Tips for talking to your provider:
- Choose the healthcare provider you are most comfortable with, whether it’s your Obstetrician, Pediatrician, Midwife, or Family doctor. Select the provider you feel you can trust and who is least likely to dismiss your concerns. Most women wait longer than they should to let their provider know how they are feeling. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to feel better. Let your provider know as soon as you become worried about the way you are feeling.
- Get information about postpartum depression and anxiety. Learn about it so you can be adequately informed and ask the questions you need to ask. Do not be afraid to talk about your feelings. Be as specific as possible. Write down your symptoms, your questions and your concerns so you don’t forget to mention anything. Bring the list to the office with you. Be sure to mention any previous experience with depression/anxiety.
- Make sure your provider knows how bad you are feeling. If some things are hard to talk about, try anyway. Let your provider know if you are having scary thoughts or symptoms that are frightening you. These are symptoms, not reflections of your ability to be a good mother. Good mothers feel bad, too.
- Do not let your fears of what they will think stop you from saying what you need to say. You will not be labeled “crazy” or a “bad mother.” Do not overburden yourself with the pressure of trying to “look good” or keep up appearances. It might feel better in the short run, but it will interfere with your recovery and may prevent you from getting the proper assistance.
- Ask your provider to check your thyroid functioning and do a complete blood count so you can rule out any physical factors contributing to your symptoms.
- If your provider suggests antidepressant medication, make sure and take the time to ask all your questions. Do not hesitate to ask any and ALL questions you have, no matter how “silly” you think they may be. This is your body and you have a right to ask all questions before you make the decision to take the medication. Also make sure you make a follow up appointment with this provider so s/he can monitor your adjustment to the meds. If you are breastfeeding, keep in mind that all medications are excreted through the breast milk, but many antidepressants have been studied and determined to be compatible with breastfeeding. Make sure your provider is well-informed and discuss all of your concerns before you decide what is best for you and your baby.
- Ask for a referral to a therapist who has special training in perinatal depression and anxiety, who can help support you during this difficult transition.
- If for ANY reason, you feel your concerns are being minimized, or not taken seriously, or judged, or casually disregarded, you are not in the right place. You can let your provider know this directly, or you can simply ask for a referral to another provider who is better able to meet the needs of postpartum women. It’s essential that you be taken care of by a physician who understands and treats the complex needs of postpartum women with compassion. You are entitled to this and it will feel comforting when you find it.
- If it would be helpful, ask your partner or a friend to accompany you for further support. This can be a good way to double check the information you’re getting and help you clarify things later, since there may be a lot of information at one time.
- Remember that even though it’s hard to do when you are feeling bad, YOU need to advocate for your best health care. YOU need to be clear about what you need and determine whether those needs are being met or not. You have the right to expect your provider to be informed and supportive. You also have the right to be an active participant in your healthcare and treatment plan.
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