WEEK 1: THE PLAN AND THE RESULTS! SLEEP TRAINING WITH 3 KIDS, 3 AND UNDER!

Let me begin with some reassurance and scientific proof as to the merrits of sleep training. ..

A common misconception of sleep training is, that a child will be put under intense stress or will create anxiety or behavioural problems. This has been proven to be the exact opposite. The American Academy of Pediatrics set out to discover the truth behind this assertion. Note: sleep training is not recommended before 4 months. This is the papers goals :

“OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of behavioral interventions on the sleep/wakefulness of infants, parent and infant stress,p and later child emotional/behavioral problems, and parent-child attachment.

The study is very thorough and detailed. In a nutshell these are the findings:

Stress levels:

This was measured by testing cortisol (stress hormone) in saliva. A teeny increase was detected initially with a huge decrease over time.

Babies were found to sleep longer with out any night time disturbances.

Children were more settled and happy with zero negative side effects such a parent-child attachment.

Parents themselves reported drastically decreased stress levels, once sleep training and a routine had been established !

It is important to note that, in a large percentage of infantaside, (mothers killing their own babies) sleep problems have been found to be a major contributing factor!

The results of this study are based in 3 types of sleep training.

1. Graduated extinction: leaving baby for specific and increasing periods of time. They learn that they are safe and that you are nearby, but nap/bed time is not up for debate! Many of my friends and I have successfully used this approach.

The other 2 types of training in this study were bedtime fading and sleep education control.

MY PLAN FOR SETTLING 2 TODDLERS:

I concluded that sleep training both at once would be twice as hard as when one baby cries, the other reciprocates.

I bagan by sleep training Amelie (the baby that I babysit) first. As my home is a new environment for her, I could establish a routine without an all out rebellion! She just knows that nap time goes a certain way in my home and she accepts that. She was literally cool as a cumber on DAY 2!!!!! Straight to sleep with no resistance! !!…I know right!????? Wow!

For Logan (My 1 year old) I have a 2 part problem!

1. Night training (with frequent wakings for a bottle and the likes!)

2. Nap training

We are going to begin the night training tonight….. Then… And as I only have my own baby next week, I thought I could enforce a proper nap training then when he wouldn’t disturb Amelie! Also Jaymie, my 3 year old will have to sleep with us until Logan settles!

I’m hopeful and exhausted and can’t wait to sleep through the night myself! It has been soooo long!

I wil keep u posted as to my progress!

You:

I would love to hear any stories or opinions about your experiences with sleep training . Please leave a comment below the article if you have any thing to say in this regard!

As always, thanks for reading!

Sara x

Three Kids, Three and Under : SLEEP TRAINING

Having a couple boys, age 3 and almost 1 I feel I’ve got it down! ie…the sharing of time and attention and with a routine that works! (most days!!!) It was so much easier then I thought it would be (AGAIN… MOST DAYS!)… So, when a friend asked me to take care of her 1 year old a couple of days a week I said YES! Surely 3 isn’t that much different then 2? Let me tell you, its full on but it CAN be easy! If I could give any advice, it is that a steady routine is paramount!!! Children crave routine and familiarity. It lets them feel secure in a world in which they have little control!

There are a few hurdles on the way to and even during the right routine for you. For me, the first hurdle was naptime! A well rested baby is a happy baby!

Naptime:

This was my main worry and first problem to solve! Both babies were used to getting rocked to sleep! The very first nap on day one I held a baby in each arm and rock them to sleep!!!!! It worked but suffering with a bad back already, I immediately realised that this was not a sound plan day to day!

Having sleep trained my own eldest with immense success, I determined that this was the only sustainable method by which this was all going to work! I spoke to a few people running and working in crèches to get some tips. I mean, do you ever wonder how crèches manage to sleep a group of babies in one room? Even babies used to being rocked at home will lay down and go straight to sleep in crèche!!!!! What kind of wizardry is this!!!????

Its all about having a solid routine. Baby knows where they are and what is going to happen next. I was advised that when dealing with multiple children, there will be regular testing of boundaries and that it is so important to be consistent and kind but firm. I have detailed my method but it can be adjusted to meet the needs of other families.

