I’m going to get a little personal here. Because I understand it’s important to discuss ‘touchy’ topics knowing it will relate to other mothers.
Before I dive deep into this discussion and personal story, I am in no way a medical professional, nor do I believe my body has yet to regulate itself on a hormonal level. This is in reflection of my current state, regarding my own mind and body, as I am just past 1 year of delivering my second child and only a few months after ending my breastfeeding journey.
There are moments where I don’t know if I’ll ever ‘feel’ the same as I did before children, especially when it comes down to my menstrual cycle and how it’s affecting me. My premenstrual syndrome, in particular, has brought more severe symptoms than it ever did before children. What I do know is that discussing PMS Postpartum is a conversation we need to have. Because I can’t be alone in these distinguishing factors, can I?
The hormonal toll that pregnancy and delivery took on my body has been… extreme. To say the least. It has been much more intense than I could have ever imagined. Either the past generations didn’t talk enough about how delivering and growing children influenced their moods/bodies/energies, or we’re simply no longer accepting the changes. At least those changes that make us feel worse than we did prior to children. Because here I am; taking supplements, eating as much dark leafy greens as possible, cutting down on caffeine (send prayers), Google-ing symptoms that sporadically arise, downloading phone applications that track my cycle. And now, writing about my personal experience.
In the early days of puberty, I would take as many ibuprofens as medically suggested, in order to dull my menstrual cramping. Between skipping school and declining the Friday-Movie-Night-Invitations, living my life around my cycle was my norm. From the age of 13, I tried every birth control pill my General Practitioner could prescribe. I practiced yoga on Sunday mornings with my mom and sister. Nothing was working. Not even the daily meditation. So I began accepting the pain that was dealt to me.
Shortly after college I sought advice from an obstetrical-gynecologist, who quickly prescribed ANAPROX. I patiently waited for an internal ultrasound to presumably find (and hopefully remove) any additional tissue. My doctor was “absolutely sure” I had endometriosis, by the sounds of my long-term symptoms, but needed confirmation from her scheduled tests.
Then I fell pregnant.
Knowing I would be free from my periods for at least 9 months brought a joy that (I’m truly confident) is not foreign to many mothers. No more pads. No more tampons. No more menstrual migraines. No more…cramping!
Oh, was I ever ready for this break. And yes, it sure felt like a break. A break which lasted more than three years, considering two pregnancies and the breastfeeding of both children.
Though I would not classify either of my pregnancies and delivers as a walk in the park, they were much more manageable than my monthly cycles. I personally found the delivery of my first-born ‘lighter’ and less painful than most of my periods; Just to put into perspective for the reader the agony that I was in, month-in and month-out, during my pubescent and adolescent years. Even the hormonal toll breastfeeding took on me felt like an easier experience than those monthly periods.
It was such a relief!
Luckily, once my periods returned postpartum, they weren’t as painful as they were before children. The headaches during these episodes were minor; the cramping more manageable; my mood more stable; however, the days leading up to my period now bring an entirely new meaning to PMS for me. It’s left me absolutely perplexed, curious, and at times, frustrated.
Yes, I know my hormones are still fluctuating due to the fact that this is the first time in four years that I have not been pregnant, or breastfeeding. Which means I haven’t been too concerned with how irregular my cycle is. However, this little window of time, between where our bodies are getting ‘back on track’…for lack of a better word…sucks!
If your PMS symptoms reach a level of severity which become hard to manage it’s important to rule out, with your medical professional, that you are not experiencing PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Understanding Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (hyperlink: http://postpartum.org/2015/07/understanding-premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder/ ) from Pacific Post Partum Support Society, state that only 2%-6% of birthing mothers experience PMDD. This could still be a factor faced by an individual experiencing heightened PMS symptoms, like myself.
Speak with your Doctor if your symptoms become unmanageable.
Being able to open up the conversation about PMS, menstrual cycles, and beyond, is so incredibly healthy and helpful for those who experience these bodily affects. As mothers we should never feel shame in how drastically our bodies and minds change once we deliver children. Though the hormonal effects are never excuses, they do contribute to our day-to-day lives and interactions. With the adjustments that come along with motherhood, we’re also left to manage our new cycles until they stabilize. If they ever stabilize.
Well, I’m personally not holding my breath, as I continue to wait for Aunt Flow to arrive. Will it be this week? Possibly: My stomach feels quite bloated. Will she make a surprise visit in the middle of the night sometime next month? Who knows? That’s usually when I’m up to breastfeed the baby. So maybe she’ll arrive in lieu of the expected breast milk.
As my body adjusts to its new normal, I will salute and honor all the work it has gone through in order to provide me healthy children.
But this whole postpartum PMS thing…?
Words by Julian Jamie