This week each of my prenatal yoga classes were focused around Postpartum Mood Disorders. My goal was to bring awareness of Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD to my students and to help prepare them for action, if and when these situations present themselves.
When I gave birth to my first child, just over two years ago, there were close to 20 other women who I know who gave birth within that year. Was it because most of us were turning 30? Perhaps! But from this large amount, I have known 2 or 3 to have gone through some form of postpartum depression, specifically.
As far as my story goes, here is why I think it’s important to talk about ppd and other related disorders: Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was speaking with one of my coworkers at the psychotherapy clinic I was working at. She mentioned how she had suffered from depression long before her first baby was born and was worried about ppd. I mentioned that I was in a similar situation and she suggested I get hooked up with the ppd program at Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto. They have a program called the Reproductive Life Stages Program. Basically you get a referral from your doctor or midwife and make an appointment to see a doctor there to determine if you’re at risk for a postpartum mood disorder. It is great because if you do have troubles after the baby is born, you’re already in the system and can more easily make an appointment to seek care (wait lists can be long apparently). I decided to take action and see what would come of it.
After an incredibly lengthy and somewhat cathartic intake session with a psychiatrist (this ended up happening postpartum because I was late in getting the referral), I was told that more than anything, I may be at a slight risk for a Postpartum Anxiety Disorder. This was surprising to me and my natural tendency was to put up a defense, and I did (on the inside).
But it all added up. Since my baby was born, my house was cleaner than it had ever been. I felt incredibly anxious when the baby was asleep and didn’t know what to do next to make myself as productive as possible. Sleep? Sew? Clean? Cook? Yoga? Shower? All this amoungst other things.
This session with the doctor really helped me to see things a little clearer, and it has taught me what my tendency is toward – anxiety. I can see my anxious thoughts and behaviours creeping up in my second pregnancy, and I will surely be on the lookout for their presence postpartum this time around. And I know there is help out there if I need it.
In my research for my classes this week, I came across a few great resources which I’d love to share with you:
- The Postpartum Progress website, and specifically the checklist they provide.
- Postpartum Support International website (thanks Rose)
- This blog post from the owner of Blooma – Sarah Longacre
- Brooke Shields’ book Down Came The Rain (I read this during my first pregnancy and it really helped to see things more clearly)
May is Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness Month, and you can bet I will be revisiting this topic in my classes then. It was quite a challenge to attempt to lead a yoga class with this as the theme. But I know the benefits far outweigh the consequences.
Love, Light, and Awareness,