The method:

1. Ensure baby is fed, warm enough but not too hot, has a dry clean nappy.

2. Medicine for teething, baby vicks/ snuffle baby for cold etc.. should be given if necessary, to ensure baby is comfortable as possible.

3. Make sure room is dark and warm. I also have a lullaby-music projector which automatically stops playing after half an hour.

4. Establish a calm pre-nap and bedtime routine. This can involve maybe a bottle, nappy change and story.

5. Put baby down sleepy BUT AWAKE!

6. After 3 minutes, check baby. Just pat their back gently and walk out. DO NOT PICK UP!

7. Repeat at 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 minutes

These times are what I use but can be adjusted. A lot of parents just do every 10 minutes. The idea is that the baby knows that they are in bed for duration of sleep time but they are reassured that there is always someone is nearby, so they feel safe and secure.

Some parents find that they upset the baby further by doing checks and opt for the full “cry it out” method. A lot of parents feel uncomfortable with this but often it yields very quick results. There is another method where the parent sits on a chair in the room and day by day moves it slowly out of the room.

Each family should choose what works for them.

Regardless of the method, lots of cuddles before and after are highly recommended !!!!

The benefits of sleep training:

Learning the skill of self soothing is incredibly important for a child.

So what is it?….

Self-soothing is the process of a child learning how to calm themselves down when they are put into their cot or when they wake up in the middle of the night. They learn how to fall back sleep which means more sleep for everyone involved . It is known as “self”-soothing because it is achieved by the child themselves, without the help of parents.

Self soothing is a life skill which will bring unbelievable comfort and confidence to the growing child. Studies have in fact linked this skill with lower anxiety and depression levels throughout life.

Sleep deprivation has negative impacts on childhood development. It also has a severe impact on a parents ability to cope and has a devastating impact on parents with postnatal depression!

During the day, the benefits to both the child and adult in charge are numerous.

The baby will have a nap of far superior length and quality when the routine is in place. And parent/carer can catch up on housework or even write a Blog!!!!!

For older children, a different approach is required. I found a lovely article here that I would recommend reading.

Tips from wise mothers:

Make different (different room, a small amount of daylight during day) for nap time and bed time so that baby will know that if they wake after an hour at night, it’s not time to get up!

It’s important that you stick to your guns! Now obviously, there will be time when baby will nap in buggy or car or someone else’s home. That is OK! BUT, when in the home they know where they will sleep. As I said, children and babies crave routine. When they know what is going to happen next and they get comfortable with a routine, anxiety and stress for baby is much lower!

Just a little side note:

This blog is simply detailing the way that I have found, that is most suited to our needs. I’ve given some background as to why I feel confident in my decisions. I am aware however, that every family is different and what works for one child may not be the solution for another. There are multiple ways of doing things and I respect for any loving parents prerogative to do what they deem best for their precious child!

As I go along I will update how things are going. What works, what doesn’t and any tricks I pick up!

Thanks for reading,

Sara X

The Truth About Vaccines

Imagine your precious child wakes in the night coughing and burning up… hot tears filling their crimson, gooey eyes. A couple of days later, a ghastly rash spreads from the hairline, all over your child’s delicate body, even the vulnerable skin in their little mouth! Neither tiny hands nor feet escape the now overlapping lesions, leaving nowhere untainted !

As your dearest child burns with ever increasing fever new symtoms keep appearing, including diarrhoea, middle ear infection and pneumonia. Your child may look forward to  blindness, acute brain inflammation known as encephalitis and even death.

Your child has measles.

A completely preventable disease!

You would do anything to protect your child from an agonising death, wouldn’t you? I totally understand that anti-vaxxers are scared about the “dangers” of vaccines. These are based on nothing more then pseudoscientific rumours. In my last blog I talked about my own experiences with preventable diseases. In my next couple of blogs (because there are SO MANY silly rumours), I aim to dispel some of the nonsense shrouding vaccination.

