My First Experiences with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety


Like many mothers, I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety with both of my children. Up until I had my second child, I didn’t fully realize how postpartum depression and anxiety are dependent on the body’s reaction to hormonal imbalances and not the ability to deal with having a baby.

The postpartum experience wasn’t what I envisioned

Having a baby and becoming a mother was nothing like I had thought it would be like. I was in labor for about 16 hours and actively pushing for about 2 or 3 hours with no results. Finally, my doctor decided to do a Caesarean Section. When my daughter came out, my arms were still strapped to the table from the procedure. I was feeling totally exhausted and I was on a lot of pain medicine. The combination of all these factors made it very difficult to immediately start bonding with my daughter.

Instead of being able to hold my baby, the nurse took her to get her weight and length. Then she gave her a bath and bottle while I was vaguely aware of what was happening. I rested for a few hours before I started to try to breastfeed her. At first, she was happy to nurse, but then she started to prefer the bottle.  A nurse had me start pumping to help build up my milk supply. When we got home from the hospital, my daughter would not breastfeed at all.

Struggling with breastfeeding and milk supply

I continued pumping and bottle feeding her. This was not what I had planned when thinking about my life as a new mom. Having a baby who wouldn’t nurse was devastating for me, which made the postpartum experience difficult. The more I worried about whether she would nurse, the lower my milk supply would get, and the more we would have to supplement with formula.

I started meeting with a lactation consultant (see this list of Seacoast lactation consultants if you need support) who gave lots of advice on different things to help me produce more milk. She also helped to try to get my daughter to latch, which she did not want to do. Then when she was about a month old, she started latching and breastfeeding. It was a whole new world for me, and it was the world I desperately wanted to be in those first few weeks of her life.

I continued to meet with a lactation consultant who discovered that while my daughter was nursing around the clock, she was not getting enough milk from me. This fueled more guilt, anxiety, and depression. I was devastated that I could not solely provide food for my baby.

The consultant told me to nurse the baby, then give her a supplement of formula, and then pump. This was not always possible– especially when you have a super fussy baby who doesn’t want to be put down. I had to hold her and try to pump. On multiple occasions, she had blowouts while doing this, which was not helpful.

Getting the help I needed

I had started going to a breastfeeding support group at the hospital shortly after my daughter was born. But my first meeting, I cried the whole time because of the difficulties I was having with breastfeeding. At the time, I thought it was just me but later I realized that I was experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t even bring up my concerns with my doctor until my six-week appointment. She started me on a medication, recommended that I reach out to a therapist, and provided information on local support groups.

The medication, individual therapy, and group therapy helped me immensely. I started to relax more and not spend every minute worry about my supply and my daughter’s nap routine. My daughter started to be less fussy and started entertaining herself more, which gave me more time to myself. Being able to relax more and worry less, meant that I could produce more milk, which made me happy and confident in my parenting skills. And eventually ready for a second baby, which I will discuss in my next post.

The road wasn’t easy but I’m still here. Hopefully, you’ll read this story and know that you’re not alone.