Post-Breastfeeding Depression

I didn’t become depressed immediately following my daughter’s birth. And I wasn’t depressed in the many months that followed. I thought I was in the clear for PPD, but then all of a sudden I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I was waspish, I felt helpless to control my irritability, and I was angry. Really, really angry. As if I had a rage constantly bubbling beneath the surface and it was all I could do to contain it. The biggest red flag was one weekend when I was being particularly critical of my husband, and then watching my daughter play I began instructing her to play another way because I felt she was playing wrong. I reeled back at myself and I started researching PPD. This is what I found. Continue reading

For Those About to Pop, We Salute You.

There are tons of blogs with long lists of things for women to do before baby arrives. This is one such list.

I read a lot of these lists pre-baby and really benefited from their suggestions. I wanted to compile not only the advice I followed and liked, but also advice I wish I’d followed. I came up with a LOT of advice, so I’ve categorized it for you. Without further ado:

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Beat the Heat

Alright, it’s freaking hot out there. And humid. And the A/C in my car is on the fritz. It just can’t get any better than that, right?

So I’ve been trying to find ways to beat the heat in all this crazy weather. We’ve recently been having 85-90 degree days and a thunder or rain storm every evening to ensure humidity for the following morning. Since pregnancy has somehow turned an always cold person like me into a constant oven, I figured I’d share some of my own tips on staying cool.

Hydrate. Yeah, everyone tells you, I know. You know. I know that you know. But drinking water and other healthy hydrating beverages will get you through the season alive. Soda may hydrate you, but I find that personally it makes me feel bogged-down. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body, while Gatorade hydrates without making you feel too washed-out. It’s important to replenish electrolytes as well. Remember, 64 oz. of fluid daily plus 8 oz. for every hour of strenuous activity. I personally include a full day of errands in the “strenuous activity” category.

Wear as little clothing as is necessary. I know it sounds weird, but if you can get away with wearing a single sundress over your underwear, don’t bother with the jean shorts. Short leggings under sundresses have been my saving grace so far. When I go into work I’m required to wear a dress code that includes pants and a shirt that doesn’t breathe, so I’ll often wear different clothes to work and change there. It’s a little time consuming, but beats having a heat stroke in the middle of the parking lot.

Plan your outings as much as possible. I know you have to make those OB appointments in advance (and all the other appointments that have been tacked-on thanks to pregnancy), but if you’re planning on running errands try to sum them up in a day or two. Plan to run them in the cooler parts of the day, and check the weather forecast as well as your schedule before you set your date. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing groceries in the evenings with my husband. His car has air conditioning, we get to spend time together, he picks out plenty of what he likes to fix for dinner so I’m not always cooking, and I’m not carrying groceries up three flights of stairs on my own. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.

Exercise, but be smart. I find that if I spend around 20 minutes exercising daily in a way that gets my heart pumping and my body temperature slightly elevated I feel much cooler the rest of the day. Be smart about how you exercise: nothing too exerting or overheating. Yoga, household chores, and swimming are all great ways to exercise while staying cool. If you ever feel faint take care of yourself immediately; the workout can wait.

Use Sunscreen. I’m not sure how every pregnancy book I read warned about skin being sensitive to touch, changing pigment, and the possibility of rashes without even mentioning how easy it is to get sunburned. It’s really, really easy. Just spending a few hours outside in indirect sun in spring I got a terrible red sunburn. And nothing makes your temperature rise quite as fast as burning skin. I’ve always been an spf 30 gal, but now I wear spf 50 in addition to staying in the shade and donning big hats. It helps.

Keep an emergency kit. Getting dehydrated is dangerous and heat stroke is more dangerous still. Keep an emergency kit in a giant mom bag or cooler. I include water, Emergen-C packets, Gatorade, saltine crackers, and a portable cell phone charger. The water, Emergen-C, and Gatorade re-hydrate and the saltines help with nausea and shakiness. The phone charger ensures you can reach help in case of emergency. Make sure you have multiple waters and/or Gatorade. To fully re-hydrate you should drink more than what you’ve lost.

Relax. Don’t spend any more time outside than is necessary, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. Even when you’re inside, take it easy. Prop up your feet, take naps, take showers, have a few Popsicles or some ice cream.

Get somewhere air-conditioned. Even if you don’t have A/C in your home there are plenty of public places where A/C is readily available. Movie theaters, libraries, shopping malls, grocery stores, retail stores, and restaurants should have capable air conditioning units. Aim for a restaurant or movie theater if you can since you’re not expected to do much moving around at those locations. Public libraries have always been a great place to keep cool in the summer, too. If you can make friends with someone who has air conditioning and doesn’t mind your regular company, by all means take advantage of their hospitality (and be sure to send them a thank-you card).

Carry a spray bottle. Okay, this one was a little strange to me, but it’s recommended on quite a few sites so I should probably include it. Carrying a squirt-bottle (one with a fan if you’re fancy) is a quick way to cool down. You could also add essential oils like mint for that extra cooling sensation. And if anyone starts wearing your nerves you can just spray them away like I do to my cats when they’re naughty.

Learn the signs of Heat Stroke. I found this great website that provides signs and symptoms of heat stroke. It also talks about heat exhaustion and heat illness, which can lead to heat stroke. I’ve had heat exhaustion before and it’s absolutely no cake walk. It really wipes you out and even when I was young it took a full day for me to recover. Now it would probably take me around a week to recover being pregnant, but still young. The above website also walks you through first aid and what not to do. Remember, if for any reason you lose consciousness with symptoms of heat stroke, call an ambulance asap. It is worth whatever cost to ensure your health and the health of baby.

No One Ever Told Me: The Official List

The “No One Ever Told Me” List: Pregnancy edition. I’ll be making a labor/delivery and postpartum edition too, but we’ve got a few months for that yet. At the top of this list is the stuff I was personally impacted by. The lower you get, the more you get into stuff that barely touched me or which I’ve thus far evaded completely. I don’t make this list to scare women away from pregnancy, but just to give you a heads up.

Unless you’re a flippant teenager wanting to get on MTV. Then you should read this list with horror. HORROR!

I had a manager who once suggested pregnancy test commercials look more like this than happy middle-aged women.

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