Giving birth can trigger a mix of strong emotions in a new mother, ranging from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. However, it can also result in postpartum depression, a serious and unexpected mental illness.
Read on to find out more about what postpartum depression is, how to identify it, and how to manage it effectively.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Pregnancy and childbirth can be difficult and exhausting. As a result, many new moms experience postpartum “baby blues.” They may feel sad, restless, or depressed, have severe mood swings, lose their appetite, or find it hard to sleep.
For most women, the baby blues begin 2-3 days after childbirth and typically last for 2 weeks or less. However, some new moms experience a more severe, longer-lasting form of baby blues, known as postpartum depression (PPD).
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
The exact cause of postpartum depression is not known. However, it’s a well-known fact that pregnancy causes hormonal changes in a woman’s body. These hormonal changes lead to chemical changes in the brain, which contribute to causing PPD.
You’re more likely to experience postpartum depression if you’ve had any of the following:
- Previous postpartum depression
- Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Stressful life events during pregnancy or after childbirth (severe illness during pregnancy, premature birth, or a difficult delivery)
- Long-term clinical depression not caused by pregnancy
- A difficult or very stressful marriage or relationship
- Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on
How Do I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?
It’s normal for new moms to feel overwhelmed once the baby arrives. But if you experience any or most of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the chances are that you have postpartum depression:
- Feeling restless or moody
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Not feeling connected to the baby
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or like a bad mother
- Eating or sleeping too little or too much
- Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Having headaches, aches, and pains, or stomach problems that don’t go away
At Birthways Family Birth Center, we screen for postpartum depression throughout your postpartum period using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. We also spend so much time getting to know you during your prenatal care to better understand your normal moods to help us know when you might need additional support.
How Can I Deal With Postpartum Depression?
Many new moms suffering from postpartum depression are reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. However, you must know that dealing with postpartum depression isn’t easy, and it can get worse if left untreated.
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in yourself, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider today.