How Depression Motivated Me to Change the Postpartum Experience for Mothers Everywhere
By Natalie Telyatnikov
Founder of Better Postpartum
My story isn’t remarkable and it certainly isn’t glamorous. It’s actually quite common--1 in 5 common. Although, if we’re being honest, it’s probably even more common than “1 in 5” because so many women go undiagnosed and unreported. Just as I did, during my entire longer-than-year-long-bout of postpartum depression, which I had after the birth of my first son. I, like many others, just didn’t know enough about it, to recognize that I had it.
I knew I felt exhausted and challenged. That much was clear. But I thought I was able to rationalize all of my inconvenient emotions, like my moodiness, weepiness, and frustration, on things like: not having slept in days, or on just wanting breastfeeding to work so badly, despite the pain and discomfort. Now, I could go on and on about the beautiful, natural, textbook HypnoBirth I had with my first son, because I love reliving the glory of it. So much of it was truly beautiful. I gave birth with a midwife and a doula by my side at a birth center that was reminiscent of a charming bed and breakfast.
So why did I end up having postpartum depression?
Well, perhaps, it was because I wasn’t thinking about the inconvenient parts. The hard parts. The parts I never wanted to talk about. Like the fact that I had vaginally delivered my son ‘posterior,’ so he broke my tailbone. I hemorrhaged and tore badly, needing much stitching and suturing. The first thing I felt after hearing my son’s first cries was a needle of pitocin forced into my thigh, to stop me from ‘bleeding out,’ followed by a long painful period of receiving stitches in my most delicate places. These interruptions–both chemical and physical–can end up taking their toll on one’s entire postpartum experience.
After breaking my tailbone and losing blood from my posterior delivery, I became anemic and hypoglycemic, and my postpartum journey felt like an uphill battle from the start. From this baseline of utter depletion, I forged ahead, as many of us do, into the rough and sometimes unforgiving first weeks of motherhood. I continued to deplete myself with what seemed like endless acts of giving.
My early days as a new mom were riddled with challenges. Breastfeeding challenges, for one, caused my baby undue starvation, and myself a terrible infection-resulting illness. Troubled sleep eventually spiraled completely out of control, resulting in my development of chronic insomnia, heart palpitations, and nighttime anxiety. As a result, my mood was affected. My whole life was affected.
Being so sick and run down for so long quickly rendered me weepy and depressed. There is nothing more depressing than ill health--especially when it makes you feel incapable of caring for your own baby.
And it still puzzles me, to this day, that neither I, nor a single one of the plethora of pediatricians, OBGYNs, or any of the other specialists I came in contact with during that time in my life, thought that maybe–just maybe–given the glazed-over look in my eyes and the tear stains on my shirt, I was perhaps in a state of crisis–and suffering from depression.
No medical professional I came in contact with even so much as suggested the term, and I was conditioned to hold their opinions of me in very high regard–even above my own intuition.
Which is why, it is sadly no surprise to me, that our country is in a state of maternal health crisis. The maternal mortality rate is staggering, as are the amount of "near-misses,” and maternal deaths. We’re just not looking at the signs. Largely because we can’t look for things we haven’t learned about.
I went on to dedicate my life to making sure that no other woman would ever go through what I went through, without the proper education, support, healing tools, and a clear and easier path through to the other side.
I am now a trained doula and postpartum support specialist, as well as a certified postpartum care practitioner, who has already helped thousands of women (and counting) through my work with Better Postpartum: A platform I created so that all women could access knowledge about true postpartum support and healing from a wide range of medical and other birthing professionals–the kind of knowledge that our post-birth physiology mandates that we ALL SHOULD have–in order to ensure a happier, more healthful postpartum for ourselves and our babies during that crucial first year of life together... and beyond.
It was a long road to recovery, but I now know in my heart that everything I went through was a means to an end, ultimately leading me to my purpose in creating this incredible resource for women…a ‘one-stop-shop’ containing the wisdom of every professional that any expectant or postpartum mother would need to hear from, in order to experience the most enriching and rewarding postpartum: the sacred, small window of time they have to thoroughly enjoy their baby, on the other side of giving birth.
Because as it turns out: Postpartum recovery, hormones, sleep, nutrition… all of it can be managed.
You CAN make your body and mind work for you, instead of against you, after you give birth to your baby. And you can even live on to benefit from a more vibrant state of health after birth, than you enjoyed pre-pregnancy!
You just have to know how.
And that's what I'm here to help with.