Ma lutte avec ma dépression prénatale

J’ai vraiment peur d’écrire ce blog. Non seulement est-ce un sujet délicat, mais ceci est mon premier blogue en français. N’hésitez pas à corriger mes fautes d’orthographes; je suis certaine qu’il y en aura plusieurs! Mai, c’est le mois de la santé mentale et le 1er mai était la journée mondiale de la santé mentale des mères. Comment peut-on sensibiliser le public à ce sujet? Une façon est de raconter notre propre vécu. Et c’est ce que je fais aujourd’hui. Même si cela me donne la trouille.

Dans certaines régions, jusqu’à une mère sur cinq est atteinte par une forme de trouble dépressif ou anxieux périnatal.

Une sur cinq! Rappelez-vous de ça la prochaine fois que vous faites la file aux épiceries. Je suis une de ces mères, mais je ne l’avais pas réalisé jusqu’à récemment, cinq ans après l’événement. Pendant ma première grossesse, certes que je piquais des crises. Mais rien ne compare à ce qui m’est advenue pendant ma deuxième grossesse.

J’hésite vraiment à publier ce blogue. J’ai peur de mettre mon histoire en ligne, à la vue des gens pour le reste des temps. Franchement, je serais plus confortable en discutant mon plancher pelvien et mes fuites de vessie. Mais ça, c’est un blogue pour une autre journée. Maintenant, je vais combattre ma détresse et ma honte. Et c’est pour ces raisons que je vais publier cet article. Pour que tout le monde voit. Pour ce parent qui a besoin de l’aide, qui a besoin de se faire entendre, qui veut être rassuré. Moi, je me sentais toute seule. Je n’avais jamais réalisé qu’il y avait de l’aide disponible. Je croyais que je virais folle! Mais vous n’êtes pas folle! Votre conjointe n’est pas folle! Votre enfant adulte n’est pas folle! Elles ont besoin d’un environnement où elles se sentent en sécurité. Où qu’elles puissent partager leurs pensées, parler ou écrites, sans être jugées.

Physiquement, je n’avais pas de problèmes pendant mes grossesses.

J’avais des sensations nauséeuses mais je n’avais jamais eu de vomissements. Pour moi, mes plus grosses difficultés étaient émotionnelles et mentales. Je ne suis pas certaine quand que ma dépression a commencé. À vrai dire, j’habitais dans un brouillard. Tout ce que je me souviens c’est d’être couché dans mon lit pendant des heures et des heures de temps. Je ne voulais pas bouger, ni manger, ni vivre. Je priais pour le jour que ces pensées s’arrêtent. Ce petit bébé dans ma bedaine me rendait folle! J’ai considéré mettre fin à cette grossesse. J’ai considéré me suicider. De sauter d’un pont. De mettre fin une fois pour toute à ce désespoir. Je n’ai aucun doute que ceci était la période la plus sombre de ma vie. La seule chose qui m’a sauvé c’est mon mari. L’idée de le quitter était plus terrifiante que les souffrances dans ma tête. Les semaines ont passé. Peu à peu, les choses se sont améliorées. Le dernier trimestre était moins pire. La naissance de mon fils était fantastique et j’ai mis ces mauvaises mémoires de côté.

Cela m’a pris des ANNÉES avant que je réalise que j’avais souffert d’une dépression prénatale. Identique à la dépression post partum, mais durant la grossesse. J’en ai appris pendant mes études avec Doula Canada. Pourquoi est-ce qu’on n’entend pas parler de cette dépression prénatale? Il devrait y avoir des affiches dans chaque cabinet de médecins, d’obstétriciens et de sages-femmes!

Alors, je n’ai rien dit. Même pas un mot à mes merveilleuses sages-femmes.

J’étais humilié de mes émotions. Cette dépression m’écrasait. Je n’ai rien raconté, même pas à mon époux. Cela a pris des années pour que j’en lui parle. Et même à ça, je ne lui est pas donné tous les détails. Il les lira pendant qu’il révise mon blogue. Et vous voulez connaître un secret? Après toutes ces années, j’ai encore HONTE de ce qui m’est arrivée, de ma dépression. Même si, intellectuellement, je sais que ce n’est pas de ma faute. Maintenant que j’ai admis que j’ai vécu une dépression, c’est le temps de m’en rétablir.

