Vanessa Lachey has a message for new moms – you’re not alone, and it’s OK to admit you need help when you’re experiencing symptoms that could be post-partum depression.
Like many new moms, Lachey says that she had an expectation of motherhood that would be perfect. The reality, however, was much different. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and fear set in just weeks after her son was born, said the television personality, model and actress. Lachey has shared notes about her experience through personal blogs and on her website, encouraging others to understand that many moms struggle with depression after giving birth.
She writes in a blog post on her website about how happy she felt.
“I couldn’t understand how anyone could ever feel anything less than this enormous amount of pure love! I looked over and saw Nick holding Camden in his perfect hospital swaddle, and I felt so at peace and right where I was supposed to be. I knew this was what I was meant to be: a Wife, and a Mother to these two amazing people.”
But a few weeks later, the lack of sleep and constant breastfeeding began to wear on her. “This is when I noticed a swing in my emotions. At this point I was sick of feeling like a milk machine.”
‘Lost and Unloved’
She goes on to say: “No matter how many books you read, NOTHING prepares you better than the real thing. I felt lost, unloved, alone and at my wit’s end. It’s weird, too, because I have an amazing and supportive husband, his loving family and wonderful friends. … Nick would say, “What can I do?” and I’d say, “I don’t know!” And it’s true! I didn’t know! “
There are many factors involved in post-partum depression, including a family history and biological and brain-level factors related to shifting hormones and body changes. Many mothers may have high expectations and hopes for how the first few months with an infant will be. They then may find that the real-life experience is full of exhaustion, physical and emotional changes and the reality of providing constant care. While there are joyful moments, as Lachey alludes to, the need for strong support and to be able to talk about the full range of emotions is critical. She also mentions negative feelings returning after her son’s birth that were related to relationship separation with her own mother.
Lachey, a former Miss Universe, encourages other mothers to realize that the ups and downs of parenting are the reality. It’s not a steady stream of joy. She also discusses her own need to realize that it’s OK to feel both the positive and negative moments as they come.
While many mothers experience “baby blues,” signs of post-partum depression go deeper. Signs may include problems making decisions or concentrating, bouts of rage or crying, strong feelings of hopelessness or guilt and a loss of interest in activities the person used to enjoy. Many women also note a general feeling of being detached from the infant. Physical aches and pains can also be present. Post-partum depression is serious and typically progressive, leading to suicidal thoughts or actions for some women if left untreated.