Lots of new mothers feel unprepared and anxious when it’s time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. However, few are prepared for postpartum depression (PPD).
PPD is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth, usually immediately after childbirth when the mother’s hormone levels and uterus size returns to a non-pregnant state.
Seventy to 80 percent of new moms experience “baby blues” including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. While approximately 10 percent suffer with postpartum which may interfere with a mother’s ability to take care of and bond with her baby. In rare cases, some new mothers have harmed themselves and/or their babies. (upmc.com)
“I was drowning in tears almost daily,” said one mother after giving birth to her first child. “The stress and my depression affected my entire household.
“Almost all of my pregnancy ailments disappeared the minute he (Jack) was born and were replaced by all these other physical issues. In any other case, if I had been in this much pain, I would have been nursing myself back to health on the couch. But instead, my own needs were coming second to this itty bitty infant, said Carly Riordan.
Amanda M. from Nevada said “The severe sleep deprivation literally made me hallucinate one night. I wish I had known that it’s okay to ask for help, how you forget to take care of yourself (forgetting to shower, eat, etc.), how everyone is so concerned about the baby that people forget that your body is recovering from a huge traumatic event.”
Every mother’s postpartum experience is different. It isn’t a character flaw or a weakness.
According to mayoclinic.com, PPD can be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and often develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier ― during pregnancy ― or later — up to a year after birth.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Depression or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Insomnia or over sleeping
- Chronic fatigue or loss of energy
- Lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Even though you may feel anxious about taking care of a newborn, remember you are not alone. If you think you have PPD, there is nothing to be ashamed about. Talk to your doctor about possible treatment options which may include oral medications, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.