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Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Did your birth story affect the development of your Postpartum Mood Disorder?

When I saw my very first positive pregnancy test, I wasn’t thinking about labor. I wasn’t thinking about birth. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the major depressive episode awaiting me at the end of the journey. I was just thinking about the awesome little life growing inside of me. The second time around though, after a tough delivery and a life lesson in what the birds and bees really do talk about, I cringed. My first thought? Oh crap. There’s a baby in there. And it’s got to come out somehow. I ended up with another spontaneous vaginal delivery with our second daughter. This delivery, although labor was nearly tripled, went much smoother. The trauma came 30 minutes after birth when she was diagnosed with a cleft palate. I ended up with a nasty nasty episode of postpartum depression. The third time around I also had a vaginal delivery but it was induced because I was measuring 2wks ahead of schedule. Amnio showed lung maturity and my pelvis (god bless it) had become so loose I could barely walk without wincing in pain every time I took a step. We were ready. This delivery was short, sweet, and outcome was much better. I also didn’t experience postpartum after my third birth.

With my first birth, I did not take a childbirth class. I didn’t with my second or third either but by then, I had been through it, done research, explored a few options, knew my body was capable of birth, and learned to trust myself and not rely on medical intervention. I was also much more capable of advocating for myself in the delivery room. I went in with what I call a flexible birth plan because I knew how fluid birth could be and did not want to be unprepared for any possibility after my first delivery at which I was pumped full of Pitocin and stuck in a hospital bed for the entire labor. I opted for an epidural with all three births. My first birth was the toughest – Pitocin contractions on top of one another for nearly 8 hours straight with a one-sided epidural the anesthesiologist tried to place 7X during transitional labor. Ever tried to sit still during transitional labor? Yeh. I’m SO not one of those women who can do that. So the second time around, I had my birth plan. The biggest thing was not to be offered any kind of pain medication. I’d ask if I needed it. And I asked at just over 24 hours of labor. Tired, exhausted, no end in sight (my water hadn’t even broken yet), I needed rest. But I did it on my terms. The third time around I got a little irked at the midwife nurse at my birth. I went in with the same birth plan. I asked for pain meds and she attempted to talk me out of it. I understand the desire to have an unmedicated birth. A woman has a right to the kind of birth she wants even if we don’t agree with it. As long as she’s making those decisions in an educated manner, let the woman have what she wants.  A woman absolutely should not be judged for her choices at birth. Instead, we should try to understand the choices and enable her to make educated decisions in the future. I advocated for myself and ended up having a great birth experience even if she was disappointed in my ability not to go au natural. Looking back, I probably should have asked for another nurse. But hey, it is what it is and my third birth ended up being my best experience overall.

For today’s Just Talkin’ Tuesday, I would really like to explore your birth story. Was your birth what you expected? Did you have a birth plan? What kind of birth did you have? Research has shown repeatedly that c-section mamas are more likely to develop a postpartum mood disorder. And with the soaring c/s rates here in the US, I have to wonder if perhaps that is why there are more mamas struggling with emotional adjustment after birth. Although there are plenty of mamas out there who gave birth at home with no medical intervention who also struggle with postpartum mood disorders so maybe that’s a non-issue altogether. Overall though, do you feel your birth experience impacted your development of a postpartum mood disorder? Or did the Postpartum Mood Disorder just happen? And if your birth experience negatively impacted your development of a postpartum mood disorder and you went on to have more children, did you opt for a different type of birth? Do you feel changing your birth choice have an impact on whether or not you developed a Postpartum Mood Disorder? If you haven’t had any subsequent pregnancies, will you change your approach toward birthing as a result of your experience with Postpartum Depression if any more children are planned?

I know those are tough questions but it’s what I’m wondering today. So let’s get to Just Talkin’, shall we?