Let me begin with one of the very first myths from 1796 when Edward Jenner observed that milkmaids who had previously contracted cowpox did not contract smallpox (They had been inoculated… lightbulb moment!!!). The first successful vaccine was soon developed! ….. And with it the first round of fearmongering nonsense… That the small pox vaccine would turn children into…. wait for it…. COWS!!! As hilarious as this idea seems, bear in mind that some of the tripe going around today is not much better!

In 1998 The Lancet  published a FRAUDULENT article which linked the MMR to autism spectrum disorders. The phony claims spread like wild fire, leading to a drastic drop in vaccination rates in the UK and Ireland. The author Andrew Wakefield, was found to have manipulated evidence to support his outrageous claims. In my opinion, he was therefore directly responsible therefore for the increased incidence of measles and mumps, resulting in deaths and serious permanent injuries. Following the initial claims in 1998, multiple large epidemiological studies were undertaken in UK, USA, Sweden and Denmark which concluded that there was no link between autism and vaccines. Reviews of the evidence by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the UK National Health Service, The Cochrane Library, The American Academy Of Pediatrics,  the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences all found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  LITERALLY NOBODY could find the imaginary link and the devastation to this very day is inexcusable!!! There is currently an outbreak of measles in Ireland and I am terrified for my little baby who still has 3 months to go before he is eligible for the MMR.

The claim of one study, is that Aluminium (found in vaccines) causes autism. Obviously when there is a “scientific” publication, it is especially scary and convincing. This is why, in the world of science and medicine, everybody’s work must be pier reviewed to have real standing and conviction. Mold et al. Aluminium in brain tissue in autism is an example of some of the nonsense passing for scientific research nowadays with no controls and results even being PHOTOSHOPPED!!!! Please read this enlightening blog which discusses this paper in detail.

The MMR vaccine is usually administered after a child turns 1. Autism usually becomes apparent between 12 and 18 months (regardless of whether the child has had a shot or not). I would argue that the child had autism already but it naturally becomes apparent at around the same time as the vaccine is administered. This is just an unlucky coincidence. If I died my hair the same day I broke my leg… the hair dye didn’t break my leg. It is a completely unrelated coincidence!

In a blog soon,  I will talk about some more vaccination myths and fables. No the flu jab does not cause the flu! I am also going to discuss the relatively new HPV vaccine. Here in Ireland, I have many friends and family members who have been bombarded with terrifying Anti-HPV vaccine campaigns void of any scientific or medical evidence!!!

Let me leave you with a nice little quote about autism: “Negative words carry negative vibration. Positive words carry positive vibration. What do you want your child to reflect back to you, the label of disordered or the label of gifted in a new way?” Suzy Miller, Awesomism

Thanks for reading! X

Gestational Diabetes: DON’T PANIC!!!

As wonderful a time as pregnancy can be,  it may also be a an intensely frightening minefield ! When our health and by extension the health of our totally dependent, unborn babies are at risk it is terrifying!!! The predominant worry of most of the mothers I know is what gestational diabetes (GD) means for their fragile, little baba? With such a bewildering mess of information out there for concerned moms my aim is to add a bit of clarity to the subject! I’ve been there myself and let me tell you, its much less scary armed with a clear understanding of the facts!

During my first pregnancy, I totally mismanaged my mental health along with my anti-depressant medication, resulting in a severe episode of postnatal depression. I was adamant that I would not fall into the same trap the next time! As soon as I found out I was pregnant with number two, I signed myself with a wonderful psychiatrist specializing in pregnant patients! I was confident that I had my health under control. I went along to my diabetes-check appointment thinking it a mere formality, seeing as how I didn’t get it in my first pregnancy! …………. I was wrong!

WHAT IS GESTATIONAL DIABETES

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher  then the expected range during pregnancy. It usually becomes apparent in the second or third trimester.

A certain amount of sugar in the blood is normal and serves a purpose! Carbohydrates are just long branches of sugar. Our bodies break them down into simple sugars (glucose) to be used as energy. When we have used as much glucose as we need for energy at a given time, the rest is removed from the blood by INSULIN! When insulin is either under-produced or stops working efficiently, blood sugar increases resulting in diabetes!

WHAT CAUSES GESTATIONAL DIABETES AND CAN I PREVENT IT?

Pregnancy hormones cause  a certain amount of insulin resistance. By slowing the removal of glucose from the blood, it is thought that a glucose supply to the fetus may be secured. In some women however, they become unable to compensate for the insulin resistance and blood glucose levels raise too high.

You cannot definitively prevent GD but you can certainly give yourself a fighting chance with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Please do not play the blame game! Motherhood creates an abundance of reasons for us mothers to feel an insurmountable torrent of guilt! Please don’t add this to the pile. Genetics and other factors are also in play… along with a dash of bad luck. Some women are free to lounge around and load up on chocolate and ice-cream (2 of my own personal addictions!) without ever getting the disease!!!

WHO IS AT RISK?

Its is possible for any pregnant woman to develop GD and studies have shown that 40-60% of patients have no demonstrative risk factor!!!!!

The main risk factors are:

  • Being overweight
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Being over 35 years of age
  • Having had diabetes or a very large baby in a previous pregnancy
  • Being an ethnicity other then Caucasian
  •  Being a smoker (this actually DOUBLES your risk!!!)
  • There have been studies also even linking depression and anxiety to diabetes!!!

The symptoms of GD are often overlooked as most  are pregnancy “symptoms ” as well, but they are:

  • increased thirst
  •  increased urination
  • fatigue
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Bladder infection
  • blurred vision
  • headache

 

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP CONTROL IT?

Don’t panic!  In most cases, eating a well balanced and healthy diet along with regular (moderate) exercise will do the trick! This is fantastic advice for everyone all of the time anyway!

There are a bunch of complicated menus and rules out there but try not to get bogged down… its mostly common sense. 

  • Cut out processed sugar of all kinds. 
  • Instead of white pasta, rice, crackers and bread -swap for wholegrain and brown. This slows down sugar entering the bloodstream.
  • Eat a portion of lean protein (eg. cheese, meat, beans, nuts) with every meal for the same reason.
  • Don’t start cutting calories below 2300-2500 as baby still need energy to grow.
  • Take it easy on fruit (especially dried fruit)… Fruit is a really healthy food but contains alot of suger. Definitely keep it in your d diet but just eat in moderation!
  • Take extra care in the morings as blood sugar tends to be naturally higher then. 2 scoops of porridge in water or 2 slices brown bread with an egg are an ideal breakfasts!!!
  • Quit smoking! 

As regards exercise, even working a moderate walk into you day makes a ginormous difference! Be careful though, not to overdo any particular form of exercise and get advice from a professional who can help you plan a routine, that coincides with your fitness level safely.

That is pretty much it!

A friend of mine made a few simple changes to her diet and even started baking her own delicious brown bread (shop bought bread can be full of sugar, along with all kinds of preservatives and the likes). She also  incorporated walking into her daily routine. She managed to keep control over her blood sugars without meds and was lighter shortly after her baby was born, then she was beforehand. That’s the dream right???

 

IF IT CAN’T BE CONTROLLED?

Don’t panic! It happens! And there is always a plan B!

No matter how hard I tried or how strict I was with my diet, my stubborn blood sugar levels would not come down! Mommy guilt kicked in and I was devastated. I was going to have to inject myself with needles! It all seemed so overwhelming and I felt like I had failed some how! This was of course a bunch of nonsense!!! For a load of reasons genetic and otherwise, this just happens and it is completely out of your control. The nurses in the hospital were so supportive and helped me every step of the way. The insulin injections are completely painless!!!!! The needles are so tiny and skinny you can barely feel a thing!

Yeah, its a bit inconvenient to go to extra hospital appointments and to remember to take insulin (or sometimes tablets), but its all in you and your child’s best interest and it is for such a short period of time!

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL RISKS TO MY BABY?

Don’t panic! Whether by diet or medication, if you keep your blood sugar under control there is minimal risk to your baby! 

