Breast or bottle: your call

Breastfeeding is a much-discussed topic in our society. When we were in America for a few months, I noticed a lot of slightly obsessive talk about breastfeeding—about all the benefits of breastfeeding and how superior this natural way of feeding was. I barely heard anyone talking about the disadvantages. First of all, I want to make it clear that I’m also in favour of breastfeeding, but (and this is a major but) only within the limits that are feasible for you. I don’t think it’s right that all new mothers should be pushed or even pressured into a pattern of nipple shields, pumping, and the whole enchilada. The way that breastfeeding is often regarded as the only ‘correct’ form of feeding seems completely over the top to me.

I believe that every mother has the right to choose how she wants to feed her child. Yes, a lot of research has been done on breastfeeding and its many benefits for the baby. But there are also disadvantages, such as the stress a mother experiences if her child doesn’t get enough nutrition. Some babies don’t latch on properly, some mothers produce milk that isn’t enriched with all the normal nutrition but instead is watery, and some babies don’t drink for long enough and never get to the hindmilk. (Hindmilk is the high-fat, high-calorie breast milk your baby gets toward the end of a feed. It’s richer, thicker, and creamier than foremilk. This issue can happen if your breastfeeding doesn’t get off to a good start.) In general, people don’t speak openly about breastfeeding problems. Every mother who has just given birth wants to provide the very best for her child. In addition, the uncertainty that comes with being a new parent means that mothers can be particularly susceptible to the opinions of others, especially the women who belong to the ‘breastfeeding mafia’. I think this is a rather heavy term, so I call them the breastfeeding gurus—that sounds a bit nicer.

A pregnant client once told me that she had already decided not to breastfeed. She didn’t want any more demands on her body after giving birth and wanted her breasts to be hers and hers alone. I find this perfectly understandable. However, people in her immediate environment questioned her about it all the time: ‘Wouldn’t you like to at least try to breastfeed? It’s said to be so good for your baby.’ Once the baby was born and she was bottle feeding, complete strangers would ask her out of the blue, ‘Why aren’t you breastfeeding?’ My client was completely disconcerted by this. On the one hand, she felt guilty, and on the other hand, she wondered why people weren’t minding their own business.



I started breastfeeding right after giving birth to my oldest daughter because I felt that it was my moral duty (here we go again). I felt pressured by society, by the breastfeeding gurus. I felt as though giving my baby a bottle would mean I was failing as a mother. Why didn’t I think for a moment, What am I getting myself into? Is what’s best for the baby, also best for me? Maybe I can bottle feed as well? No, I felt I had to breastfeed. In retrospect, I don’t understand why I was so rigid about it. But when I tried to breastfeed, the drops of colostrum came out with a lot of difficulty. I literally milked my chest with a shot glass under the pump, because that way we could measure if any milk was coming out at all—three full days of ‘fiddling’! I remember this time well, our desperation mounting because our baby was losing too much weight and we were told she’d have to be admitted to hospital if she didn’t gain weight soon. Her skin was continuing to turn yellow, something that should have already disappeared, and she also became a bit drowsy. I was horrified and so anxious. When I saw that of the six drops of colostrum I had managed to squeeze out with a lot of effort and pain, at least three drops had accidentally leaked into my shirt, I couldn’t stop sobbing. I really bawled my eyes out. I was so upset that those three drops of milk went to waste, because my baby needed them so badly.

This is how I drove myself crazy. Fortunately, before I gave birth (back when I could think with a clear head), I bought a package of formula, just in case. That formula was our salvation, and I just gave it to my baby at night. I also kept on pumping during the nights. I was determined as hell. All the pumping finally paid off, because on day four after the delivery, my milk started to come in. It no longer seeped but spurted and, before I knew it, I could pump with bottles underneath the pump instead of those idiotic shot glasses. So off I went. Even though it was ‘great’ to be able to feed my child, ‘great’ was the last thing I was feeling, because I was in so much pain whenever she latched on. I know that many mothers experience this initially and then after half a minute the pain fades away; however, that wasn’t the case for me. That stinging, intensely vicious pain stayed and sometimes became even worse. What is this? I kept thinking, shocked. Do all mothers hurt so much when breastfeeding their child, or am I the chosen one forced to suffer while all the other breastfeeding mums carry on blissfully? When our midwife arrived with nipple shields, I even let myself be talked into those as well. Nipple shields can help a baby latch on better and drink more easily. I couldn’t even handle water from the shower touching my nipples, they were that sensitive. You can probably imagine that when the nipple shield came off my nipples, it hurt so much I screamed and started to cry again. Fun times.

I managed a total of three months of pumping and feeding my daughter. Three months with chest inflammation and extreme pain. Never again. With my second child, born over three years later, I bottle fed from the start. Yes, there will be people who call me selfish. Yes, there will be people who judge me and call me a bad mother. To these people I want to say, ‘Live and let live.’

