A Pre-Postpartum Checklist
by Rose Cohen
Nothing compares to
the joy (and relief) of welcoming a newborn family member. But the weeks
after delivery are daunting-and hold some special pitfalls when MS is
in the mix.
- The breastfeeding
decision: Whether yes or no, don't let anyone guilt you
Women differ and so does their MS! Have a thorough discussion about
nursing with your own MS doctor. Healthy, well-adjusted babies can be
raised on bottles. Today's formulas are easy and nutritionally superior
to those of old. On the other hand, the advantages of breastfeeding
to an infant are real. A breastfeeding consultant may pave the way to
a good adjustment.
The "mother instinct" is a myth. Parenting is learned. Make
time for classes in infant care-and connect with friends who have young
kids. (A good pediatrician is vital, but you need another parent for
heart-to-hearts about the weird stuff.)
- Fatigue: Absolutely
plan to have help
"How can one little baby take up so much time?" You'll believe
it only after you've lived it. It takes weeks for a new mother to regain
her normal strength. Meanwhile, even the most easy-going infant shreds
sleep, disrupts mealtimes, and produces laundry in Alp-like dimensions.
Add the unique fatigue of MS and be assured you will need help. Whether
help comes from family members, volunteers, paid houseworkers, baby-care
professionals, or a combination of all four, create a schedule with
a division of labor and realistic limits.
MS might increase the odds
The risk of depression is high in MS. Plus, depression goes hand-in-hand
with post-pregnancy hormonal shifts. An estimated 70% of new mothers
without MS have bouts of feeling blue, angry, and anxious within a few
days of birth. One out of 10 moms who do not have MS develops serious
postpartum depression. Persistent feelings of inadequacy, irritability,
lack of interest in the baby, or over-concern about the baby are among
the signs that your hormones have hit you up. If negative emotions fill
your space, call your MS health-care provider. Untreated depression
can be deadly. Treatment can restore balance and joy.