Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finally, Postpartum Depressions Has Lifted

Today, I realized that the postpartum depression seems to be completely gone! And I'm happy to say that I got through it without increasing my medication. I decided that since I was starting to feel better when I talked to my doctor that we would try to get through this without increasing my Lamictal.

So, I did the following things which I think helped:
1. Increased the amount of Omega-3. While pregnant I was taking 8 500mg capsules of OmegaBrite. At some point after the pregnancy I went down to 4 pills. So I went back up. I take it two times a day.

2. Increased the amount of exercise. Whenever I start feeling bad, stressed, busy I cut back on exercise, which only makes me feel worse. So I am now recomitted to weight training a minimum of twice a week and cardio 4-5 days a week.

3. Better food choices. When I'm not feeling well I start not eating as well. I start skipping meals and start eating more prepared foods. I'm not sure why this happens since I strongly believe you put junk in your mouth you begin to feel like junk. I think it is becuase when I'm depressed I'm tired and the last thing I am looking forward to is spending time in the kitchen at the end of the day. So I'm now back to cooking every meal at home pretty much from scratch.

4. I reached out and started talking about it. I have been amazed at how many women I know have been through postpartum depression and many have no history of prior depressions. Talking about it has helped me feel less alone and less like a failure as a mother (which I was feeling like since to me motherhood is supposed to be joyful so the unhappy feelings I had made me feel very guilty).

5. I accepted that this is what it is. And that it's okay to be depressed - it is something that I cannot control. I can certainly try to change the duration and depth -- however having bipolar disorder means I am not ever going to be 100% in control. Oddly enough there was a huge feeling of release from the acceptance.

6. I got out of the house. Sometimes I don't leave the house for days. Not because I'm depressed just becuase I don't need to. I work from home as an IT consultant so the majority of my contact with clients is by phone and email. I visit clients in person maybe once a month. So some days the only people I saw all day were my baby and husband and my babysitter. I have decided this is not healthy. I need more interaction. So now I have to get out of the house at least 6 days a week - even if it is just going to the park with my daughter or going to the store.

I joined a local moms group and am now taking Leila to one to two playdates a week - some are at the park, some are at other mom's houses. I am finally getting to know other moms who live near by which is wonderful. Almost all of my friends currently live on the east coast of florida where I used to live. So they are two hours away - which isn't so convenient for a visit especially now that I have a baby.

Looking back now that I realize I had started to underestimate just how bad I was feeling. There were times when I didn't want to be around my baby in the evening - mainly because I didn't want to have her see me upset or cry. Luckily she is only 9 months old so she probably wouldn't know what was wrong - but babies do know when mommy or daddy doesn't feel well.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thank You for All the Emails

I wanted to thank my readers for reaching out. It is really good to know that people are reading this blog and that it is helping you.

As I mentioned last month I was going through some postpartum depression which I think I am now really coming out of. And although I may not have been good at answering every email promptly ... I have been reading them and appreciate the support.

I've told my husband about how I get such nice emails from people I've never met and he said he gets why I started this blog -- it is kind of like a support group -- althogh support groups are a little more of a two way conversation.

Years ago before I moved to Naples I used to facilitate 3 DBSA groups a week. It was one of the best things I've ever done. It felt good to help people and also to be understood. But after two years of running 3 groups a week I was glad to get a break when we moved. It was a great experience but also very draining since I got lots and lots of phone calls from group members who needed to reach out -- sometimes at odd hours of the night.

If you haven't ever been to a DBSA support group -- please look for one in your area. Go here

If you need someone to talk to ... please feel free to email me at bipolarpregnancy @ gmail.com (remove the spaces).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mom’s Mood, Baby’s Sleep: What’s the Connection?

Just came across this interesting article about how the mother's mood affects the amount that an infant sleeps!

Mom’s Mood, Baby’s Sleep: What’s the Connection?

University of Michigan, Sept. 2, 2008 — If there’s one thing that everyone knows about newborn babies, it’s that they don’t sleep through the night, and neither do their parents. But in fact, those first six months of life are crucial to developing the regular sleeping and waking patterns, known as circadian rhythms, that a child will need for a healthy future.

