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Antepartum Depression: Just as Real And Scary as Postpartum Depression

 
We’ve all heard of postpartum depression. A lot of us have known someone with postpartum depression. It’s those weeks, and sometimes months, after a woman has delivered her baby that trigger depression and anxiety. Little do people know, postpartum depression has a sister that is rarely talked about and sometimes, unknown. This is called antepartum depression. 
 
Allow me to break this down just a bit. Ante is a latin term that means before. Partum refers to the delivery phase of the pregnancy. Depression has many definitions, so we will define it here as an overwhelming feelings of sadness. Therefore, antepartum depression means depression that happens before you deliver your baby. In other words, it is depression while you are pregnant.
 
I was first introduced to antepartum depression when I was pregnant with my third child. In my years of practice, I had worked with several pregnant mothers that described feeling down and blue. We worked through the depression, but I never named it or did a great deal of research on it. During my third pregnancy, I was very sick. Days of sickness turned into weeks. The weeks turned into months. It turned out that my entire pregnancy, I was extremely sick. After feeling sick for weeks on end, I started feeling depressed. My desire to do things that usually brought me happiness seemed unimportant. My energy was incredibly low. I had a hard time getting out with friends and family because I didn’t feel up to it. For weeks, I complained that I didn’t feel like my normal self. 
 
After some time, I set out to find more information about antepartum depression. Realizing that it is a real problem that many women struggle with made me feel a lot better. I started naming it, talking to people about it, and taking steps to make myself feel better. This did not come easily and took me a long time to do. In fact, while I was diligent about doing all of those things, I still feel that my depression lasted until I delivered my daughter. However, talking about it and getting the help I needed really made all of the difference in the world.
 
What are the symptoms of Antepartum Depression?
 
The symptoms of antepartum depression are very similar to depression outside of pregnancy. This include but are not limited to:
-Feelings of worthlessness
-Feelings of guilt
-Persistent sadness
-Anxiety
-Change in sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
-Change in eating habits
-Change in desire to do things that once brought happiness
-Thoughts of hurting yourself
-Thoughts of suicide
 
What can I do to treat my antepartum depression?
 
-Psychotherapy is one of the best tools to use when dealing with antepartum depression. A therapist can help guide you through your thoughts, feelings, and help give you solutions to work through them
-Medication is another route to take. This has implications on your baby and you will want to talk in depth with your medical provider. There are some medications that are safer to take while pregnant. 
-Herbal supplements are another option. Again, talk to your doctor about what he/she feels is best for you and your pregnancy. There are several herbal treatments that can help.
-Foot zoning was a major help while I was dealing with antepartum depression. It eased my sickness and helped me feel more centered with my thoughts and feelings. 
-Exercise is the last thing you want to to when pregnant (and depressed) but it is truly one of the best things you can do. Even walking around the block will release endorphins that will help your mood. 
-Eating a balanced and healthy diet will be beneficial for you physically and mentally during your pregnancy.
-Sleeping and getting enough rest is essential during this time. 
 
If you are suffering from Antepartum Depression, please know you are not alone! Thousands of women suffer from this on a daily basis. Share this blog post with someone you feel needs to hear about this. Antepartum depression is rarely talked about and needs to be an active conversation with women who are expecting babies. If you need further help, please call Wasatch Family Therapy. There are kind and professional therapists here to help you through this difficult time.
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5 Things NOT to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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So someone in your life is going to be having a baby. How exciting! This can be a very fun time, not only for the expectant parents, but also for friends and family awaiting the arrival of a new little baby into the world. As someone who is currently pregnant and expecting my third child in a few weeks, I can say that while having people be interested and excited about your pregnancy is wonderful, there are also some comments that one could live without. If you are one of the many who is sometimes looking for ways to talk to someone in your life (or even a random stranger) about her pregnancy, here are a few of the “do’s and don’ts”:

Wow, you’re sure getting big!”

Any variation of this kind of statement is inappropriate. Things such as “Wow! You look like you’re going to pop any day!” or “Yep-you definitely look pregnant!” feel like you may as well be saying, “You look horrible and fat. I’ve definitely noticed your weight gain.” Individuals who make these kind of statements may think it’s okay to do so because a woman is expected to grow during her pregnancy, but it still doesn’t feel good to a vulnerable pregnant woman who already may be feeling uncomfortable and insecure with all the constant body changes that come with carrying a child. If you want to show that you notice or would like to acknowledge someone’s pregnancy, all you simply need to say is “You look great! How are you feeling?” or ask basic questions about the impending arrival, such as the due date, gender, etc.

“You shouldn’t wish for your pregnancy to end. Once it does, you’re not going to get any sleep, and you’ll be drowning in diapers!”

Sometimes, especially towards the end of a pregnancy, an expectant mother is asked about if she’s “ready” for her baby to come. She may reply by expressing just how ready she is, (because she can’t wait for the discomfort of pregnancy to end), people often fire back with this type of response. When a woman becomes pregnant, is she not supposed to want a baby at the end of it? Do you think she got pregnant because she loves morning sickness, aches, pains, heartburn, and low energy and just hopes it lasts forever?! There is enough anxiety and worry about the arrival of a new baby that pregnant women don’t need more negativity-even if it’s meant to be said in jest. If a person is talking about wanting to be done, a nice response might be, “I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to meet the new addition!” or “When you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed, let me know. I’d be happy to watch baby for a couple of hours while you get some extra sleep.”

“Just wait! Adding another kid is going to be so hard! It’s a game changer!”

This is another kind of comment that raises anxiety and fear during pregnancy when there’s already enough there as it is. Most pregnant women are already stressing about how they are going to adjust to adding a new member to their family, or becoming a parent for the first time, and they really need to feel support and empowerment from those around them. If you’re worried about someone you know and their ability to adjust, or if they are expressing concern about it, a helpful way to respond would be, “When your baby comes, how can I help you? I’m confident you’ll adjust just fine, but how can I help to make the transition less stressful for you?”

“Can I touch your belly?”

While it is better to at least ask than simply run up to a pregnant woman and start rubbing their stomach, it’s usually better just not to ask at all. Rule of thumb-if it’s something you wouldn’t do to someone that’s not pregnant, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily like it even though they are pregnant. Different people have different comfort levels when it comes to personal space, and most women I’ve talked to who have experienced pregnancy (myself included) don’t wish to be touched in this way. However, even by asking, they are placed in the awkward position to either have to tell you “no,: or just go along with it even though they feel uncomfortable. If you’re just dying to touch someone’s pregnant belly, maybe “feel them out” first. Ask them how they’ve felt about this subject, or how they’ve responded to this before in order to get an idea of whether of not they’d be okay with you asking. Otherwise, simply wait for an invitation. If you have the type of relationship with someone where they’d want you to feel their belly, they will likely get excited when they start to feel kicks and ask you if you’d like to feel.

“Can I be in the delivery room when your baby is born?”

This is another situation where you simply need to wait for an invitation. Giving birth can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming experience (not to mention a personal one). I’ve known of women who ended up allowing people in the room they didn’t want to have in there, simply because they didn’t want to say “no.” They then are deprived of the type of delivery experience they wanted. If you want to be truly supportive of the arrival of a baby, allow the parents of that child to decide what type of experience they want. If they want you in the room, they’ll ask.

I realize that these type of comments aren’t meant to be harmful, and that by in large, people are often just trying to express their excitement about and support of a pregnancy. If you have been guilty of these types of comments, don’t feel bad! None of us is perfect, and we often don’t realize the way something can come across. Hopefully after reading through some of the alternatives, you feel better equipped to connect with the pregnant women in your life.

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Supporting a Friend Through Miscarriage: Julie Hanks interview with Woman’s Day

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Chances are that you know a woman who has had a miscarriage.  It can be difficult to know how to respond when a friend experiences such a tragedy.

LCSW Julie Hanks recently offered her professional insight on the topic to a Woman’s Day article entitled “9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage.”  Here’s a quick review of what not to say in this situation:

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Ask A Therapist: How Can I Get My Baby’s Father Back?

Q: My daughter is 3 now. Her father and I have been split up for almost 2 years now. Due to postpartum, hormones, stress, loss of a family member, and cancer health related issues I was having and needed treatment for. My emotions were too much. He had been dating a girl from his work for the amount of time we have been split up. I previously got engaged, and am now 7 months pregnant. This relationship failed. During this time of me not connecting my self and my previous EX fiancé being too needy and clingy drowning every ounce of me. Playing games to see “how much I cared.” I couldn’t handle it anymore and shut my wall up. Trying to reason with him if I hadn’t at one time cared I wouldn’t be pregnant or previously engaged. Although that ended I feel relieved and not controlled. And our personalities were too different; I wanted the idea of him trying to fill the hurt.

Although being my daughter is 3 my ex (her father) and I keep in close contact. And being through these last 7 months of pregnancy I realized I missed him. And he’s whom I wanted and WANT to be with. Not someone who looks like him.

These last 7 months also made me realize that the way my ex fiancé was treating me was very similar to the way I was treating my daughter’s father. Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe he cared enough to be there through my emotional roller coaster at the time. And now that this has hit me in the face and my life is in a positive place and knowing I was never happier I want him back.

Is there any advice you can give me on approaching my daughter’s father in time, to take the steps to try and make things work?

A: Thanks for writing in. It sounds like the last 3 years have been extremely stressful for you on many levels, some of which you had no control over, and other stresses that you chose. I know your question is regarding getting your ex-boyfriend back, but I hope you’ll consider that there are other things that need to be addressed before you get back into any relationship.

Please get in to a therapist to explore why you are having such difficulty in love relationships. To find a qualified therapist in your area click here. We often replay our childhood issues in adulthood and my guess is that there are some deeper unresolved issues playing out here.  My biggest concern is not how you’re going to get your ex back, but in you developing the stability and strength in yourself that your children will need in order to thrive, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  Rather than focusing on getting your daughter’s father back, I urge you to focus on being a strong person, and a strong mother for your children, and developing the confidence and the skills to maintain a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. Focus on being the kind of person that would attract a healthy and committed man to build a stable life for you and your children.

Please, be cautious about having more children until you have a healthy, long-term, committed, stable relationship. Focus on getting healthy yourself for the children you already have before you focusing on getting your daughter’s father back. Be the kind of woman he would want to be with. Once you’ve worked on yourself please get relationship counseling before you get into any relationship with your ex or anyone else.

Take good care of yourself and your children!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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