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Dr Frankhouser was shocked by her own ability to continue to conceal and deny her agony, even on her most desperate days, and now sees that her patients probably try to hide their symptoms from her too.
Six years after her first son was born, Dr Frankhouser has been able to face those fearful times and write an account and analysis of her own the debilitating condition to help doctors like herself identify the often hidden signs of postpartum depression.
Outside the door to her son’s nursery, Dr Frankhouser writes that she remembers thinking ‘what mother cannot soothe her own child for fear of her own actions?
’ That sort of self-blame is exactly what the doctor and other clinicians have to try to combat with new mothers, who want to be ‘super-moms’ she says.'You really can’t take what [patients] are saying at face value, when they’re coming to see you every week and not getting better.’Dr Frankhouser went over and over to her doctor in the months following her first son’s birth, complaining of ‘headaches.’Finally, she writes, she had the ‘out-of-body’ experience of telling her husband and then her doctor what she was going through, after crying herself empty.
Even if they don’t want to watch you in public, they still expect you to be able to do it,’ says Dr Frankhouser.
Most estimates say that about five percent of women are physically unable to breastfeed, but in one recent study more than 90 percent of mothers had trouble breastfeeding, at least immediately after their babies were born.
I tell them that they can supplement, their baby can have a bottle and it’s okay.’Once Dr Frankhouser accepted that it was okay to experience PPD and to bottle-feed her baby, she got the help she needed and started taking antidepressants.
Fast-forward six years, and Dr Frankhouser and her son are happy and healthy.In a newly-published account and ethnographic study of her experience, she writes of the clear memory of being ‘forever changed by bringing my son into the world,’ and the joy of bringing a happy baby home.Through examining her own PPD, she identified four themes in ‘the cultural ideologies of intensive mothering and the stigma of mental illness: essentialism, failure, shame, and avoidance.’She says that the ‘essentialism’ of the intensive experience of early stages of mothering is perhaps under-addressed.‘A big one for mothers is how connected they are with breastfeeding.It was never successful for me,’ says Dr Frankhouser.For the first month after her first baby was born, she hardly slept, pumping every three hours around the clock, just trying to be able to feed her son with her own milk.'It’s terrible to feel like you can’t pull it off, when society tells you [that] you should be able to.But that’s not the mother I feel like I should be.’That fear, ‘of society labeling a woman as a bad mother can lead to shame and avoidance in seeking treatment,’ Dr Frankhouser writes.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating