The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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"I'm supposed to be happy now that I have a baby, but I'm not."
"I think I have postpartum depression. I have not told anyone because I feel like I would be saying I am unhappy about the baby we tried so hard to get. I can't even admit it to my doctor because she helped me so much through our infertility."
Expert Advice: "OB-GYNs are very familiar with postpartum depression, so I can't imagine your doctor judging you," says Jeanne S. Collins, Psy.D., clinical program director of the Women's Unit at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia. Your difficulty in talking to your doctor may be related to postpartum depression, because feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness are often symptoms of this condition. Other symptoms: persistent sadness, fatigue, irritability, loneliness, emptiness, loss of appetite, mood swings, a desire to isolate yourself from others and difficulty feeling connected to your baby.
The good news: antidepressants and talk therapy can help. Let your doctor evaluate you and make sure that you don't have or develop a rare but more serious disorder called postpartum psychosis, which can cause disorientation, paranoia and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. "I strongly suggest that you confide in your husband, a family member or a trusted friend," Collins says. "People who care about you will understand, and can give you a much-needed break from mothering."
Keep in mind that you did nothing to bring these feelings on. Hormonal and physical changes, exhaustion, a past history of depression or mood disorders, and even lifestyle stressors can all contribute to postpartum depression.
"I don't like being a stay-at-home mom."
"I have a 2-month-old, and I hate when people ask me if I like motherhood. Should I tell them that I can't stand losing sleep and being isolated all day with a person whose only form of communication is crying? Usually I just fake smile and say how wonderful it is; but the truth is, I can't wait until my baby goes to kindergarten or I go back to work."
Expert Advice: "In our society, it is unpopular to say anything negative about motherhood," says psychologist Deborah Roth Ledley, Ph.D., author of 2008's Becoming a Calm Mom: How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood. In truth, motherhood brings on a range of emotions, from bliss to exasperation.
There's nothing wrong with feeling frustrated, sad, lonely, irritated or bored from time to time."The problem is labeling these emotions as unacceptable," Ledley says. News moms will fare better by thinking: "OK, I feel frustrated right now.Totally normal." In public, sure, we all need a pat response for acquaintances we see in the grocery store, Ledley adds, but new moms also need confidants such as a spouse, a fellow new mom or a therapist.
Being a stay-at-home mom isn't for everyone, and that's OK! "Some moms work because they have to provide for their families, while others work to keep their sanity," says familytherapist Kimberley Clayton Blaine, M.A., M.F.T., founder of thegotomom.tv and author of 2009's Mommy Confidence: 8 Easy Steps to Reclaiming Balance, Motivation and Your Inner Diva. She went back to work three months after the birth of each of her children because she was going "stir crazy."
Says Blaine, "Who are we to judge what another mother needs? A happy and confident mom breeds a happy and contented baby."