My American friend was more or less forced to breastfeed by her mother-in-law. When I heard this, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Unfortunately, I hear many similar stories from my clients. Mothers, or mothers-in-law, foist themselves upon these new mothers with well-intentioned advice about breastfeeding. Even with the best intentions, because they often only want to ‘help’ their daughter (or daughter-in-law), they don’t realize that their advice often has the opposite effect, and the mother in question starts to feel more insecure about her own capabilities as a mother. It seems like that was the case with my American friend. ‘Once I switched to bottle-feeding,’ she said, ‘I hid the packs of formula food from my mother-in-law. In fact, I pretended it was expressed milk.’ It was so sad to hear that she felt the need to disguise her own choices and lie about it, too. I think every mother should be free to make her own decisions without feeling the weight of the world’s opinions on her shoulders. A new mother already has so much on her plate, let her be who she is and accept her choices. Let it be.


Facts and fictions about breastfeeding

When I was breastfeeding, I heard from many people that breastfeeding could help with postpartum depression. A Dutch website published a study by the University of Cambridge, which had conducted research among over thirteen thousand new mothers[1]. The findings showed that breastfeeding could even halve the risk of postpartum depression, that is, if all works properly and runs smoothly. But not if you experience a lot of pain and your child does not latch on properly. In the same article, they explained that if breastfeeding does not run smoothly, this can actually make the symptoms of postpartum depression worse. Not just that, but breastfeeding problems actually doubles the chance of postpartum depression occurring. In other words, if breastfeeding goes smoothly for you, there will be loads of benefits for you and your baby. If it doesn’t go well, it can cause problems.

‘The women who did want to breastfeed, but who did not succeed, eventually appeared to have the highest risk of postpartum depression of all the groups that were included in this study,’ says researcher Maria Lacovou. Like many other mothers, I hadn’t known that. This researcher recognises that ‘it is, of course, wise to encourage women to breastfeed, because of all the benefits it has. But we must not forget to continue to pay attention to those women who are unable to breastfeed while they are so willing to do so. They have such an increased risk of postpartum depression, so it is wise for maternity nurses and other professionals to keep an eye on things.’ Maria Lacovou also states in the article that the new mother’s fear of failing in the eyes of society also contributes to her risk of mental health problems after childbirth.


Just a few months after giving birth, I read about the phenomenon D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex), a condition that occurs in women who are breastfeeding. The symptoms involve experiencing such adverse emotions that breastfeeding becomes associated with very negative feelings. The moment the milk starts to flow freely toward the nipples, negative emotions are triggered—fear, anger, depressive feelings and restlessness—and can last for a few minutes. The good news is that the condition, which is caused by a disturbance of dopamine levels in the blood, can be treated. If you recognize these symptoms and think you may have D-MER, please check out the website


Stop if you need to stop

If you add up all the evidence, women who aren’t feeling mentally well after giving birth shouldn’t be pushed into breastfeeding. I think nurses in maternity wards at hospitals, obstetricians, doctors, midwives, and health visitors who visit mothers at home should be specially trained to recognize all the signs of PPD. If you’re a health care professional and you suspect that the mother in front of you suffers from PPD, please advise her to do what she feels is right, not what is expected of her by society, friends, family, or anyone else with an opinion on the matter. Unlike the women who think it should be illegal to not breastfeed, I would strongly advise women who are already depressed or who are genetically more at risk of developing depression to stop breastfeeding if it isn’t going well. Don’t get me wrong; I’m definitely not against breastfeeding and, if it’s going well, I would advise you to continue with it, for all the benefits it provides you and your baby. But if you’ve been trying for a week and it’s still not working or running smoothly, please stop. Or stop even earlier, if you notice signs of D-MER or you feel complete aversion to nursing. It’s perfectly okay to stop. Really. Stop driving yourself mad. Stop pushing past your own limits. It isn’t necessary. Children grow strong and healthy when fed with formula milk. They function perfectly well, and twenty years later, no one asks your son or daughter whether or not they were breastfed. In fact, here in the Netherlands, the quality of our formula milk is so good the Chinese are importing it to China. Not too shabby.


The benefits of formula

Although there are many benefits to breastfeeding, formula also has a lot of pros. For example, it’s full of vitamins, meaning you don’t have to supplement your child with vitamins D and K, which is sometimes recommended for mothers who breastfeed, because of certain health risks for the baby. You have less stress about whether you’re producing enough milk and whether your baby is short of any nutrients. Above all, you know exactly how much food your child is getting, because you can monitor his formula intake easily. Of course, this is also possible if you’re pumping and giving your milk to your baby by bottle, but that does mean more work for you. During the three months I was breastfeeding, I lived the life of someone feeding twins.

