Postpartum depression

As a personal trainer, I was often hired right before or after a major event, such as a wedding, a high school reunion, a cruise, while planning for a baby and after baby was born.

Training women post-baby is great because their weight comes off usually so effortlessly that it makes exercising more rewarding to both the client and I.

I had this one client that lost weight so fast that it concerned me. I asked her to please go see a doctor because she shouldn't be losing five pounds a week, when she wasn't incredibly overweight to begin with. Turns out that even though her baby was only two months old, she was pregnant again! Her poor body was basically handling a lot with breast feeding, exercising and growing a new person, and was therefore eating away at the fat. A few months later this client gave birth to the most adorable and incredibly girlie girl, whose first word was "shoes."

Another client, whose exercise routine consisted of very high intensity training five days a week could not lose a pound.

She would cry every day. She would throw the hand weights on the floor, enraged. She would say she hated her baby and made such comments as, "Look what he did to me!" or "God must hate me!"

I would say mostly under my breath then vocally at first that her baby didn't do anything to her, that it was her choice to have it, anyway. When the sessions were over I would peak in the winter room, where her nanny held her baby like his mother should. He looked so beautiful and calm and helpless. I would leave her house angry and promising myself to never come back.

A few days later I would be back, however, still trying to figure out why she was so mad, so sad and seemed to me to be so cruel. I guess in my mind I just wanted to see if she was getting better and hadn't killed herself, since she mentioned often her wish to do so.

This was my first encounter with postpartum depression. I wasn't aware it was something real. Since I didn't know this woman pre-baby, I figured she just had an awful, selfish character.

I started researching about her condition after I read the book "The Female Brain" and how it changes throughout pregnancy and after. Once I realized what could be going on with this woman, I set her down one day, mid-session, after she said once again that she couldn't get close to her baby because he destroyed her body.

As I described to her what postpartum depression was, she surprised me by adopting a little girl expression on her face. I was sure she would attack me back, as she had in the past, so many times before, with any suggestion to become healthier that I made. Instead, this time she humbly listened to me and looked down at her hands. After I was finished, I handed her her cell phone, dialing her doctor's number beforehand.

I am happy to report that this woman is now one of the most loving and present parents I know. I often quote her as saying that every day she falls in love with her kid all over again. Oh, and she lost the weight, eventually.

Why the interest in it now?

A few weeks ago, someone at the prenatal yoga center handed me a pamphlet on postpartum depression. I tucked it deep inside of my purse, avoiding it and telling myself that that was for crazy people, and I am not crazy.

That is... until the prenatal blues hit me (read the post name "Blues (but not the music kind)").

In all honesty, my prenatal blues only hit me three or so times, lasting only one day, so it is nothing worth being overly concerned about.

However, when it hits, the feeling of sadness and helplessness is overwhelming. All energy is drained of me and I feel so sorry for myself that I can hardly move.

A few days ago, I was cleaning the house (a task I still force myself to do perfectly since I stopped working and want to feel productive) and as I pulled the paper towel from the closet, all the cleaning products came flying on my head.

I had been frustrated already with my lack of sleep, my back pains, my discomfort in every position, my constant tiredness, my inability to just be my energetic, normal self.

The mess I created now in the utility room brought from deep inside of me a surprisingly and reactive guttural cry, that left my husband staring at me hopeless as I set on the floor, weeping uncontrollably.

The scary thing about depression is that it really takes over the way you see the world and yourself and when it goes away, you can hardly recognize where that came from and feel shame for it.

Being a person who is often very positive and overall happy-go-lucky, it is specially scary to me when I fall on those valleys of sadness and despair, especially when they come and go so fast.

With that in mind, I had read that pamphlet and handed it over to my husband to become familiar with it.

I honestly don't think I will have a full on depression; maybe the baby blues, but you never know.

I am reading Brooke Shield's memoir on her experience with postpartum depression and she herself has never had anything like it beforehand.

In this book she mentions that risk factors for postpartum depression are extreme life changes, difficult labor, difficulty getting pregnant (especially when taking hormonal cocktails), and a history of either PMS, depression and bipolar disorder.

So let's see: I did move across the country, I did quit working, and have something close to PMDD during my cycles.

We shall see. I may come out serene on the other side. You never know. Stay tuned to find out... or not. I may hide in a rabbit hole.


  1. Before I got pregnant I was so fearful that I would suffer from post partum depression to the point I never wanted to try and start a family. Once I found out I know I suffered from sort of pregnancy depression and thankfully I found that I wasn't alone it eventually faded...and I get the blues here and there especially when I feel like I am falling apart, can't get comfortable or just miss my mom like crazy...but it truly helps to know its okay...and your not alone and to let your husband know the signs and symptoms incase it may occur. Thanks for this post. It's truly a great reminder that its okay and to open the doors to the resources that could help. Hey when do u start your labor and delievery classes?

  2. Hum, I don't think I will take those classes. Are you?

  3. Great post! Just remember you are doing everything you can - and the most important - to get informed. The ones who care about you will be always here to support and take care of you - including me :) Well, as you said people can´t totally predict or avoid it - but we can always rely on help. Anne

  4. So, imagine having just turned 22, moved to Italy, husband's ship goes to sea, no telephone, giving birth to a healthy girl then at two weeks discover that she has bacterial meningitis. Major post partum depression sets in when I return home from the hospital without my baby. When I am finally able to bring her home I sob each time I hold her realizing how close she was to death Ship goes out, no family or friends around . . . Rough few months . Can be frightening. But all turned out fine. Human body is an amazing thing

  5. Definitely take labor and delivery classes. Just like you like to read and find out about things ahead of time or as they happen. The labor and delivery classes get you prepared so you are not surprised or concerned about what is happening to you and your baby


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