Birth of Child Brings Mix of Emotions for Parents

By Ashley Hinson, Anchor/Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The birth of a baby can mean the whole gamut of emotions. From the joy and excitement of adding a new member of your family, to fear and anxiety, sometimes the emotions can get in the way of enjoying being new parents.

Steve and Sarah Miller have welcomed both son AJ and daughter Summer in the past few years. “Really no complications with either pregnancy,” Sarah tells us. “They were good pregnancies, both full term babies.” But adding to their family meant added emotional stress as they became new parents. It wasn’t long after she got home with her son that Sarah knew, something just wasn’t right. “I had a lot of anxiety which as a new mom, you know, happens at times, but this was anxiety to the point where it wasn’t functional.”

She also lost her appetite, and had outbursts of tears. “I’m definitely an emotional person, but definitely within reason. I mean, before I had my children I wasn’t calling my husband at work crying every day,” Sarah says. She suffered from Postpartum Depression not once, but with both babies.

St. Luke’s Mental Health Counselor Karol White says while postpartum depression can affect 10 to 15% of new moms, many new parents will deal with the “baby blues.”

“Mom’s hormones are settling down and all that good stuff, and there’s a lot of kind of just tearfulness and irritability,” White says. “Throw some lack of sleep in there, and it all gets pretty messy for a while.” Adding to the family can frustrate not only mom ... But new dads, too.

“Dads tend to get a little jealous of baby, because baby becomes mom’s priority, especially if it was just mom and dad before.”

So what can you do if you’re dealing with the mental health challenges associated with becoming a new parent? Therapists say the best way to take care of your children is to take care of yourself.

“Figuring out the balance of everything,” says White. “There’s nothing wrong with asking for some help.” White also recommends calling Grandma, the neighbor next door, or your best friend. She says calling someone to come in and give you a break can be a real help for a stressed out new parent.

The Millers, facing panic attacks in addition to diaper changes and feedings, focused on getting Sarah help. “I was just getting worse and worse, at which point I decided I need to try this, and I had never been on medication in my life.”

Her husband said it was scary, and it got worse before it got better. “It was good to see her not quite as upset all the time,” says Steve.

White says becoming a new parent is a joyous time, but it’s also a major lifestyle change. “The reality of fussy babies, and oh yeah, I haven’t slept in 3 days. We really tend to forget that part of it. Let’s talk about reality. And sometimes, it’s a straight up grief process.”

And the Millers, having figured out a life-balance with their babies, are now healthy and happy, in body and in mind.

And you can find more information on the support group Sarah Miller attended to help deal with her postpartum depression by clicking here.

You can also find out more information about postpartum depression by clicking here.
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