Up to 80% of new mothers experience the “baby blues” shortly after giving birth. For 10-20% of these moms, the feelings intensify and carry on beyond the two-week mark.
In light of recent media attention to PPD and my own personal experience with it after the birth of my daughter, I wanted (once again) to open up and share my personal feelings and concerns about it now that my second pregnancy is coming to an end. The million dollar question??
“Will it happen again?”
Knowing that I struggled with postpartum depression (PPD) after having my daughter, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried about it happening again this time around. In fact, research shows that a woman is at a higher risk of developing PPD if she has a previous history of PPD. However, this time, I am well experienced, educated, and prepping in advance for the increased chance it might happen again.
Since my very first doctors appointment, I stressed how nervous and fearful of going through PPD (aka Hell) again. My obstetrician assured me there were options and that she would see to it that we do all we can to minimize the risk of it happening again. From day one, she suggested that I start taking antidepressants late in my pregnancy (about 36 weeks) to get my body ready for “life after delivery” (it generally takes 2-3 weeks for the medication to kick in and up to 6-8 weeks for it to be in full effect).
Today is that day.
…and I’m scared.
Mostly because I feel guilty and unsettled about the unknown.
The internet is a breeding ground for conflicting stories regarding the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. After what seems like hours of researching numerous articles discussing the risks associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, I’m torn on the decision on whether or not to start my antidepressants while pregnant.
Few, if any, medications are considered absolutely safe during pregnancy. Research findings on the effects of antidepressants on the growing baby are mixed and inconclusive. While some articles state there are little to no known side effects associated with the use of SSRI’s during pregnancy, others go as far as saying they pose risk of respiratory distress, jitteriness, and difficulty feeding in the newborn.
So. Many. Questions.
Do I risk the health of my unborn baby, for the sake of my own?
Do the risks of adverse side effects outweigh the risks associated with untreated PPD?
My biggest concern is, what if down the line we found out he has ADHD or a learning disability, or God forbid, something worse, and in the back of my mind I would think, ‘Is it because I took that medication?'”
There’s so much guilt wrapped up in being a mom anyways, I don’t want anything to be existing that I could blame myself for anything happening to him.
After many long and thoughtful conversations with my family and obstetrician, I (we) have concluded that the potential benefits of taking the antidepressant medication while pregnant, greatly outweigh the potential risks.
If left untreated, depression could have far-reaching effects on both mine and my baby’s health. Untreated depression could also take a toll on my family and friend relationships, including that of my spouse and daughter.
Bottom line; my family needs me. I have to be in good health to be a good mother and I can’t separate the two.
I will start my medication as instructed to do so by my doctor, and hope and pray for the best! Your prayers and support would be greatly appreciated as well.