Working closely with medical staff to get insulin/ medication levels stabilized is paramount! Consistently high and uncontrolled blood sugar, unfortunately, can lead to the baby growing to large which in turn increases the risk of having an instrumental delivery (e.g forceps) or cesarean section. Large babies born to these mothers are high risk for having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and respiratory distress as lungs are often not able to mature properly and getting oxygen around its larger body is more difficult! With screening and proper care, this can usually be avoided though. And if these this occur, it at worst it usually means a little time in the ICU and a slightly longer stay in hospital!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME LONG TERM?

Don’t Panic!  As soon as you give birth, you are generally considered free of diabetes! 

A hospital check a few weeks later usually confirms this. Having had GD, statistically you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Again, if you are consistently within a healthy weight range, eat healthily and exercise regularly you give yourself the best chance of staying clear of it. Type 2 diabetes is usually linked with excessive weight gain and inactivity although genetic factors also play a role.

I am not a medical doctor and you should always follow professional advice of course. I merely hope to share my knowledge! This has largely been gained from my own experience and research. I Hope to give you some clarity,  thus alleviating some fears.

Thanks for reading,

Sara X

4 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT POSTNATAL DEPRESSION

1. WHAT IS POSTNATAL DEPRESSION?

First, I believe it is important to establish what is normal and what is not! I was absolutely terrified when I initially came home from hospital with my first baby. I was suddenly responsible for keeping a tiny, helpless human alive! Now, on my second child, I am far more accustomed to this idea, but now overwhelmed with trying to re-balance my life. I am blessed with a 3 year old and a 9 month baby, but now I am plagued with the guilt of having to share out my time and love between my two boys!

These kinds of feelings are completely NORMAL. Even feeling anxious, irritable or weepy are common symptoms of the “baby blues”! Between 40-80% of women experience this after giving birth.  It is not surprising considering the massive shift in hormones a woman has to deal with! “Baby blues” should not last more then a couple of weeks.  In my case however, things got progressively worse over time until my ability to cope or function was severely impaired.

The sooner the symptoms of postnatal depression (PND) are recognised and treated, the more likely it is to have a speedy recovery. In my mind,  I visualise depression as a sort of repugnant weed. The longer it is allowed to cultivate, the more expansive and tenacious its roots become. It can feel like an insurmountable and extremely painful challenge to eventually dig it out! My hope is, that via my posts someone might recognise PND in themselves or a loved one early enough to weed it out quickly, to perhaps even save a life.

Here’s a list of the main symptoms of PND:

  • feeling very low or sad and lacking energy
  • extreme guilt and self-loathing
  • an inability to take joy or pleasure from anything in your life (including your new baba which adds extra feelings of guilt!)
  • intense fears that you cannot care properly for your baby/ children
  • feeling that you are not bonding with your baby
  • changes in appetite
  • lowered sex drive
  • trouble sleeping
  • confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • irritability or apathy (“couldn’t be bothered”)
  • thoughts of suicide or self harm
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
  • unsettling or scary thoughts –even thoughts of harming the infant (please note this is very rarely acted upon)

Be mindful that PND usually progresses slowly over time and may kick in any time in the year after giving birth. It may also begin during pregnancy!

A rare but extremely dangerous form of PND is called postnatal psychosis.

POSTNATAL PHSYCHOSIS: This is a very rare and very extreme form of PND. It usually becomes apparent very quickly in the first couple of weeks, but sometimes later on. The symptoms are very like that of bi-polar disorder and but is considered a medical emergency as the mother often rapidly deteriorates .  These are the most common symptoms:

  • sudden thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true
  • hallucinations (visual and /or audio)
  • a manic “high” mood – talking and thinking too much or too quickly
  • confusion
  • a “low” mood – showing signs of depression sudden being withdrawn or tearful, lacking energy, having a loss of appetite, anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • loss of inhibitions
  • severe paranoia

Postnatal psychosis is classed as a medical emergency! If you or someone you know has some of these symptoms (not necessarily all of them) it is important to contact a medical professional immediately!

Unfortunately, there are many desperately sad stories of mothers not being diagnosed in time. I read in the Belfast Telegraph about a woman from Northern Ireland who smothered her baby. She was treated for postnatal depression on her first child and completely recovered. On her second, she deteriorated dramatically. In court, he barrister said,  “She felt she couldn’t go on any longer. The only way was to finish it. It was automatic that (her son) had to die too.” This thought process, that she would kill herself and take her son along with her  is a theme that comes up repeatedly. In the mothers warped state of mind she does not want to leave her baby behind.

