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Postpartum Depression

A Lost Leave: When Postpartum Anxiety Takes Over

When you return to work, everyone asks you if it is tough to leave your baby. I have perfected my answer to this question. I say that it is bittersweet. Which it is. As much as I miss Max, my three-month-old son, I also am excited to be back at work, and gaining back a little bit of the “me” I used to be.

My answers start to be less perfected when people ask me how my maternity leave was. How do I answer this question without fully disclosing the experience I had? Does anyone really want to hear that I struggled with what seemed like debilitating Postpartum Anxiety—a sibling to Postpartum Depression? Do people really care that my body was in a state of constant panic, and that I suffered through weeks of insomnia? Can I actually tell people that I felt nervous all the time … or that it seemed like a stranger was trapped in my body? Would people look at me funny if I said I barely made it through each day and sometimes had to count the hours or minutes until my husband came home?

That is the reality of at least half of my maternity leave. I existed in a state of panic. I felt like I had adrenaline pulsing through my veins. I had a pit in my stomach at all times. I had to sleep with an icepack at night to soothe my burning chest. My arms and legs tingled relentlessly. I spent most of my days worrying. Would I be able to sleep tonight? If I didn’t sleep, would I be able to take care of Max tomorrow? What would happen if I couldn’t take care of […]

Perinatal Postpartum Anxiety – See the Signs and Find Treatment

If you took a poll of most pregnant women that come into our office, majority will report that they have heard about Baby Blues or Post Partum Depression (PPD) before, either from their pregnancy books, friends, or hopefully their OB.  Many will adamantly deny that they have Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression, because after all, this is supposed to be the happiest, most exciting time of their lives.  What many women don’t realize is that Perinatal Anxiety is just as common as PPD, and often coincides with each other as the symptoms are similar.
Perinatal Anxiety Defined
Perinatal anxiety is often dismissed,  as pregnancy and parenting both are anxiety provoking in and of themselves, so it’s reasonable that women struggle with increased anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum.  Because of this, very little research is done on perinatal anxiety independently from postpartum depression.

Perinatal anxiety can be classified into three different types: panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and/or generalized anxiety disorders.   It shares many of the same symptoms of PPD, such as: feeling overwhelmed, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, feelings of guilt or incompetence, excessive worry, etc.  Perinatal anxiety can also include panic attacks, hyperventilation, and repetitive intrusive thoughts or images of things happening to the baby.
The Anxiety of Facing the Unknown
New parents are always facing the unknown, and have repetitive worry and thoughts/concerns, such as: “Is my baby healthy?” “Is my baby normal; is he or she developing appropriately?”   These are all common concerns and questions to think and wonder about.  It becomes concerning when parents ruminate about these concerns, and they become intrusive or debilitating to a point that they interfere with your ability to care for the child, your relationship with the child or each other, […]

All The Pain & None Of The Gain: Losing a Pregnancy, Not the Pregnancy Body

One common experience of women who have lost pregnancies is the frustration that comes from having to go through the pain and struggle of a changing body during pregnancy, only to be left with no baby. Obviously, this pales in comparison to the grief that comes from losing a pregnancy. In today’s blog, we recount the experience of one of our patients, a woman named Mona who lost her pregnancy at 38 weeks.
Mona’s Story of Pregnancy Loss
Mona came into my office and the moment she sat down, she began to cry. “Look at me! I am wearing a fat suit!!! You don’t even know me, and you must think I am the chubby girl-the one who always cannot pass up a dessert!”

Mona made me laugh from the moment I met her—she is one of my most favorite people to see!  One of the many punishments associated with a loss-seems to be the lack of a justification for the weight gain. For women like Mona, who had gone to 38 weeks, delivered a stillborn daughter, and left the hospital empty handed-having endured all that pain for a poor outcome seemed incomprehensible to her. She was right! Her milk had come in, her breasts were tender and painful, she was in pain, and most of all she had been denied the joy and privilege of being a mother to a live baby. Over many heated sessions and debates, Mona came to realize, as many women before her had, that life is not fair, and she deserved better. A lot better.
Coping with Post-Baby Bodies with No Baby
How do I explain to a pregnancy loss patient that having the postpartum body and physical ailments associated with child birth […]

