Lindsey Breitschaedel: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Lindsey Breitschaedel: When Things Don't Go As Planned | 8th Annual Mother's Day Rally for Mental Health

postpartum depression, mother's day rally, maternal mental healthDear new mama,

What I want to say, in a nutshell, is go easy on yourself. If you’re anything at all like me (i.e. a type-A teacher) you want to be great at being a mom from the get-go. Maybe you have read books about the nifty schedules you can put baby on, or maybe you want to be the kind of mom who goes from moment to moment and just sees what baby needs.

Whatever way you are planning to go, if it goes differently, forgive yourself. Know that you are still doing an awesome job, even when it feels like you have no idea what you’re doing. Try not to punish yourself for being upset or disappointed, overwhelmed or frustrated.

It seems like society and the media put so much pressure on us to be happy and joyful, in control and just doing a fabulous job taking care of the baby (and ourselves!) right from the beginning. But your body and hormones are going through a huge shift, not to mention your lifestyle. It can be an easy and smooth transition, and I wish that for you with all my might.

In case it’s not, though, it’s ok and you are absolutely not alone. I think for most of us it’s harder than we will admit, especially on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Whether the birth goes differently than you were hoping or the first few weeks or months are difficult, it’s not your fault in any way. 

These are the things that nobody told me, and when my baby refused to stay on the schedule I planned for him and the birth I wanted turned out to be incredibly traumatic for me, I didn’t know it was OK to be upset about it. I thought (and I was told) that the problem was ME. I let things spiral and worsen for months because I had no idea that motherhood could be so difficult or that there were complications like mood disorders and genetics and my own difficult childhood that could cause me to stumble on my own journey.

But you don’t have to do that, mama.

You can start by forgiving yourself right away for having negative thoughts and feelings, and if they overwhelm you, you can ask for help and know that it’s the best possible thing you can do for yourself and your baby. You’ve got this. You’re not alone.

We mamas are right here with you. 



The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit

The Importance of Screening and Support : Jenna’s Story, Part 1

pregnancy depressionI’m welcoming a fellow Warrior Mom friend of mine today to share her story with the Postpartum Progress community.  Jenna and I met online through #ppdchat, and we became fast friends.  Since I only experienced postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety with the birth of my youngest, I really wanted the perspective of a mama who had suffered multiple episodes of postpartum depression.  I wanted to showcase the idea that all women should be screened for perinatal mood disorders throughout their pregnancy and all through the first year postpartum.  Thank you so much Jenna for sharing your story.  It is a pleasure to welcome my dear friend.

My longest lasting episode of depression began during my pregnancy with my second oldest child. It was marked by anxiety and irritation, and a loose cannon rage that would come out of nowhere over both big and little things. I was ashamed of my lack of ability to control my anger, and that I’d become a parent who yelled often. I attributed it to being pregnant and hormonal and having a high need 2 year old, but I didn’t connect it with depression at all. I didn’t make that connection because I wasn’t sad, tearful, lethargic, or unmotivated. How could it be depression if there were no tears?

After my baby was born, things only got worse. She had colic for 3 months, screaming from 11 pm to 2 am most nights, while I walked a groove into the living room floor. Once the colic abated, she was a terrible sleeper. She woke as many as half a dozen times a night for the first two years of her life, and I was the primary caregiver. Due to the chronic sleep deprivation, I was detached, full of rage, and anxious.  I also began having intrusive thoughts and paranoia, most often involving fear of home invasion or replaying the worst parenting moments of my day. Some were worse and more vivid than that.

I mentioned my anger and detachment to my ex (who I was still married to at the time) when she was about 10 months old, and he told me, “If you had a closer relationship with God, you would not be in despair.”  Medication and therapy would be a waste of money, he said, because the problem was in my head and was rooted in sin.  I was devastated and felt even more shame as I internalized this possibility.

