Monthly Archives: September 2009

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 09.29.09: What does self-care look like for you?

In my pre-kid days, I took good care of myself. Got my nails done, did my make-up, spent hours on my hair and paid attention to detail. These days I’m lucky if I manage to throw a shirt on without baby food stains, have make-up left over from Sunday church and really lucky if I’ve managed a shower. Point is, I could be doing more. But with three kids it is really hard to get even basics taken care of sometimes.

But I do try to make sure to take time for myself each day and breathe. It may be as small as going to a favorite website or listening to some great music. It may even be as little as a bite of chocolate or some awesome tea.

Motherhood is hard work! Through my bouts with Postpartum Depression I learned that self-care is the most important care. So while my priorities have changed from having awesome nails to making sure I’ve managed to put on stain-free clothes, I still work pretty hard at taking time for myself.

So let’s get to Just Talkin’! What does self-care look like for you? What are some of your favorite “I’m just being me and not a mom or a wife at the moment” things? Tell us!

Danish research and SSRI use during pregnancy

An article at heralds a new study released September 25, 2009 by Danish researchers. The article carries the sensationalized title “SSRIs in Pregnancy Hike Risk of Heart Defects.”

While the title itself raises eyebrows, the researchers themselves state that they were unable to conclude if the results were because of medication or the underlying depression. Also important to keep in mind is that this research is based on women who had prescriptions filled for SSRIs but does not appear to have checked to see if these women actually took the medication. Instead, they rely on data from a national registry.

Pedersen and colleagues analyzed national registry data on more than 493,000 births in Denmark from 1996 to 2003. The data included prescriptions filled by mothers-to-be as well as the medical status of their babies at birth.”

And directly from the study:

Our results, however, depend on a correlation between redemptions of prescriptions and drug use. Non-compliance might be a problem for this type of exposure definition and could mask true associations if some of the “exposed” were in fact unexposed.

The most interesting piece to come out of this research is that of the studied SSRI’s, Paxil appeared to have the least risk of septal heart defects. I find this very interesting considering that Paxil is the only SSRI to currently carry a heart defect specific warning.

As with all studies and research, you should always examine all sides and aspects and educate yourself rather than relying on the word of others when making your final decision. Ask yourself if the person presenting the information has your best interest at heart or is merely trying to frighten you with inflated facts and figures. (Click here to read a previous post full of tips on how to find solid medical advice on the web.)

Dr. Shoshana Bennett, author of “Pregnant on Prozac” released this statement regarding this research:

Finally, treatment for the serious and potentially life-threatening illness of prenatal depression (for both mom and therefore baby) is being formally discussed. Fifteen percent of clinically depressed pregnant women try to take their lives – a bit more risky for the baby than mom taking an antidepressant, wouldn’t you say? If the pregnant woman can be non-depressed without a medication, that’s optimal. Some form(s) of treatment, however is essential. If natural and alternative approaches to wellness are not enough, it is regarded by those in the know to be safer for her (and her developing baby) to take an antidepressant than to remain depressed. Depression itself – it is quite clear from the research – crosses the placenta and alters the uterine environment causing negative consequences to the baby. In the latest research there appears to be low (0.9%) chance of a septal heart defect in babies whose mothers had taken certain antidepressants. However, what fear-mongers do not report, is that the researchers themselves could not be sure whether it’s the antidepressant or the underlying depression itself that caused the defect. Women need all relevant information and education about options for treatment during pregnancy so they can make the best decision for themselves and their family. Watch out for alarmists who are not interested in actual data – they are simply invested in promoting fear in women who are at their most vulnerable.

Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D.

Increased risk was determined by “redemption” of more than one SSRI prescription. Those who redeemed more than one prescription had infants with a higher percentage of septal heart defects. But again this begets the question of whether or not this result lay with the SSRI or the underlying depression/mental illness/stress the mother may have been experiencing in order to receive said prescription.

Bottom line here: Don’t think for a second that becoming a Mom starts at birth. It starts at conception. And we owe ourselves AND our infants the best start possible. This means researching by asking questions and seeking out solid answers. It means finding physicians who will be your co-pilot instead of an uncooperative Auto-Pilot unaware of the pot-holes facing them. It means putting together the best support you can with what you have access to at the time. I happen to agree that a SSRI free pregnancy is absolutely optimal. I also think you should run (not walk) out of any doctor’s office if said doctor is quicker with the script pad than the warm shoulder. But we have to remember that every situation is different. Every person is different and every pregnancy is different. And sometimes we may just have to take medication. It doesn’t make you weaker, it doesn’t make you stupid, and it doesn’t make you a bad mom. And above all, remember that the decision to take or not to take a SSRI during pregnancy is your decision. Make it with an empowered spirit, stick to it, and don’t look back.

Guanabee: “What Otty Sanchez’s story can teach us about Latinas & mental health”

I’m always in awe of how this works for me. Earlier today I was thinking about how we could learn about the effect of postpartum depression on latinas as a result of Otty Sanchez’s story. Then BAM. Into my inbox flies a link to an amazing article over at a beta site, Guanabee. (Click here to read the article for yourself. Be warned that it does mention what Sanchez did in a rather graphic manner)

Alex Alvarez really hits the nail on the head when he asks what could have been done to prevent this tragedy. Alvarez cites misinformation of family members, pracititioners, and others surrounding Sanchez. He also points out that latinas are more likely to seek help from a general practitioner or a clergy member. Language is also mentioned as a barrier to treatment.