Si vous soupçonnez qu’un de vos proches souffre d’un trouble dépressif ou anxieux périnatal, ne désespérez pas!

Il y a des soins disponibles! Certains auront besoin de la thérapie ou de médicaments. Et d’autres auront besoin du soutien des pairs. L’élément fondamental est d’offrir un environnement sécure où la mère puisse s’exprimer sans connaître de jugement. Une bonne resource française est eSanté Mentale.

Si vous voulez, je vous invite à partager vos histoires dans les commentaires ci-dessous. Une femme sur cinq souffre des ces maladies. Aidons-les et aidons-nous nous-mêmes en partageant nos histoires.

My Struggle with Prenatal Depression

What inspired me for this month’s topic? Well, May is Mental Health Month and May 1st was World Mental Health awareness day. How can awareness be spread if we don’t share our stories? So, this is what I’m doing today, sharing my story with you. And let me tell you, sharing this petrifies me.

Certain areas of the world have as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. 

One in five! Think about that next time you’re in line at the grocery store, or in a room with friends. One in five! I am 1 in 5 except I didn’t realize it until 5 years after the fact. I had some mood swings when I was pregnant with my first child. But nothing compared to what I experienced when I was pregnant with my second.

I hesitate to write this blog. I hesitate to put myself out there, online for all to see forever.

I think I’d rather talk about my pelvic health and pee-zing issues. But that will be for another post. So now I wrestle with this fear, this embarrassment. But that’s also why I will hit the publish button. For everyone to see. For that parent who is looking for help, for connection, for someone to say “Yes I’ve been there, it’s terrifying but there is help”. I didn’t know I needed help. I just thought I was going crazy. But you are not going crazy! Your partner is not going crazy! Your adult child is not going crazy! They need to hear that this is common. They need to have a safe environment to unload their thoughts. They need to talk about it, to write it down, without fear of being judged.

Physically, my pregnancies were fine. I was a bit nauseous, but I never had morning sickness. It was the emotional  and mental struggles that got to me. I’m not sure when the depression started.  It’s all a blur now. All I remember is laying for hours and hours in my bed, hoping that it would stop. Not wanting to move. Not wanting to eat. Not wanting to live. Praying that it would stop. This little creature inside of me was driving me mad! I even considered ending the pregnancy at one point. I contemplated suicide. Jumping off an overpass. Just ending the torment in my head. That was, without a doubt, the darkest moment I have ever experienced. The only thing that held me back was my husband. I just couldn’t leave him. Days and weeks passed like this. It finally got a bit better. The last trimester was easier. The birth went great and I pushed those dark memories aside.

I didn’t realize until YEARS later that I had suffered from prenatal depression.

Just like postpartum depression, except during pregnancy. I learned about it while studying for my postpartum doula certification with Doula Canada. Why don’t we hear about this? Why aren’t there posters plastered in the office of every OB, doctor and midwife?

I didn’t mention it to anyone. Not one soul. Not even to my midwives. I was mortified about my feelings. Ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone about my experience. It was only years later that I told my husband. Even then, I didn’t give him all of these details. He’ll read about them when he edits my blog. And you know what? After all these years I am still ASHAMED about my feelings, my depression. Even though on an intellectual level, I know that it wasn’t my fault. Now that I’ve acknowledged my prenatal depression, it’s time for me to heal from it.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from a perinatal mood disorder, don’t despair! There is help! Some may need professional therapy and medication. Some may just need support. The key is to have a safe environment where women are encouraged to talk about it. To seek help. A great resource is the Pacific Post Partum Support Society.

If you’d like, I ask that you share your story below. One in five women suffer from these disorders. Let’s support them. Let’s support ourselves. Let’s open up the dialogue.

