Opening up about Postpartum

During pregnancy, many woman are faced with constant advice, labour stories, gifts… but it seems postpartum is swept under the rug. It’s time to open those closed doors and Sarah is ready!

I talked to Sarah Garnhum about her experience with Postpartum.

I’m Sarah! I was born and raised in Eastern PEI and I now live in Stratford with my little family. I’ve been at 3rd Degree since 2013 and an instructor and nutrition consultant since 2018

Sarah just days before labour!

When did you have Lily, how old is she now, what is she like?

Lily was born in October 2020 making her 10 months now! She’s the most pleasant little girl  ever. She has a glowing personality, the sweetest smile, and she seems to be a fearless little girl. 

How was your pregnancy/labour/recovery experience? 

My pregnancy was pretty unremarkable, I was very lucky to have been as healthy and content as I was! Obviously pregnancy comes with lots of aches and pains but I do consider myself really lucky. I was able to work out almost my entire pregnancy with my last workout just days before we checked into the hospital! [I have a photo of me right before giving birth at the gym]

My labor was nothing what I had hoped or prepared for. It’s hard to put into words but it was long, intense, and scary. From start to finish our induction was about 17 hours long and I ended up needing a 3 hour surgery shortly after for a postpartum hemorrhage. Once I was out of surgery, my body did amazing in recovery.  I’m lucky to have been so active for so long that I think it really played a role in my successful recovery, physically speaking.

Did you experience baby blues in the beginning? — when did you realize it was actually PPD?

Yes, I sure did! Although at the time I thought it was me processing our birth experience, and then it bled into feeding issues that made for a very unhappy baby. I think I realized about 2-3 months in that things were not right once I realized that baby blues are only supposed to last weeks not months. Once we had figured out Lily’s feeding situation, she became the happiest little baby, but I wasn’t getting better. I was very weepy, I felt huge amounts of guilt and shame, and my body just stopped sleeping. A very sweet and caring public health nurse had me come in and I did the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). My results from that screening were probably the moment I realized that I had PPD. 

You are so open about it, why is that important to you? 

Depression is isolating, pandemics are isolating. Sometimes putting something out there on social media that isn’t just another ‘happy highlight’ feels really authentic and connecting during a hard time. When you’re pregnant and everyone gives you advice for the baby, no one ever warned me about the mental health aspect that literally flipped my world upside down. The amount of women that I have had the chance to connect with about postpartum anxiety and depression shows me that this is so much more common than we see. I would have never had those conversations if I didn’t open up about it.  I never want another new mom to feel like she’s doing something wrong by seeing other mom’s supposedly look like they are breezing through postpartum and motherhood.  

Lily and Sarah <3

What type of support/routines/activities has helped the most.

I think that once I had some therapy and medication underway, I was able to start feeling like myself almost immediately. My workouts at 3rd Degree Training were also SO important to me. Afterall, the first 6 weeks postpartum was the longest I have ever gone in almost a decade without seeing my community! It’s so much more than just the workouts, it’s the community I feel so a part of. Both working out at the baby and me class was such a nice way to connect with other moms that in a pandemic is really hard to achieve. Also getting time to come workout on my own helps me to still feel like me! Its very grounding and I love getting to show my little girl that her mama is strong and active!

Any advice to pregnant women about how they can spot the signs and try their best to prevent it! 

I think the best advice I received was that I’m not an extension of my child’s happiness. That just because your baby is thriving, that it’s okay to recognize that you’re not thriving and that you need to seek out help. I think society is often so focused on a thriving baby, that we can forget to ask how mom’s are. 

If you’re a mom-to-be, recognizing when your thoughts and feelings are interfering with your daily life. Are you able to sleep when the baby sleeps? Are you able to connect with friends? Are you bonding with your baby? Do you often feel a lot of guilt and shame? Taking that screening test was such an easy way for me to really see where I was at. It’s hard to comprehend you’re struggle while in the middle of it.

If you’re not a mom to be but have someone in your life who is, really try to ask them how they’re doing. Ask them how is feeding going? Does the baby cry constantly? Are they sleeping when the baby sleeps? Give her space to express herself. I didn’t truly recognize where I was at until a nurse really probed and asked how I was.

What is your advice to new mothers who want to get back into their fitness routine?

Everything can be modified. If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Slowly, slowly work your way up. And ask for modifications from staff!

I tried really hard in pregnancy not to overdo it during my workouts. I tried to really protect my core and modify when moves were really taxing on my body. When I started back at 6 weeks postpartum, I continued to modify my workouts a lot and did what felt right for me! I love that about 3rd Degree is that the workouts are always a challenge for where you’re at in life. I can match my own intensity to the workouts and being able to modify I think helped me avoid a lot of unnecessary postpartum issues.

And she does it all for this beautiful baby girl, Lily <3