Bringing home a baby is a major life-changing event. As parents, we are all adjusting to new baby and a new identity. This inevitably impacts our relationship with one another as well as with family and friends. What are the common stressors that trigger how we interact with other people? How can we communicate our feelings in a healthy and constructive way without creating distance? And what are some ways we can create reasonable expectations so our relationships can thrive?
Delayed Postpartum Depression: Relationships
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Bringing home a baby is a major life-changing event. Mom and Dad are partners, all adjusting to a new baby and to a new identity. This inevitably impacts our relationship with one another as well as with family and friends. How can we communicate our feelings in a healthy and constructive way without creating distance between each other?
This is Newbies.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome to Newbies! Newbies is you’re online on the go support group guiding new mothers with their baby’s first year. I'm your host Kristen Stratton, Certified Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, and Owner of In Due Season Doula Services. If you haven't already be sure to visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also subscribe to our show through iTunes so you can automatically get new shows as released. Here is Sunny with details on how you can get involved with newbies.
SUNNY GAULT: All right so, we have various apps right for all of our shows. In fact, we have a network app that has all the New Mommy Media shows on it. You can also download individual apps for newbies. One of the things I wanted to promote with that through the app as well as if you are just listening on Itunes, you can rate and review our shows and that is super-duper-duper important. It is how parents find about our shows, a lot of times the way that these individual programs work where you can download and listen to the podcast. You know they do that like recommend if you like this you might like this and the way they choose those shows is by ratings and reviews.
So if you haven't yet, please leave us a review on whatever system you are listening. So we are on stitcher, on Spriker, and Google play music and iTunes of course and I'm sure there is tune in another one and I’m sure I’m missing some other ones. So please take just a few minutes and leave us a quick review it will go a long way.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Let's meet the moms joining our conversation today. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your experience with today's topic.
RUTHII SLATTUM: Hi am Ruthii Slattum. I’m married with a five-year-old boy and then I have a three-year-old girl and an eleven-month girl. I own a postpartum support business Mama Ruthii where I am a lactation consultancy, a postpartum doula postpartum Sela, belly binder and placenta encapsulate. I have had some mixed experience with delayed postpartum depression. I typically about four months is when I get the baby blues so not immediately but then my postpartum challenges typically manifest more in anxiety than depression. I also work with a lot of moms in various stages of postpartum minds set whether that’s depression or anxiety or a mixed bag.
KRISTINE STRATTON: Well thank you so much for being on the show today.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay so before we kick off our show today, I know we are going to talk about some pretty deep stuff and I thought we can kick it off kind of a more humorous note with our “Baby Oops” segment. So this segment that you guys have actually it’s because of you, we created this segment. You guys started sending us and posting funny baby stories and funny parenting stories and we okay we need to use this on the show.
So we created “Baby Oops” and this is just the funny things that happened to us as parents while us parenting our kids in our first year of life. This one comes from Kelly, and Kelly says “on the way home from the grocery store, my son woke up and started crying. I knew he was ready for feeding but I really wanted to go to star bucks. I stopped on the way home even though it meant letting him cry for an extra ten minutes. I feel guilty about it and he had a rough night that night but mommy needed a latte” which I think is so funny because I have totally been in that boat.
I have two older boys ages five and four and so they are in the back seat and I've also been like no I have to go have to go and get my star bucks, I’ve got to go somewhere right and they are like punching each other in the back seat and I know I should go home but like I have to get something done so I totally know where Kelly is coming from.
Anyone else wants to admit to needing a latte break they’re carrying off a baby or someone's
RUTHII SLATTUM: Stop it right there
KRISTEN STRATTON: We have a drive through star bucks right behind my house it's a five-minute drive away. Lately since my husband has being gone for about four and a half months of this year I have been like oh my gosh it is my one indulgence where I just have to do something to feel like a normal person because normal people go out and they go and get coffee but I can drive through with my van with my three kids.
I am a proud owner of a minivan and get my Starbucks it's my one normal thing where I’m like okay I can interact with other people that I don’t have to be like stop touching yourself or whatever
SUNNY GAULT: What exactly is your kid doing?
KRISTEN STRATTON: Oh God, my kids are going to listen to this and be like oh my God mom you are so embarrassing.
SUNNY GAULT: I think Starbucks drive through were pretty much created for moms like I don’t know what to do without them.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Well like I just want to drive somewhere to buy some milk and some bread and not have to get out.
SUNNY GAULT: I have said that and you know why? I have said that on social media it was like one of those days that I needed to stop and get one thing but I didn't want to take three kids to the store and someone else posted and said that Target was starting some sort of drive through testing program and then I’m like are you kidding me?
RUTHII SLATTUM: Okay you have like a five item maximum so it’s efficient. I think that that would absolutely be a fabulous business.
SUNNY GAULT: I know right so Target if you are listening.
RUTHII SLATTUM: Especially like where everything closes at six.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Mama you are not alone
SUNNY GAULT: Oh that is funny, well Kelly thank you so much for sending this “Baby Oops” and sharing your Starbucks love with us. We really do appreciate that if you guys have a funny oops that you want to send to us please let us know you can email us through our website at www.newmommymedia.com . You can also contact us through Facebook, twitter, we are online everywhere so just reach out.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Today we are continuing with our series on delayed postpartum depression by discussing how bringing home a baby dealing with postpartum mental health challenges and expressing this stresses with your partner can lead to challenges within the relationship. Our expert today is Kimberly Panganiban, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Thank you for doing this today Kimberly welcome to the show.
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Thank you, thank you for having me it’s an honor to be with you.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So Kimberly can you please explain some of the major role shifts which occur when mom and dad bring home a baby?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure well you know this is a really hard time. Most couples, two-thirds of couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction. You know you go from being husband and wife to being mom and dad and with this new role comes a whole lot of new responsibilities and couples can really struggle with how to balance these new responsibilities especially for couples who didn't quite know what to expect.
There is this great list in the book “And Baby Makes Three” by John Gottman that gives us long lists of all of the new responsibility’s that moms and dads have, and they have to figure out how to negotiate. I think it can be really useful for couples to talk ahead of time about some of these changes that are going to be happening things like finances, house cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking, getting up in the middle of the night, making medical appointments. I mean all of the things that come with bringing a baby home.
Figuring out who is going to do what often times if that is not discussed ahead of time you know couples could kind of fall into traditional gender roles and then some resentment can grow and build and it really needs to be a conversation. You know hopefully before a baby comes home if not right after.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So what are some of the changes and values which might contribute to the tension in the relationship?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I mean after bringing a baby home you know moms biologically are just programmed to give their attention to the baby all of their attention. You know that is a necessity in order for the baby to survive and for the mom and the baby to bond and so the moms values go to her number one priority is baby and everything else you know comes after and there is going to be a shock to the fathers who feel like they have lost their partner they have lost that relationship, because they don't have that same biological predestination for that to happen.
I have seen a lot of couples where the dad still holds some of the same priorities or values of wanting to travel or do things that really becomes so much harder if not impossible but with baby’s that can become kind of a struggle between mom and dad about how to negotiate that.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So now you touched on a few but what are the additional stresses besides the lack of sleep that comes along with the new baby which affect our relationships?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I mean lack of sleep is obviously the biggest. That is hard for anyone but yes you know physiologically your body changes hormones and depending on your birth you know if you had a c- section or other things that you are recovering from and all of this things can greatly affect intimacy between a husband and a wife. Like we talked about finances, you know the increase on the finances and that sort of strain and who is going to be working, are you going back to work? All of that can create stress and then like we talked about just the endless to-do list.
KRISTINE STRATTON: So to our parents, what are some of the communications barriers you experienced that impacted your relationship?
