Check on new moms.
After birth, everyone is so excited to check on the baby, and it’s rare that anyone ever decides to check on new moms.
In my mind, I vividly saw myself throwing my sweet newborn baby girl out of our second-story window. I was cuddling her one minute, and then I was suddenly tossing her through the open window. And I would just casually walk away like nothing ever happened. This was just one of the tricks my brain tried to play on me in the first few weeks after she was born.
I remember telling myself that these aren’t the things that a new mom is supposed to think. What is wrong with me? Why am I obsessed with my daughter’s death? Am I going to hurt her? Am I crazy? This isn’t what I expected. Does this make me a bad mom?
What do we expect?
When we think about new mothers, we can’t help but picture pure unbridled joy. Open arms full of love welcoming their new human into their life. We see it all over social media. The beautiful baby pics and big, giddy smiles. No one posts the sweaty haired pic sporting their fancy new mesh underwear.
As moms, we generally put on a brave face. When we’re sick, we chug some Dayquil and tough it out. You’ve all seen the commercial. Mom’s don’t get sick days, right? But, we might need them, and someone has to check on new moms.
When I imagined the birth of my daughter, I imagined this magical moment where I would feel this completing notion of love and connection. I just knew that we have an unbreakable bond as soon as we locked eyes. That didn’t happen right away, and I felt guilty for it.
When I was only 3 months pregnant, we had a completed nursery. My daughter’s closet was full before I even had a baby shower. I thought I was prepared, and I thought I had it all figured out. I was not prepared, and I had nothing figured out.
Postpartum depression is a condition that affects up to 1 in 5 new mothers. It does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, and it is not a result of anything a mom does or doesn’t do.
Although the prevalence is high, less than 15% of those affected will ever seek treatment. New moms are suffering in silence, and that is not ok. What can we do to make sure we check on new moms?
As a society, we need to normalize the fact that maybe things aren’t picture perfect after having a baby. It’s ok not to be ok sometimes. It’s ok to ask for help. It really does take a village to raise a tiny human.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a new baby, but don’t forget about the mom. Don’t tell her how lucky she is and that she should enjoy this time. She may not feel lucky, and she may not be capable of enjoying her new life just yet.
We need to have real conversations and ask the real questions. When you ask a new mother how she’s doing after giving birth, chances are she is going to say she’s fine. Ask her again, and again. Ask her until she REALLY talks. Keep checking. Check on new moms.
What can we do?
Here’s the thing about postpartum depression, it’s totally treatable. With the right treatment, there’s an incredibly high success rate. But mom’s have to be willing to ask for that help. You can’t get treated if no one knows that you’re sick.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of mortality postpartum. Let that sink in. Suicide. The 2nd leading causing of mortality after giving birth. We can’t continue to let new mamas suffer in silence. Lives are a stake, here.
Share this information with a new mama you know. Give her a safe space to talk about her own experiences. Heck, just give her a break if that’s what she needs.
Babies are cuddly and wonderful, but remember, as a child is born, so is a mother. We can’t keep forgetting about that birth, because it’s pretty incredible, too.