Meet Molly B., a mama who reached out to us on Instagram. Molly is a stay at home mama to her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Harrison. She shares her love and passion for wellness and holistic health through her Instagram.We had to share her inspiring #MyHealthyHappyPostpartum story in her own words. Do you have a Healthy, Happy Pregnancy or Postpartum story to share? Email us at mamas@whole30.com or connect with us on Instagram.

Please note: This is Molly’s experience, in her own words. The Whole30 is not a medical diagnostic tool, nor a replacement for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program. Your results may vary. If you need immediate psychiatric help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a free and confidential network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide. It is available 24/7 to contact in a crisis at 1-800-273-8255. You can call for yourself or someone you care about.

For additional help, call Postpartum Support International’s warmline at 800-944-4773. You’ll get a return call within several hours. You can also visit their website www.postpartum.net. Click here to connect with your closest coordinator to get info, support, resources, and referrals to providers trained to treat PPD in your area. Click here to read more information on intrusive/scary thoughts as a symptom of a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder.

My Experience with Pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant with Harrison, I was completely surprised. We had planned to wait a couple of years before trying for kids, so we felt a mix of excitement and shock.
Although I was grateful during my low risk, healthy pregnancy, I didn’t love being pregnant. I enjoyed feeling my son move and hearing his heartbeat, but so much of the time I felt like I was growing an alien that was morphing my body into something I couldn’t recognize. Beautiful? Yes, but also scary and sometimes downright painful!

The hardest part for me was the nausea. By week six, my “morning” sickness only disappeared when I was sleeping and lasted well through the second trimester. While I continued to exercise when my body allowed, I often veered from what I knew was best nutritionally. I began to eat only for comfort and gave into every craving.

Entering the Fourth Trimester

The moment my son was born was a completely surreal, out of body experience. My motherly instincts kicked in right away, and while I knew I loved my son deeply, I also felt a type of fear and anxiety that I had never experienced before. I thought that was entirely normal considering the fact that I was now responsible for a tiny human’s life.

The days and months that followed Harry’s birth seemed like a blur and yet seemed to drag on. I felt overwhelmed constantly and kept trying to figure out why everything felt so hard. I figured my emotional state and exhaustion was due to my lack of sleep, so I never shared the feelings I was having with anyone. I had thoughts of what leaving my family would be like, and awful scenarios would play out in my head.

I found myself imagining scenarios like my baby falling off of the changing table, leaving me childless, but allowing me to go back to when life was easier. I felt guilty for having these thoughts and barely even admitted them to myself, much less shared them with my husband or friends.

Finally, when Harry was seven months old, I gave my mom and husband a small, sugar-coated glimpse into some of the emotions and thoughts I was having. I explained that I might need to get evaluated for postpartum depression. They were both incredibly supportive. At the exact same time, I began to play around with my diet. I started to notice that on days that I consumed grains, my emotions felt controlling and overwhelming. Once I eliminated grains altogether, I almost immediately felt some of the dark clouds disappear.

I went to see my OB, and she confirmed that I was struggling with postpartum depression. I mentioned to her that I had started to make some dietary changes. She advised me to continue to be open with people around me, to seek out counseling if I felt I needed it, and prescribed a low dose of an antidepressant. I ultimately decided against taking the antidepressant, but was grateful to have my doctor’s support should it get to the point where I felt like I really needed it.

Wondering about options for treating your PMAD? Read our answers to your FAQ’s here.

Soon after, the Whole30 fell into my lap. A few days into my first reset, I began to feel like myself again, and—more amazing than anything else—I began to feel like I was finally connecting with my baby at the level I had been wanting to all along! My depression and anxiety started to subside, and I began to feel joy and those surges of oxytocin that I had heard so much about! My head felt clear, my energy skyrocketed despite the fact that I still wasn’t getting much sleep, and I even started to lose those last stubborn pounds of baby weight.  At seven months postpartum, I truly began to enjoy my baby.

Living a Whole30-Inspired Lifestyle

Whole30 taught me to recognize how foods are impacting me, physically and emotionally, and showed me how sensitive my mental state is to certain foods that I eat, even to this day. Now I choose to eat Whole30-style as my baseline diet, and I only choose to eat something not compliant when I know it is truly worth it in every way! I no longer let food control me. Hands down, my favorite non-scale victory was the disappearance of my postpartum anxiety and depression!

Whole30 gave me a roadmap to health, physically and mentally. It helped me to understand that food effects so much more than my physical being, and it provided a route to food freedom that also allowed me to listen to my body and soul along the way. Additionally, the Whole30 specifically helped us continue breastfeeding by increasing my supply and decreasing the amount of gas and stomach upsets Harry had … definitely a win! Throughout my depression, I thought about giving up breastfeeding a few times, but Harry and I stuck with it until he was almost two.

My Advice for Postpartum Mamas

Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and get a support system in place, even if it’s just one person. Find that one person who you know you can be brutally honest with about your feelings and SHARE!

Oh, how I wish I had been honest about how I was feeling so much earlier on! Be kind to yourself as you undertake the amazing task of motherhood. I like to recognize five moments daily where I succeeded. And lastly, take care of yourself mama! Nourish your body as best you can and take some time each week, or each day if possible, to give yourself some love … a few quiet minutes alone in the bathroom to take deep breaths totally counts!