Tag: Pregnancy

#PPDMyStory – One Kenyan Mom’s story and how she got help

African mom and baby, postpartum depression

We are starting a new series titled #PPDMyStory where we will be sharing life stories of moms with Postpartum Depression, their motherhood journey and how they are recovering/ recovered. This is in line with our efforts to sensitize the community on maternal mental health and to raise awareness for Postpartum Depression (PPD).

#PPDMyStory

Today’s entry comes from one of the moms who we have had in our support group sessions. She requested anonymity, so we will simply share her story as she did.

You recently had a baby, how was pregnancy?

My pregnancy had few complications. However, I enjoyed the last two trimesters because I did not experience intense morning sickness like I had been experiencing in the first trimester. In the last few weeks, I experienced some intense feelings of physical discomfort and this was made worse when I got really bad news about two weeks before I gave birth.

Read More: 8 things no one tells you about pregnancy

Your baby is 2 years old now, how has the experience been with him?

My experience with the baby has been more blissful than I thought it would have been. Initially I thought that I was never capable of loving this new human being but I have grown to learn what he likes and what he doesn’t. I have also grown to dedicate moments where we spend time together just to bond and appreciate each other’s existence on earth. Being a mother to my son is the most amazing experience ever.

A few months after birth you started feeling that something was off, that it was more than just baby blues. Please share with us about that period.

Getting sad news just two weeks to delivery made me question if I was ready to be a solo parent. It made me question my capabilities and I gradually started to feel like I had let down a small human being who had no idea of what I was going through. I gradually sunk into a state of physical numbness and emotional turmoil, and stopped enjoying activities I used to love like writing or going out with friends.

Waking up was dreadful, and during some moments I would play out thoughts of cutting my existence for good. I felt worthless. My self esteem took a plunge and I could not bring myself to work (as a freelance writer) because the voices in my head were constantly playing out situations that were far-fetched and independent of my reality.

When did you learn that it wasn’t just feeling off, that you had Postpartum Depression?

I came to the realization that these were not baby blues or just feeling off after 9 months of stagnation in my daily life. Things were crushing in my reality. I got to a point I could not effectively handle the bills, all my savings were almost depleted, I was in a constant state of despair, guilt and regret and to top it all I never wanted to live any longer.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

What symptoms did you experience? What did you feel during this time?

Some of the symptoms I experienced include:

  • Feeling helpless and out of control
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of interest in activities I once enjoyed
  • Intense guilt and feelings of regret
  • Weight gain
  • Constant exhaustion but total lack of sleep
  • Constant sadness and moments where I would cry without a distinct reason
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling like I am a bad mother for not being happy and grateful for this new bundle of joy
  • Intrusive thoughts of harming myself and having someone better take care of the baby

How did you get help? What kind of support did you receive?

I was referred to Samoina of PPDKenya by a mutual friend and after a few weeks of direct communication with her, she recommended that I attend some group therapy sessions that were organised for both young moms and dads with signs of PPD. Initially she had recommended that I seek individual counselling sessions but I was a bit hesitant to open up so I eventually felt like the group therapy sessions would help me open up. After attending the group sessions I was subscribed for a series of additional individual sessions with the therapist for about three months and I was accorded thorough emotional and psychological support.

What about your healthcare provider? Was anyone able to pick up your symptoms?

My healthcare provider at the time did not pick any symptoms mainly because when a mother goes to clinic after childbirth the focus is normally on the wellness of the baby. There is also the general assumption that is made, that the mother is okay, while they may not be.

Looking back, what risk factors do you think predisposed you to PPD?

My biggest risk factor that triggered depression was an unsupportive partner. This drained me a lot. In addition, I was constantly exhausted due to lack of good sleep.

Read More: Out of This Life – A Photo Exhibition on Suicide in Kenya

What positive coping mechanisms have worked for you in your recovery journey so far?

Positive self-talk is a winner for sure. I used to love myself before conception but when PPD hit me hard I hated how I looked and even how I felt inside. After therapy, I am able to refute negative thoughts about my being and during moments when I feel overwhelmed, I always remind myself that I am in control (among other positive affirmations). I have grown to embrace meditation as part of my daily routine where I get in touch with my soul and I also get to let go of what no longer serves me.

In addition, I also engage in daily physical exercises which play a big role in breaking tension in moments when I feel otherwise. I journal long-term and short term goals to keep me motivated to work and achieve something tangible. I stick to a distinct schedule which also includes time for me to take naps and a quality time to sleep.  Also, I have gradually revived my spiritual life which was typically dead.

What encouragement would you give to a mom who has PPD, or an expectant woman on how to take care of her mental health during pregnancy?

