The One Thing ALL New Mothers Should Have

Having a baby is the most exciting and exhilarating time in a woman's life. Sadly, for some, this exciting time is quickly overshadowed by "baby blues" and postpartum depression.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an estimated 9-16% of postpartum women will experience postpartum depression. That may sound like a small number, but when you factor in that UNICEF estimates 130 million babies are born around the world each year, well over a million new mothers are suffering from PPD, each year.  

I was one of those new mothers. I know the pain, fear, confusion, sadness, feelings of worthlessness, the darkness. I felt like such a horrible person for feeling the way did after being given such a perfect blessing. My son was beautiful, healthy, thriving. I was miserable, hopeless and fat. I spent three months in the darkness before confiding in a close friend about my shitty attitude. 

I waited three months too long. My dear friend gave me the love and encouragement I needed to face PPD head-on. She helped me understand it wasn't my fault. She showed emailed me great articles on PPD, things to look out for, and recommended psychiatrist in my area. 

She saved my life, and as scary as this is for me to say, possibly my son's, too. 

My first moments of relief from PPD came when I realized it wasn't my fault that I had PPD.  With the help of my friend and an awesome therapist, I realized I wasn't alone, a bad mother or permanently stuck in a painful darkness.

If only I would have opened up sooner.

Please, if this is resonating with you, don't wait any longer to talk to someone. Postpartum depression is real and not your fault. You did NOTHING to cause it. But the longer you wait to get help can be detrimental to both you and your newborn.
FACT: The AAP says the following are ways both mother and baby suffer: 
For mothers, PPD can: 

  Affect ability to function in everyday life and increase risk for anxiety, cognitive impairment, guilt, self blame, and fear;  Lead to difficulty in providing developmentally appropriate care to infants; Lead to a loss of pleasure or interest in life, sleep disturbance, feelings of irritability or anxiety, withdrawal from family and friends, crying, and thoughts of hurting oneself or one’s child; Be particularly problematic because of the social role adjustments expected of new mothers, which include immediate and constant infant care, redefining spousal and familial relationships, and work role. 
           Children of mothers with PPD can:
  Become withdrawn, irritable, or inconsolable;  Display insecure attachment and behavioral problems;  Experience problems in cognitive, social, and emotional development;  Have a higher risk of anxiety disorders and major depression in childhood and     adolescence. 
Fathers can also be depressed in the postpartum period, especially if the mother is depressed or if the father is not satisfied with the marital relationship or with life after the birth of the child.
According to the Mayo Clinic: 

No one should suffer from depression alone. 

Becoming a new mother is scary business. Having someone call to check on you, not the baby, but YOU, goes a long way to a new mother. I know, it meant the world to me. That's why if I could give one thing to every mother, it would be a Postpartum Buddy. What's a PPD buddy, you ask? A postpartum buddy is someone who is designated and educated before birth to monitor the new mommy for PPD.  

The PPD BUDDY guidelines:

1. A postpartum buddy (PB) should not be a partner/spouse. Becoming new parents is tough; both are dealing with a lot. Plus, Men can get PPD, too! What good are two depressed parents? And, no offense guys, but in my experience, men aren't always so great at understanding depression; they kind of just chalk it all up to bitchiness.

2. The postpartum buddy should be someone the new mother trusts and can be fearlessly open with. 

3. Prior to delivery, all fears about PPD should be discussed with the PPD Buddy, and an action plan created. The action plan should include what to do in the case of PPD, and include the doctor's office number and address, so the PPD Buddy can not only make the appointment if need be, but also drive.

4. The PPD Buddy understands this is a serious job. She needs to call/visit  momma regularly and ask important questions. PPD Buddies HAVE TO stick to the new mother like white on rice until all concerns about PPD are gone. 

5. MOST IMPORTANT!!! The Postpartum Buddy gets mama out of the house regularly the first few weeks; even if it's just once a week to help her renew, take a break and breathe. This is also a chance for the PPD Buddy to assess the new mommy without the distractions of a newborn. Make this time light, easy and as fun as possible. TIP: New mother's don't get to eat their food hot very often, so lunch might be a great option. 

My hope for the Postpartum Buddy idea is that it will save at least one mother and her baby from suffering. If the line of communication is open before PPD begins, then hopefully the new mother will understand that having PPD is not her fault and that with a little help, this too shall pass. 

Please, if you know a new mother, call her and be her Postpartum Buddy. 

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit