Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

The Postpartum Blues That Almost Got Me

The birth of a baby is an exciting time for a family, and most parents love having a new bundle of joy.

By the time my son arrived in December 2017, I already had three kids. I was a registered nurse who had experience in maternal and child health. I was strong. Everyone – including me – thought this pregnancy would be a breeze. But my experience was contrary to everyone's expectations, including mine.

My son's birth changed my family dynamics, and also brought about a surprisingly unpleasant change in me. Suddenly, I wasn't strong anymore. My moods were unpredictable. I wasn't the same happy, laid back person I had always been. I would get irritated and angry easily. Even trivial things could make me cry at the drop of the hat. Tears would roll down my face during situations that wouldn't have flustered me in the past.

Friends and family frequently asked me if I was alright, and I assured them I was. I pretended to be the strong person my family could count on. But as the days and weeks passed, I realized that I was slowly evolving into a different person.

Despite these changes in me, I expected that I would be able to handle my stress. After all, I was a nurse and a longtime mother. Others had the same expectations of me. They told me this was my fourth child, and I should be used to it by now.

I needed help, so I reached out to my family and friends. Once I admitted I was struggling, the support poured in.

But I was dealing with something different this time, and it soon became clear that it was the baby blues, otherwise known as postpartum depression. I knew from my experience as a nurse that the changes in me were supposed to be short-lived and would go away soon. But I also knew I couldn't just live with them.

I needed help, so I reached out to my family and friends. Once I admitted I was struggling, the support poured in. I also sought help from health professionals. Speaking to my nursing colleagues, my family physician and my obstetrician, I was assured postpartum depression is quite normal, and is caused by hormonal influences. Though it is common,  it affects everyone in their own individual ways.

As a nurse, some people wonder why I didn't speak about my postpartum depression or seek help sooner. I think I was worried I would be judged as a weak person. However, life is too precious. We must do our best to make life the best it can be.

These days, I still get flustered by things. The difference is, I now know when to reach out and ask for help. This blog has been therapeutic for me, and I hope that my experiences can help mothers and health-care providers who work with them.

There are so many women out there struggling with postpartum depression, and not just first-time moms. If it can happen to me, a mother of four and a health-care professional, it can happen to anyone. If there is one thing I learned from my experiences that I can pass on to other mothers is to know yourself and ask for help when you need it. Your mental wellness is too important to ignore. It is key to overall wellness for you and the people around you.