2. WHO CAN GET PND?

Anyone…. Even Men!

10%-15% of women are known to suffer from some form of PND, but due to the stigma associated with the disease those figures are probably significantly higher. Those with an increased risk would included women with a history of mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. Women who have suffered a severe episode of illness after a past delivery were found to be particularly at risk.

PND IN MEN:

Before you roll your eyes, like I did as  vague memories of “man flu” and the likes came to mind, please hear me out!  Obviously it is also completely life altering it is to become a father. Our rolls and difficulties as men and women may differ, but at the core, our feelings are the same. Sleep depravation has actually been shown to alter hormones and neurochemicals in the brains of some men, contributing to depression.  Younger men (especially those struggling financially) and those with a history of depression were found to be high risk with partners of women with PND twice as likely to develop it.

  • 3. ARE ANTIDEPRESSANTS OK DURING PREGNANCY?

PND can start during pregnancy, in which case it is called prenatal depression. In my previous blog I described how during my first pregnancy my doctor drastically reduced my antidepressant meds, resulting finally in a total breakdown!

As soon as I became pregnant with number 2 , I signed to see an antenatal psychiatrist. He was FANTASTIC and took the time to discuss the risks and necessities of meds during pregnancy. His main points were as follows:

  1. You wouldn’t stop taking epilepsy medication while pregnant as it would have detrimental consequences. Depression is also a very serious condition and therefore if there is very little or limited risk of harm to the unborn baby, the medication should not me tampered with.
  2. There is growing evidence to suggest that poorly treated mood disorders can actually have severe consequences to the unborn baby’s emotional and cognitive development!
  3. Although there is evidence that some medications may be detrimental, there are a vast number of them which have never been shown to be harmful.
  4. As with any medical treatment, the benefits must outweigh the risks in order t0 proceed.

A NOTE ON BREASTFEEDING: Again, there may be risks associated with certain medications, but for many there has been no evidence that the meds have ever caused harm.

4. WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?

Depending on the severity of the case, medication may be extremely useful. Often, this may only have to be used short term until you are better.

Psychotherapy is almost always extremely useful, especially the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy which I found to be instrumental in my recovery. In brief, it helped me to identify harmful thought processes and replace them with a more realistic and optimistic mind-set. I also found grounding meditation to be wonderful!

Exercise, good nutrition and sufficient sleep are unbelievably important, however, as I’m well aware, often almost impossible for a new mom to obtain.

Support is critical! Family, friends, church members, mother and baby groups, online support groups, mommy blog communities…… There are so many people in the same boat. We need to all support each other!

Thanks for reading,

Sara X

 

 

Postnatal Depression is Not A Life Sentence!

I, like most expectant mothers I suppose, imagined my future as a content and perfect mommy. Bathed in sunlight, I would sit in a rocking chair by the window, cradling my little one and basking in the utter elation of motherhood. Then, one day I woke up to my crying baby and panic gripped my heart. I desperately wanted to go back to sleep…. To stay asleep.

As I sit here recalling old feelings and memories, I can barely see the screen for the tears filling my eyes. I am struggling to find the words which can explain the hopeless desperation that is postnatal depression. As painful as it is to talk about however, I think it is so important to put it out there… to connect with other mothers and to maybe attempt to articulate for family members and friends the cruel nature of this disease. There are some wonderful pioneer mothers out there who have been bravely sharing their stories and bringing perinatal depression and anxiety to light.. Despite this unfortunately, the sigma of mental illness is still very much alive and suffocating mothers who would benefit more from kindness, support and help! I am by no means a medical professional or psychologist, but I would like tell my story and share my uncomfortably intimate knowledge of this loathsome illness!

OK, here I go…

I am a multiple suicide survivor. That sentence once made me feel like an immense failure. Thankfully, I now feel tremendously lucky and although I still struggle I can find a way through and have even learned to cherish my short existence.

I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. It has been my constant companion….. always bubbling just below the surface ready to pull me under at the first sign of weakness. Despite several  unwanted side-effects, medication is critical to my functionality. My first pregnancy was easy enough compared to my second (a blog for another day!!!)…My GP advised me to drop to a dangerously low level of medication. I blindly followed his instruction, much to my own detriment. I found out later that my medication has never been found to be dangerous to an unborn baby. My psychiatrist explained to me that in worrisome cases, the most up to date medical recommendation is NOT TO adjust the dose… (other then a tapir in the final week of gestation to prevent any slight ‘dependence’). Obviously you can never be too careful , but my as my doctor pointed out, it is so much more detrimental for baby to be born to a mother who is mentally incapable of functioning. There is also growing evidence to suggest that poorly treated mood disorders can actually have severe consequences to the unborn baby’s emotional and cognitive development!

In retrospect, I think I started to fall apart before the birth. I started pulling away from friends and family to spend increasing amounts of time alone. The big day came… After 28.5 hours in labour, my beautiful baby boy was placed in my arms. I was in a sort of state of shock and could barely wrap my head around the fact that I had created a little human. Hospital was a pleasant blur. There was a certain comfort in the daily routine and reassurance of having the constant support of hospital staff (I really CANNOT express enough how incredibly phenomenal the midwives and all of the hospital staff were!!!). When I got home from hospital reality began to set in. I was scared to go outside in case “the fumes” harmed my baby and became obsessed with the idea that something awful might happen to him. I rarely slept at all in the beginning. I remember nights of ever worsening, racing thoughts. I never mentioned to anyone how I was feeling. I felt tremendously guilty for how I felt! I mean,  I had this beautiful,  baby, a lovely husband, a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. I should have been ecstatic and grateful, but really, I was coming apart at the seams.

At the time, I was nursing my baby “on demand” (meaning any time he was hungry). Incidentally, he was very demanding! It is difficult to describe the all encompassing fear that my baby’s cry sparked in me. I was afraid to put him down and took little if any care of my own health or appearance. I was so adamant to ignore my feelings that I refused to acknowledge mastitis, which unchecked became an unbearably painful cluster of abscesses. Delirious with fever, I was forced back to hospital for 5 days with suspected septicaemia. Needless to say, I felt like a complete failure. I stopped nursing and cried my eyes out the first time I fed my son formula because I felt somehow inadequate as a mother. I was utterly devastated! I think a lot of us moms are put under tremendous pressure to breastfeed and little if anything is taught about formula feeding in antenatal classes because it is just not advocated! I know many mothers who have suffered through so much guilt because nursing has not worked for them for a wide variety of reasons!

Things only went from bad to worse. I would wake up in the morning and this sort of fear would grip me physically and mentally. My heart would be pounding, pumping stress hormones through my body but it was unbearably difficult to do the most menial of tasks. I would just struggle through until I could go back to bed again, which if possible, I  did at 5:30pm as soon as my hubby came home from work. I was totally repulsed by food and lost a drastic amount of weight. One friend told me I looked “ridiculous” in my now loose fitting jeans. I laughed it off, but it just painfully echoed to me how utterly alone I was and how no one who understood how desperately ill I’d become.

I felt so ungrateful and guilty for not being happy. I wished I could be a better wife and mother. With the shame of failure weighing me down, I finally crumbled. I called my husband in work and told him I could no longer cope. He was home within half an hour and thankfully was allowed to take some time off work. I sought the help I so desperately needed. It was a painstaking journey through a sea of side affects to find the right balance of medication. With that and with the guidance and support of a fantastic psychologist I began to recover. I remember waking one morning and not feeling the panic…not wanting to go back to sleep. Slowly but surely I became something of myself again!

If you are reading this and are effected by postnatal depression , please believe me when I tell you that IT WILL GET BETTER! With the right individual treatment and support there is always help and a way out that hell!!!

In my next blog, I will go into what I have learned from the current literature about pre/postnatal depression and anxiety. I’ll talk a little about who is at risk and why. I’ll discuss different treatment options that I am aware of. I’ll share some personal insights into what I and some others have found to be helpful.

Thank you for reading! Sara X