More Than the Baby Blues: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Bringing a new baby into the world is amazing, miraculous, and well, a little terrifying! You may have heard of the "baby blues,” a common occurrence after childbirth. In fact, as many as 80% of new moms report various ranges of mood swings, weepiness, and feelings of overwhelm.
These “blues” are caused by the surging and receding hormones produced by pregnancy and birth, and they can sweep over you like a tsunami in those first few weeks after childbirth. Most practitioners will tell you that these feelings will diminish in about 2-3 weeks postpartum.
But what about if those feelings don’t seem to go away? What if despite loving your baby, you can’t stop the intrusive thoughts and feelings that are making you feel...just awful?
Postpartum Depression and You
There are some situations where a new mom is more at risk for postpartum depression and anxiety, and noting this before the birth can help both your practitioner and your loved ones to keep a keen eye out for the risk of a depressive state that may require intervention.
History of Mental Health Issues
If you tend to feel anxiety about new situations or situations you cannot control, then you may be at risk for postpartum depression. If you feel unmoored when plans go awry, then a new baby can be a big trigger for feeling like you are “doing it wrong.”
These feelings can make you question if you are a good mother and can lead down a spiral of thoughts that can be very hard to dig yourself out of, especially when you are battling hormones, little sleep, and healing from childbirth.
Recognizing that your “Type A Personality” is a risk factor and talking to your practitioner and your support people before birth can not only help you feel more in control, it can also be a touchpoint to refer back to if, after the birth, they are letting you know that you may need assistance. Sometimes just realizing your limitations and being able to accept more help can be precisely the right medicine.
Babies bring big joy, but they can also cause big money worries. Job insecurity, home insecurity, or food insecurity can be weighty issues for new moms. If they are not dealt with during the pregnancy, these worries can heighten and seem overwhelming after childbirth.
During your pregnancy, reach out to your providers and your support people and tell them what you are worried about. Many times people don’t realize there are programs designed specifically for new parents who are facing these issues to assist them. While these may be difficult discussions to have at first, the sense of relief you will feel will be worth it and can help you think more clearly in those first days after your baby is born.
Marital or Relationship Issues
Difficulties with your partner can cause tremendous life stress, and having a baby does not always bring people together. It can be heartbreaking to feel alone in those early days when you are navigating being a new parent.
If you are in a strained relationship during your pregnancy, it’s so important that you have at least one support person in your life that you can confide in, and who is willing to be there for you. Talking to your provider can also be a help; they may be able to point you to some resources with counselors or other community programs.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping or wanting to sleep all the time
- Inability to think clearly or make decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt
- Compulsive behaviors (new habits or an increase in old habits that you know are compulsive)
- Changes in appetite or weight
> Serious Symptoms: Call 911 or Your Practitioner and Tell Them It’s Urgent- Do Not Wait for an Appointment
- Thoughts of harming self or baby
If you think you may be experiencing depression, take the quiz here.