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It's often helpful to get expert advice, but sometimes reassurance from others in the same situation is the best reminder that you're not alone. Here are some tips, advice, and wise words from other our site moms who've struggled with depression or postpartum depression.
"I've been going to therapy for a year, and it's helped me cope with my pregnancy. There are many different types of therapy. The right one can be extremely helpful."
"I suffered from extreme depression with my first pregnancy. At 27 weeks, I told my OB. I cried because I felt guilty that I wasn't excited about the baby. I decided to try meds, but they didn't make me feel better, so I went to therapy. It helped tremendously."
"When I was about 21 weeks pregnant, I had a total meltdown. Everything [up to that point] was great: no issues at work, at home, or with my pregnancy. Then WHAM! I reached out to my OB, and she suggested I take antidepressants. My husband and I were both hesitant because we worried about how they might affect the baby. I decided to try whatever I could instead of medication: meditation, talk therapy, herbal tea, and exercise. Nothing worked. Finally I gave in and started antidepressants. Within a couple weeks, I was feeling good. I hate to say that meds are the answer, but they were for me."
"I don't think anyone should feel guilty about treating a very serious medical condition. You have to think of your mental health and the benefits of taking medication versus feeling depressed. From my perspective, not being depressed is better because depression means being unhappy and not taking care of the baby."
"Search 'low-income clinics,' or call your local department of health and human services for help. In some areas, there are mental health clinics that are free or only [charge] a very small co-pay."
Ask for help
"Call your OB. You're not alone, and there's no shame in what is going on with you. I know how hard this is and how lonely you can feel. You'll be okay, just ask for some help. If you broke your ankle or had the flu, you wouldn't hesitate to call the doctor, right? This is the same thing. Help is there."
"Once I took an email I had written to my therapist about how I was feeling and gave it to my doctor. It was hard for me to talk about my emotions, so I handed the email to the doctor and said, 'I'm not sure what to say, but this is a pretty accurate description of what I'm going through.' It's sometimes easier to get the conversation started that way."
"I found a support group online for adults dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. I went to a meeting, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I met a lot of people who I could text or call when I was feeling down, and they did the same to me."
"Find an informed OB or a psychiatrist who's trained in women's mental health. My OB encouraged me to stay on antidepressants when I got pregnant. She had many patients over the years stay on medications and deliver healthy babies."
"Some days are worse than others, but with the support of family and friends I've been able to make it through. Reaching out is the hardest part. See a doctor, but it also helps to have people close to give you the emotional support you need."
It's the little things
"I feel so much better when I take time for myself. I step away from everything and just breathe."
"Have you thought about keeping a journal? I remember how on the bad days I felt like all was lost. But it wasn't – it just felt like that."
"I take a walk with my son in the morning and then with my husband and our dog in the evening. I've tried exercise, art, writing, and just talking to work through my depression."
Hang in there
"On hard days, it's okay to just get through it. Be gentle with yourself. Your kids love you exactly as you are, no matter what."
"This is just a moment in time. I know it feels like eternity, but it isn't. You will feel like yourself again, I promise. It may not happen on the timeline you'd prefer, but there is light on the other side. Just because there are days you can't see it, that doesn't mean it isn't there. It is. I can see it. Promise."
"I try to be thankful for the good days, hours, and minutes when I have them, and have faith that they will become more and more frequent. Everyone I've talked to who has sought help says they've come out of it, so I know I will at some point too. Hang in there!"
Visit the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's website for more information and to find an MFM specialist near you.