Another advantage of bottle feeding is that your partner can do the night feed without you needing to pump, which gives them quality time with the baby, too. It also means that you can sleep through the night and rest up. Take a moment to let that sink in. You’ve just given birth, which has a major impact on your body and mind. You’re exhausted, hormonal, and perhaps overwhelmed. You need time to rest and absorb the momentous change in your life.

Whether you opt for breast or formula (or both), it is solely up to you and your partner to decide, no one else. I just want to reiterate that I think breastfeeding is an excellent choice, but only if you make that choice. I recommend, if possible, talking through your decision with your partner before the birth, because afterward, you’ll be a bit of a mess because of the hormones, lack of sleep, and so on, and making a rational decision is hard to do in those circumstances. You could for example say, ‘We’ll try breastfeeding for five days. If it doesn’t work by then, we can switch to formula.’ Have you already given birth? No problem, it’s never too late to switch to formula.

A client once told me that she didn’t dare stop breastfeeding. It wasn’t going very well and she was feeling like a failure. I hear this a lot in my practice. So much emphasis is put on breastfeeding, and mothers feel a great sense of failure if it doesn’t work out as they hoped. My client was pumping at work and hating it. At some point she had such a low supply of milk that after weighing the pros and cons, we agreed that she would stop. She was very happy with her decision.  something she reqally enjoyed.


Meet in the middle

Of course, you can also choose the middle road by combining breast and formula and giving both to your child. There is a lot of talk about ‘nipple confusion’, that babies no longer want the breast once they’ve drunk from a bottle. There are ways you can help prevent this. For example, if you give your baby a bottle (in addition to breastfeeding), you should first gently rub the bottle over his lips, so he slowly gets used to the teat. He’ll then search and latch on to the teat of the bottle. (That’s how your baby latches on to breastfeed, as well. Your child searches calmly where the nipple is located, before latching on.) In this way, your baby will not become ‘lazy’ but will automatically look for the teat.


Als je alleenstaande moeder bent tijdens de Corona crisis

Voor de meeste moeders is het momenteel enorm aanpoten. De Corona crisis duurt nu al weken en het einde lijkt voorlopig nog niet in zicht. De meeste mama’s hebben het behoorlijk zwaar. Ineens werk je niet alleen thuis, maar bevinden alle activiteiten zich in en om het huis. Ondertussen moeten de kids gehomeschooled worden, de boodschappen en de was gedaan worden. Daarnaast kan je niet even ergens naartoe. Er is geen escape en dat maakt deze periode enorm heftig voor velen. Dit alles is voor moeders met een partner al een enorme uitdaging. Maar wat als je single mom bent en dit hele Corona debacle ook nog eens in je eentje moet zien te rooien?

Enorme worsteling voor de single mom

De alleenstaande mama heeft het doorgaans al een paar tandjes zwaarder, doordat ze de meeste dingen in haar eentje moet aanpakken. Nu we midden in de Corona crisis zitten, is dit voor de single mom extra heftig. Ik zie in mijn praktijk dat deze moeders enorm worstelen met het feit dat ze niet even iemand hebben die even een arm om hen heen slaat of hen een knuffel geeft Continue reading

Hoe overleef je de eerste maanden met een baby?

Als je net bevallen bent, ben je moe, moeier, oververmoeid. Ze zeggen ook wel, dat “moe”, van het woord “moe-der” afstamt. Ik had het niet beter kunnen zeggen. Want man, wat kan je moe zijn in die eerste maanden. Daarnaast is de hormoonhuishouding verre van ideaal en ben je som een ware hormonella. Tel daar de enorme verantwoordelijkheid die je voelt voor de zorg van je kindje(s) bij op en je snapt hoe heftig dit kan zijn. Niet alleen voor moeders, maar ook voor hun partners. Want zij hebben ineens een heel andere vrouw naast zich. Dat vraagt ook om een flinke dosis aanpassingsvermogen.

In bed met netflix

Was je eerst nog de kroegtijger, die in het holst van de nacht het café werd uitgeveegd. Nu lig je op zaterdagavond om 21.00 in bed met Netflix. Ook prima, maar net een tikkeltje anders. Je bent je ineens bewust van elk geluidje in huis, want dit kan zomaar veroorzaakt worden door je kindje en dan moet je in actie komen. Of je bent zo moe, dat je je baby niet hebt horen huilen ’s nachts. Om vervolgens om 6.00 wakker te schrikken met doorgelekte zoogkompressen en de doodsangst of je baby nog wel leeft. Om hem vervolgens tevreden in zijn of haar bedje te zien liggen en te denken: halleluja, hij of zij heeft gewoon een nachtje doorgeslapen!

Accepteer dat je leven veranderd is

Het vraagt om een enorme portie aanpassingsvermogen, als je net ouders bent geworden. Moeder worden is, alsof je eindexamen doet voor iets waar je nooit een gedegen opleiding voor hebt gedaan. En dat dan elke dag opnieuw. Dit is soms killing voor kersverse moeders en vraagt enorm veel van je als vrouw. De eerste tip is, om allereerst te accepteren dat je leven nu anders is als voorheen, in plaats van er tegen te vechten. Samen met de negatieve gedachten die je soms over het moederschap kunt hebben. Nee, je zult deze gedachten niet altijd leuk vinden en heimwee hebben naar je oude leven. Dat is allemaal heel normaal en niks om je voor te schamen. Alleen, doen veel moeders dit vaak wel en durven ze hier niet over te praten. Zo zonde, want zo blijft het taboe in stand. Dus wees alsjeblieft eerlijk over hoe je je voelt en deel dit met je directe omgeving. Dit haalt ene hoop druk van de ketel. Continue reading

Voor het eerst seks na de bevalling? Dit zijn de fijnste tips

Als je voor het eerst bevallen bent, weet je die eerste dagen even niet zo goed wat je is overkomen. Zowel mentaal als lichamelijk heeft het een enorme impact op je als vrouw. Je bent net mama geworden en moet ineens voor zo’n klein wurmpje zorgen. Daarnaast komt er heel veel op je af. Alle nieuwe dingen die je leert over je kindje, de enorme verantwoordelijkheid die daarbij komt kijken en het slaapgebrek, zijn geen kattenpis. Veel vrouwen hebben weken, vaak maanden nodig om aan dit alles te wennen. Logisch, want er is niks zo’n life changing als het krijgen van een baby.

De meeste moeders moeten dan ook niet meteen denken aan seks na de bevalling. Je wordt er vaak al heel snel in de kraamweek mee geconfronteerd door de kraamverzorgster of de verloskundige. Die vragen je drie dagen na de bevalling gerust: ”Zeg, welke anticonceptie ga je eigenlijk gebruiken? Je bent namelijk enorm vruchtbaar zo net na de bevalling.” Heel goed dat ze dit onder de aandacht brengen, natuurlijk. Echter, zitten de meeste nieuwbakken moeders hier niet altijd op te wachten. Als je foef nog beurs is van de bevalling en je hechtingen nog zeer doen, is seks not on the menu, zullen we maar zeggen

Toch ga je ooit weer een keer seks hebben. Ja echt. Je kan je er nu misschien nog niks bij voorstellen, maar ooit ga je weer eens op je partner klauteren en denk je: ’Oh ja! Seks! Dit deden we vroeger wel eens. Best leuk! Ik hoor van veel moeders in mijn praktijk dat ze het super spannend vinden om weer voor het eerst seks te hebben. Heel begrijpelijk, want er is nogal veel gebeurd daar beneden. Er is een kindje door je vagina naar buiten gekomen. Dat heeft enorm veel impact op je gevoel en je lichaam. Veel nieuwe moeders voelen zich ook alles behalve aantrekkelijk of sexy. Dus die drempel naar de eerste keer seks na de bevalling is vrij hoog. Om die drempel te verlagen heb ik de fijnste tips hieronder voor je omschreven:

  1. Plan je eerste keer seks in. Ja, dit klinkt niet heel romantisch. Dat klopt! Maar als je net ouders bent geworden, is de kans nogal groot dat jullie samen al Netflixend op de bank in slaap vallen. Dus om te voorkomen dat jullie pas in de pruimentijd aan seks toe komen, is het belangrijk dat je hier tijd voor vrijmaakt. Dit geldt ook voor stellen die na een paar maanden beiden weer aan het werk zijn en allebei full-time werken. Seks moet je dan gewoon inplannen. Daar is niks mis mee! Probeer het ook als een soort voorspel te zien. Je weet ’s morgens al dat je die avond seks gaat hebben, dus je scheert je benen (of niet) en doet je extra leuke lingeriesetje aan.
  2. Regel oppas. Als je voor het eerst seks hebt met je partner na de bevalling, kan dit erg spannend zijn voor jullie twee. Een deel komt vaak, doordat je bang bent dat je baby gaat huilen op het moment suprême. Heel begrijpelijk. Dus breng je kindje dan uit logeren. Nee, je hoeft niet tegen opa en oma te zeggen dat je graag even van bil wil met je partner, maar zeg bijvoorbeeld dat jullie een avondje samen nodig hebben. Hierdoor kan je ook beter ontspannen ’s avonds en daarna ook nog eens een nachtje ongestoord doorslapen. Ik zeg: win win!
  3. Begin er pas aan als je er klaar voor bent. Dit klinkt wellicht als een enorme open deur, maar je moet echt klaar zijn, voor die eerste keer seks post partum. Sommige moeders voelen enorme druk om weer seks te gaan hebben, omdat iedereen weer seks zou hebben na de zes weken controle bij de Verloskundige of Gynaecoloog. Niks is minder waar. Sommige vrouwen hebben pas na zes maanden weer eens seks en dat is helemaal prima. De angst dat het pijn doet, is real, dus laten we dat niet bagatelliseren. Maar laat het je ook niet te lang weerhouden. Wie weet valt het hartstikke mee. Volg je gevoel hierin!
  4. Haal voldoende glijmiddel in huis. Dit heb je namelijk echt nodig! Je vagina is door alle hormonale schommelingen nogal van slag en hierdoor maak je niet zoveel vocht aan down under. Dus sla even wat glijmiddel in en je bent ready to go. Smeer het op zowel jezelf als je partner, zodat je zeker weet dat alle facetten goed en soepel kunnen bewegen
  5. Spendeer zoveel mogelijk tijd aan voorspel. Dit is belangrijk, omdat je weer in de mood moet komen. Van luiers verschonen en kolven naar seks is nogal een grote overgang. Dus ga eerst gezellig samen (uit) eten, dim de lichten, kaarsjes aan, lekker muziekje erbij. Misschien kunnen jullie elkaar eerst even masseren, zodat jullie weer wennen aan alle fysieke aanrakingen. Neem zoveel tijd als je nodig hebt! Het is jullie feestje!
  6. Geef duidelijk je grenzen aan. Dit is een heel belangrijke tip! Het feit dat jullie zijn begonnen aan een potje seks, wil niet zeggen dat je het helemaal af moet maken. Merk je dat het niet fijn voelt of nog pijn doet? Trap dan op de rem en zeg dat je wil stoppen. Probeer het dan gewoon een paar weken later nog eens. Iedere vrouw en elk lichaam is anders, dus respecteer je eigen grenzen en doe wat goed voelt voor jou! Je hoeft je absoluut niet te schamen als het niet meteen zo gaat, zoals je op voorhand had gehoopt. Wees lief voor jezelf!
  7. Orgasmes zijn tijdelijk optioneel. Kwam je vroeger makkelijk klaar tijdens de seks? Het wil niet zeggen dat dit nu automatisch ook zo is. Is dat erg? Welnee! Grote kans dat dit straks gewoon weer helemaal als vertrouwd verloopt. Je bekkenbodem en je bekkenbodemspieren (die meedoen tijdens een orgasme) hebben veel te verduren gehad tijdens de zwangerschap en bevalling. Dus weet dat het tijd nodig heeft om te herstellen. Dit hoort er allemaal bij. Klaarkomen duurt soms even wat langer of blijft ook wel eens uit. Dit komt echt weer goed. Geef het de tijd!

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When giving birth has been traumatic for you

Many mothers who come to my practice, have had a tough or negative birth experience. I rarely speak to women who have given birth like it was a piece of cake. I find that a strange expression anyway, because what does this mean, anyway? And what kind of cake? Of course, there are also mothers for whom this was the case and for whom the delivery went nice and smoothly. This article is for the mothers, for whom this was not the case. The mothers who have had a trauma because what happened during giving birth and still suffer from that from it until this day.

The delivery plan

Becoming a mother is a big deal. For some mothers it has been clear throughout their lives that they wanted to become a mother. For others, this feeling came much later in life and with another mothers this feeling may never be fully realized. Is that a bad thing? No! You try to do the best you can as a mom, nothing more and nothing less. When the delivery finally starts after nine months, most women are very happy that the time has come. The last few weeks are often challenging for most pregnant women and they look forward to the moment where they can finally hold their baby. Usually, you have written a delivery plan together with your partner in advance, which you have discussed with your midwife or gynecologist. In this document, you often describe what you do and do not want during your delivery. For me, this was, for example, that I did not want an intern at my bedside, but an experienced and empathetic obstetrician. She was experienced. Empathically: not so much. And I got an intern at my bedside. Need I say more?

So, I might as well not have written my birth plan, to begin with. I actually think that this birth plan is very nice especially for you as a pregnant mother, so that you get the feeling that you have a little grip on the situation. Once the time has come and you are having your baby, it is often different than what you had previously thought or hoped for. For a few reasons. First of all, Mother Nature does not allow itself to be regulated by our devised rules. For example, your birth can suddenly take three days and you have to go into the hospital, even though you thought you could have a natural birth in a warm bath at home. Secondly, communication is often poor or unclear during a birth, between medical professionals and the mother and father. For example, the communications go between the medical professionals and not to the mom herself. They talk over her head, as we say in my country. When it comes to a situation that is balancing between life and death, that is understandable. But even in less critical situation, this often happens. Many moms tell me, they had an episiotomy and a cut is made, without explaining or even telling this in advance to the mother in advance. I find this unbelievable and very rude towards the patient. I mean, they cut your vagina open. Can it get more intimate then that?

