Postpartum Mental Health

I’ve not gone into much detail about the specific struggles I’ve mentally had after giving birth, other than stating that they exist. It’s gotten so far that I made an appointment to a psychologist who specializes in postpartum mental health. Also I made the call to go exclusively on formula. RJ had little interest in nursing and the pressure was getting to me. I’ll start from the beginning, what’s been plaguing me the last 3-5 months.

1.Poor weight gain – RJ was around 50th percentile when he was born and 35th at his second month check-up. Third month check-up he fell to the 3rd percentile and had gained very little weight. I was exclusively breastfeeding and that around the clock. I had time nor energy for anything else because as it turns out (with pumping breastmilk on top of it all) I was making milk with virtually no fat content so he was trying to nurse all the time without really getting full and tiring himself out.

We started supplementing formula, we started solids earlier, he’s been gaining consistently, but for the last 2 months he’s never strayed from the 6th percentile. So he’s still a slow gainer and small-ish. He’s over 6kg at the moment, while I know a lot of babies his age are 8-9kg. They say not to compare, but it happens, especially the anxiety and calculating every ml of formula he takes in. And being pretty distraught when I make a bottle and he refuses for some reason.

2.Breastfeeding guilt – This ties directly into the poor weight gain thing. I’ve spent a lot of time reading posts from a breastfeeding support group with doulas and lactation consultants and honestly, it demonizes formula, encourages mothers to basically think “you don’t matter” and only 1-2% people won’t be able to breastfeed truly out of the population, the rest are just selfish. And that the woman’s body ALWAYS makes the perfect milk for the baby. Not sadly my experience at all. I believed all those things until I was basically running on empty, pumping, drinking lactation tea, eating so much I was gaining weight and feeling guilty as hell. I had set husband’s expectations up as well because I planned to breastfeed until a year. Boy, was I naive.

Today, I made the call to go exclusively on formula. I’m still on the fence if to pump or not once a day or just start giving him my freezer stash. A part of me feels that with pumping I’m just putting new expectations on myself and I’m afraid to let myself feel the relief I do feel about not pumping and ending the breastfeeding journey. I need someone professional to tell me that no I’m not a cruel narcissist for quitting breastfeeding. I know I have my husband’s full support (which took a huge mental load off me yesterday) and both me and my husband had been exclusively formula fed from 2 months of age. We found that out about a month ago when we needed to start readjusting our expectations. With pumping and lactation teas we managed 5 months with RJ. Not too bad. And he loves purees anyhow.

3.Adjusting to being a Stay At Home Mom(SAHM) – I’m generally a very ambitious person, and the ambition has only gotten stronger over the years now that I’ve managed to have more discipline and patience with myself. Add the pandemic to the mix, suddenly being home all the time just plunged me into an intensely depressive mood. Even though when my husband is out at sea, he’s pretty much working nonstop so we have mutual solidarity on that front, but the first months when he was home and had the freedom to come and go, even if it was to help his relatives or walk their dog, I was so jealous. It was building up to proper resentment at a point, especially with the previously mentioned issues going on at the same time. I wanted a break and needed a break. When he got back when RJ turned 3 months, he gave me that break when I needed and by December I was pretty much zen and happy most of the time.

Now we are halfway in the next 2-month phase. All the previous issues came glaringly to the forefront, we have a proper winter (which means the stroller gets stuck) so I’ve been pretty much homebound for the last few days and doing some deep thinking about my mental health.

The positives – From January 1st, I committed to cooking properly again and working out at least twice a week (giving myself some grace here). I’ve lost 1.9kg as of today and it’s making me very happy. We have a good cycle going on with RJ regarding naps, he doesn’t turn from back to tummy often yet, but we are practicing. In a week we have physiotherapy for him and in two weeks baby massage therapy. My baby group is good at quelling anxieties about traveling with public transportation and missing a wake window. I have objectively more energy and more time overall. And I’m really waiting for the psychologist’s appointment.

That concludes my ramblings on this, currently my anxieties are going in circles again.

Thanks for reading!


Listening to: Elle King – Ex’s and Oh’s

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