Signs of Postpartum Depression and What You Can Do

Giving birth is a powerful experience, bringing with it a rollercoaster of emotions that range from intense excitement to fear, joy to anxiety. Some new mothers, however, may experience some other, more unexpected emotions—depression and sadness.  While the “baby blues” are not uncommon, and include feelings of sadness, mood swings, and crying spells, when these symptoms are intense or last more than two weeks, they may be signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are things that you can do to help get your life back to “normal.”
What Are the Signs of PPD?
With the fluctuation of hormones that comes with giving birth to your new baby, it’s common to experience mood changes or have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms, which may only last a day or two, are referred to as the “baby blues,” and balance out not long after giving birth. For some women, though, those symptoms intensify and last longer, eventually interfering with their ability to take care of their baby or get through everyday activities. It can be difficult to distinguish what might be simple hormone changes versus what could be part of a larger issue, but if you know the symptoms of postpartum depression, you’ve already taken the first step.

Knowing what signs to look for can help you determine when to seek treatment for postpartum depression. Combined with feelings of sadness, postpartum depression can be characterized by symptoms including:

Severe mood swings
Loss of appetite
Overwhelming tiredness and fatigue
Intense irritability or anger
Insomnia
Feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy
Loss of interest in sex
Withdrawal from family and friends
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Thoughts of harming […]

The Blossom Method: Celebrating Hope & the Women of You Never Know

More than 15 amazing writers from around Chicagoland came together this week to share their stories of hope, sorrow and courage as part of The Blossom Method’s You Never Know campaign. Links to their inspiring journeys are below.

If you are experiencing reproductive challenges (infertility, pregnancy loss, genetic complications, complex medical diagnoses, preemies or postpartum depression) on your road to starting or growing your family, you are not alone. Reach out to us at 312.854.0061 or via email at info@blossommethod.com.

Blossom Method: Support For the Newborn Mom, Amina Bennett, Momma Mina

Unexpected Tragedies on My Reproductive Journey: You Never Know, Aviva Cohen, The Blossom Method

You Never Know, Sara Connell, Bringing in Finn

Losing a Twin During Pregnancy: You Never Know, Maura Deptula, Families in the Loop

You Never Know: Grieving the Loss of a Baby, Carrie Goldman, Portrait of an Adoption

When the Bottom Falls Out of Your Birth Plan, TJ Falletti, Chitown Mommy Mayhem

How to Support Friends Through Infertility, Lisa Hanneman, Hannemaniacs

When Your VBAC Goes Wrong, Jasmine Jaffarali, Healthy Jasmine

(Not) Alone in the Crowd, Erin Kuhn-Krueger, Will Carry On

You Never Know: Fertility Challenges and The Blossom Method, Katie O’Conner, Shine Chicago

You Never Know {The Blossom Method}, Samantha Shultz, The Peanuts Gang

You Never Know, Linda Szmulewitz, Chicago New Moms Group

The Blossom Method’s You Never Know Campaign, Dara Tarkowsky, Sharp Mamas

My Infertility Story: It Could Happen to You, Wendy Widom, Cheeky Chicago

You Never Know, Kim Wilschek, Chicago Pregnancy

You Never Know: Our Struggle With Infertility, Sara Youngblood-Ochoa, macaroni kid Chicago

Unexpected Tragedies On My Reproductive Journey: You Never Know

~By Aviva Cohen, LCSW & Co-Founder of The Blossom Method

When I tell people I work with women and couples struggling with infertility, loss, postpartum depression and other tragic scenarios during their reproductive journeys, I almost always get the same questions: How can you do something like that every day? Isn’t it depressing? My response never wavers. Providing support to women and couples is my professional calling and I am inspired by my clients each and every day.

Perhaps part of the reason I’m drawn to this work is because I straddle both worlds. I had my first three children with ease. I wanted to get pregnant, and poof, it happened. My pregnancies were relatively normal and the deliveries easy. Then I rolled the dice again and discovered just how lucky I’d been.

During my eighteenth week of pregnancy, I found out the baby inside of me had died. In an instant, my hopes and dreams for that unborn baby were dashed. I felt blindsided, confused, shocked and terrified. My doctor sent me to specialists, and then washed his hands of me. I was no longer a patient he wanted to treat. During this vulnerable time, I became lost in a maze of hospitals, doctors and nurses. I felt afraid and very much alone.

In my mind, I decided that if I got pregnant again before my due date, the pain deep inside of me would disappear. I quickly conceived again, but this time, at my nine-week checkup, the baby had no heartbeat. That was it for me. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, and no one who understood how I felt. When I tried to talk about the loss with friends or family, they told […]