Giving birth is not a walk in the park

This causes a lot of fear and panic among the mother who is going through the struggle of her life. Giving birth is not a walk in the park and poor communication often makes a huge (negative) contribution to the situation. I am not writing this to try to point belittling fingers towards the midwives or doctors. I say this, because I hope that the bad communication during child birth will improve. And that the numbers of labor trauma will decrease considerably as a result. Because, I think that is desperately needed. My husband is a trauma surgeon and he tells me often about childbirth ruptures, where he often has to help recovering, together with the gynecologist. Because it has to be done well and as a woman you don’t want to be stuck with the consequences of an injury like this for the rest of your life. Often, women do not know this all can happen in advance. In the moment of child birth itself, the intoxication of the entire situation is often so all-embracing that mothers just let it all happen. Because they are  so overwhelmed. To be left behind with a very unpleasant and sometimes empty feeling afterwards, once the birth is over and they return back home.


If I notice that mothers have a real trauma after giving birth, I continue to ask questions. For example, I ask them: what are your complaints, do you often have nightmares, flashbacks about the birth, do you experience heart palpitations, stress, anger outbursts, etc? Because this is just a small sample of the symptoms that mothers with birth trauma walk around with. If therapy with me is not enough, I always refer these mothers to a good EMDR therapist. I think this is essential to get rid of your trauma and to enjoy life and your baby again. Not that suddenly everything in your life after EMDR is just fantastic, but your life does gets a little lighter, it gets color again and you can handle motherhood a lot better. I am going to follow an EMDR therapist training next year because I think it is so important that mothers with trauma can be helped by someone who understands what this is like.

Experience Expert

I had a birth trauma myself, after the birth of my oldest daughter. I was constantly angry with the entire world and didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. When my therapist then suggested EMDR, I didn’t know if it would help me. In retrospect, it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. The feelings afterwards, the relief and no longer feeling angry or sad about my birth story, cannot be expressed in words. I can therefore recommend it to everyone! In any case, keep talking about your birth trauma. Start talking as soon as possible in the maternity week with your maternity nurse, your husband, a good friend, anyone you trust or feel comfortable with. But, also with your own midwife or doctor, Tell them that you were left feeling unpleasant after the birth. Then state your limits afterwards and tell them what you experienced as difficult and what you think caused all of that. In this way, you get it of your chest and the healthcare professional in question can (hopefully) learn from this all.

Have you noticed that you also have negative thoughts after you have given birth? Do you feel lonely and do you have gloomy moods that pass with difficulty? Do you often have nightmares and do you notice that you have angry episodes? Then please e-mail to! I know better than anyone else how this feels and I can help you!

Help! I’m a mom!

If you just became a mother, a lot will come your way. First of all, you now suddenly have this little creature in your arms, which you have felt tramping, moving and growing in your belly for nine months. For some mothers this feels very unreal, right after child birth. In addition, you are tired of the birth and you have often not slept for two nights. Add to the above, raging hormones and all the new responsibilities you feel as a new mom and you’re in for a treat. It takes a lot of getting used to for many new mothers.. You all of sudden have the enormous responsibility for the care of your baby. Something, that gives many mothers a restless feeling and a lot of anxiety. Some mothers ask themselves daily: what if something happens to my child because of something I did? New mums also don’t always like motherhood in the beginning and sometimes that can last for months post partum. Because, they miss their old life, because they lost a part of who they used to be and have to reinvent themselves completely. Maybe you were a party girl and were used to be the last person to go home at parties. Now, all of a sudden you spend a lot of time at home with your baby. And no matter how much you love your child, you sometimes long to go back to the time when you went to parties and festivals and saw the sun rise together with your partner. The thing is, most mothers don’t speak about this in public, because they don’t want to seem ungrateful or even worse: like a bad mother. Continue reading

Waarom de periode na de bevalling zo overweldigend is

De periode na de bevalling is voor zowel roze-, als grijze wolk mama’s, erg pittig. Dit komt, omdat er mega veel op je af komt als kersverse moeder. Je hebt net een heftige gebeurtenis meegemaakt (de bevalling) en dan ineens wordt er van je verwacht dat je het allemaal wel weet: hoe je je baby moet verzorgen, wat je met die vreselijke krampjes aan moet, hoe vaak je je baby moet voeden (op verzoek of routine) en dan moet je die nieuwe moederrol ook nog eens vertolken met elke dag visite over de vloer en social media die naar je lonkt. Dit laatste is voor de hedendaagse moeders veel zwaarder, dan voor onze vorige generatie. Die hadden weinig vergelijkingsmateriaal, dus deden zij maar wat en dat was prima. Tegenwoordig vergelijkt elke moeder zich met die “perfecte moeder” op Instagram en hoppa, een minderwaardigheidscomplex is geboren!