Top 10 Teething Tips

Aaah, the dreaded “t” word: teething…

Teething is a long process and can be painful for some babies (and their parents!). I barely noticed when my daughter would get a new tooth. My son on the other hand, he was a different story. He started showing signs of teething when he was around 4 months. And it didn’t let up until past his first birthday. This opened my eyes to the differences between babies. We are all individuals after all, no matter our age.

Your baby’s teeth work their way slowly (very, very slowly sometimes) down and eventually break through the gums. All that movement in the head and jaws can make your baby irritable. Other signs of teething include: drooling, disrupted sleep and biting/gumming everything in sight from their own fingers, to toys, and even the hand (or breast) that feeds him. Ouch! Here are some tips for you flustered parents. Remember to always supervise your child when giving him something to chew on.

 

Resources
Amber necklaces study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22925538/
Health Canada warning: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2012/13671a-eng.php
FDA warning: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm385817.htm

Burping a Baby 101

Exclusively breastfed babies may not need to burp as much as babies that are bottle-fed. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that all babies are different and some may need to burp more than others no matter which way you are feeding them.

In the first few months, your baby is learning how to digest milk (breastmilk or formula). They never had to digest anything in utero. And with eating comes gassiness. Gassiness is caused by your baby taking in air while feeding.

Some things that may cause gassiness in your baby include:

  • A fast letdown
  • Baby was very hungry and drank milk more quickly
  • Incorrect latch
  • Lip or tongue tie

When should you burp your baby?

  • Before switching breasts
  • If bottle-feeding, every 2-3 oz
  • If baby pulls away from the breast or bottle

There are three ways that you can burp your baby. Remember that a burping position should apply gentle but firm pressure on the baby’s stomach. And make sure to have a receiving blanket or burping cloth handy! The first position is over the shoulder. Place her high up over your shoulder so that her tummy is gently pushing against it. Walking around while holding her in this position may help. The second position is sitting her on your lap with your fingers supporting her chin. For older babies who have head control, you may choose to place your hand gently against their tummy. The last position is to lay her down across your lap and gently rub and pat her back. Burp your baby for about a minute. If your baby didn’t burp but seems content, continue with the feeding if necessary. If she’s grimacing, squirming or refusing to take more milk, try burping her again.

Should you use the rub or the pat method? Honestly, this is a personal preference. I have yet to see a study that shows one is better than the other! It greatly depends on what your baby prefers and responds to. Don’t be afraid to be creative – feel free to use as many methods and positions as you want.

If your baby is having a difficult time burping, try burping her more often during the feeding. For babies that are very gassy, try incorporating a bit of exercise and infant massage into your play time. Place your baby on her back and gently pump her legs towards her chest and back down (bicycle legs). For massaging, try using Dr. Sears’ “I Love You” method. Massage your baby with a little bit of warm oil on your fingers. Make sure that the room is warm and draft-free. The illustration below shows you how to do the massage.

27a4a1968c4004b2eab9a97b04fe367e--natural-baby-baby-care

Burping can be quite the chore depending on your child. Rest assured that it doesn’t last forever! Once your baby is moving more freely, she will be able to pass gas and burp by herself.

 

What is a Lactation Consultant?

As I mentioned in my previous post, this month we will be discussing lactation consultants, the different types and how to choose the best fit for your family. A lactation consultant is a specialist in lactation and breastfeeding just like a dentist is a specialist in dental health and a pediatrician specializes in children’s health. Lactation professionals usually fall into three categories: lactation counselor or educator, lactation consultant (LC or CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Some will have different training, a different scope of practice and not all cities will have access to all three types.

Lactation or breastfeeding counselors/educators will go through some training, such as a weekend workshop, that covers breastfeeding basics. There may not be a required test and no hands-on training is provided. A certified lactation consultant (LC or CLC) will have approximately 45 hours of specialized instruction and an exam. Some programs may not require training in a clinical setting. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is required to have at least 90 hours of lactation instruction with 500 to 1000+ clinic hours with a mentor IBCLC. They must also be a licensed healthcare provider or take additional college courses. The final step is a 4-hour exam. IBCLCs are also required to re-certify every five years.

