By Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Female Hormone Specialist
Postpartum depression is a very serious Women's Health condition that is impacting many moms at an even worse rate than ever during the Pandemic. Please check on the new moms in your world as many are dealing with a lack of postpartum support from their friends and family.
Sofia asked that I share her battle with postpartum depression in the hopes of helping any other moms struggling. Sofia is a 37-year-old new mom that gave birth and quickly recognized after the birth of her baby, that Sofia was not her normal self, and her husband called to schedule her an appointment with me out of deep concern for her hormones and mood. He said, "Can you please check her hormones and vitamins, I am really worried!"
Upon testing Sofia’s hormones and vitamins I discovered she was deficient in progesterone, B-12, and Vitamin D. She was also extremely anemic with a Ferritin store of 11. Her adrenal tests for DHEA and Cortisol were low and her thyroid looked deficient. Sofia was completely exhausted, crying all the time and too tired to sleep even when she had the opportunity. She felt the need to stay awake and make sure her baby was constantly breathing in and out, and she feared falling asleep because as long as she knew the baby was breathing she felt less anxiety as a new Mom. So even when the baby was napping she was not able to take a nap and relax from severe anxiety.
Despite the physical and emotional frustrations, the worst disappointment for Sofia was how she was SO EXCITED for her baby her entire pregnancy until it arrived...She had made a baby book of all the baby’s milestones and ultrasound photos and meticulously planned every perfect item for the nursery. There was nobody more prepared to be a happy Mom.
When the baby came instead of feeling happy she felt flat and disconnected. She felt sad because she didn’t feel a solid connection to her baby and that made her even more sad and depressed. She felt like she was doing everything as a new Mom WRONG. She felt like everyone was constantly judging her and talking about her. She woke up in a panic every night to make sure the baby was still breathing.
She was so depressed and anxious she was becoming paranoid and even angry at times. Prior to having a baby she had never lashed out at her husband or experienced anxiety or depression, so when I diagnosed her with Postpartum Depression, she was truly shocked. She had never even heard of it before.
Sofia asked I share her story so other women can be made aware of this debilitating condition. Sofia wants you to know “It's okay if you don’t feel bonded to your baby at first. Your body has been through a lot and this is a normal feeling.”
A lot of what had Sofia so depressed and frustrated was fighting what are sometimes normal feelings for women to feel tired, exhausted, drained, and somewhat lifeless after giving birth. Your body has been through a lot, and that is why nobody expects anything out of you for about 6-12 weeks. I would say a year as a hormone doctor for most women to go back to normal. Older moms may need 5 years! It is okay to feel like this and it is normal to some degree. What is not normal is when we don’t talk about it or ask for help.
Symptoms of Post Partum Depression:
While postpartum depression is generally not dangerous to Mothers or their Babies….I worry as a Women’s Health Doctor that it is becoming a dangerous epidemic right now along with our epidemic of loneliness. Many Mothers are struggling and functioning in survival mode every day with little support from friends and family.
We all need to be aware of this issue and offer our help to new Moms. I bring this super important subject to everyone’s attention to PLEASE reach out to moms with new babies and see if you can help. Many new moms don’t have regular help from their family and friends and are adjusting to their new life with their baby, also feeling isolated and alone. Many of my patients cannot get help from their parents because they need to isolate themselves for their own health issues.
Lately, I have had an epidemic of new moms with postpartum depression coming in and felt inspired to blog about the importance of hormone balance and checking mental health vitamins as a Women’s Health PSA.
HOLISTIC HORMONE TIPS FOR POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION:
Please share this important information on Postpartum Depression in case any of your friends or family are struggling and encourage them to see their doctor. Being a new mom is tough enough. If you have struggled personally with Postpartum Depression in the past you may also want to consider sharing your story as many new Moms are suffering and can use your support.
If you see a new Mom in your neighborhood, consider leaving a note on their door with your name and phone number and offer to help babysit if you can. You may never hear from that Mom and they may be fine and have support….but you really don’t know for sure and it is better to be safe than sorry with an epidemic of mental health issues on every doctor’s hands. I have cared for some of the same women for over 10 years and have never seen my patients doing worse with their mental health. My mental health patients are at their wit's end, and patients that normally are happy and have never known anxiety and depression are being tested to their max and living daily in survival mode. Mom's are barely surviving and rarely thriving per my own observations with my own eyes every single day.
We can all add new Moms to our list of "3 Daily Acts of Kindness" as it also will boost our own mental health per my research.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I recommend that new moms struggling with their moods have their hormones, iron, and vitamin levels checked. In addition, it is very important to develop a support team and Nutritional plan as your mood and energy will not recover very rapidly without perfect nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, family support, and fresh air.
If you need me to check your postpartum hormones set up your new patient visit on my SCHEDULE page. I am available by Telemedicine so you don't need to worry about a babysitter and can schedule your appointment during baby's nap time!
Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!