Je bent net moeder geworden en ineens heb je 24/7 die enorme verantwoordelijkheid voor je kindje. Toen hij of zij nog in je buik zat, was je baby op de veiligste plek ter wereld, maar nu is hij ineens hier! En je voelt die verantwoordelijkheid ook de hele tijd, of het nu overdag is of ’s nachts. Ik ken vele verhalen van moeders die ’s nachts met een spiegel boven hun baby gingen hangen om te kijken of haar kindje nog wel ademde en of de spiegel besloeg. Of de geschrokken nieuwbakken ouders die zich afvroegen, nadat hun baby de hele nacht had doorgeslapen, zonder om een voeding te hebben gevraagd: ”Mijn god, leeft ze nog wel?” De verantwoordelijkheid voor je kindje is enorm en al deze bovenstaande dingen zijn volkomen normaal. Continue reading

How the story began

How the story began

I’m Tilda Timmers, 38 years old and living in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Together with my husband Tim and our two daughters, Livia (6) and Emmi (2). I am a therapist for mothers specialized in postpartum depression and experience expert in this area. I’m also a writer and blogger. You can find me on Instagram @thisispostpartum or the Dutch one @geenrozewolk, which means not on cloud nine.

Almost five years ago I was in the middle of my postnatal depression. I was in a sink hole so deep, I didn’t think I would ever recover. I got sucked into my depression more and more and I felt so alone. I wondered: am I the only mom who feels this way after giving birth? The answer turned out to be: NO! After I made the first steps towards recovery I started talking to a therapist. After a couple of sessions, my head cleared up again. I saw that I was not alone in all of this.  I learned that many mothers are not on cloud nine after child birth.

Sharing is caring

I wanted to share that feeling with other mothers. If I felt so lonely and isolated. I thought to myself, there are probably a lot more mothers sitting at home with their brand new baby also feeling like this. I decided to write a blog about my postpartum depression, for these other mums who were also not feeling well after giving birth. So they would feel less alone and find some support. This blog went viral and before I knew it, it was on various Dutch media outlets. I received an incredible amount of responses. To this day, I am deeply grateful that I dared to take this step at the time. Because, I was so frightened to post this blog at the time. This is how it all started. And how the path to my work with mothers with PPD slowly but steadily unfolded. I am beyond grateful for the work that I am allowed to do today as a therapist and for my upcoming book “This is Post Partum” that will be released next June in New York. I feel so blessed that I can also share my story with other mothers and fathers. Here you can read my very first blog. I can’t believe this was almost six years ago:

Shall I do it or not?

I have doubted so long about publishing this blog. Am I going to write it or not? Eventually I decided to write it anyway. Maybe I can help at least one new mother, who is also scared to speak her mom truth. A mother who is also insecure about motherhood and if she can pull it off.

I never thought it would come to this, that I would go through a rough patch or that I would lose myself like this. When my beloved grandmother died when I was 22 weeks pregnant, I thought about the consequences. I was afraid that I would continue to feel really sad, I even used the term postnatal depression way before my delivery. Is it self-fulfilling prophecy? Or is it just bad luck? Or both? I don’t know and I probably never will. But the fact is, I have a postpartum depression. Saying this out loud remains difficult and now that I read these words black on white on my screen, I immediately get another lump in my throat.

My Livia, my cute, lovely baby girl. She is the light in our lives and the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. She fills me with love and a mind blowing feeling of happiness and joy when she looks at me. Let alone when she smiles at me, then the sky breaks open and I can hear the angels sing.

Complete hell

Everything else was black. Pitch-black. Hours of crying, an enormous list of uncertainties, the fear of accidentally hurting my baby. The list was endless. I denied it, tucked it away and laughed it away. The people who know me well, also know how well I can pretend that nothing is wrong. I’m the best actress I’ve ever known. The more jokes I make, the more you have to watch me carefully. I hide everything with my smile. And then suddenly the curtain fell. The comedian was done playing her performance. I couldn’t do it anymore.

Admitting something is wrong, was the first step. Saying “I don’t feel happy at all. And I’m most certainly not on cloud nine.”  But that’s how it is supposed to be, right? You should be happy and grateful when you’ve become a mother. You can’t complain or say that it’s so incredibly hard to be a mother. But that’s the truth! Motherhood is freaking intense ,people! Let’s not forget about the hormones that made me into a raging b****, the lack of sleep and that massive feeling of responsibility you feel as a parent. Sometimes I closed the bedroom door and said, “I’m not here.” I would put my phone on silent mode, wear earplugs and just sleep. I didn’t want to feel what I actually felt. Because, that was pretty black, I can tell you. It was the darkest page of my book called life.