RUTHII SLATTUM: I think for us immediately postpartum was my first baby I had a really bad episiotomy and I could barely take care of myself. It was the absolute hardest part of my whole baby bearing experience was that episiotomy from all three children. So just trying to meet my own basic needs and I was you know on pain medication for not myself. So it took me a while like to really find the kind awareness that he might need to talk about something. You know so just kind of getting over the pain with that first baby and I just kind of acknowledging that oh yeah even though I am in the middle of this, this is my body that is going through everything. Oh yes there is husbands here that you know he might at least like to talk about what his feeling and what's going on with him. So it was kind of getting over myself and not discounting what I was feeling but also not forgetting also he got feelings about stuff too.
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: I now that was me especially after I had my second and my third my postpartum anxiety kicked in like basically as soon as like my placenta was gone. I was having anxiety syndromes like in the hospital. Things that probably the nurses rather than being mean to me should like to have to be there is more going on. I know for my husband I mean I was not his wife he knew I was not myself, so I mean we even had disagreements in the hospital.
So I mean from just very early on I had perinatal depressions. I had depressions during my pregnancies with all three and then immediately after I delivered that manifested itself as a very severe postpartum anxiety disorder. So I knew that immediately just turned from us being from a married couple to his taking care of me physical, mentally, emotionally. Like you said Ruthii, you’re not able to maybe acknowledge that he’s got hey he’s got needs too and then on top of all the other stuff that goes along with bringing home a new baby so yes.
RUTHII SLATTUM: I think also for me it's like I didn't realize that anxiety could be some form of like a postpartum depression and like it's kind of a different side of the spectrum but I was you know I had it with all my pregnancies, I had anxiety and then it did go into my postpartum and nobody clued me into that until I started working with postpartum mom myself and in retrospect been like “Oh I had this challenges too”. So yes just being extremely just too high to strong.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So now Kimberly we have talked about postpartum mental health extensively on the show how can a partner or husband recognize some of this signs in moms and how can they communicate about the concerns in a healthy way?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I mean things that a husband can look for if his wife is really withdrawn, if they feel really disconnected, maybe she is very tearful a lot of the time or irritable and angry, maybe a lot of mood swings between feeling withdrawn and tearful and angry. Not eating can be a big sign for both depression and anxiety, not being able to sleep when you’re able to when the baby is sleeping. You can't just fall asleep. Not being able to relax could be a sign of anxiety just having to always be on the go. Never allowing yourself to just settle or maybe having to check or double check things you know a lot of anxiety like you've missed something or forgot something or left the stove on or things like that. Physical complaints you know one is complaining of having a lot of headaches, stomachaches or things like that could be things that a husband could look out for.
I really think the best way is just to come with really an altitude of just you know I am worried about you, you know I love you, I care about you, I want you to know I’m here for you. Tell me what's going on for you and is there something I can do for you or we can do together? I think a lot of times husbands don't know what is going on and I see a lot of couples I worked with that they just start to build up resentment and they become critical and that is not helpful. So it is coming with care and concern is the biggest thing.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So they have these communication barriers and obviously there are physiological changes you know mom is recovering from birth and pregnancy. So how can these communication barriers and physiological challenges impact how the parents bond with their baby?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I mean new parents tend to have an increase in conflicts just as it is and if there is any postpartum depression or anxiety that can exacerbate the relationship distress and parents and conflicts sort of often have inability to appropriately read or respond to their baby's cues because of what is going on, the stress that their kind of more internal and not as aware of what is happening externally with their baby.
Also baby tends to withdraw emotionally from dads who are unhappy with their relationships. So you know the best present that you can give your baby is a strong relationship between mom and dad. So this is some of the things that can really impact sort of the attachment and bonding process.
KRISTEN STRATTON: When we come back we will continue our discussion on relationships and delayed postpartum depression.
