Depression, Depletion, and Mourning Our Previous Life: Podcast Episode #129
Alyssa talks with Maranda Bower, Postpartum Bliss Coach, about the difference between depression, depletion, and mourning our previous life. How do our bodies change during pregnancy and how can we best support healing? You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Alyssa: Hi. Welcome to Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa Veneklase, and I am talking today with Maranda Bower. So you’re a postpartum nutrition specialist, CEO and founder of Postpartum University, and then on the last email you sent me, I saw Postpartum Bliss Coach. So I was like, all right. Let’s find out what all of these are before we get started into our topic. Let’s find out who you are first!
Maranda: Absolutely! So I actually was a doula and a childbirth educator for many years. That’s where I got started about – well, over a decade ago. And as my business grew, I started doing additional services. I started running retreats for women, particularly in pregnancy and postpartum. I opened up a mother and baby shop and had all sorts of, you know, nipple cream and breast pads and, you know, all of these amazing products for mom and baby. And then as my business grew and grew and my family grew and grew, I started talking at local organizations and started speaking at universities. I had written books. I was showing up at conferences as speakers. And things got a little chaotic because here I am with four kids. I have a multitude of things. And so I ended up shifting my business to support more people in the online space. And so I ended up not running retreats as often. I was still speaking here and there, but instead of showing up and doing births, which, you know, as we know, can take up a lot of time, and then evenings was childbirth education classes. I switched into the online world and started doing more one-on-one coaching. And, really, I felt as if, as somebody who was teaching, I was inundated in the birth world. Everything was about birth. And I knew that something else was there. Something else was missing. And that’s actually how I really started my journey into postpartum was with my own journey through postpartum depression and major anxiety. And so I really wanted to focus more on this almost forgotten period, and so here I am. I was in the online world. I started creating courses and became a postpartum bliss coach, and as that transformed and grew and grew and grew, I created Postpartum University, which is not only teaching mothers about how to heal their body in the years after having a baby, but also teaching providers how to care for women better in the postpartum period and beyond.
Alyssa: And so as a postpartum nutrition specialist, is that what you’re talking to providers about? And then is a postpartum bliss coach like a certification that you went through, or is that like what you kind of just call yourself with the trainings and certifications that you have?
Maranda: Yeah, that developed after taking numerous trainings and certifications. And I felt like, you know, postpartum is one of those chapters at the end of the book. It’s not. You know, nowadays, we are seeing more and more certifications pop up for people who want to specialize in postpartum care, but a decade ago, that was not in existence. And so when you learned about postpartum, again, you were picking up pieces here. You were picking up pieces there. I was talking with medical providers, and I was talking with midwives, and I was having conversations with women in the grocery store, right, and working with my own clients, my birthing clients. Just really understanding what’s going on here, what was lacking, and in my own personal journey through postpartum and through healing, right? I mentioned I had postpartum depression. I experienced postpartum anxiety severely. It really – I mean, I lost my relationship. I ended up having to move back in with my family. It was debilitating. I later had more children and ended up with postpartum bipolar. So I have experienced quite a range of my own, and through my own healing, have really recognized the significance of postpartum nutrition and many other factors related to postpartum that are necessary for healing that we’re not talking about in our society, that we are not engaging women in, that we’re not supporting women in the least bit. So as someone who is a – so I have numerous certifications and degrees. Many focus on nutrition and really honing in on that, making me, you know, the postpartum nutrition specialist, has really fueled that title. But the postpartum bliss coach is more of an umbrella term where, you know, there’s so many more trainings that I have done. Really, there’s more trainings that I have created and alongside other organizations that many of the experts here are taking; many of the doulas are taking, that I’ve helped create and develop. Again, like I’m giving away my age here, but I’m old. This was something that, you know, didn’t exist before, and I’m so grateful that it exists now. But then, I had to kind of create what we see now. That’s essentially what happened. You know, the postpartum world is something that I helped develop over the last decade that wasn’t there. So now we have these tools. Now we have the ability to learn about postpartum nutrition, how to support women in better sleep, how to balance the hormones, and how to do so naturally in a way that feels really good for not just the mother and her partner and her baby, just the family unit as a whole, the community as a whole, and really bringing ourselves back to the basic and taking back postpartum.