The grieve over losing my grandmother added a huge amount of sadness to all of the above and eventually I drowned. I pedaled as hard as I could, but I slowly drowned. People don’t prepare you for this. Because believe it or not, despite the books that thus far have been written about it, there is a huge taboo on this subject. While once I had said it out in the open, so many women appear to be bothered by it! There are even talk groups for new-born mums with depression.

Thankful for my inner circle

I am grateful and extremely blessed with such a sweet and easy baby. I feel myself filled with love when I look at her. Hopefully, I will start to feel happy again as well. There have been days when I couldn’t handle it anymore and I honestly wanted to quit on life. I can’t look beyond the next hour or the hour after that. Thank goodness for my sweet, dearest husband and our wonderful friends who kept me going. This amazing group of people do everything to help me out and get me back on my feet again. You come towards crossroads in your life where it becomes clear who are your true friends are and which ones you should say goodbye to. The people who shouted the loudest before I gave birth: “I’m here to help you, I‘ll come over and look after the baby, do some shopping, etc.” I haven’t seen or talked to them since my baby was born.  But my inner circle, the people who don’t need to say this all the time, they were just there for us. They gave us unconditional love, support and friendship. They just did that without any fuss. They arrive with casseroles, come to babysit when you have to go to therapy, do grocery shopping for you and listen to you on the phone for hours while the only thing I could do was cry.  I am not an easy person right now and sometimes not so friendly either. I don’t want to hide behind my depression, but it is what it is.

A major shout out for my lovely family and friends that have supported us. You have no idea how happy and thankful I am that I am surrounded by so much love. I will get there, but not nearly as fast as I would like. Now that I know that I am not alone in this and dare to express my true feelings and thoughts, I feel liberated. I no longer feel lonely sitting on this deserted island of misery. The future calls, one baby step at the time.


It is still unreal to read this back, Knowing what all has happened after this blog was published. All these positive and beautiful moments that I have experienced as a therapist and author. I can’t believe my book is being translated and published in English next June. Sometimes it feels like a dream. I now have my own practice ( and I help countless mothers and fathers who are not feeling well after giving birth. I also visit these parents at their homes to help them in this difficult situation. This blog is how it all once started and it makes me enormously proud to read it back.

De vloek die vergelijken heet

Veel moeders vergelijken zichzelf constant met andere moeders op Instagram, Facebook of Snapchat. Als je sommige moeders op social media moet geloven, is elke nieuwbakken) moeder zielsgelukkig, super zelfverzekerd en ziet ze er altijd tiptop uit. Ze heeft geen last van post-partum kwalen, een uitgezakt lichaam of onzekerheden. Ze straalt van oor tot oor, vindt het moederschap het leukste wat er is en doet alles zonder pijn of moeite. Herkenbaar?

Dit is totale onzin natuurlijk. Geen enkele moeder voelt zich na de bevalling meteen geweldig en vol zelfvertrouwen. De meeste moeders klooien maar wat aan en dat is heel normaal. De quote: “Die andere moeders doen ook maar wat”, is de meest gebruikte in mijn praktijk. Want echt, we doen allemaal maar wat! Het moederschap is nu eenmaal wennen, bij tijd en wijlen super zwaar en soms vindt je er gewoon geen snars aan. Als je na de zoveelste slapeloze nacht beneden komt, de was drie verdiepingen hoog opgestapeld ligt en je nog steeds niet in je skinny jeans past. Continue reading

De 5 dingen die je nooit tegen een zwangere moet zeggen

We kennen ze allemaal. Het type mens, wat altijd ergens iets over te zeggen heeft. Ben je te dik, dan is het niet goed. Val  je teveel af, krijg je daar weer commentaar op. Maar niks houdt de gemoederen zo bezig, als een zwangere vrouw, lijkt het wel. Ik vind het fascinerend en tegelijkertijd plaatsvervangend beschamend, wat mensen er allemaal uitflappen tegen deze zwangere vrouwen. Hier komen de vijf dingen die je nooit tegen een zwangere moet zeggen:

  1. “Wat ben je dik!” Werkelijk, wie dat nog tegen een zwangere durft te zeggen, verdient een knietje. Zo vertelde een cliënt mij ooit, dat ze een buurvrouw had, die haar er constant aan herinnerde, dat ze zo’n grote buik had en hoe ze dat dan voor zich zag tegen het einde van de zwangerschap. Zo onaardig! En vooral: zo onnodig. Laat die zwangere vrouwen met rust of geef ze een leuk compliment.

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