We will be right back.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Welcome back to the show. We are continuing our discussion with Kimberly Panganiban. Kimberly postpartum mood and anxiety have a ripple effect on all of our relationships in our circle. What are some of the ways it can affect friendship and our abilities to manage any challenges within those relationships?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I mean if you are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety it's all you can do to manage to take care of yourself and your baby and there is not a lot of extra energy or time or anything to sort of continue to develop relationships or maintain relationships. Sometimes I think friends can try to reach out and want to know what they can do and want to know how they can help and sometimes if you are feeling depressed you just don't want anyone there.
That can create a lot of distance and disconnect.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So how can we create reasonable expectations about what each partner can contribute to their relationship?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Sure, I think it would be very helpful for couples you know ahead of time you know to talk about or know about or even take a class about the changes that can happen in a relationship that there wouldn't be as much time for the relationship at least for a while that things are going to change and to talk about things that they can continue implement, ways that they can continue to connect when they bring baby home.
You know that at some point in time they might be able to get to a regular date night and things like that and in the meantime they can connect on a smaller level and just talk about stress for an extra five minute every day or giving one another a five minutes massage and it is really crucial for a husband to know that a lot of his wife's attention will be given to the baby and I think if dads go into that knowing ahead of time it can be less impactful and less negative emotion for the father.
So really just having that discussion ahead of time on what can we expect and how can we go through this together is the best things couples can do.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Well I know that it's kind of funny so we had just moved into our little townhome in San Diego. We had moved from one military base to San Diego two weeks after I had given birth to our second child and so we didn't know anybody. Our family was too far and wanted to come down and help so our way of kind of connecting because my husband knew I have had postpartum depression and I had anxiety. So there is this game on Xbox that we used to say at the end of the day and our thing was like we are going to play this game it's called pickle and it's like the most mindless mind-naming game but it worked because you got to be together, we didn't have to worry being like physically intimate because at the end of the day I’m like totally touched out, I’m breastfeeding this kids every hour or two hours but we would just sit and be present with each other, play this game and our thing was like want to eat some razor nuts and we are going to have a glass of red wine.
That was our routine every night for the time he was home he ended up deploying soon after but you know it doesn't have to be an expensive thing or this grand gesture, it is just us making an effort to sit and be in the same room together and just try to have as much quality time as possible in between like me breastfeeding. So that was the kind of thing that I took from that was that we can reconnect but it doesn't have to be stressful doesn't have to be huge because I couldn't handle that at the time you know part of my thing was social anxiety too, like my postpartum anxiety made me not want to go out and do anything.
So I’m I really just had to do baby steps when it came to that and I loved that he was respectful of that and he was just playing the stupid video game with me.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So to our parents what are the ways that you were able to connect with your partner and try to rebuild that friendship.
RUTHII SLATTUM: Things that kind of helped me to reconnect with my husband and to kind of just be in tune with him. We try once a week to go on a date which sometimes it just doesn't happen but we do try every week and my parents watch our kids. Then the small thing that kind of helped me is I have one particular pair of jeans that my husband loves and they are jeans so it's not like putting on a dress that is low cut and doing my hair and my makeup perfectly.
It's a pair of jeans but I usually only wear them if I am going out with him and so it's kind of a simple gesture for me to do for him was like okay I am wearing this for you and there are jeans I like jeans and there is a t-shirt it's just a t -shirt but for whatever reason he really digs it. So I will always wear that shirt when we go on a date. It's just something super casual and so it's not like I am doing something elaborate but it's a small thing that he knows that I do just for him and then his big act of love for me is he brings me coffee in the morning. He doesn't drink coffee he likes the way it smells but he could care less so the fact that he takes the time to bring me coffee in the morning and he gives me like ten minutes before he leaves for work to just you know wake up check my e- mail and Facebook it's really nice.
So just taking opportunities to do small things that are simple for each other.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So Kimberly can you give some advice about how to practice self-care within the relationship and ways to reasonably reconnect for both mom and dad?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Yes one of the things that I teach couples that can really help with both self-care and a way to reconnect is to implement a stress reducing conversation at the end of every day. You know fifteen or twenty minutes for each of you to share the stresses of your day and sort of process and kind of take turns being speaker and listener, so one person starts and shares their stresses and then you switch and then the listener you want to make sure you are not giving advice or taking on your partner's stress as your own.