Alyssa: So let’s talk about – our topic is going to be understanding the difference between depression, depletion, and then mourning our previous life, which I feel like we could probably do three different podcasts on each of those, but that’s one of the things. Now, when that topic came up, is that something you’ve written about, or is that something – are those topics you teach about?
Maranda: They are. I talk about these often, and these are really what I work my moms through when I support women one-on-one and when I’m talking in my private groups. These are some of the topics that I absolutely teach on, yeah.
Alyssa: So you suffered through postpartum depression. I guess as a mother who went through that, how would you define that, and how would you say that that’s different than just feeling depleted, because that’s not just an early postpartum – I mean, I – my daughter is 8, and some days I feel depleted. And then mourning your previous life; I feel like that is a little bit more earlier postpartum because we eventually get our groove back, right, and feel like we’re somewhat of the person we were before, but we will never be that same person again. It’s kind of you walk this tightrope of, I know I’ll never be that single woman with no kids, but I also have this newfound love and joy as a mother, but how do I meld the two, I guess. Or do you find that most women just need to completely separate and put it into two different boxes? Like, this is who I am, and this is who I was?
Maranda: Yeah, it’s actually really interesting when it comes to mourning your previous life. I think we – you know, yes, that often comes up in the very beginning, but for many, it lasts a very long time because so many of us are not supported in a way that we truly need to be supported, and we take on so – I mean, there’s so many shifts and so many changes and so many demands from raising a newborn and learning how to breastfeed if that’s something that we choose to do. All of these components, right? The responsibility of that is enormous, and oftentimes, we do go into almost this mourning, but we’re not able to really focus on it. We’re not able to allow it to complete its journey. We’re not able to feel the feelings, right, and allow it to get out of us. And this is why oftentimes we see women who are two to three years postpartum, right? They’ve got a toddler now. They might even be pregnant with the next. But they have an opportunity with a child who’s becoming a little bit more independent to step back from the situation. And then we often here, oh, my gosh. Who am I? What am I doing here? Like, how did I get into this place? What am I feeling right now? We have this complete and utter, like, crisis within us, and we see that fairly typically at that, you know, two to three, maybe even four-year mark. And that is really where we have to step back and be like, oh, my gosh. Like, this is – I was in a whirlwind. I didn’t have any support. I’m absolutely depleted, and I don’t even know what I like anymore. I don’t know who I am anymore. Who is this woman? And then that’s the opportunity where I see a lot of women come in and say, oh my gosh. That life I used to live is no more. And now we are able to finally grieve, and we are able to mourn what we feel we have lost before having children.
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at email@example.com, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Maranda: So, you know, again I think that, yes, many of us – not all – will feel that mourning period in the very beginning, and many of us – again, not all – will actually feel that more so later in the years after having a baby. And so I think it’s really important to recognize that because mourning oftentimes looks like depression. It mimics depression and those symptoms, right, where we’re weepy; we’re exhausted, and we’re thinking about, this is so hard, and what if life was like this, and I wish I could just go to the movies. We’re frustrated. We’re angry, maybe even at our baby, at our partner, at ourselves. And so a lot of those mourning symptoms oftentimes resemble depression, and they are not the same. They’re not the same at all.
Alyssa: I think another question, a big piece of that, is that word support. So if – and maybe that’s why it kind of hit me in the beginning and then kind of went away, because like I said, I got my groove back, right? I kind of felt like I’m my old self, but I’m just a mom doing these things. I think in my head about my support system, and I was fully supported. So I probably went in and out of that transition much quicker than some. But that might be also a key component of, it can look like depression but it’s not, because sure, being supported could help depression, but not in the same way that it could help mourning.
Maranda: Absolutely. Absolutely, for sure. And support is necessary in all of these components, right? Whether or not you’re mourning or you’re going through depression, anxiety, whether or not you’re going through depletion. Depression is one of the most misdiagnosed mental health issues that we see today because of two really key components, one being trauma. We misdiagnose women all the time as having depression and anxiety when, really, they are struggling with birth trauma or even pregnancy trauma or postpartum trauma. And we don’t get the full story, right? The other key component of that is depletion, when we are literally depleted of key nutrients that our body needs in order to function. And this is something that I speak on quite frequently, but there’s multiple vitamins and minerals that our body needs, and when we’re in the postpartum period, we digest differently, especially in the very beginning stages, and that different digestion really changes the way we get nutrients, and if we’re not eating meals that are supportive of that change in digestion, we’re going to lack even more. And we’re lacking – you know, you can eat the meal, but if your body’s not absorbing the nutrients from it, you’re going to experience depletion that much quicker. And you’re doing it in a time where your body is needing so much in order to heal, but also support your baby and their life outside of the womb. And so there’s so much that’s required for our nutrient repletion and so very little that we give women. And it’s often, looking at the statistics, really frightening to see how many women who are diagnosed with depression – I mean, this is statistical data – where, really, it was severe deficiencies within on a nutrient level that was causing that depression.
Alyssa: So when you talk about depletion, you are talking about physical, like with nutrients. But my brain went to depletion as in, I’m emotionally depleted. But, really, doesn’t nutritional depletion also lead to emotional depletion?
Maranda: Absolutely, hands down. They are very, very interrelated. If your body is emotionally depleted, most likely, you are nutrient depleted. Almost 100% guarantee. Because that nutrient repletion – the nutrients that you need run every function in your body, including hormones. You can’t balance hormones without nutrients. And so we often think, oh, well, I’m out of balance with my hormones. I’m just a hormonal wreck. We hear those things all the time. Well, I’m just not feeling good because I’m a mother, and I’m supposed to be depleted because I’m a mother, right? And that’s not the case, and if we actually focus on nutrient repletion and eliminating that stress from the body, we would allow the body to produce the hormones that will support us even more. And of course, there’s more to the story, right? Our thoughts greatly influence this. Our support systems influence this. If we’re never catching a break and we’re constantly go-go-go-go-go-go, of course we’re going to burn out emotionally, as well as physically. But you can’t feel better emotionally if your body is not able to feel better physically. That piece is absolutely required first before you get the other pieces together. Which kind of a catch-22, right? Like, if you’re emotionally exhausted and feeling depleted emotionally and you don’t have the support systems in place, and you’re constantly on the go-go-go, then focusing on your nutrients is going to be that much more challenging. Like, I totally get it. Been there, done that. And that’s exactly what I support my clients through. But there’s so much of this story is very interrelated, and if we’re going to talk about one, we have to talk about all.
Alyssa: So you mentioned sleep briefly earlier, and I think the same thing with some of the sleep clients I work with is mental health is directly affected by lack of sleep, but then it’s kind of this vicious cycle where then you don’t get sleep, which then affects your mental health even more. Do you – what do you do with sleep for your newly postpartum moms? Because it’s such a critical part of mental and physical wellbeing.
Maranda: It is. And it really – it’s not just the first few weeks postpartum, right? It’s the first several years, and we all know, if we don’t get the sleep that we need, we are not in a space emotionally and mentally to handle the stresses and the everyday stresses, right? It’s so easy to fall into a depression when we’re in a state of exhaustion all of the time. And so it’s very – the topic of sleep is really challenging because it’s so different for every person. So, you know, I hear often, oh, well, if you just co-sleep, you wouldn’t have those issues. Well, that’s not necessarily true for everyone, right? You know, you can still have your baby in the bassinet next to you, and the definitions of co-sleeping are so different for so many people, right? And the family situations are so different. Many of my clients, they don’t have just one baby. They have three, four, five babies at home. And, you know, from toddlers to early childhood, and some are sleeping in the bed; some still have sleep issues, and the level of support is just not there, and they don’t feel comfortable asking for that support that they need. They’ll worry, and the anxiety that they feel before going to bed keeps them up at night even when they can sleep. Or their babies are waking up consistently, and they’re not able to get into a state and a rhythm of reaching that deep sleep necessary to regulate your hormones. Right? We can eat all of the nutrient-dense meals and work on supporting our body throughout the day, but if we’re not sleeping, our body can’t truly create the hormones that we need from the nutrients that you got during the day, right? It’s a vicious cycle.
Alyssa: Again, this vicious cycle where it’s so hard. A new mom would just listen to this and go, oh my gosh, I’m doomed. This just sounds impossible. And it is so hard. That’s why postpartum is such a hard time for new moms.