Some children may start life with the sleep odds stacked against them, though, say University of Michigan sleep experts who study the issue. They will present data from their study next week at the European Sleep Research Society meeting in Glasgow, Scotland.

Babies whose mothers experienced depression any time before they became pregnant, or developed mood problems while they were pregnant, are much more prone to having chaotic sleep patterns in the first half-year of life than babies born to non-depressed moms, the team has found.

For instance, infants born to depressed moms nap more during the day, take much longer to settle down to sleep at night, and wake up more often during the night. It’s a baby form of the insomnia that millions of adults know all too well.

Not only does this add to parents’ sleepless nights, but it may help set these children up for their own depression later in life.

Read full article

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bringing Baby Home: Your Postpartum Plan

I received this article from the author of "Understanding Your Moods When You're Expecting" she felt it would be helpful to readers of this blog. I've got the book on my recommend reading list and I highly recommend it.

Bringing Baby Home: Your Postpartum Plan
By Lucy J. Puryear, M.D.,
Author of Understanding Your Moods When You're Expecting

You went in to this pregnancy with one goal in mind; bringing a new baby into your home. One of the most important ways you can prepare for this enormous event is to make plans for those first six weeks after delivery. Bringing a baby home is not about what color is right for the nursery or do the socks I bought match the outfit Aunt Doris sent? There are more important issues to consider before you carry that cuddly sweet bundle across the threshold.

The most important plans include: What kind of help will I need when I get home? Who will come to visit and when? Will your husband take off work during the first week, or will he wait until later when the company is gone. How will you make sure you get enough sleep? Having a well-thought-out plan will help decrease the sense of being overwhelmed when the nurse puts the baby in your arms and you realize this new little person is going home with you. It also will minimize your risk of developing anxiety and depression.

For some women, the answer to these questions is easy: Mom of course. Some new grandmothers go into superwoman mode when there is a new baby in the house. They cook, clean, do laundry, and get up with the baby in the middle of the night. But not every woman is so lucky, or this plan may not work for you. If, for example, you don’t have a good relationship with your mother or mother-in-law immediately after the birth might not be the best time for her to visit. A newborn will stress even the healthiest relationship, let alone one where there is already resentment or hurt feelings. In these cases, ask your mother or mother-in-law to come when the baby is four to six weeks old. You will fell physically better and have a better handle on how to care for your baby. Tell her you want her to come when you’ll be more settled and have more time to enjoy her visit. If she insists on coming immediately after the baby is born, explain that you have a plan for who will be helping when and ask her to honor that. She’s welcome to come, but when you and your baby come home from the hospital, your needs must take priority.

Do not schedule all of your help to come for the first two weeks. Many new mothers have described to me the total terror they felt when all of the relatives went home and they were alone. You go from having too many hands to having none. Ask you mother to come the first week, your mother-in-law the second, your sister the third, and your best friend from Albuquerque the fourth. They will enjoy not having to compete with one another to hold the baby and will have more of your attention. You will enjoy not being overwhelmed with company and will be glad to have the help spread out over a longer period of time. By the end of the fourth week, you should be feeling much more confident in your role as a new mother.

Some new families decide that they want to get used to the new baby without outside interference during the first week. This can work well as long as your partner understands that you will need a lot of help. Other families decide to wait until all the relatives have gone home for the father to take time off from work. That way, he can be with his new family after things have calmed down. It might not make sense for Dad to take time off when there is other help available and he will be competing with being part of the team.

Remember this is your baby and your new family. Make sure that you feel like you’re in charge and can ask for the help you need, when you need it.

©2008 Lucy J. Puryear, M.D.
Adapted from Understanding Your Moods When You're Expecting by Lucy Puryear, copyright (c) Lucy Puryear. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Author Bio

Lucy Puryear is a practicing psychiatrist specializing in women's reproductive mental health. She has been director of the Baylor Psychiatry Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine, and was an expert witness for the defense in the trial of Andrea Yates. She is the mother of four and lives in Houston, Texas.