Post Partum Depression (PPD) is a mental health condition that should not necessarily be a death sentence. As a woman, many factors can predispose one to PPD hence one should be keen to look out for distinct symptoms and at the onset of PPD seek psychotherapy/counselling. In addition, there are various inexpensive ways of seeking professional help as offered through PPDKenya.

What one thing do you wish you knew about PPD before your experience?

I wish that I knew what PPD is, its symptoms and how to protect myself from the trigger factors that initially sent me into a extended period of depression.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and with other moms. We hope your journey will encourage a mom who is scared of asking for help. Would you like to share your story on our website? Please get in touch on email: ppdkenya@gmail.com with the subject ‘PPD My Story’

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8 Things No One Tells you About Pregnancy

Pregnant woman holding belly

D-day is nearing, and you are likely counting down to the birth of your baby. You have scoured the internet to read up on every article about pregnancy. You have also likely signed up for a lamaze class, and watched every birthing video you can stand. The truth is that amidst these preparations, there are still many things that moms-to-be do not learn before delivery. We are here to let you in on 8 things no one tells you about pregnancy.

  1. You may experience emotional upheavals

Whether due to the upsurge of pregnancy hormones, or just the sheer thought of bringing new life to these world, your emotions will likely be all over the place. Pregnancy is expected to be a happy time. Moms-to-be are expected to be filled with excitement for the coming bundle of joy. This is not always the case. Many pregnant women will experience fluctuating emotions, and a number may develop pregnancy depression.

Read More: Depression during pregnancy – what you need to know

  1. You will experience increased vaginal discharge

Many pregnant women will experience increased vaginal discharge. This is attributed to changes in the cervix. During pregnancy, the cervix and vaginal walls begin to soften. This allows the body to produce increased discharge to prevent infections. In the later stages of pregnancy, the baby’s head adds pressure to the cervix. This also increases the production of the discharge. It is important for pregnant women to note that this vaginal discharge is normal. It is called leukorrhea, and has a thin milky consistency with a mild smell.

  1. Your birth plan may not go how you envision it

Many moms-to-be will create a birth plan to help with preparation for labour and delivery. While this is a good idea, the truth is that delivery does not always go the way you want it to. The process of childbirth can be very unpredictable. Sudden turns of events may call for an unplanned emergency c-section. The most important thing to remember is that having a healthy baby and healthy mother is what matters. The mode of delivery does not define you as a mom. As such, it helps to be open minded about it.

  1. It is a whole new season of adjustments with breastfeeding.

New moms will often experience cracked nipples. Now, picture cracked nipples, and a little clueless human being trying to latch. This is HARD. And on many days, you will want to give up, because sore bloody nipples are not anyone’s cup of tea. Good old Vaseline will be your friend, amidst all the shrieks and tears. It does get better over time!

  1. You will experience lochia

Lochia is the medical term that refers to the vaginal discharge after birth. This discharge contains blood, tissue from the uterine lining and bacteria. Some women will experience cramps too, so painkillers will come in handy.

To contain the lochia, you will need to wear a mommy diaper. This comes in two variations: the mesh underwear that comes with a maxi-pad or the adult diaper. Both options can be used as they are. The use of ice is optional, but helps to soothe the soreness. Many hospitals will often provide the mommy diapers, but you may want to carry a pack or two in your hospital bag.

What you need to know when pregnant
Pregnant? Here are 8 things you should know

  1. You may have to re-invent your wardrobe

As the pregnancy progresses, you will need to change a few clothing items. This allows for comfort in the last trimester. Depending on your choice, the clothes may also double up as nursing wear for easy breastfeeding. Invest in button-down blouses, zipped tops and comfortable pants in the first few weeks after birth.

  1. You may not experience that magical bond with your child immediately

Not all moms will have an instant bond with their child. This may happen due to the trauma of labor, or depression during pregnancy. Sometimes, it happens simply because of the overwhelming experience that this new chapter represents. And that is okay, to a certain extent.

Baby blues are fairly common, and will often die down on their own. In Postpartum Depression however, these blues only intensify. They have a vice-like grip on any mom, and will often wash up like mighty waves on the shore of your heart. If you do experience this, do not be afraid to get medical attention. There is no shame in asking for help.

Read More: When moms are unable to bond with their infants

  1. The kids will grow

In spite of the challenges at the onset, the kids grow. It is easy to get lost in the overwhelming duties of taking care of a newborn. The unending diaper changes and sleepless nights can easily take a toll on new moms.

The different stages may feel like they last forever. The truth is they don’t. As often as you can, try to live and enjoy the moments. Remember to take care of yourself too. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

 

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