How I Avoided PPD & Anxiety the Second Time Around
Almost everyone that I know with more than one child has had their children close together in age. My husband and I decided to wait for four years to have our second baby for financial reasons. In retrospect, I think that my fear of experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety a second time around had something to do with it as well. I was worried that having a second child would take me back to that dark place that I never wanted to revisit. This is the (short) story of how I avoided postpartum depression and anxiety with our second daughter.
After three years of letting life happen, we decided to take the bull by the horns and try for a second baby. We got pregnant almost immediately, so it felt like it was meant to be. God had a plan for us. We were excited, and a little scared because we lived in a one-bedroom apartment at the time. Not to mention, we feared that my PPD would make another appearance after the baby’s birth.
Read about my first experience with PPD here.
Thankfully, my head was in a good space at that point in time and I continued to visit my psychiatrist bi-monthly. When I spoke with her about my fear of re-experiencing PPD after the baby’s birth, she assured me that it would be safe for the baby to take sertraline while pregnant. She basically informed me that, “the majority of studies done have found that women taking sertraline during pregnancy are not more likely to have a baby with a birth defect than women not taking sertraline” (https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/sertraline-zoloft-pregnancy/). In my mind, taking sertraline during the pregnancy so that I could feel healthier and be a better mother to our children was a better alternative than not taking it at all.
So, I took the prescribed amount of 100mg of sertraline per day, continued to work throughout my pregnancy, and spent time each week with other mothers who had children in the same age group as mine. Having a solid support group was essential to my well-being both during and after the pregnancy. Being able to relate to other mothers about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and seek advice from them was truly a godsend.
Another factor that eased my anxiety during my second pregnancy was speaking with my OBG-YN about my previous birth experience and putting a birth plan in place with her. She walked me through my options, and we decided that a planned c-section would meet my needs best. I realize that planned c-sections are a controversial topic but there were some risks involved with having a VBAC and this was the route that I felt most comfortable with taking. Luckily, there were no bumps in the road as far as the birth went and it was mostly smooth-sailing. (Despite my water breaking and our second daughter arriving a couple of days early).
Admittedly, after she was born, I immediately began to feel anxious during our stay at the hospital. I wasn’t getting any sleep there and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to sleep once we got home either. For me, there was a direct connection between lack of sleep and PPD. Not to mention, that the constant flow of medical professionals coming in and out of our hospital room to perform various tests, did nothing to ease my anxiety level.
And yet, all of Flora’s tests came back normal and we were discharged from the hospital a day early. I found that I could sleep with the assistance of Unisom, and I could function as good as any parent with a newborn baby. The ability to sleep the second-time-around was life-giving and so were the prepared meals that our family brought to us. Day by day, my mood improved, and I felt confident that PPD was not going to be an issue again.
All of these elements – continuing to visit my psychiatrist, taking sertraline during the pregnancy, having a strong support group, putting a birth plan in place – contributed to having an easier and less traumatic birth experience than I had with my first daughter. Which brings me to the conclusion that there is no need to waste your precious time worrying about whether or not you will experience postpartum depression again with your next child. It’s likely that you will not, but if you do, you will be more aware of your mood and know how to seek the resources and the help that you need better than you did the first time.
Stay strong, you’ve got this 💪.