Postpartum Challenges NO ONE Seems To Be Talking About

Jun 03, 2022

I’d like to share with you how my postpartum experience has unfolded. You may be going through this yourself and have no idea that it has a name. Before we start, I want to send you love for making it here. I know this time can be so difficult and I want you to know that you have a support group right here. We can get through this together. Deep breathe in, hold it for a beat, and exhale. Ok, now we can get started. 

First, let’s talk about the fourth trimester. This is a term to describe a baby’s experience outside of the womb. Most babies could benefit from a fourth trimester because there’s this really big adjustment period that not only babies have to go through, but us moms too with our bodies and hormones. So this idea of The Fourth Trimester is really about taking care of mom and baby as they adjust to life outside of pregnancy and life outside of the womb. 

If this isn’t your first rodeo, you know that postpartum hormones can be a WILD ride. Postpartum ranges from anxiety to depression. A lot of us will experience some interaction with this at some point in time, so you don’t have to feel alone here. You’re not weird. This is normal since, you may have noticed, your body has gone through a lot! Birthing a baby is often a traumatic experience for us, both physically and emotionally.

My first time giving birth was a difficult experience. It took me longer to bond with my baby than I thought it would and I felt left out of the experience society at large says you should have. There’s a fantasy that every woman goes through the pains of childbirth and once that child is born, you have this magical, euphoric moment where your baby is on your chest and there’s fairy dust all around you and you instantly bond with this new bundle of joy. That’s just not true for women across the board. Most of us fall on a spectrum. My first childbirth experience was definitely not rainbows and sunshine, and my second was a much happier experience. That’s just how it goes. 

I will say that I also had hindsight for the second time around. I understood that I would be okay in time, that while I would have moments where I was feeling overwhelmed and that it would be a challenge, that I would survive. I knew that with the right tools and support, I would get through it. All of that was a gift relief. I also was quicker to be proactive in seeking support the second time. I didn’t know what to expect the first time, so I didn’t set up my support system. The second time, however, I had support on standby. I was seeing an acupuncturist, I had friends and family that were helping me with supplements to keep my hormones in check so that I didn’t have to feel the drastic dip from pregnancy hormones to postpartum hormones, which I did get to experience the first time around. The acupuncture was particularly helpful during the pregnancy and I continued going for several sessions after my second was born. 

Something I discovered at the tail end of my pregnancy was a condition called D-MER. It stands for Dysphoric Milk Enjection Reflex. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t feel bad, I’m a certified lactation counselor and I’m only finding out about this myself. D-MER is essentially a glitch between the different hormones that occur to release milk. It affects dopamine and other hormones that facilitate our letdown. So, if you’re nursing, and you feel that when your baby starts suckling, you feel sadness or depression, it might be D-MER causing those feelings. It may only last 30 seconds or so, but when you have to nurse around the clock, it becomes a big portion of your day. Those highs you get from bonding with your baby, to the lows from breastfeeding can be traumatic. I went through this myself with both kids. It’s exhausting. 

People wonder why we feel crazy and out of our minds, it’s because we’re riding this hormone roller coaster. We’re up, we’re down, we’re high, we’re low. For some of us though, just knowing what’s going on helps. You might be feeling sad or anxious, but knowing that the moment will pass can be enough to help you get through. If you know something lasts for 30 seconds or a minute, you can even try counting down the time to help you move through it. Some of these experiences change as time goes on. I found that with D-MER, it was really intense at the beginning of postpartum, but then it started to fade over a few months. Naya is now almost 4 months old and my D-MER is very mild. Now, I often don’t even register it happening. I’m more focused on the fact that I’m dehydrated and really thirsty when I first bring Naya to breast now. It grabs my attention first whereas before, the emotional dip would pull focus. 

For those who suffer with postpartum and its surrounding effects, it can be confusing and isolating. I want you to remember that you aren’t alone, that there are other women who’ve gone through the same emotional rollercoaster as you. There is a community here just waiting to give you love, encouragement and support. You are going to get through this.