Friday, November 12, 2010

advice to new moms

At a recent baby shower, we were asked to write down a piece of advice for the expectant mom. I casually filled up the card with lightweight things like "enjoy every minute of your maternity leave" and "sing to the baby."

I regret it now. I've had a chance to think through the question and determine one important bit of advice to new mothers. Then it was made all the more important to me after reading this perspective.


Childbirth and all its powerful hormones will do crazy shit to you.

Okay, that's a fact, not advice. The advice part is to accept that this is happening to you and forgive yourself for it, and to seek help when you need it.

I'm not just talking about being emotional ala crying during TV commercials. The confusing hormones that course through you during pregnancy are heightened – taking even more control over you – after.

I remember a part of me acknowledging that the way I felt was not right or natural or logical, but there was nothing I could do but sink into this emotional pool. It may have had a role in making me feel so desperately attached to my baby that I could barely breathe any time I left home without him.

Does anyone really understand how the mind works? Add in body chemistry, and things get crazy. We don't give chemicals, natural or introduced, enough credit for what they do.

I started birth control pills at a young age to control primary dysmenorrhea, and for years I wondered if that was the cause of certain changes in my personality, libido, and the way I felt in general – like a complete leveling out of extremes. Just feeling less.

I didn't notice a change when I finally went off the pill ten years later, but once I was pregnant I was back on that roller coaster of emotional extremes. I had never felt so fierce as I did during the first weeks or months with my baby, and I am so thankful to have had that experience. Even the unexplainable tears. While breastfeeding continued (and still continues) to propagate certain confusing hormones, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I know how lucky I am to have this.

But if I, who did not have postpartum depression, still felt and continue to feel the odd control of such body chemistry, what must it be like for the half of new mothers who do get postpartum depression? How must it affect the quarter of the population suffering through any other mental disorder?

I'm not an expert of anything. I just know that I'm lucky. And I know what to write down at the next baby shower. Take care of yourselves, new moms.

Oh, and if you're buying a nursing bra while pregnant, opt for stretchy elastic. There are changes ahead.

Also? Ignore all advice. Including mine. Every mom and every baby and every experience is different. Own your own way.

No comments:

Post a Comment