Where do lactation consultants work?
If you choose to birth at a hospital, most will have a lactation consultant on staff and you may have access to them for a specific number of days after giving birth. Some regions offer complimentary lactation support in a group setting, such as the Ontario Early Years Centres. Most cities and towns also have private practices.

How do I find a lactation consultant?
As with most things related to parenting and babies, word-of-mouth may be your best friend! Ask your doctor, your friends or other mothers who they recommend. Otherwise you can find most, if not all, lactation consultants online. While Google might be your first stop, you should also take the time to search accredited associations for listings near you:
https://iblce.org/public-registry
https://www.clca-accl.ca

How do I choose a lactation consultant?
While choosing any type of healthcare provider is a personal choice, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Which organization did they certify with?
  • What kinds of resources do they use? Are these resources science-based?
  • What is their scope of practice? Are they qualified to counsel you on your particular case?
  • Are they taking the time to listen to you? As the mother, you have every right to be a part of the solution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice your concerns.
  • Depending on your concerns, the lactation consultant should put you on a feeding plan. For example, if it is decided to supplement, your consultant should give you a specific timeline of how to increase your breastfeeding sessions and how to wean from the supplementation with appropriate checkups.
  • Do they promote breastfeeding? Sounds silly, but like any profession there are good and not-so-good consultants out there. If your goal is to exclusively breastfeed, then they should be supporting your choices. Same goes if you are breastfeeding and supplementing. The lactation consultant should be able to provide you with science-based answers and help you towards your goals.

Even if someone recommends a lactation consultant, they may not be the right fit for you. The bottom line is that you need to go with your gut and be able to trust the lactation consultant. If you don’t trust them, find someone else. You know your baby best. If you’re not comfortable with the answers given to you, keep asking questions, or go find another professional.

Lactation consultants are a great resource for parents. Are you interested in learning more about them? Check out Milkology’s breastfeeding myths article here!

Help! I Need Some Breastfeeding Advice!

Picture it. It’s 2am, the baby is crying, you’re a few weeks (or months) postpartum and you’re sleep deprived. You’ve tried to latch your baby on and nothing seems to be working. You search online for answers. All of a sudden, you are bombarded with pages and pages of information. And opinions. And that’s not even taking into consideration the “related searches” results. Which website do you visit first? The first one? Some of the forums? You decide on a website and start reading. You can relate to some of what’s written and you continue reading. All of a sudden you think “the first thing they mentioned seems like me, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth… ” Before you know it, you’re worrying about tongue ties, nipple shields, low milk supply and oversupply!

Don’t get me wrong. There are some very good online resources, you just have to know where to find them. I have listed some of my favourite websites and books below. I will also tell you about some reputable professionals in your community.

So where should you turn to for help?

Dr. Jack Newman is a Canadian pediatrician and has been involved in breastfeeding research for other 30 years. His website has great videos and written resources.

The Motherisk Program is run by the Hospital for Sick Children. They are a great resource on the interactions of medications, medical therapies and substance abuse for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers. Telephone support is also available.

Best Start has many resource sheets on breastfeeding and your baby’s development.

La Leche League is a volunteer-run organization that began in 1956. Their website includes information sheets and a FAQ section. You can also find your local group online. More on that later!

Kelly Mom is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and her website has fantastic research-based articles for breastfeeding and parenting.

The Milk Meg is an IBCLC from Australia. Her often humorous blogs cover breastfeeding, weaning and attachment parenting.

If you’re looking to add to your book collection, here are some of my favourites:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
Sweet Sleep by La Leche League International
The Breastfeeding Book by Martha and William Sears

No matter where you are in the world, there are numerous ways to get face-to-face help. While books and online resources can be very helpful, sometimes it’s not enough. There are times where you need a professional seeing how your baby breastfeeds, how you are holding the baby, etc.

Postpartum doulas: While they are not health-care providers, many doulas are knowledgeable about breastfeeding and can guide you through some of the challenges.

