postpartum depression, mental health

Depression and other mental health issues after giving birth are more widely recognized.

Nowadays, postpartum depression is so widely known that people who have never birthed a child know many of the warning signs. But when I had my first child, I was unaware that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal.

I was young, and living away from family who could’ve picked up on the signs. Doctors were not as vigilant then as they have been in recent years. I was given a postpartum depression screening at my six-week checkup, and no one asked me any follow-up questions. They handed 19-year-old me a child and essentially said “good luck.” Now, mothers are screened at every well-baby visit for their child, and if you’re a parent, you know those happen every couple of months, gradually spreading out as the infant gets closer to a year old.

By screening at every well-baby visit, doctors are now catching many more cases of postpartum depression before they become severe. They can prescribe a course of medication or advise you to seek out therapy with a licensed therapist specializing in perinatal or postnatal parents. Doctors, midwives and therapists are all taking the development of postpartum depression seriously, but rarely do we hear about other postpartum mental health conditions.



Having an infant can be a challenging time for parents.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

After giving birth to my fourth child, I began to be concerned that something may be wrong with me, but I was too afraid to say anything. I passed the postpartum screenings with flying colors. I was not crying uncontrollably, I felt deep attachment to my baby and never had thoughts of harming myself or my child. Check. Check. Check. But as the weeks and months passed, I grew more concerned. I was constantly in a deep fear of something being wrong with my child or of me somehow hurting him. I would have awful intrusive thoughts that included graphic images of my son falling from my arms and him splattering like a watermelon.

I was concerned that if I told his pediatrician this, they would certainly take him away and remove my other children. This being my fourth child, I knew what to expect, and this was far outside the realm of normal, so I kept quiet. On one of my visits with my midwife to follow up on birth control, she noted my increased anxiety. She deviated from the standard script when she noticed me tense when discussing the baby. It was the first time I had heard of postpartum anxiety. She didn’t think I was crazy and she was able to normalize it for me, while providing me with medication safe for nursing. I felt a weight lifted that day, but so many birthing parents struggle in silence with postpartum conditions they don’t know exist.

Postpartum can activate other mental health conditions outside of depression and anxiety. Some people experience postpartum psychosis, which can be marked by paranoia, auditory or visual hallucinations, as well as delusions. People can experience OCD as well as exacerbation of other underlying mental health conditions that the person may have been suffering from.

It's estimated that 50-85% of people that give birth will experience a mood disturbance in the postpartum period. It’s important to take note of your moods after giving birth, such as with a mood tracking app. It's also helpful to surround yourself with people who will be honest with you about what to expect after birthing a child. Building your support system before your child is born can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with welcoming a new child into the home. Don’t fall into the trap that society sets up for birthing people: You do not have to have it all together, at all times. Having an equal partner in daily tasks far beyond the first few weeks in postpartum is a tremendous help.

If you’ve recently given birth and are struggling, reach out to your doctor or midwife. They’re there to help and often have a working referral network for therapists specializing in the postpartum period.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

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A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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