One of the best books I’ve found out there for latinas is a book called “The Seven Beliefs.” This book empowers the latina woman to confront and face her depression. While it does not specifically address postpartum depression, it is indeed a powerful tool which speaks the latina’s language.

Postpartum Support International also provides support in Spanish. For more information on their support for the spanish speaking loved ones in your life, please click here for a list.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 09.15.09: What lessons did you learn?

just talkin tuesday chalkboardWhen I was struggling in the trenches I learned some very hard lessons. I’d like to share five of them with you.

Lesson #1: Taking care of myself was not selfish; it was necessary

If I missed out on sleep, skimped on my diet, forgot my supplements or didn’t allow for “me” time, I wasn’t the only one to pay the price. The WHOLE family paid the price. And that’s just not fair. The better care you take of YOURSELF, the better care you are able to take of those around you and the better care they take of themselves thereby enabling those around them to improve as well – you see how this goes and goes on?

Lesson #2: You can’t take people’s reactions to your life personally. They’ve got their own baggage too. Don’t claim theirs – worry about yours to the best of your ability.

THIS one was hard. I still struggle with it on a daily basis. Oh, I’ve drastically improved but I still have to sit on my hands from time to time. It’s that or sew my mouth shut. Sitting on my hands keeps me from typing something I’ll regret AND from getting my sewing kit.

Lesson #3: God has a plan for me and I am grateful for all the hardwork He is pouring into me.

James 1:2-4 sums it up best: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work that you may be perfect and lacking in nothing.

Lesson #4: Helping others is a powerful source of healing yourself.

I cannot even begin to express how much of my own healing has come from giving to others as they face the same beast I have beaten. It is a harrowing path indeed and I have leaned on those I have helped as they have leaned on me. What is humanity if we cannot help each other through our struggles?

Lesson #5: Riches cannot be counted in monetary value. Riches come in baby food stains, innocent laughter of an infant, the purposeful cuddle of a toddler and the smile of triumph as you kick back your feet richer at the end of the day than at the beginning with even more riches on the way.

(In other words, don’t lose sight of the truly important thing in life – FAMILY)

There are five lessons I’ve learned on the journey so far.

What lessons have you learned?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’, ladies (and gents)!

The importance of Kangaroo Mother Care

"Day 6" by samwebster @ flickr

"Day 6" by samwebster @ flickr


Kangaroo Mother Care is when a human mother and her infant snuggle skin to skin with the infant lying prone on mom’s chest. It’s a term coined after the Kangaroo’s close relationship with her little joey who doesn’t come out of mom’s pouch for four months after birth. Instead, joey relies on mom’s warmth, nutrition, and support for his “fourth” trimester. Research has concluded over and over again that this care is invaluable for both human moms and babies as well.

In 2007 a study published in the Oxford Tropical Pediatrics from researchers at the Instituto Materno Infantil in Brazil concluded that Kangaroo Mother Care may prove helpful in warding off postpartum depression. Researchers evaluated mothers at the beginning of NICU care and at the end of their Kangaroo Mother Care. NO mother developed depression during their Kangaroo stay. Let me say that again. NO MOTHER developed depression during their Kangaroo stay.

WHO, the World Health Organization, also offers an article regarding Kangaroo Care in the early months of infancy. Their article focuses on the bonding and encouragement of breastfeeding that Kangaroo Care provides. Many of the after-birth procedures and examinations can take place while baby is on Mom’s stomach in the prone position thereby improving chances of maternal and infant bonding.

There’s also another personal story proving the very value of Kangaroo Mother Care. Carolyn Isbister, a mom out of Edinburgh, saved her infant’s life with a Kangaroo Cuddle. Her little one had been given up on by doctors. Carolyn cuddled with her infant to say goodbye. She and her husband watched as their daughter’s breathing and heart beats regulated. They watched as she went from grey to pink. Carolyn’s little girl is now healthy and home, thanks to Kangaroo Mother Care.

One of the calmest moments I had in the midst of my own downward spiral was as I sat with Charlotte snuggled up on my chest. We were in the middle of the NICU, beeps and boops all around us. The fragility of life hung heavy in the air. Her many wires, tubes, and other non-baby items draped across me as well. But all that mattered was her soft warm head resting peacefully under my chin, her breath caressing my chest. I wrapped my arms as tightly as I dared around her tiny body and closed my eyes. This was a moment in which I wanted to get lost. I wasn’t experiencing many of those at the time. Time stopped as we stepped out of the NICU and into our own little world for a bit. Even as I type this I can still smell her fresh baby scent and feel the weight of her little body curled up on my chest. It is a moment I will always cherish and never forget. My eye in the midst of a hurricane from hell.

If you’re a new mom struggling with bonding with your new infant, please try Kangaroo Mother Care. It’s free, it’s easy (mostly naked baby, mostly topless parent) and it does wonders.

There is a website dedicated to the promotion of Kangaroo Mother Care as the standard of care for all newborns. They do sell products there which I am not endorsing in any way shape or form. But the website is very informative and something worth checking out if you’re interested in trying Kangaroo Care, know or work with a population who may benefit from this option. You can reach Kangaroo Mother Care by clicking here.