Lactation professionals usually fall into three categories: lactation counselor, lactation consultant (LC or CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Although similar, the differences lie in their training and scope of practices. Stay tuned for next month’s blog post for more information on this profession!

As I mentioned previously, La Leche League is a support group for breastfeeding mothers that is run by volunteers. Most groups will meet once or twice a month and the group leaders are also available by phone, email or social media. It can be very helpful to meet like-minded mothers in a breastfeeding friendly environment.

Finding reliable, research-based information in 2019 can be a chore. Stick with the resources that I have mentioned and if you still have questions, I am only a phone call or email away! Take a deep breath mama – you are doing great! Just be careful what you Google…

Creating Your Post-Birth Plan

You are a new mother – whether it’s your first child or your fifth!

Most mothers put a lot of thought into their birth plan, but very few think about a post-birth plan. Why have a post-birth plan? In our fast-paced, independent lives, we have forgotten the importance of caring for the new mother. Your body needs time to rest and heal from the 9+ months of pregnancy and from giving birth. You and your new family also need time to bond and rediscover each other.

The idea of a “lying-in” period comes from traditional cultures such as Chinese, Indian and Latin American. The American pioneers even had their own version! This is a time when family and friends come together to help the new mother rest, heal and bond with her new child. A healthy mother equals a healthy baby and a healthy family.

Traditional lying-in periods can last anywhere from 7 to 40 days. While they have their nuances, what they have in common is this:

  • The mother’s only job is to breastfeed and get to know her baby.
  • Warm, nourishing foods are given to the mother such as soups and stews.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables are avoided as well as cold drinks.
  • Family and friends share the task of caring for the new mother and the household chores.

Research (here and here) has proven that supporting the mother in the postpartum period can greatly reduce her chances of postpartum mood disorders. Is it any wonder that the cultures that have a lying-in period show some of the lowest rates of postpartum depression?

While staying in your home for 40 days may seem unconventional, here are some things that you can do for a simplified post-birth plan.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. If you have a partner, will they be taking time off from work? If so, for how long?
  2. Will your mother, or another family member, be staying with you after the birth? If so, for how long?
  3. How much time will you be taking off from work?
  4. What would your ideal stay-cation with your baby look like? Do you like having people around? Or do you prefer quiet and calm?

Things to do:

  1. Write down who in your circle of family and friends is available to help you.
  2. Make a list of everything that will need to get done once the baby is home, including your day to day things: paying the bills, walking the dog, changing diapers, cooking, shoveling the driveway, etc.
  3. Compare both lists and match up people to a chore.
  4. Ask family and friends for help and set clear expectations. Having a list on the fridge door makes it easily accessible to everyone!
    • Which room in the house must be cleaned and organized? The bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom?
    • Where are the cleaning supplies?
    • How often should the dog be walked? Where is the kitty litter? Where is the mailbox key? Etc.
  5. Organize a meal train! There are many free apps to choose from such as: Meal Train, Take Them a Meal and Meal Baby. For tips on meal trains, I recommend Little Miss Kate’s blog article.
  6. Who can drive you to your appointments? If you have a caesarean section, you may not be able to drive for six weeks.
  7. Make a list of professionals you can contact if you need help: La Leche League group, physiotherapist, pediatrician.

Remember that in the first few weeks, you may want to minimize visitors. This is an important time for you to recover physically and emotionally, to establish your milk supply and to get to know your baby. Having just one person a day in the house may be all you need in the early weeks. If you’re interested in hiring a postpartum doula but the cost is an issue, how about adding a postpartum doula fund to your baby shower registry? Other services that you may want to have on your registry include: lactation consultant or mobile massage therapist.

Why can’t I just depend on my partner? Your partner is also finding their way in becoming a parent. This is a precious time for both parents to bond with the new family unit. Your partner can certainly help with some things, but it really does take a village. If you don’t have family nearby, how about hiring a postpartum doula?

Photo by Oleg Sergeichik on Unsplash