Postpartum depression is more common than we think. For many, getting help feels impossible because it means facing fears or society-spurned negative emotions surrounding motherhood. Since we are taught that the early days of motherhood should be a joyous time, feeling negative leads to guilt and shame as well as the tendency to hide.
A personal story
Leah Reynolds, a marketing and community engagement specialist with Hancock Health, shared this common experience both during her pregnancy with her son as well as after his delivery. She remembers feelings of depression clouding her experience of being pregnant but brushed it off as a combination of stress, gender disappointment and her past mental health struggles. She, like most women, didn’t think that depression during pregnancy was common. In fact, approximately 8% of women report feelings of depression during gestation. This number may be much higher, as many moms don’t report such emotions to their healthcare providers.
Help for postpartum depression
Reynolds remembers the day she knew she needed help. “I remember telling my husband, ‘I am just waiting for his real family to come and pick him up,’” she says about the feelings she had toward her son. With a colicky baby, trouble breastfeeding, and her own mental health in decline, she was in an emotional state that many women find themselves in postpartum. Because she had suffered from depression and anxiety in her past, she was aware that this needed to be brought to the attention of her healthcare provider.
Reynolds fully trusted her care to Hancock Health during her pregnancy, the birth and then postpartum. Her primary care doctor, who is in our physician network, treated both Reynolds and her son, helping them streamline their whole family’s care. She remembers the moment in which she felt that honesty with her doctor would bring her the best outcome. Her primary care doctor knew her mental health history and was able to get her the medication she needed right away. Furthermore, she referred her to a therapist at Hancock Counseling to continue her healing journey all within the same health system.
And why is this important? With digital databases now, having all of your care placed within Hancock Health’s system allows all your doctors to access all your files. This means more streamlined care for you and less time answering questions and repeating things in conversations with members of your health team. Additionally, doctors who are all within the same health system have an easier time communicating with each other and can ensure that their patients are receiving the best care possible. For Reynolds, this meant that her OBGYN, primary care doctor and therapist could communicate with each other about her needs.
Get the care you need and advocate for yourself
Reynolds has an important piece of advice for all mothers who are on the fence about whether they need help for postpartum depression. “The sooner you can start working through therapy, the better,” she says. She also finds that being open about her own mental health is paving the way for other women to do the same.
If you find yourself (or your partner or friend) wondering whether or not it is postpartum depression or the baby blues, always err on the side of caution and speak to a therapist, psychiatrist, primary care physician or OBGYN. Asking for help and advocating for your mental health will help you weave a support system into place so that you don’t feel as alone during your pregnancy or postpartum time and beyond. Doing this within Hancock Health means you will have a team of professionals on your side to guide you every step of the way.