When you’re already feeling worthless and ashamed, it’s easy to believe unkind words about why you feel the way you do. Because of his reaction and invalidation, I never told anyone about how I was feeling. I didn’t have the courage to admit to the intrusive thoughts and paranoia once he told me that I was the problem. But I knew my feelings were real, and I knew they weren’t normal.  I didn’t know I could look for support or help because I didn’t really know what to call my emotional state other than angry, detached, and overwhelmed. It didn’t seem like any depression I had ever heard of.

… tune in tomorrow for part 2 of Jenna’s story …

What I Didn’t Know About PPD

I thought I knew what to look for. I thought I’d educated my family–anyone who would be close to me after I had the baby–about PPD signs. I knew my history of depression and anxiety. I knew postpartum depression had been in my family through a few generations. Even though I was worried, I was so confident in my knowledge.

But BAM! It hit me anyway, and I didn’t even recognize it for months.

During the pregnancy was one thing–I coached myself and others on what I thought PPD was. But then I had a traumatic delivery culminating in a c-section that didn’t heal the way it should have healed, and all my attention turned to surviving the trauma, the pain, and the fog of new motherhood. I didn’t have time to think about postpartum depression for a even a minute. My high-needs baby couldn’t be consoled a lot of the time, and he didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time. Ever. At least not for me. He nursed every 90 minutes, and feedings typically lasted 45 minutes. I was exhausted and unable to think straight.

I didn’t know that PPD doesn’t simply mean crying a lot. I didn’t know that my rage was a symptom. I didn’t know that my intrusive thoughts (about illness and accidents harming my son) were due to postpartum anxiety. I wanted to quit my job because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my son’s side at all. That’s when I knew I needed to seek help, at least to prevent myself from making a drastic decision like leaving my job and jeopardizing my family’s financial safety. [Read more…]

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: Treatment Options

breastfeeding and postpartum depressionMy father passed away in August. As I waited for news about his arrangements, I felt the pangs of anxiety building. Knowing that I have a history of anxiety, I called the only doctor I’ve seen in 2 years–my obstetrician.

I explained to the receptionist what I was going through and that I knew I needed to get in with someone, a therapist, for treatment, but that I didn’t know where to start and the wait time would likely be too great to treat my immediate needs. I asked if they could they prescribe something to help. The nurse practitioner called me back that afternoon.

“Are you breastfeeding?”
“Yes. A few times a day. My daughter is 16 months old.”
“There’s only one medication we can give you.”

Currently, there is only one medication on the market specifically approved by the FDA for use in breastfeeding mothers, and it isn’t the medication with which I’m most experienced or even the best one for treating anxiety. It also isn’t the only medication that has been proven safe for breastfeeding mothers in study after study.

I was sort of crushed by the lack of options given to me by my doctor’s office. I felt like I was being told to choose between the extended breastfeeding relationship I have with my daughter and treating my anxiety with a medication I knew to be safe and effective. I was angry for other moms who might find themselves in similar situations.

I had taken another medication while breastfeeding my son and had no issues. I knew how it worked and that it worked for me. I was comfortable with the heaps of research that said it was a safe choice.

I went in the following week for a visit and asked why they wouldn’t prescribe anything else to breastfeeding mothers. Their answer was that the practice is a one doctor show and since he isn’t an expert on mental health he prefers to defer to those who are. He will triage issues like PPD and generalized anxiety, but he likes working in conjunction with a psychiatrist for treating PMADs to make sure moms are getting the best care possible.

I felt that was a fair enough answer. It didn’t help me in that moment, but I could understand their reasoning. Of course we want all moms to receive the best possible care. I walked out of the office with the name and phone number of a therapy practice in my area.

But then I thought about all the other doctors who don’t make it a habit of handing out referrals and will only prescribe one medication to breastfeeding moms, regardless as to whether or not it’s the best medication, when there are others which are also safe. I wondered how many of those doctors don’t follow up to see if the medication is even working or who tell moms they have to stop breastfeeding if they want to get better. [Read more…]