cannot believe I ever felt this way about being her mother. She is now a funny, beautiful, energetic two-year-old who I could not imagine my life without. The guilt I feel about the feelings I had towards her in the first year of her life will never leave me. I don’t have the same happy photographs with her that I had with my first daughter, and it kills me knowing she will realize this one day and ask me why. 

Postpartum psychosis does not care who you are, what you do or how many people you have around you. Although I am now recovered, I will never be the same person I was before. I now make a point of being open and honest with women about my journey — so if I can help just one woman or her family recognize these symptoms and gain help quicker, I have done more than I could ever have anticipated.

The post Postpartum Psychosis Made Me Think Of Harming My Baby appeared first on Scary Mommy.

How To Cope With D-MER, From A Mom Who’s Been There

When I gave birth to my son, things were perfect. My labor was short. My contractions were straightforward. My abdomen compressed regularly, and rhythmically. 90 seconds on. 60 seconds off. And he was healthy. Clear skin. Clear lungs. Strong heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience. The doctors were patient and supportive. My wishes were seen and heard.

I also had one hell of an epidural. My body was numb from the waist down.

But the best part was my son’s demeanor. He was a happy baby. A calm baby. An easy baby, which is to say he slept well and nursed often. He latched moments after I placed him on my chest and bare breast. And it seemed breastfeeding him would be a breeze. But after a few weeks, things changed. My relationship with him and breastfeeding changed, and I became anxious.

I didn’t know who was more upset: me or the red-faced baby in my arms.

Now I know what you’re thinking: It is normal to be overwhelmed. Parenthood is hard, breastfeeding is hard, and sleep deprivation is brutal. The first few weeks are particularly trying. But there was more to my emotional instability than exhaustion. I was suffering from something called D-MER, or dysphoric milk ejection reflex.

Of course, many people do not know what D-MER is. In fact, the term is rarely used — and the condition is misunderstood. However, according to D-MER.org, an awareness-based website managed by mom and lactation consultant Alia Macrina Heise, dysphoric milk ejection reflex is “a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.”

To put it another way, D-MER is a negative emotional response to the physical act of your milk letting down.

“D-MER presents itself with slight variations depending on the mother experiencing it,” Heise writes, “but it has one common characteristic — a wave of negative or even devastating emotions just prior to letdown.” And that was the case with me.

My stomach hardened and sank. I could feel the milk rushing forward, and the bile rushing up. An acute wave of depression took control of my body. I felt distant, absent. My face flushed with warmth and tears, and I became afraid of a monster I could not see, of a threat which did not exist.

Mother suffering while breastfeeding
Peter Dazeley/Getty

The good news is the anxiety and sadness only lasted a few moments. The feelings disappeared as abruptly as they come on. But for two or three minutes, I felt lost in my own body. My legs shook. My arms felt leaden, not solid but heavy. Like molten metal, they lacked stability and support. And I felt nauseous. I wanted to run. I was scared.

So how did I cope? How can you cope?

Here’s the best way to manage D-MER if you want to keep breastfeeding.

Acknowledge your feelings, don’t avoid them.

The first and most important step toward managing D-MER is to understand it. After all, once you recognize there is a correlation between your physical being and your emotional one, you will know what to expect. My son fed every two hours and when I felt “on edge,” I looked at the clock. Realizing I was about to let down was very helpful. I also knew I could count through it. Before I got to 200, the feelings would likely pass. That said, 200 seconds can feel like an eternity when your body is restless and your mind is depressed. As such, it is imperative you implement coping strategies like…

Busying yourself or your hands, with exercise, food, and/or fidget devices.

While snacking may sound silly, food can help you focus on something outside of yourself. It is also easy to do while feeding your babe. Not on the couch yet? Get up and move. Running in place can (and will) burn off nervous energy.

Practice relaxation techniques, like meditation and deep breathing.

I’ve never been very good at meditating, but many people are. They find the practice centers them — and grounds them. As such, you may want to have a guided meditation at the ready, like those on Calm, Headspace, and 10% Happier.

Use the ABCs to control anxiety.

Pick a broad category of things and/or objects — like colors, desserts, or cars — and make an alphabetical list in your head. Colors, for example, would look something like this: amber, blue, cobalt, etc. If your anxiety is still elevated when you get to “z,” pick a new category and start again. The point isn’t what you pick (or how far you get), it’s that you distract your mind long enough to work through any uncomfortable or dysphoric feelings.

Text a friend or make a phone call.

Connecting with another person won’t just help your D-MER, it will help you feel less isolated and alone (which, as any new parent can tell you, is super important).

Recognize it can and will get better.

You’ve been here before — and worked through these feelings before — and you can do it again. Take it one minute and second at a time.

That said, if you are overwhelmed by D-MER and/or if these thoughts do not dissipate, you should speak to your OBGYN or another trained professional, as these feelings can also be symptoms of perinatal mood disorders.

The post How To Cope With D-MER, From A Mom Who’s Been There appeared first on Scary Mommy.