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Post-Partum Story

I would like to introduce you to a friend, her name is “Norma”.  Norma is 90 years old.  Over her lifetime she has seen many changes in this world we live in.  After Norma married a farmer in the Midwest, they worked hard every day to reach they goals that they set together.  Hard work can bring a couple together or it can put a lot stress on the marriage.  In the midst of these hard times, she became pregnant with her first child.

Family congratulations poured in for this couple having their first child.  She remembers the days and nights of difficulty and hard work with a covering of joy of this coming event with her first childbirth.

As I interviewed her about her pregnancy, it appears that she had no outstanding memories of pregnancy; however, after giving birth she tells me a frightful experience.  Norma had “Post-Partum Blues”.

Norma said after the birth of her first born, she became so shaky with depression.  She said, “It was really bad, so bad that it scared me.”  This once hard-working help mate to her husband retracted with fear, anxiety and more.  She had no clue what was happening.   She had no idea how to care for this baby and fear of doing something wrong kept her from doing anything.  She would walk the floors at night crying.  Finally, her husband sought medical attention.

She was diagnosis with severe post-partum depression.  They sent her to a bigger city where she stayed in the hospital for months while receiving mental health treatment and physical monitoring of her hormones.  It sounds like she was experiencing postpartum psychosis.  I found an article from Mayo Clinic on this subject:   Postpartum depression – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

Norma was talking about her experience with the birth of her child as if it was scary time that she felt so out of control of her life.  She made a statement that cemented my interpretation of her feelings.  She said, “I did not know what to do.  I had to trust the doctors knew what they were doing and that was hard at the time.  I had never felt any like that before or afterwards.  I was so glad the doctors knew what they were doing.”

Family members stepped up to the plate to take care of her first born until Norma became well.  Seeking medical attention right away was the best thing that she could do.

Norma had three boys in her lifetime.  I asked her if she experience again with her other pregnancies.  Norma replied, “No, only my first born.  The other pregnancies went just fine.”

Post-partum is a drop or changes in hormones after birth.  Even though she was worried about happening again, her physician monitored and treated it at the onset of symptom.  Her other pregnancies do not carry the share experience of her first birth.

I pondered our conversation later at an appointment I had with my physician.  It is so annoying for them to ask you to point to the chart on the wall of the yellow icon faces of different emotions or to ask you that question, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how are you feeling?”  Like Norma, we do not want to be viewed as crazy or depressed or not strong.  But in Norma’s case, it was important for her and her baby to share her true feelings of what was happening inside of her.

Remember, you and your baby are very valuable.  If you have found a good physician, he knows that value.  Create positive memories no matter what physical challenges you go through.  Knowledge is power.  Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms and stop it in its tracks. Be safe and happy.

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One of the things I learned as a student and resident, is that in obstetrics you can have a lot to say about your outcome. In other words, you can pick your outcome much of the time—not all of the time—but certainly about 90% of the time. Pregnant women so often feel they shouldn’t question the expert, the obstetrician. My goal is to provide pregnant women a safe arena where they can freely ask questions about their choices in their pregnancy and delivery. I can’t offer you medical advice, but I can tell you about my experiences with the 6000 babies I delivered.

In today’s medical environment, it is very difficult to raise questions about your choices of care. I want to encourage women to have the confidence to trust in themselves and the decisions they make about their care.

Obstetrics isn’t about disease.

It’s about preserving your and your baby’s good health.

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