This episode of the Mommy Labor Nurse podcast is all about postpartum anxiety and preparing for postpartum during pregnancy.
Postpartum anxiety is a common, but less talked about reality for many new moms and one that I personally struggled with after both of my babies were born.
It’s interesting because the way my postpartum anxiety manifested and played out was very different after each of my births. And the way I identified the issue and treated it was really different, too.
In this episode, I had Tanya, CNM and postpartum maternal health advocate, come on to talk about just how hard postpartum is!
I go deep into my own story, get very real, and very vulnerable. Truly, my hope is that it will help even just one mom recognize that she’s struggling. And help her learn that it doesn’t have to be like this. Things can (and will) get better!
Here’s a look at what we talk about:
What my postpartum anxiety looked like the second time around (3:02)
Two months after I had my second baby, Ryland, I shared over on Instagram about how good I felt, and how much I really wasn’t struggling with anxiety like I did after my first. And at that point, it was true!
But then things really started to take a turn. I was doing all the right “things” yet I was spiraling and feeling insanely overwhelmed. Here’s a quote from the episode:
“The best way I can describe it is I just was literally everything I would look at, in my room or on my desk or in the car or anywhere. I would see it as like little, tiny, individual tasks. And it would completely overwhelm me to the point where I felt like paralyzed like I couldn’t even do anything.”
In this intro to the interview, you’ll hear me share some really raw details about my struggle and lowest points, and then how therapy and medication have truly changed my life.
Related: 5 Tips for Postpartum Anxiety
Debunking the stigma around medication (18:10)
I think we can all agree that there is a stigma around taking medication for our mental health. I know I personally felt really torn about medicating, even when the professionals in my life were suggesting it! I felt like, why isn’t diet and exercise enough? Why aren’t my normal coping mechanisms working? It’s not normal to take medication!
You’ll hear Tanya chime in and talk about how common this reaction to medication is, and how we all have a unique threshold at which medication becomes the best option.
She also explains how in terms of postpartum mental health specifically, we all hit challenges at different points. As I mentioned, with my first it was very shortly after I brought him home the struggles popped up, but this time around I was officially out of the whole “fourth trimester” when my struggles hit.
Tanya shares how this has been a realization for her in how she supports postpartum mamas. She believes that the power should be in their hands in terms of when they stop needing support and that ending support at the end of that “fourth trimester” can actually be very problematic – because many are not ready!
Postpartum depression and anxiety vs. the general population (23:36)
The way that mental health struggles present during the postpartum period can be really different than among the general population. Here’s a bit about what Tanya explains,
“There is this continuum, that I think we as healthcare providers struggle to find the language for sometimes to describe the ways in which postpartum depression and anxiety sometimes look different from what we think in the general population.
We’re trying to get the word out there that rage is something that’s more common when we’re talking about postpartum depression and anxiety…[and] how closely related anxiety and OCD are.”
You’ll hear more specifics about the nuances in postpartum mental health, and again, how that looked for me personally.
Fear of medication blunting your personality (28:21)
Tanya chimed in during this part of the interview to flip the script a little on medication and debunk the common fear that people have about medication for depression and anxiety blunting their personality.
This was definitely a worry that I had, especially as a creator and someone that enjoys being highly creative. I was so worried that my brainstorm process would be completely killed. But you know what? I didn’t have that experience at all!
Here’s what my experience has been,
“If anything, it’s enhanced the way that I’m creating things and the way that my brain is able to process because I’m actually able to like process things and just everything is just a little bit better.”
Tanya explains how that is the reality for a lot of people. Many get hung up on the fear of blunting their personality, and don’t consider the benefits of having a clearer mind that’s ready and able to create or focus.
Tanya’s support program for postpartum mothers (34:39)
In this part of the episode, Tanya opens up about her experience working with pregnant and postpartum mothers in all capacities. From her years as a labor and delivery nurse to 14 years as a certified nurse midwife, and how she got to where she is today!
Her program provides one on one, virtual support to postpartum mothers. She talks about how her program supports mothers at the end of their pregnancy to help prepare for the postpartum transition, and how it’s now an ongoing source of support that mothers opt-out of when they’re ready, instead of at a specific 12-week milestone.
Planning and preparing for postpartum is so important (42:50)
We discuss the shift that’s happening surrounding postpartum for the better in terms of awareness and support about just how challenging it really is. Tanya says it perfectly,
“More and more pregnant people are recognizing that postpartum is at least equally important to plan for and consider all the possibilities as the pregnancy. I completely empathize with anyone who cannot conceptualize anything beyond seeing their baby’s toes for the first time.
I totally get it, you know, like that’s hard to do. But more and more people are stepping up and saying, Okay, I gotta like, hit a pause button on this, set some time aside, and think about this [and prepare].”
You’ll hear Tanya elaborate on how powerful preparing for postpartum during pregnancy can really be, and how it can help set up realistic expectations and prepare the proper supports to make things a little bit easier as you navigate into your new normal.
What are some things that new, first-time moms say that they were completely unprepared for about postpartum? (51:47)
Here, I ask Tanya to share some of the specific things she hears and see new moms struggling with in their postpartum journeys. I asked this because I want pregnant moms out there to understand the struggles and understand why prepping ahead of time can really help.
She talks a lot about the role of sleep and creating a sleep plan before baby arrives. This is because there is such an overlap between symptoms of sleep deprivation and worsening anxiety and depression.
You’ll also hear a lot about the role of partners and the shifts in our relationships during the postpartum days, and how crucial it is to know how to ask for help.
We round out the episode talking about just how underwhelming postpartum care is here in the US, and how her support program aims to help address that.
Tanya is the founder of Mother Wit Maternity Services. She is a Certified Nurse Midwife with 20 years of experience in Maternal-Infant health. As a young mother, she began her career as a doula when she was herself 20 years old and 6-weeks postpartum. She quickly realized that she was destined to be a midwife.
She became a Registered Nurse in 2003 and a Certified Nurse-Midwife in 2007. She is adjunct faculty at New York University and Georgetown University. She has cared for thousands of women over the years, mostly in and around New York City and has caught nearly 1200 babies. Tanya is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Crossfit Level 1 Trainer, and a Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach.
Connect with Tanya and learn more about her program: