Saturday, February 7, 2015

What You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression

After my son was born, I lay in the hospital bed exhausted from a 37 hour labor and emergency c-section. My loving husband and our son were close by so that provided me with ease, though throughout my 5 night stay in the hospital I couldn’t help but feel that the medical community failed terribly as far as emotional support went. The topic of mental wellbeing appeared to be overlooked and somewhat taboo. During my recovery, we were asked to watch videos on child abuse and offered support by lactation specialists. We were even sent home with a pamphlet on parenting, which explained everything from newborn bowl movements to eating patterns, though no one provided us with information or resources regarding postpartum depression. Weeks following my son’s birth it occurred to me how important that information could have been to me, or anyone adjusting to motherhood. In the first few months of caring for my son, there were times I lacked the physical help I needed and as a result I felt overwhelmed and anxious. I may have been too proud to ask for help at first, but eventually I found a sitter who could come a few hours a week so that I could run errands and that helped our family out tremendously.
Motherhood is a huge life adjustment and it is important to understand what is to be expected and what is something that needs more attention and care. Your happiness is essential for both you and your family’s wellbeing. As busy as your home may be after bringing a new child home, it is crucial to address any deep feelings that may be linked to depression. There is help available for you. Support is key whether it be a family member, friend, spouse or a mental health professional. Talking to other mothers also provides much needed assistance in normalizing your experiences as a new mom.

There is something called the baby blues, which may cause symptoms such as, mood swings, sadness, anxiety, feeing overwhelmed, crying spells, little desire to eat and trouble sleeping. The baby blues are pretty common and only last a few days or weeks after giving birth. Though depression, specifically postpartum is less common and only effects approximately 10-20 percent of moms. Postpartum depression may include some of the same symptoms as the baby blues, but may be more serious and persistent.

The Cause and Factors
Female hormone changes like estrogen and progesterone shifting dramatically soon after birth

Lack of sleep or interrupted sleep

Feeling overwhelmed in your role as a mother

Doubting your ability

Unrealistic view of being a perfect mom

Change in work and home schedule

Loss of your old self

Feeling less desirable

Lack of free time

Women at Higher Risk, During or Post Pregnancy
Personal or Family history of depression or anxiety (since the two are closely linked)

Lack of family or friend support

Negative feelings regarding pregnancy or childbirth

Marital or financial issues

Traumatic life events

Being a young mom

Drug or alcohol use

Signs to Look For
Not having an interest in your baby

Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

Acute Signs

Severe Confusion

Erratic mood swings

Trying to hurt yourself or baby

Seeing something that does not exist

Ways to Cope
Joining a support group

Set daily goals

Share your feelings with people who will not be critical of what you are going through

Empower yourself by researching postpartum depression

Seek out other mothers and mother/child activities or join a moms group

Seek help from a mental health professional


Seek and accept help from your spouse, family, neighbors or friends

Spend alone time with your partner

Sort out financial issues

Be caring to yourself and set realistic expectations

Be able to give yourself credit for the wonderful things you do

You are not alone in this. There are people who want to help.

Available Resources
Phone: 805-564-3888

Phone: 800-944-4773

If you would like to share any of your own experiences there is an anonymous option so your name will remain unknown if you wish. 

Source: Womenshealth.gov and Postpartum Education for Parents

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