Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.11.10: Postpartum invoke guilt? You are not alone


I know some of you are sucking air past your teeth through pursed lips right now, nodding your heads in agreement, rolling your eyes and possibly even muttering.

Really? She’s dragging THAT ghost up?

Yup. I sure am.

But why?

Because it’s important to face every facet of Postpartum head on – even the ugly parts.

Why is it so important? So those who are currently struggling KNOW that they’re not alone. So they KNOW that the emotions they’re feeling – while alien to them – are actually quite common among those of us who have struggled before them. The more we talk about our experience, the less victorious the stigma, fear, and guilt will be!

And let’s face it, GUILT is one of the uglier parts of Postpartum. It makes decisions we’re faced with during our Postpartum Mood Disorder even harder. No decision we make is a guilt-free decision.

Breastfeeding and having to medicate? Guilty. What is this doing to my baby? Should I be medicating and breastfeeding?

I had a c-section. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that done. Maybe that’s why I have postpartum. There’s that guilt again, sliding in through the door.

I had a vaginal birth but my c/s friends think I’m holier than thou now (even if I’m not) and won’t talk to me. HELLLLOOOOOO guilt.

I’m bottlefeeding because I can’t breastfeed or breastfeeding grosses me out or I was told to stop by my doc. Oh guilt? Won’t you PLEASE come in? Please?

My daughter/husband/others are judging me for my lack of parenting skills. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Fishbowl Guilt: The feeling of judgment from everyone!

I’m thinking about having another baby/I don’t want another baby. Guilty over lack/desire to become/not become a mom again. Especially when pressured by others to become a mom!

I struggled with Fishbowl guilt with my first daughter. I sucked as a mom. My husband told me all the time what a great mom I was and how amazing I was at taking care of our precious daughter. But I never believed him. Even my 7 day old daughter judged me. I had no idea how to relate to a newborn. I’d never done this and just like her, I was brand new at this relationship. I kept the blinds in our house closed all the time. I used the excuse of nursing but it was really to keep all the people outside from peering inside to witness my daily failures as a woman, a mother, and a wife. I had fallen and there was no way I was sharing THAT with the world.

With our second daughter, I pumped exclusively for 7 months so she could get breastmilk as she was born with a cleft palate. It finally came down to my mental health and my relationship with my first daughter and husband or breastmilk for my second daughter. I bought formula. Cried all the way there and all the way home. Managed to keep the tears down in the store but heaven help anyone who had decided to give me a speech about the superiority of breastmilk. I had a whole tirade planned. I even had to fight with WIC to provide Enfamil instead of Similac because they were under contract with Similac but my daughter couldn’t tolerate the stuff. I had to get a doctor’s prescription for plain old Enfamil in order to win that battle. And that meant I had to fight with my then idiot pediatrician because he couldn’t understand what the difference was between the two and almost refused to write the script. Thank goodness for a local IBCLC who gave me the free Enfamil sample she had in her office. She saved them just for me and that meant the world to me.

Our son was a champ nurser from the start. And then we had issues with a bad latch habit. Then there were the back to back to back cases of thrush. I even had to go on an anti-candida diet to finally kick it because our ped and the OB couldn’t get their treatment schedules lined up. I nursed my son for 6 months. During that time, I had some severe emotional trauma unrelated to PPD. It killed my supply. My son was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive at 6 months old. The NEW pediatrician wanted me to pump. HAH! I was so not going back down that road. After a very emotional day of contemplation, we opted for formula. Everyone in the family dove in and donated bottles, a warmer, and we were on our way. Cameron switched completely within the next day and we never looked back.

I did not have Postpartum with my son. Sure, I had issues crop up, but they were not related to the birth of my son. And I weathered them just fine.

I had finally learned to put my guilt up on a shelf and leave it there. I still get it down to dust it off occasionally but it’s never stayed down for very long.

The biggest lesson I learned from my Postpartum was to let go of my guilt. How did I do this? My angel of a therapist once said something to me in relation to a situation with which I was struggling. She told me that how others react to you is THEIR gig, not yours. Wow. HUGE. It really hit home with me and I practice it each and every day. I’m also a huge proponent of believing that as moms, we have to make the decision that’s the best for ourselves and our families. I respect that in others and in myself.

So let’s get to just talking.

Do you deal with guilt? What’s your biggest source of guilt as a mom who’s struggled with Postpartum? Have you put the guilt behind you? How’d you do that? Share your tips for guilt-free living as a mom. Are you still dealing with the guilt and think you shouldn’t be? Try giving yourself permission to be ok with your decision. It’s amazing how far permission will go if you give it a chance.

What if we…


stopped glaring at mothers who choose to breastfeed in public?

stopped glaring at mothers who choose to bottlefeed in public?

stopped judging mothers who had cesarean sections?

stopped judging mothers who gave birth vaginally?

stopped judging mothers who had VBACS?

stopped making mothers feel guilty for the choices we made in childbirth?

stopped making mothers feel guilty and ashamed for struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

stopped making mothers feel guilty for the choices we’re making in childcare?

and instead

began to offer support and compassion to mothers who

breastfeed in public?

bottlefeed in public?

gave birth via cesarean section?

gave birth vaginally?

gave birth via VBAC?

make childbirth choices out of love and respect for their family’s chosen lifestyle?

choose to seek help for our Postpartum Mood Disorder experiences in a way that also fits our lifestyle?

make childcare choices out of love and respect for their family’s chosen lifestyle?

What if, indeed?

What if……..

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?