Dealing with Postpartum Depression

By: Caroline Hilla

It’s that lurking feeling that things just aren’t right.

Like most women, you’ve probably already thrown away that Postpartum Depression brochure the hospital gave you before bringing your new baby home. Maybe the grey, gloomy-looking mum picture featured on the front page seemed a little overdone? But now you feel like her and you are finally admitting to yourself that something is wrong. It’s time to stop assuming that the postpartum period is always euphoric, because for 1 in 7 women it’s not.

You’ve lost the “old you”

Mums with PPD feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this ‘new baby thing’ is rather hard." More like, “Sorry world. I don’t meet the emotional height requirements for this rollercoaster.” You feel a strange disconnect from your baby, your partner, and pretty much the entire outside world. You’re not having that whimsical mummy bliss that you see on Facebook or see on TV. Patience is no longer part of your personality and everything seems to set off this out-of-control rage. And the worst fear of all, looming over your head, is that this is your new reality and you’ve lost the “old you” forever”.

 So, let’s face the facts about PPD: It’s common.

Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do. PPD is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of thing. Some women feel its effects during the first 3 weeks after birth, while others experience symptoms several months after their baby’s birth. There are several different causes of PPD and most of them are out of your control. To start off, your body just experienced a massive hormone surge followed by an immediate hormone plunge. For many women, this rapid change can trigger depression lasting days, weeks, or even months. In fact, for half of women diagnosed with PPD, this is their first episode of depression. Stress can also play a key role in igniting the PPD fire. Maybe you weren’t planning on this pregnancy? Or your partner and family don’t want to help care for your newborn? Whatever your issue may be - money, family, alcohol, drugs…you name it! Problems create stress, and stress can cause depression. Period. Believe it or not, there actually IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re not crazy. But, it’s time to act.

Baby Steps

In case no one has told you, you’re doing an amazing job. You are loved and you are worthy. You are not alone. Getting the right help can make all the difference for you, your baby, and your family. There is no point in suffering alone. Don’t try to wait this out. If you are having the symptoms of PPD, here’s what you can do:

·         Call your doctor. It’s okay to be honest with your doctor at your postpartum appointment and tell him/her that you are struggling. 90% of people with PPD can be treated successfully with medication.

·         Find a local support group in your area. Websites such as: The Association for Post Natal Illness and Pandas Foundation help mums going through what you're going through find people nearby who understand what you’re experiencing.

·         Talk to someone who understands. Talking to a friend or relative can be helpful when you need to vent, but when it comes to PPD, one of the best treatments can simply be another mum who can relate to your feelings and encourage you along the way.

Now it’s your turn

Postpartum Depression is a real condition that can affect your everyday life. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible. If PPD is detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Also, experts have found that children can be affected by a parent's untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep problems, impaired cognitive development, anxiety, and frequent tantrums.

If you suspect you may have postpartum depression, it’s time to stop letting the baby blues bring you or your loved ones down. You are not wrong for feeling the way you do and no one blames you for it. It’s time to be kind to yourself and reach out for support because yes, you are enough, and yes, you really do matter. <3

 

The Surprise Milestone - Bottle Refusal

By Dr. Frank Drummond

Up until now, your 2-month old was feeding perfectly on both breast and bottle. But all of a sudden he/she has completely lost interest in the bottle and will even scream if it’s brought too close. You’re starting to panic and wonder if your baby will ever be able to drink from a bottle again! Sound familiar? If so, there is a likely chance that your newborn is going through a very normal and expected behavioural reflex change called the “two-month mark”.

Understanding the developmental reasons behind this seemingly spontaneous behaviour will reassure mums like you that you aren’t alone and bottle-feeding can still be successful.

The two-month mark occurs in babies aged 2-4 months and is characterised by a sudden refusal of bottles, making for a frustrated baby. Now that your baby has grown a little and mastered the art of suckling; they can latch, suck, and feed more efficiently. Because of this, they can spend less time at the breast while still receiving the same amount of nourishment. In addition to this your baby is also becoming more perceptive. He/she can now see across the room and recognize familiar faces. They are beginning to analyze what is going into their mouths and can immediately recognise if it isn’t a direct part of mum. In other words, if it isn’t mum, they don’t want it. This can cause them to become frustrated and upset when a bottle is presented to them.

Many mums are not aware that their baby’s ability to feed after birth is an involuntary survival feature they are born with. This instinctive sucking reflex is activated whether they are hungry or not when the roof of their mouth is stimulated by touch. Because of this innate behaviour, babies are able to sustain life immediately after birth without having to learn the motor skills behind suckling. The two-month mark is simply a successful cognitive development causing sucking to transition from being an involuntary reflex into a voluntary controlled response. At 2 months of age the roof of your baby’s mouth will no longer stimulate immediate sucking because they have developed the muscle memory necessary to control it on their own.

A “successful suck” is more complex than you might imagine. The baby’s lips flange and close around the nipple creating an airtight seal around the areola. They then move their tongue in and out, controlling the flow, pressing the nipple into the top of their mouth creating pressure. The suction of the downward movement of their jaw pulls the breast milk into their mouth. After taking another breath, the cycle continues. This cycle is called the Suck-Swallow-Breath (SSB) Synchrony. These pauses in feeding allow for your baby to make eye contact with you and form a bonding moment.

This is an exciting step for your baby because they are able to control their feeding for the first time ever. This can be a major complication for the 80% of mums returning to work or looking to take a break from breastfeeding for a night out. Not to worry! Useful tips and tricks such as warming the baby bottle nipple, letting someone else give the bottle, or using different positions other than the breastfeeding hold can provide a successful bottle feeding experience. Breast bottles, such as the mimijumi bottle, are also a successful way to introduce bottle-feeding again because of its unique breast-like design. Understanding what is happening as your baby grows helps you manage these sometimes surprising transitions and limit frustration all around. 

 

Is your baby hungry?

We may be biased, but we think mimijumi bottles have the cutest names out there. The Not So Hungry bottle is 120 ml / 4 oz., and its big brother is the Very Hungry bottle at 240 ml / 8 oz.

Which one do you need for your baby? How much milk should your little one be drinking each feed? These are questions best discussed with your paediatrician as every baby is different, but we've put together a quick reference for general feeding amounts based on age. Hopefully this will help you decide which bottle would best suit your baby, and give you peace of mind knowing they are eating what they should be, when they should be!

BLOG_feeding_large.jpg

More important than the table above is to watch your baby and pay attention to their growth. Generally speaking, your baby should be eating 2 oz. for each pound they weigh over each 24 hour period. For example, if your baby is 7 lbs., he should be eating around 14 oz. every 24 hour period broken up into many feedings. Above all, pay attention to your baby's weight gain. Your paediatrician will have growth charts that can help track your baby's progress and alert you and your doctor if there is an issue. It's important to keep up with regular well-baby visits to be able to catch any issues early on.

If you're breastfeeding your baby, it may be difficult to determine just how much your baby is eating. Feeding formula or expressed milk from bottles makes measurement much easier, but there's no need to fret about measurements! Remember that babies do have instincts. In general, they will show hunger cues and will eat when they are hungry and refuse when they aren't. Feed your breastfed baby when he/she shows signs of being hungry, and carefully monitor weight gain to be sure you aren't missing hunger cues.