You are just really listening and empathizing and validating with the emotion. That is huge for a relationship and huge for us personally to be able to have a space to sort of vent and process. Making sure you know you talk to one another and ask for help you share how you are feeling and what you need and you try your hardest to meet one another needs when you can. You know both of your sort of taking to rest allowing one another to rest even if it is just ten or twenty minutes a day.
Giving each other a bit of time alone and like I mentioned earlier you know massaging one another. My husband and I take turns giving one another a little massage and that can really help just distress individually and then connect.
KRISTEN STRATTON: I love that you talked not dumping your day on your partner before bed. I actually had to implement the staying in our house we call fluffy cloud time which means if it is not light it's not airy we are not going to talk about it because my husband has a really serious case of foot and mouth disease and so we would be really about to fall asleep and he will lean over in the bed and be like so how much do you think is nice in savings? Do you think that is enough? What if this happens? And I would literally look at him with the stare of death because he knows that my brain the way it works means that I would be thinking about stuff pretty much the rest of the night because I can't turn off my brain the way he can. So we had to institute within three months of our marriage I was like I call fluffy clouds like if it is not funny if it is not nice to hear that a lot to talk about it.
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: Right yes I think it is important for couples to have a set time, okay let us talk about all of our stresses and then you move on to something lighter and connecting like one of the moms was talking about like playing video games you know something a little more fun and light to distress and relax.
KRISTEN STRATTON: So Kimberly what happens despite our best efforts mom is still struggling and her partner and her social circle they don't know what to do?
KIMBERLY PANGANIBAN: You know if mom has recognized something doesn't feel right and they are trying different things and they talked and nothing seems to be getting better really that is a sort of time to consider you know therapy or some medication management at that point in time. If you are unable to do an enough at home between the two of you and social support to really help, I think seeking professional treatment is the next option.
KRISTEN STRATTON: Thank you so much Kimberly and our parents for sharing your stories with us and for our newbie's club members this conversation will continue after the end of the show as Kimberly will share about when we may need to let some friendship go after we become parents.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay before we wrap up our show for today we do have questions from one of our listeners to our expert and this comes from Jaimie and Jaime wrote to us I believe via Facebook. She said “my two months old will only stay quiet for few minutes after I put her down then she starts crying. I try everything to try to settle her down but she won’t stop crying until somebody picks her up again. I feel like my arms are about to fall off what can I do?”
NINA SPEARS: Hello I am Nina Spears also known as the baby check and I am a certified baby planner, bath doula, postpartum doula, massage therapist, childbirth educator, newborn educator and CEO of the baby check. Jaime asked a very good question. I'm sure Jaimie you have tried everything from a sound machine to swings, to bouncers and more to soothe your little one. If your little one continues to refuse to be put down yet you still need to get something’s done around the house, I mean what mom doesn't have a to-do list?
I highly recommend to starting baby wear. Your little one might not like it in the beginning but I am sure she would prefer that over being put down. Most little ones prefer being won and being close to their mothers rather than being put down if they really want to be held. Once she is in a good position, her legs either in a foggy position if she is a newborn or her legs around you to protect her hips then you can have your hands free or really give your tired arms a break. I highly recommend a good wrap sling or a carrier to wear. I think that you should visit your local baby store and baby boutiques to try on different ones to see which one you and your baby prefer. I hope this helps for more tips during pregnancy, birth, and parenting you can check out my site www.baby-check.com. Thanks so much.
KRISTEN STRATTON: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Newbies.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
Thank for listening to Newbies. Your go to source for new moms and new babies.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
SUNNY GAULT: How would you like to have your own show on the New Mommy Media network? We are expanding our line-up and looking for great content. If you are a business or an organization interested in learning more about our co-branded podcasts, visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com.
[End of Audio]