Maranda: I think it’s really important to recognize how incredibly beautiful this time can be, too. And we have – right now, we live in this world that is not supportive and conducive of that beautifulness that postpartum truly is. It is a transformation, and oftentimes, this transformation is something of an unknown. And when we don’t know something, we fear it. It becomes scary. It becomes something that we don’t understand, and we’re like, oh, my gosh, am I ever going to make it out alive? And the answer is yes, of course you’re going to make it out alive. And even more, it could be a beautiful thing, given the right support and the right tools. And I’ve mentioned support several times, and I hear often – I mean, we’re in the world of COVID right now. Support systems are incredibly low. We have families who don’t have any support systems, even, you know, if COVID was nonexistent, because they live far away from family or they just moved or whatever the case may be. Or they have the support systems and the family and the friends, but nobody knows how to support them. That’s really key, too. And I think that just means that we have to be even more creative in our approach, right? When I started working one-on-one with women, it was not only because that was something that I needed for my family and to step back and create and grow in a different way into this online space, but also, I created something that I desperately needed, that I desperately needed in my own postpartum experiences. And there’s so many other women, especially in smaller communities, who are asking for the exact same thing, the exact same support systems, who are – they’re just as desperate to get their hands on help. I mean, in my community, I have seen moms gather together, and they watch each other’s kids for a night. So they get at least one night a week off. They rotate meals. Everyone cooks a big batch of a meal, and they hand it off to each other. If you’ve got a group of three people, you have three major meals cooked for you for the entire week, and all you did was one. You have to get creative in your approach to finding the support systems in your life that you absolutely need. And the other component to this, too, is getting the right kind of information. And this is the hardest – probably the harder part. This is harder than finding that community and creating that community because there’s so much misinformation about our bodies as women and about how we actually heal in the postpartum period. We’re not talking about how the body changes physiologically. We just know that our body changed, right? Like every woman can ever attest to, yep, I had a body. Yep, my body changed. But nobody’s talking about how those changes took place. What happened to your nervous system, how it changes your brain, which therefore changes the way you react to certain things, the way you communicate, the way you sleep. Right? Nobody’s talking about how your gut shifts and changes and how digesting your food changes and how you want to eat other kinds of foods that support repletion of your body rather than the depletion that’s going to bring you to this very stressful state. And so we have to get into kind of the understanding – you know, it goes well beyond just support system. It also goes into finding the right information that you can use to really and truly heal your body at that next level.
Alyssa: Isn’t it great how sometimes our experiences as mothers is what drives us to do these amazing things with other moms? My business partner and I did the same thing with this course. It’s a six-week course for moms to give them the information because there’s so much out there, and how do you know who to trust and what to – you know, what do I think with all these articles I read? But I love that you’re taking that to this next step with these one-on-one coaching sessions. So is that with the Postpartum University? Is that where you do the educating and one-on-ones with clients?
Maranda: Postpartum University is actually – it’s newly being developed. We have multitude of courses that are happening right now, but it’s generally for professionals. And so our side for moms is going to be expanding here soon within Postpartum University, but Postpartum University right now is more geared toward professionals, providing the trainings that they need. And by professionals, I’m not just talking about doulas who are working in postpartum. I’m talking about nurses, midwives, doctors, chiropractors, pelvic floor physical therapists. If your audience is working with postpartum women and women in the years after having a baby, that’s the gamut. We have all of those type of professionals coming into our programs from all over the world, learning about postpartum nutrition, learning about how the body is shifting at this physiological level, and really how to support it better. How do we really help women through this? How do we provide that support in the community and the right kind of knowledge? That’s what Postpartum University is.
Alyssa: Awesome. So if anyone wants to actually reach out to you, learn more about what you do, whether this is a professional listening and wants to find out more about Postpartum University or if it’s a postpartum mom who wants to learn more, what’s the best way to reach you?
Maranda: Yeah. So you can go to my website, and there you can find my podcast. You can find my Facebook group and all of the things and connect with me there on the trainings and one-on-one support or whatever it is that you are really looking for.
Alyssa: Thank you so much for your time today. I’m so excited I got to talk with you.
Maranda: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
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